"There is nothing more exciting than seeing your expectations twist and turn like crazy when you see something new to you and to your world. I have been living and studying in Vancouver, Canada for the past three monts and all I can really say is: Wow!
As an international student at MU I thought I already went through all the possible cultural shocks there are when I came to US. Also, I believed that in Canada there is nothing new that can surprise me anymore after living in US for two years. I stereotyped Canada by believing it is an "extension" of the US culture, tradition, ecomony, worldview, everything. I am glad I lived to see how wrong I was.
Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by a beautiful Pacific ocean, rivers and mountains, crowded with people from all over the world. The great combination of civilazation and nature is what this city's most valuable treasure is. To my greatest surprise, my plane landed to a very sunny place with 25 degrees celzius in August. That was my first expectation falling apart. Not all Canada is freezing cold. Now it is November and I still did not wear my gloves and a scarf.
Furthermore, I did not have any idea how diverse Vancouver is, especially when it comes to Asian population. That was another new experience for me since I have never been to Asia and had no idea how life might look like over there. To be honest, I did not even know how to differenciate people from China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, etc. Well, the greater Vancouver area allowed me to see that too, so I learned a lot about Asian cultures, as much as I did about the Canadian culture. I also found an amazing Bosnian family living close to Vancouver, who introduced me to people from all over Balkans. I ate Bosnian food and had a chance to buy things from back home. Priceless!
The greatest surprise of all was the mentality of people in Canada. I have to say that I have never met so many people at one place who are so open-minded and so well educated. I had an opportunity to speak about some very detailed issues going on in my country with people here, when most people elsewhere did not even know where (and what?) my country is. :)
My school, Langara College, is a small community college, which turned out to be an advantage for me. I got to meet more people, make friends more easily and get to know my teachers better which would be much more difficult if I went to University of British Columbia for example, which is a gigantic school in Vancouver with tens of thousands of students. I will not even mention the partyng experiences I had with friends here :) I found the Canadian schooling system to be different from the American system as well. I noticed that the material was more international and worldwide oriented as opposed to most of my classes at MU.
The greatest thanks for such an amazing experience I had here I have to give to my host family. They broke every single stereotype about host families. Without any exaggeration, I believe that I would not be nearly as satisfied with my studying abroad if it weren‘t for my host family. Since day one I did not have that constatant feeling of being a stranger and and guest in the house that we usually have. I literally felt like home. Everything I wanted, everything I needed was there for me, and most importatnt of all, I always had someone to give me advice or just to be there and listen to me. I now know I have made friends for life.
Another great thing about Vancouver is that it is so close to everything. A couple of times my host family took me to Seattle, WA for the weekend. Other times we would go for a bike ride along the ocean coast or we would go hiking in the mountains. Vancouver itself has a lot to offer and it would take me much more than a "short essay" to describe all the great things you can do in Vancouver. No wonder British Columbian governement's slogan says: "British Columbia – the best place on Earth." I leave that to you to come and see for yourself.
I cannot express the gratitude I feel to Methodist University, especially to the Honors Program, for giving me an opportunity to expand my education, experiences and worldview in such an amazing way like studying abroad.
Lots of love from Van City"