From city slicker to “island life”

Photo by Armon Arani on Unsplash

“Oh, you’re going to love it out there, island life is awesome!”

Those were some of the parting words my Law 12 teacher gave me when I told him I was moving to Victoria. I had high expectations on moving here, mainly driven by the people around me back on the Lower Mainland where I’m from.

I’ve lived in Greater Vancouver for all my life, and after a long online first year, I was ready to experience all that Victoria had to offer: I was ready for nightlife after COVID, to take buses downtown, to escape one type of busy to immerse myself in another. I was ready for the “island life” that everyone hyped me up for.

I moved here… and then reality hit me.

The 12 didn’t show up AGAIN! Why does everything close at 5pm? Will Shelbourne Street ever not be under construction?

I became one of “those people” that loved to compare everything here to how everything worked “back home”.

Why does campus shut down so early? UBC never closes! You’re telling me there are only two Walmarts here and one of them is in Langford? Why is everything so far from each other?

One other thing I noticed riding the bus in Victoria vs. Vancouver: People here aren’t as eager to move to the back of the bus if it starts to get full.

What was there to love about “island life” if it wasn’t anything like I expected (or wanted)?

Admittedly, I did sound a bit pretentious, especially as I had classmates and friends who came from smaller towns than Victoria like Qualicum Beach, Whitehorse, Trail, and Orillia. When I told them that I was experiencing a culture shock, I just got laughed to my face: “Man, if Victoria is too small for you, you should come back home with me for Thanksgiving!”

My whole expectation of what it was like to live in Victoria was driven by people who had never lived here before. Of course city slickers like my teachers and friends would tell me I’d have a great time out here, because:

a., it’s the polite thing to do, and,

b., coming here on vacation and living here are two very different things!

I’ve come to realize that my interpretation of what it’s like to live in Victoria versus Vancouver was all wrong. What makes Victoria so unique is because of its small city, big town charm. Victoria will never be Vancouver, but it’s different, and that’s what makes me happy to live here!

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