Approaching the date of departure from home was neither exciting nor intimidating; however, the gravity of my adventure ahead finally dawned on me the morning of my flight, before saying goodbye to family and friends at the airport. I suddenly felt much more apprehensive about my decision to travel abroad. The 13-hour flight from Auckland to Vancouver was as uncomfortable as it sounds – trying to sleep was as futile as trying to stay awake. At 14:00 local time, the flight touched down, and I took my first step onto Canadian soil. Getting through customs was pleasantly much easier than I anticipated – all that was required was my admission letter and eTA. My first ten days overseas were spent staying with a family friend in Vancouver so as to facilitate my transition into a very new environment.
Vancouver is a beautifully designed city with so much to offer and a stunning surrounding area. I spent two nights in Whistler, as well as a night in Victoria on Vancouver Island, whilst exploring British Columbia (BC). Whilst in Vancouver – after recovering slightly from the horrendous jet lag – I tried swing dancing, hiked Grouse Mountain, visited Deep Cove, and did many other typical touristy attractions that the city had to offer.
Whistler, I would describe, is the Queenstown of Canada – boasting picturesque snow-capped mountains, blue lakes, and a quaint village. I tried my first poutine from Zog’s, which did not fail to satisfy. Other highlights of this three-day adventure included walking the high-note trail, the Peak2Peak Gondola, cycling to all the lakes, swimming, and staying at the pod hotel. Thus far, Whistler has been my favourite trip within Canada.
My Victoria trip began with an early seaplane flight from Sea Island, followed by a whale-watching tour where we spotted dozens of orca whales. I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the town, then the evening at Hermann’s Jazz Club – one of the oldest in Canada. The town boasted beautiful Victorian architecture.
Following my ten-day holiday in BC, I flew to Montreal and moved into my university accommodation at Solin Hall. Since then, I have visited Ottawa, the McGill Outdoors Club Clubhouse, been canoeing, and am planning a tip to Mt. Tremblant this coming weekend.
Based on my limited travel experience over the past month, if I were to offer one piece of advice to those going abroad, it would be to make the most of every opportunity you can. Try to see EVERYTHING. Travel to different cities, don’t be afraid of new food, and treat every day as the opportunity it is – because you may never be back to wherever it is you are. I have found that studying overseas provides an ideal environment to travel in for the first time.