Culture Shock – 10 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Moved to Vancouver
Dear 19 year old me, congratulations on your decision to move to Vancouver! It’s a great city! The mountains, beaches, wildlife and sushi are amazing! However, here are a few things you need to know before you leave Singapore and move to Vancouver.
1. It Rains a Lot!
Especially during the Fall, Winter and Spring. Basically, you get 2-3 months of fantastic weather from July to September.
Learn to love the rain. Resistance is futile.
The rain in Vancouver is nothing like the rain in Singapore. When it rains in Singapore, it rains hard for 20 minutes then the sun comes out.
When it rains In Vancouver, it usually rains all day long. It’s gloomy, soggy and just plain wet. The weather people a.k.a Meteorologists seem to be quite proud of the rain as they like to tell you “We’ve broken the record for the wettest month or we’ve broken a 61 year record!” Really?
2. Know the Difference Between Waterproof & Water Resistance
Water Resistance isn’t going to cut it. Not for someone who is not used to the wet and cold weather. The good people at the store will try and tell you it’s the same. Do.Not.Fall.For.It. Walk away FAST!
Because it rains so much, invest in a good rainproof and windproof jacket. This means when mom brings you to the “winter clothing” store in Singapore, tell her that purple down jacket that looks like Barney is ugly and useless on those rainy winter days.
In the winter, the dampness and the wind can easily penetrate your jacket. You feel it in your bones and you start to plan your escape to somewhere warm.
It doesn’t hurt to carry a pair of chopsticks with you so when you have an itch, e.g. on your shoulder blade, you can reach under all those layers and get to that spot. I’m just saying……
Shoes: Unless you are driving, buy a pair of waterproof shoes for the fall and winter. There’s nothing worse than walking around with wet feet.
Gum Boots are great because you can splash around like a kid.
3. Down Clothing Are Great but You Are Probably Allergic
Down socks and jacket (for layering) are great, they keep you warm but you are probably allergic as you grew up in a big city and you’ve never been near a wild animal. Give it a few years, pet some ducks or geese so you get used to their feathers.
4. Scarf, Gloves and Hat/Toque
You are going to need them from October till early March.
I know you love your wavy hair but please wear a hat. It will help you to stay warm.
A scarf will protect your neck and throat. Cover up. Cold hands and ears are not fun.
5. Learn to Enjoy Raw Fish
Vancouver has amazing sushi. The ocean is on our doorstep and you can find sushi restaurants to fit any budget.
However, don’t eat the wasabi your first time. It’s really pretty and it can clear your sinuses but if you eat the whole thing because you think you are used to spicy food, you are wrong. So wrong. Tears will start to flow.
6. You Might Be Depressed
Remember the rain? Be prepared because dark, rainy and gloomy days can cause Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD). It is sneaky.
You think you are doing well, settling in, making friends then one day in January, you wake up and realize you feel sad. You are not motivated to do anything, you are eating for two and you hate everything. The weather, the paint color in your apartment, the toilet paper and school, they either annoy you or make you cry. Who took my bunny slippers? Who?!!
Exercise, light therapy and talking to someone help.
7. If You Don’t Drink Coffee, Start
Tea works too. There are A Lot of cafes, coffee shops and tea shops in Vancouver.
Most Vancouverites are highly caffeinated and a lot of social gatherings are held at a coffee shop.
Can I get a cappuccino, extra foamy please?
BTW: You dunk the biscotti in the coffee. Don’t eat it as is, it’s too hard on your teeth.
8. Namaste (Say it with me “Nah-Mas-Tay”)
Vancouverites love yoga, they do it indoors and outdoors. Some of them even do it naked and some do it with goats. (Google Goga)
You will probably be drawn to Hot Yoga as it reminds you of the weather in Singapore but try other forms of yoga too. They are better for your adrenals.
Adrenal Fatigue? Oh yes! Did I forget to mention that you worked too hard in your 20s and early 30s so you will spend a few years healing your body.
9. They Drive On The Wrong Side Of The Road
Or is it the right side? The first few months you are here, look left, then right, then left before you cross the street.
To be safe, look right again. Do.Not.Jaywalk!
10. Live Close to School or Work
If possible, live close to school or work because sometimes transit sucks. You want to be close enough so you can walk. (In your waterproof shoes when it rains)
Enjoy the adventure. You are going to love Vancouver.
You will learn to love nature, the old trees talk to you and the mountains are beautiful. Yes, housing is super expensive but the people are friendly, food is amazing and nature is just a stone’s throw away.
But! If people tell you Vancouver’s winters are mild, they are lying! Lying!
You were born in a tropical country, anything under 20 Celsius is COLD! Don’t leave home without your hat and scarf in the winter.
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