Chapter 1: The Decision to Move
Back in 2015, I made the decision on quite the whim to move myself to Vancouver Canada.
Before I made the ultimately quick, and slightly irrational decision to move here, I actually went to Vancouver for my very first solo trip. At the time, I was scared of everything, however, I knew that I wanted to travel the world one day, even if that meant going alone. So I figured I would start with somewhere easy… Like Vancouver.
Read about that experience here as I do tend to use references a lot:
My experience the first time I solo traveled
But I will explain it quickly here:
Back in that time of my life (spring 2015), I had pretty extreme anxiety. I didn’t sleep most nights, which was taking a big toll on my ability to accomplish anything awesome. So instead of sleeping, I would lie in this trance like state and my mind would go completely wild, just being scared of the things that MIGHT happen. Anxieties filled my mind all the time, I always thought about what could and would go wrong in anything I did or tried to do, I would think of worst case scenario type events too, like my house burning down, or the world ending….You know, just normal terrible events.
It was not a very good time for me at all. However, I didn’t think that anything was wrong with me at the time. I basically just put up with it the best that I could. Countless of sleepless nights, and scared that the world would end soon. (However, looking back I wish I would have asked for help a lot sooner, my life has been so much better once I asked for help. )
So what was even more strange is that while I was on this trip in Vancouver, I decided that this was just the place for me and that I needed to go home and pack up everything I thought I would need, and get rid of the rest, and move here as soon as possible. So I gave myself 1 month to do everything I needed to do back in my hometown of Calgary, and then I was going to move to this gorgeous city.
This would be such an amazing time! I told myself. I wasn’t even scared like I was for my solo trip. Nothing anyone would say would have deterred me from my decision to move there either, although they tried. Saying it rained a lot was their main argument. But my counter argument was yeah, that’s fine, I’d take rain over -30 blizzards any day of the week!
So I donated, sold, or threw out about 90% of my stuff, making me realize how much crap I had bought over the years. I donated 8 full garbage bags of clothes, which literally blew my mind… How the hell did I acquire so much stuff!? What killed me the most was when I found clothes that still had the tags on them, never once worn brand new clothing I spent $40 or more on. I made an agreement that I wouldn’t buy any more new stuff for awhile after this eye opening experience.
Chapter 2: The Big Move
Less than one month after I arrived home from my solo trip to Vancouver, I was saying goodbye to my family and friends in Calgary, my car was all packed up with all the stuff I thought I would need, and off I went into what would be quite the adventure of a lifetime… Little did I know what was ahead of me.
The drive from Calgary to Vancouver is about 14 hours give or take. I decided to take my sweet time getting there, so I took a full 2 days to drive there, spending a night in Kamloops.
The drive was beautiful and scenic, all through the mountains. When I got closer to Vancouver, it started turning into farmlands, and fruit fields galore, but it wasn’t like Alberta prairie farmlands, these ones were surrounded by gorgeous mountains. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven, I couldn’t believe the extraordinary beauty of this place.
It was funny because while I was on this adventure to my new home in Vancouver, I kept thinking, man one day this is going to be a great story to tell one day, no matter how it turns out… I didn’t know what would happen at the time I thought this since it was the beginning chapter of this new story I was now creating, but I just somehow knew I would one day share this experience with others. I felt like I was going on an epic adventure, and I was the star of my story. This would one day become one of the greatest stories I ever told.
Chapter 3: Settling in…
When I finally arrived in Vancouver, this was the site I was greeted with… Traffic! Welcome home I thought.
I was faced with a couple minor hurdles, I needed to A. Navigate my way through downtown Vancouver in rush hour traffic B. I needed to find my new place (I was renting a room off Kijiji) C. I would need to unload my car in a timely fashion into my new place and D. I would then need to go find somewhere to park my car (which would end up costing me $300/ Month)
I had saved up about $3000 before I moved, which I felt pretty comfortable with, and wasn’t too worried about making more money since I figured I would have no trouble getting a job. However, due to the unexpected crazy expenses, I didn’t really think about, my money started to go pretty quick.
