Two years ago, I moved away from my often snow-filled life in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario to study Writing here at UVic. I left my amazing family and friends behind to experience four years of my life on the grand and adventurous west coast. Swapping corn fields for mountain ranges and lakes for oceans.
It took some time to get used to life here in BC, but now in my third year at UVic, I feel as though I can truly call this place my home. I’ve made a wonderful community of friends and can wander about downtown Victoria without the fear of getting lost. I have settled into a calm and steady routine by the ocean side, and have started to forget what day-to-day life in Ontario was even like.
You might be wondering, how do these provinces even differ? Well here’s a list of 5 things I learned about living in BC as a UVic student who’s come from out of province:
1. Always carry two pieces of ID with you when going out
To some BC’ers, this might be a surprise, but in Ontario, you only need to provide one piece of ID when going to liquor stores, dispensaries, bars, and clubs.
When I finally turned 19, I wasn’t aware of this until the first time I went to a liquor store on the island. Unfortunately, I only had one valid photo ID on me, so I had to pull out my visa as the other method of identification. This shocked me to my core, as the rules in Ontario had always been one piece of ID only.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten the hang of it now, and always make sure that my wallet has 2 pieces of identification at all times. If you are also an out-of-province student who is discovering this right now, know that as long as your secondary ID has your name on it, it’s valid for use.
2. Going to the beach is both healing and fun!
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with the ocean. It was one of the reasons why I chose UVic in the first place! However, I didn’t expect to constantly feel a calling from the ocean while here.
After a long, stressful assignment, going to the beach provides me with a feeling of comfort that I can’t get anywhere else. The nature in British Columbia seems fresher, and more alive than what I’ve witnessed in southern Ontario, as it’s exciting and forever changing. For instance, every beach on this island is a little bit different: some have sea glass, some have sand, some have rocks, and some have otters wading in the water in front of you.
The beach is a fun place to be, and being on Vancouver Island is the perfect excuse to visit whenever I want or need to!
3. Mountains are everywhere. EVERYWHERE!
My friends from BC always make fun of me when I get excited about seeing mountains on the horizon, but I don’t think they truly understand how amazing it is to be surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. In Ontario, mountains like the ones here in BC simply don’t exist.
Of course, there aren’t very large mountains in downtown Victoria, but that doesn’t make the Olympic mountains across the water any less impressive to me. I have visited mile 0 many times just to look at them, and marvel at their vastness.
In Ontario, the elevation is relatively flat. While walking down the street, I don’t have to worry about hills and steep declines like I do here. I grew up skiing on hills that would be considered speed bumps in comparison to BC mountains, so I’ll forever be amazed by this province’s natural terrain. Every time I see a mountain in the distance, I will continue to point it out excitedly, as It’s one of the biggest things I’m grateful to have in my life here in Victoria.
4. Don’t think about it too much, but an earthquake may happen at any moment.
Moving across the country will come with a lot of changes, but one change that I was not expecting to encounter was having to participate in earthquake drills. In Ontario, there is often a threat of tornadoes, so I’ve been a part of many tornado drills, but earthquakes? That’s a whole other ballpark.
It was in my first year that I had to partake in my first earthquake drill, in the campus cafeteria. I was deeply confused and had no clue what to do, but after some instruction, my friend pulled me under the table and then proceeded to tell me about “the big one”. A large earthquake that everyone in BC is waiting to happen. A catastrophe that will cause devastation across the province, especially Vancouver Island.
I had no clue that coming to school in Victoria would be putting me in such danger. Not only do I have to live in fear of any regular earthquake, but I must fear “the big one” as well? In Ontario, I’ve been in a handful of tornado warnings, but there has never been a threat of an all-ending “big one”.
5. Some of the best people you’ll meet in your life are found far from home.
On my move-in day for UVic, I told my parents that I didn’t think I would make any friends. I had a moment of regret and asked myself why I even chose to go so far away from home. However, that all changed when I met the people in my residence for the first time and became quick friends.
My wonderful community of friends here on Vancouver Island is my lifeline. They are my family, and I can’t imagine having lived my life without them at all. It feels like destiny that I had found them, as we all come from random corners of the world. Most are from BC, but a handful of us come from scattered places across Ontario, and even one of us is from Nova Scotia. In any other circumstance, none of us would have met each other, but thankfully we were all put in the same residence, in the same year, at the same university, on an island of all places.
The best people you’ll meet in your life can be found far, far away from home, so remember to put yourself out there. The people you’re meant to meet in life may not lie inside your current comfort zone, so continue to explore and add to your wonderful collection of memories with each person you encounter. No matter how much it scares you.