Canada is a great destination. The second largest country in the world offers cultural richness, natural beauty, and diverse professional opportunities. An ideal destination for an ambitious young student like you. The capital city of British Columbia, Vancouver, is ranked most liveable city by the Economic Intelligence unit and I had the chance to live there for one year. As a 19-year old, my experience as an exchange student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) drastically changed me for the better.
My professional goals and aspirations changed, and I became more confident about myself. In case you dream about living the Canadian experience, here is a snapshot of my recommendations if you are considering studying in Vancouver:
Vancouver is the place to be to party. Fraternity parties are a must-do. The University of British Columbia (45 min from downtown Vancouver) hosts regular frat parties. Parties are usually free if you know a person who got invited otherwise you might have to pay entrance fees.
My favorite club is by far, the Celebrities. In my university, BCIT students pay a 5$ entry fee (as opposed to 20$ for regular entry). The club is trendy for hip-hop and mainstream music. If you are into this kind of music, the Celebrities is one of the best clubs in town. Tuesday nights are student nights. In other words, the club is packed. The sooner you come, the better chances you have to get in.
Vancouver has great restaurants as well. The restaurant, The Cactus Club, is one of the most famous in Vancouver. Prices are high but worth it. The restaurant overlooks the Vancouver bay. An ideal location for a date or a get together with friends. The restaurant has a bar area where the bartenders make funky cocktails. You have to try!
The surroundings of Vancouver are heaven for hikers and mountain sports addicts. Grouse Mountain is the nearest mountain and ski resort in Vancouver. (45 min with a sky train ). The main hiking track, the Grind, leads you after 1,5h to a lovely cabin with drinks and snacks overlooking the city and the ocean. Stunning.However, Whistler is THE ski resort. It hosted the 2010 Olympics games and had two main skiing areas (Whistler and Blackcomb). Direct bus tours take you to Whistler from downtown Vancouver in a few hours. The last spot on my list is Victoria. Located offshore, on the Vancouver islands. The city is worth the detour and is only a ferry ride away. Tofino, British Columbia surfers paradise is on the same island as Victoria. Stop by if you can. You won’t regret it.
BCIT is a dynamic place, ideal for exchange students looking for the North American experience. The campus is relatively huge. It has a library, a bookshop, a restaurant area, a football court, a gym and even a pub. BCIT sports team hosts regular sports events for afternoon entertainment. My advice is to sign up for sports semester classes. Last year I took yoga classes, tennis classes, and Jiu-Jitsu, classes. All classes are offered at a small fee or sometimes free. Why not benefit from it?
Classes are challenging. A regular degree has eight individual courses. As an exchange student, you will only have to take a few courses substantially diminishing the workload compared to your Canadian peers. You will get homework at the end of each session and participation during the course is greatly encouraged for better grades. That means you will have time to work out or work on campus or travel.
BCIT has on-site accommodation. The houses fit 12. Exchange students are cohabiting with Canadian students allowing you to step out of your comfort zone. I guarantee you a cultural shock if you have so far lived with your parents. Don’t be scared though, despite natural shyness; you will develop relationships with your peers very quickly.
In conclusion, my experience in Vancouver was very enriching and fulfilling both personally and professionally. I most likely recommend going abroad and testing your resilience in an unknown environment.