I settled into my new place comfortably, I liked the view, and it was in a great location about 10 minutes away from the ocean. I stayed in this place for 1 month, until I found out our lease was ending (which they failed to mention in the ad) and I would have to find another room to rent eventually.
I think it was my second or third night into this first new place, I was staying with 3 or 4 other roommates in this really crappy apartment building in the west end of Vancouver and there always seemed to be a party going on somewhere in the building. Never my own apartment, Thank God. Except on my second night, I swear I heard a gunshot outside, and then not too long after it seriously sounded like someone was trying to break into my front door. I lay in bed frozen, not sure what to do, this had never happened in Calgary… I was extremely scared, I thought I was about to be shot or something!
Turns out the person “breaking in” was just my drunk roommate coming home at 2 am from a bar, which in hindsight I should have suspected that, but my anxiety riddled mind came up with much crazier scenarios than that…
Chapter 4: The honeymoon phase
For the first two weeks, I was in the honeymoon phase, everything was new and exciting, and I wanted to just soak it all in, I didn’t look for a job right away. I wanted to enjoy being unemployed for awhile and have a super awesome time in Vancouver. So I went out exploring almost every day instead. Vancouver was so freaking amazing, so much cool stuff to see and do! From simply looking at how awesome the buildings are around downtown and all the amazing condo buildings I would love to live in, to walking along the sea wall in Stanley park, to taking a ride on a seaplane. There is seriously so much to do in Vancouver, and I cannot wait to go back one day with money!
I also had never been so close to a cruise ship before, and I imagined myself one-day boarding one to go on an epic cruise experience. This was something I would never see back home in Calgary, but here in Vancouver, it was just normal life for them!
I spent my first week in Vancouver happily exploring this new city. I would walk about 20000 steps daily, I barely used my car at all since it was kinda pointless. So off I went every day to see the sites. There was one day that I spent an entire day at Stanley park, walking around the entire seawall in the morning, and then hanging out at the beach with a lunch I packed, soaking in the sun. I haven’t swum in the ocean in my entire life, even to this day writing this I haven’t, but I wanted to go out into the water that day. So I just slowly started wading out, I got to just above my knees when I decided to turn back to shore.
I ended my day with a stop at the Safeway tp pick up something for dinner, where I realized I had a huge sunburn since I apparently don’t know how to use sunscreen…Sunburn and all still was an amazing day!
Chapter 5: My new friend!
Now, remember the Airbnb host that I went exploring with on my My first solo trip? John? Well he and I started hanging out pretty often, not in the sexual relationship type way, we both actually had the same (views towards men haha?) So we would meet up and go out for dinner, and then go bar hopping enjoying fancy beverages along the way. I seriously went in the nicest bars I’ve ever been in while I lived in Vancouver. I got to know where was good to go in the famous Gastown area, and I had some of the best meals and drinks of my life while I was there. I miss that actually, just having someone who was always down to go for dinner and drinks. He was great to hang out with, and I hope I can go visit again soon…. (ah wanderlust is starting to grow stronger)
Chapter 6: Meeting Raj
During my first week, I decided to take my car and go up drive along the coast up to Whistler again. I had a lovely drive up, reminiscing about the last time I drove this way with John on my first trip to Vancouver, I had a nice day by myself, as I usually don’t have a problem doing things alone, although I was starting to feel lonely, I really wanted someone to share this experience with…I wanted a companion. Which is when I decided to get online dating again, which is where I would eventually meet Raj.
Raj and I sorta dated while I was living in Vancouver, but it wasn’t official or anything, and we had no clear plans of making it permanent in the future. He was just kind of my FWB while I was there. Sure we went out, actually on our first date I had a great time with him, we went for dinner and drinks at this cool little Mexican place (pic below), and then we went for a long walk and he showed me where he works, and then we walked up along the coastline on Kitsilano beach. From there we sat on a log and watched the stars and listened to the waves crashing on the beach. I remember thinking, this would be the perfect spot for him to kiss me. Which he didn’t. 😦
but he told me later he wished he had.
