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Every time I start loving Vancouver, I get hit by a car. I’ve been living in Vancouver for four years and I got hit by a car in two consecutive years and spent the remaining two years in recovery. In Cairo, we don’t only cross streets, but also highways with no traffic lights. All you had to do is hold your breath and pray Allah will save you, which might explain why people are religious over there. Unfortunately, religiously following the signs and praying before crossing streets didn’t work for me as well in Vancouver, which explains why I haven’t explored the city as much as I wanted to.
I moved to Vancouver from Egypt to pursue a M.A. Degree in UBC. I basically wanted to go to Grad School in USA, but didn’t have time to take the GRE exam, so I decided, why not start looking for universities in Canada? I chose Vancouver because it had the “mildest” weather, but when I came here, I was shocked by the lack of sun throughout the year, as I am always freezing from Fall until Summer. For that reason, I really feel empathy for Canadians on the East Coast. In Cairo, people cheer in the streets when tiny drops of water fall from the sky; we call that rain. This excitement is what Vancouverites feel when they see the sun!
The thing I like most about Vancouver is its people. Vancouverites are really nice and polite, and this can be easily noticed by the most frequent used words “sorry” and “thank you”.
As a coffee addict, the first thing I like to explore whenever I travel are coffee shops, but this task is quite challenging in Vancouver because there is a Starbucks on every single corner. On the the other hand, as a vegetarian, I have a much wider variety of restaurants that I can explore, something that is not very common in my carnivorous hometown.
During these years, I’ve noticed that Canadians have a very special sense of humour that can be reflected in the local news. Yes, every time I watch the local stories, I crack up with laughter when I watch segments about pets lost/found as major headlines. In Egypt, people would love to have the respect shown to animals in Vancouver’s news media.
It is hard to write about Vancouver without mentioning East Hastings, as it is one of the most famous spots in Vancouver for housing drug-abusing, possibly dangerous, homeless people. I decided to take the risk, visit this area, and prayed that I’d come back alive. As an outsider, when I went there, I realized that even so-called drug addicts and homeless are peaceful. When I look into their eyes, I see people with emotions like any one of us. They have their own stories and, unfortunately, don’t have the privilege that we do to access better services. They are strong souls because when drugs or alcohol are your last resort to face life’s injustices, that means you have been through a lot in life. So, I think instead of excluding this spot and denying the existence of the people there, we should remember that any of us is one paycheque away from ending up like that. We should all work together to show them our love, and help make their lives better.
There is no doubt Vancouver is a beautiful city surrounded by trees hugging the ocean like a picturesque painting. Despite the fact that I faced some hardships (and injuries) during my stay here, there is still a mysterious thing that makes me feel nostalgic about Vancouver when I travel elsewhere. It makes me forget the grey skies, the high prices and the bad drivers in the city. It must be its peoples’ smiles, because something as simple as a smile gives us all hope for a better tomorrow.