1: O Canada

I went to Vancouver, BC, Canada for the first time in years. How many years, I don’t quite remember anymore. It’s a 3-4 drive from where I live, so my sister and I drove up for the day.

Originally, I had planned to go by myself. I knew I was going to have a longer break than usual because of the way my finals and such worked out. Spring break is normally only one week, but since all my finals were scheduled before finals week itself, I had two weeks of break. Technically just as long as my winter break was, although I got sick during winter break so it felt much shorter than it should have.

Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat “off” for an unknown reason. Something doesn’t feel quite right in my life, and I am not entirely sure why. If I’m going to be honest with myself, I’ve actually been having a relatively good year. Well, past year. Especially compared to the year before. I’ve been doing much better at my university. My grades are much better, I’m taking classes that I enjoy, brought up my GPA significantly, decided on a major, finally started making real friends in my classes, started to be more proactive about practicing my Japanese conversational skills, signed up for classes at my school’s gym to try and exercise more regularly to ultimately relieve stress, took summer quarter courses for the first time, even convinced my family to let me go to Japan for the rest of summer on the condition that I saved up money and planned the trip myself (which was quite the adventure itself), passed N2 of the JLPT, and to me, most importantly, I was accepted into both study abroad programs I applied for. Maybe this just sounds like I’m patting myself on the back over and over, but it truly has been one of the better years of my life. I feel like it’s fine for me to be proud of myself from time to time.

That being said, why is it that I don’t quite feel as happy as I should be? What’s “missing” in my life? I don’t quite feel satisfied with myself, and I have no idea why. Is it the perpetual feeling of never quite reaching fluency in Japanese? The double-edged sword of studying Japanese that is dedicating myself to lifelong studies, yet also feeling like I never know enough? Letting others outside of my major get to me when they constantly judge me for what they believe is a useless major and field of study? Feeling down because I haven’t met a nice guy to wanna date at my university? I still can’t quite place why I have been feeling like something has been nagging at me lately, and on that basis alone, I had felt I wanted to go on a short trip during spring break.

I realized I could not go anywhere too far since I am going to be studying abroad shortly. I had to make sure it wouldn’t cost too much money, so I considered either Portland, Oregon, or Vancouver, BC since they’re the closest “big” cities near me, and are about the same distance away. Portland is usually thought of as pretty similar to where I live, so I decided against it for now.

Going to Vancouver turned out to be a better time than I had expected. As usual, I’m not usually one to be excited before events happen, but rather I feel excited in the moment I am actively experiencing it. I think the best part of our trip was our stop at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. When my sister first mentioned it, I thought it was going to be us going to a park that overlooked a fancy looking bridge, kinda like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I had envisioned it to be more about marvelling at a spectacle than actually doing anything. Typical sightseeing sort of thing.

It ended up being much more than that. First of all, it’s a footbridge. Second of all, it was a rainforest. Going there meant being surrounded by nature, enveloped in its serene beauty. It had been such a long since the last time I had been on a walk through a park like this. I was glad that I brought along my camera, and that the park provided free rain ponchos. This trip to the park could have been completely ruined without the ponchos since neither me or my sister had our raincoats.

It was a really nice change of pace coming here. It was a Wednesday, and also a somewhat off-season sort of time to come, so it was not as crowded as it apparently usually would be, which is just how I like it. I took quite a few photos that I was happy with. In fact, the photos I took in Vancouver were really only of this area. As a souvenir, I ended up buying a postcard to send to myself– yet another habit I had adopted from my sister.

The other things we had done in Vancouver was pretty much just walking around. We had made a stop at a mall in Richmond since a restaurant there had a pretty high rating on Yelp. We had also gone to Robson Street to get ramen for a pretty similar reason. We went to a restaurant called Marutama Ramen, which truly reminded me of a restaurant in Japan. It was pretty cool. The workers seemed to know Japanese, the layout itself was reminiscent of a Japanese restaurant, the food seemed authentic, and they even had the baskets on the floor for you to put your belongings in.

The most interesting aspect of visiting both of these areas was the fact that there were a large abundance of Asians. I was not aware of the demographics, but everywhere I looked were Asian-run restaurants and shops. It was really interesting, considering where I live, the only time I would encounter such a thing would be at a Chinatown/International District sort of area. This was the first time I had seen so many Korean or Japanese restaurants near each other. Sushi restaurants next to sushi restaurants, ramen restaurants next to other ramen restaurants, and so on. To me, this was an indicator that all of them had a decent following to sustain business. It was refreshing to be in a place like this outside of Asia or designated Chinatowns and the like.

I still haven’t tried poutine yet, so I hope I’ll be back in Vancouver soon.


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