In September I had my first seminar for my Anglo-Saxon module. I didn’t know anyone in my seminar group so I sat on the first free chair next to a girl who looked friendly. I found out her name was Sarah and she was from Canada on a study abroad year – ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Canada!’ I exclaimed. Fast forward nine months and I was boarding a plane to Canada to go and stay with her for nine days. Crazy times.
I’ve gotta be honest, I didn’t go into second year expecting to make many new friends. After first year, I felt like I had met a lot of people and my friendship groups were pretty well established. How wrong I was! Sarah and I became friends really quickly and we ended up being on a few different modules together this year. Surviving the Anglo-Saxon module would have been a lot harder without her. I introduced her to the Great British Bake off, John Lewis, and took her on a tour around Suffolk in the Easter break. She introduced me to pumpkin pie, Tim Hortons, and took me back to Canada with her. WHAT A GREAT GAL.
Anyway, enough about how great Sarah is…let’s talk about how great Canada is.
Sarah lives on Vancouver Island, which is basically as far west as you can go in Canada. So two trains, one tube, two flights, one ferry ride and one car journey later, we arrived at her house! She lives in a bay, and her house has a stunning view over the water. I love the landscape in Canada, it’s so green and there’s lots of water and mountains – much more interesting than the flat fields of Suffolk.
One of our first day trips was to Victoria, a city on the island where Sarah goes to university. It’s a really lovely city with lots to do and see and it was cool to see where Sarah studies in Canada. We visited the narrowest street in Canada (v. narrow), I tried sushi properly for the first time (wasn’t a fan), visited a lot of touristy shops (so much maple syrup) and popped by a harbour to spot some seals (only saw one).
The day after, we had a less busy day because we were still fighting the jet lag but we headed to Bright Angel Park, a foresty area near where Sarah lives. We didn’t explore too far because of signs warning of a bear sighted in the area (classic Canada), but we sat by the river and crossed a suspiciously wobbly suspension bridge.
Our biggest day trip was to a city called Tofino, which was about four hours from where Sarah lives. It’s a really beautiful area, and is pretty touristy. It’s well known for Long Beach, which is stunning, and has been used as a location spot for films like Twilight.
To pass the long drive to Tofino, we also made stops at Coombs and Cathedral Grove. Coombs is famous for ‘goats on the roof’, a market which has, you guessed it, goats on the roof. (Yeah, I know, it’s weird).
Cathedral Grove is a forest with some very very big trees, some over 800 years old. It also has some amazing views over a lake through the trees. It’s crazy beautiful.
The trip to Tofino was also significant because WE SAW A BEAR. I was pretty excited about this. My mum had been a bit worried about the possibility of me being attacked by a bear while in Canada (fun fact: Vancouver Island is home to one of the world’s densest black bear populations) and it became a running joke through the week that we needed to try and find a bear. Sorry mum.
On my last day, I had to take the ferry back across to Vancouver so I could get to the airport in the afternoon. We did have some free time though, so we had lunch on the waterfront and wandered around the city for a while. We also had one last trip to Tim Hortons, a coffee shop that is literally on every corner in Canada. Sarah had been talking about Tim Hortons for nine months straight and while in Canada I decided to fully embrace the culture by visiting Tim Hortons every day (except one day when we forgot). I have no regrets.
And that was it for my trip to Canada! What a place. Canada is incredibly beautiful and I will definitely be returning at some point! It was also so lovely to spend a week with Sarah, meet her family and visit places I’d heard about throughout the year. At university you’ll have the chance to meet people from all over the world so make the most of it!