Archive | February 2015

The Search for the Missing Winter (hint: it’s not in Vancouver)

To say it’s been a mild winter on the West Coast is putting it lightly. Temperatures have hovered in double figures, our heating is now off during the day and I ate brunch outside on a patio this weekend. Down in the city it’s been amazing to have spring arrive so early, but it’s not so welcome in the mountains. All three local resorts have suspended their winter operations, and it sounds like Whistler might not be far behind. I have a season pass at Grouse Mountain and managed to make it up three times before they closed. If I’m honest, February has been so busy that I would barely have had time to make it up once a week anyway, but that doesn’t stop me feeling a bit cheated by Mother Nature. Nowhere near as cheated as the resorts must feel I’m sure, especially as there’s nothing they can do about it. Grouse have offered winter pass holders unlimited ziplining and tours of the viewing platform at the top of their wind turbine which I actually think is a pretty cool gesture and one I can’t wait to take advantage of. Unlimited ziplining! 

This still leaves me with the issue of a snowboard and no snow, a problem that I had to go further afield to solve. The man and I decided to swap sunny Vancouver for snowy Vernon over the February long weekend, and guess what. We found winter! When we arrived at our Air BnB apartment our host told us that the area is experiencing record snowfall – the highest in 83 years. Unfair, much? Although it was a particularly warm weekend (such is life), there was still lots of snow on the ground. We walked in it, hiked in it and finally snowboarded and skied in it when we took a trip to Silver Star Mountain Resort.

The stunning view of Kalamalka Lake from our Air BnB balcony

The stunning view of Kalamalka Lake from our Air BnB balcony in Coldstream

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Snow Puppy!

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Four years in Canada: Advice from the Professional Working Holiday-ers

This month marks four years since I left the UK for beautiful Vancouver. In some ways January 2011 seems so long ago, but in other ways the time has absolutely flown. My first Canada-versary was very special as one year living abroad was a huge achievement and a pretty big deal, if I do say so myself. My second Canada-versary was important as I was beginning to feel much more settled and was starting to see what my future life here would actually be like. My third Canada-versary was huge in that I was actually starting to live that future, what with my Permanent Residence and permanent puppy. My fourth Canada-versay feels….pretty much the same as last year. I’m still very settled, I still love living here, and I still don’t see myself moving home any time soon (sorry parents). I also still don’t have a Canadian accent, I still don’t watch CFL (or NFL) and I still haven’t been to the Rockies. Ho hum.

Celebrating with my amazing BUNAC-ers <3

Celebrating with my amazing BUNAC-ers ❤

I celebrated my fourth Canada-versary with my fellow BUNAC ’11 crew. There are six of us who met on the BUNAC group flight from LHR to YVR on January 11, 2011, who are still living in Vancouver today. Three of us are Permanent Residents, two are going through the PR application process and one found out she’s actually a Canadian citizen (jealous!). Booking that group flight remains the best decision of my entire life, and it’s fun to reconnect and remember that day with people who were there with me. We had some dinner and drinks at Brown’s Social House in Kits, where we spent a lot of time when we first arrived.

The girls. Just because.

The girls. Just because.

This year I decided my obligatory Canada-versary blog post should be a bit more interesting than just this bla bla about me, so I asked my working holiday companions what advice they would give to others who are planning or thinking about planning a move abroad. I waited until the end of the night to ask this and then recorded the conversation on my phone…the evidence of which I’ll keep just in case any of them any become famous some day. The short, clean tips are below:

  • Be prepared to take whatever work you can to get by. Living abroad is an experience in itself, and starting off with a less than ideal job still beats not living abroad. Think of it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things
  • Save, save and save some more. The more money you can bring with you, the better your experience will be. The minimum guidelines really are a minimum – you’ll be surprised how quickly a cellphone, deposit, first month’s rent and initial socializing and sightseeing will drain your support funds
  • Leave your expectations at home. Keep an open mind and try not to plan too much or set unrealistic goals. Living abroad is probably going to be nothing like you think it’s going to be
  • Celebrate your successes. Everyone has hard days when they move away from home, whether it’s missing family and friends or failing to meet any of the unrealistic goals you set yourself (see above). If it feels like things aren’t going right, just remember what an amazing achievement living abroad actually is. You did something AMAZING and it’s OK if every little thing doesn’t go right all the time
  • Say yes as much as possible. Moving countries is a life changing experience, and you’ll be surprised at how many other new opportunities come your way just from being open to them
  • Work hard. Whether you are trying to carve out a long term career or just save money for travels and beer, put your head down when you can and you’ll reap the rewards
  • Play up your accent! Sounding different to everyone else can be unnerving, but it can also help you stand out in a good way. When it comes to job interviews, meeting new people or just ordering take-out,you ALWAYS have a talking point, and being memorable is never a bad thing

There you have it folks, advice from the professionals. Good luck to all of you brave souls considering a move abroad, and here’s to my fifth year in Canada. Bring it on, 2015!