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Why Vancouver? Why You?

Thank you to all entrants. Please visit the semifinalist page to view the top ten essays as determined by our panel and the public voting. Click here to view the top ten

How did I end up here?

By Cindy Molina Q

Three years ago, leaving Venezuela to pursue a career as writer was not even a distant dream, let alone considering Vancouver as my destination. But it turns out that with the right recipe and good timing, turning your career goals upside down is simpler than it seems. You’ll just need the following ingredients and follow two basic steps.

1 or 2 teachers
1 mom
1 or 2 friends
1 love interest
A whole bowl of sense of adventure

First you’ll have to put your sense of adventure in a pile and be desperate for a change. Going through some sort of emotional crisis could be helpful. In my case, I was about to finish Translation School and had no clue were to start my adulthood.

Then carefully start adding the ingredients to the mix. You have to be careful not to stir too fast, otherwise, things might get rocky, confusing and you might get yourself lost in the process. I was lucky enough to have just the right amount of each ingredient to make this work: a teacher encouraging me to develop my film critic vein, a dear friend and film enthusiast walking by Vancouver Film School during his summer vacation and a love interest curiously planning to move to Vancouver to study animation at (surprise) that very same school.

Ok, I know. That was a failed attempt to sell my story as a comedic one. Who am I trying to fool? But it did serve the purpose to present the elements that definitely led me to take the biggest leap I had taken so far in life (Vancouver led me to an even bigger one, but that’s a subject for another essay).

Long story short, after making a somewhat impulsive, yet plenty justified decision and figuring out the logistics, the journey to Vancouver began. I filed all my papers, applied for the program I wanted, applied for a visa, applied for a permit to buy dollars from the government… After it all got approved (it wasn’t easy: embassies were shut, documents got lost, plane tickets were bought and flights missed) I finally hopped on that Air Canada plane and made my way to Vancouver.

Even with all the support and the great reviews I was getting from the few people that already knew the city, I was pretty conscious I was throwing myself into a free fall, blindfolded and smiling. I didn’t know what to expect from anything. Weather, lifestyle, costs, education… Would I feel lonely? Would I quit school without the pressure that formal education inflicted on me before? Would I be broke? Would I die during winter? Would I get lost? Would someone kidnap me and take my organs? And what about those roofies?

Yes, I admit to having posed myself those questions and more. But the sense of adventure was key to keep me going. I wanted to explore the unknown, I wanted to have time for myself, I wanted to meet new people and learn new things. And I got all that, and then some.

To be fair, I had one very special first friend in Vancouver that was generous and welcoming, another Venezuelan like me who’s been living here for the past 4 years. He introduced me to an amazing group of friends, and also encouraged me to live the Vancouverite lifestyle, bike, quinoa and juicer included. Through his soccer team and our Saturday BBQs at Kits Beach I saw the world through the eyes of people from every continent while enjoying the most gorgeous sunsets my eyes have ever seen.

Vancouver, a city that to me has 2 equally appealing faces, is the most inspiring place I’ve been to. It screams to be explored and makes the road so easy on you. There are restaurants, festivals, parades, markets, corky stores and life, marvelous and tragic, everywhere.

Summer in this city made me feel an urge to get physical… Biking by the sea wall, playing soccer at UBC, dancing and laughing at Kits Beach and Gastown, writing accompanied by the sunset at Second Beach. Winter taught me to freeze fruits, pushed me into a more stylish way of dressing to accommodate to the characteristic cold winds, offered beautiful sights of snow and white mountains, inspired me to make heartier meals to overcome the cold and made me connect to people in a different way. It was no longer about the hot outdoor activities, but about the season markets, sharing Glühwein, ginger in every imaginable presentation and turkey… (Yes! The turkey!) with your friends and neighbors.

Vancouver, its touching characters and contrasts, inspired me to complete my second feature length script. It also gave me my first on set experience which turned out to be a micro version of the rich world the city has to offer: smiley good hearted people, talented professionals coming from everywhere around the world to work together on something we’re all passionate about, meeting very early and going home very late after spending all day shooting in a privileged location from which I could enjoy the endless beauty of Spanish Banks and the Pacific Ocean.

Three years ago, if you asked why Vancouver, I would’ve said: “Van-what?” But now I know it, now I can sum up what makes it perfect: This city exudes art, friendship, culture, freedom and joy. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to begin the rest of my life. I’ll miss every corner, every tray of dried fish, every flower stand, every food cart, every pub, every ship and firework event. My only hope is that the same fate that brought me here once brings me back sooner rather than later.

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