Victoria, I Have Arrived

So, here I am — beautiful Victoria, British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada. Traditional territory of the WS’ANEC’, Lkwungen, and Wyomilth peoples of the Coast Salish Nation. The land of old-growth forests, rugged beaches, community gardens, and good bike lanes. It’s been precisely one month since I arrived in Victoria to begin my first year at UVic, and despite being over 5,000km away from my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, I know that I’m exactly where I need to be.

From one side of the country to the other… 5,487km to be exact.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked many times, by many different people:

“Why UVic? Isn’t that a long way from home?”

The answer is yes, it is a long way from home, but my justification for coming here is simple: UVic made me feel excited and hopeful about my future in a way that all of the other universities I considered just didn’t.

To me, Victoria was the promise of pristine natural surroundings, new outdoor adventures, progressive people, and that signature West Coast vibe. It was the challenge and thrill of moving far, far away, to a truly unfamiliar place. As for a solid education, I knew that I could find that anywhere.

Now, as crazy as that may sound, I promise that I’m actually quite a practical person. Before deciding on a university, I did my research, I toured a half-dozen campuses, I applied to lots of scholarships, I kept my options open. But, as I was weighing the infinite number of complicated factors that were supposed to influence my post-secondary decision making, I realized that I really didn’t care that much about any of them.

At the end of the day, the quality of the academic programs, the prestige of the professors, the scholarship offers, and the co-op opportunities just seemed arbitrary. I was confident that any of the universities I was considering could hand me a respectable degree after four years of lectures and labs. As for a laid-back, eco-friendly lifestyle and a meaningful sense of place? That was going to be harder to find. Consequently, my decision to come to UVic was motivated by an inexplicable feeling that it was just the right place for me, at this point in my life.

Living life on the edge! I had the chance to explore Trial Island just off the coast of Victoria while on a recent restoration trip with the UVic Parks Club.

Now, fast forward a few months, and here I am. I’m still settling in, and figuring things out, but I have no doubt that coming to UVic was the right decision. Call it fate, or call it manufactured happiness, but now that I’m here, it feels like everything was just meant to be.

I’m finally excited about what I’m learning, and I find real inspiration from my professors. I connect well with many of my classmates, as they share my vision for a brighter, more sustainable future. The weather is mild, the air is fresh, the trees are tall, and the adventures are plenty.

Although I don’t always take that classic advice to ‘follow your heart,’  I’m starting to think that maybe I should try it out more often. For now, I’m just happy to be here.

Victoria, I have arrived.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Jemma says:

    This is really awesome to read! Coming from someone who’s from the Lower Mainland and is homesick as ever, I’m really glad you’re loving BC!!!!!

    • Hannah says:

      Thank you! I definitely understand where you’re coming from- I distinctly remember feeling very home-sick when I first began my job at Kejimkujik National Park this past summer. It was a lot of change all at once, and I missed the comfort and familiarity of home.

      I think that in some ways, the extra distance has helped me with home-sickness this time around… it’s forced me to embrace the fact that Victoria is my new home now, which can be a comforting thought in itself.

      Although I don’t have any fool-proof strategies to help you deal, my best advice would be to just make the most of the here and now. Find the little things that you love about Victoria, that make it special and distinct from your hometown. Try not to concentrate on everything that you’ve left behind, but take advantage of all the new opportunities and experiences that you now have in front of you!