He took this picture of me on our first date, and I still laugh every time I see it. Like what was I doing???? I am still unsure why he wanted to see me again.. 😛
So we started casually dating after that first night, and often our dates always included drinking alcoholic beverages in one way or another. Usually, we would just drink at his place and order in takeout and watch shows, or we would go to the neighborhood bar, but one time he actually invited me out clubbing with him and some of his friends! So being an experience I wanted to have, I forced myself out of the safety of my room to go to this club, even though I actually hate those environments, but I also wanted to have the experience of clubbing. Thankfully, I was not let down once I arrived. I had some drinks, danced provocatively with Raj, we kissed, and we went home together, talking comfortably the entire way, and stopping for fast food. It was all in all good clubbing night. After that night, he went on vacation for like one week, and then I went house boating, and it was just not the same when he came back, something changed between us and we didn’t hang out nearly as much as we used to.
Raj and I came to an official end when I told him I was going back to Calgary. I remember he seemed sort of sad, but I do know I asked him if we would have ever actually had a relationship. But before he could answer, I changed my mind and said I didn’t want to know. I’ve heard from him a couple of times since then, just to see how I was doing.
Chapter 7: Money and finding work
Okay, so back to the whole money situation. Eventually, I needed to start thinking about getting a job, as my money was going much faster than I expect it too. So after about a week or two of exploring I set out to find a job. I work as a server currently in the restaurant industry and have been doing so for 4 years at the time. So thinking this would be an easy task being in Vancouver and all, I wasn’t too worried finding one, so it took me a fair bit of time just to work up the courage to go into a restaurant and give them my resume. Yes… this was a big problem for me. I remember at the time I could only go into 1-2 restaurants a day before feeling rejected and having to go home to regenerate my worthiness to go continue applying. I had a massive self-image and self-confidence issue going on inside.
So after a few days of doing this, and no one seemed like they were hiring at all, is when I started to panic. It was almost July after all, all the restaurants do seem to get their summer hiring out of the way much earlier than this, why couldn’t I have come earlier! So I started to worry that I wasn’t going to find a job. Well, not a “good job” anyways. I sure I can get something, even if that means earning minimum wage again… No, I couldn’t do that, I needed to serve.
I ended up thankfully getting a job at ‘the white spot’, where I was literally worked off my ass and paid absolute shit, not a cent more than minimum wage. But I was utterly desperate to make this move work, and that meant I needed to make money, no matter what I did.
The worst part is Whitespot wouldn’t even let me serve right away. They told me 3 weeks of hosting before I could move up to serving, which is absolutely the worst thing you can tell someone who has served for 3 years already, that she has to be a “glorified bus girl” working for $50 tips every 2 weeks, when she’s used to making $100 tips a shift.
But it was the only job I had, so I went with it, hoping I could be super awesome and they will put me on as s server right away…. Well, that didn’t happen. I was a damn bus girl at a super busy, kid and tourist filled restaurant in downtown Vancouver. It sucked… ALOT.
The first day they actually let me serve a section and make tips, was on the infamous “pirate pack day.” It was literally the worst work day I think I had ever had in my life. I worked for 13hrs straight, without a single break, With a 4 table section (hardly enough to be ever busy or make very good tips) When I did my cashout at the end of the day, I had made $150 in tips in 13 hours. That was shit. I used to make $150 in 6 hours at my previous job, less than half of this shift. And I remember, my coworkers were all like “wow! You made soooooo much money!”
So if this was what sooooo much money looked like to people in Vancouver, then this was not looking good for me at all….
…What if I had to move home because I go broke? What are my friends gonna say if I came home not even 2 months after I made this big deal about me leaving, I bet they will laugh at me, and I will feel like a failure. No, my ego couldn’t handle that, I needed to make this work somehow.
Part 2 Continues…Part 2: My time living in Vancouver