another wee update in the life of Laura

So, I’m completely losing track of time here in Canada. I think I’ve been here for like 11 weeks now! Phwoaaar. I really need to post these more regularly because life is so hectic and there’s so much to share! The past few weeks for me have been all about finding a routine and settling into life in the city, as well as finally conquering the skill of being comfortable doing things on my own. The frenzy of arriving in a new country and setting up life here is over and now it’s clear that I just need to find my mojo and my community, and really throw myself into it.

Here are the notable experiences from the 11 weeks since I last posted (there is a lot to go through but I’ll try and be brief!):

I’ve been doing a wee bit of snowboarding recently… a while ago I hitched a ride with Sasja & her friend up Cypress mountain to go night riding… it was so much fun, and being the end of the season, there weren’t any queues at the chairlift! Ideal. On top of that, I finally connected my turns and could ride for more than 20 meters without bailing. Progress. My second night boarding experience was up Seymour mountain where they have $10 ladies night (score!). There was limited visibility, but my confidence improved greatly (although I did get a bit overconfident at one stage and as a result performed the biggest face plant ever seen)… in true last-minute-Laura fashion, I missed the last shuttle down the mountain, so managed to land a ride with some kind strangers back home. A rather interesting end to a fun night.

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Looking as much an amateur as ever up Cypress (still had fun doe)

On top of this, I just recently went up to Whistler to work on my snowboarding (my goal was to do a whole run without falling over… which I didn’t quite manage. But I got close, so I’m still pretty chuffed with myself). Although at first I was a little hesitant to go by myself, it was hands-down my most favourite weekend so far. I caught a rideshare up on Friday morning (10/10 would recommend rideshare) and went hiking and exploring around the village. I also went to the Whistler church’s Good Friday service and ended up hanging out with a group of people I met there, so that was awesome! Saturday was completely dedicated to snowboarding – I went up Whistler mountain and went down as many green runs as I could to regain confidence (as it had been about 3 weeks since I’d been boarding last). Then I met up with a couple of gals and they took me over to Blackcomb to go down some blue runs! This was where I experienced a cat track for the first time… and I’m just gonna say right now that if you’re a beginner snowboarder, cat tracks are absolutely NOT a good time (my body was so sore afterwards that I could barely move haha). In saying this, it was totally worth it. My confidence was given a huge boost in knowing that I could handle blue tracks without going flying over the edge and snowballing down the side of the mountain. Yeeeeya.

On Sunday I went to church, checked into my AirBnB, had a wee nap and then went up the mountain for a few hours again. Monday was the best day by far… I met up with my friend Jane (we worked together at Kathmandu in Auckland) and her mates and they took me to the very top of Whistler. There, I experienced fresh pow for the first time! It felt like boarding on a cloud (I still can’t get over how cool it felt haha)! Despite the double-black-diamond visibility at the top (don’t worry, my mates were wearing bright jackets so it was all good ūüėČ ) it was my favourite run by far. Jane and I then boarded all the way down, I handed back my rental gear and rideshared all the way back to VAN. I went to sleep that night tired, sore, but very happy.

Another fun thing was the Vancouver Canucks v. LA Kings ice hockey game! Ali & I went together and had a great time. Who would’ve thought a Kiwi and a ‘Merican could get so hyped up over a Canadian hockey team! My workmate Rod was kind enough to lend me some legit Canucks apparel so I felt like a true fan (and I got to keep the cap – chur!). Even though we lost the game 2-0, it was still awesome and I can totally see why North Americans are so obsessed with the sport. It was fast paced and pretty physical, so really exciting to watch. What I found weird was that at the end of the game, the players didn’t shake hands or congratulate the other team. They literally just picked up their sticks and walked off! A bit of a contrast to the rugby games back in NZ, I thought.

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Ali & I having a lol

Some other highlights have been: eating my first proper Nutella donut which has completely changed my life as it is the best thing in the entire world (cheers Tim Hortons, you’re gonna be the death of me); walking the 13km Stanley Park Seawall with an awesome kiwi gal Holly (who’s from Tauranga, of all places!!); seeing squirrels, raccoons, skunks, chipmunks, and beavers all for the first time; having work hangouts at the Hawaiian-themed Shameful Tiki Bar; seeing the millions of cherry blossoms and flowers that have bloomed around Vancouver city; exploring Cleveland Dam and Capilano Valley; participating in the 10k Vancouver Sun Run (I aimed for sub 1hr and got 56 minutes… not a bad effort for 2 weeks training!); checking out the unbelievably beautiful Abbotsford Tulip festival; and most recently climbing Hollyburn Mountain.

On top of this, I think it’s about time I shared two super exciting things: 1) I’ve landed a job, officially starting the week after my current internship ends (so May 23rd)! It’s a Project Coordinator role for Ledcor, so essentially I’m gonna oversee projects and make sure their budgets, timelines, client communications etc. are all going smoothly. I’m so thankful for all of your thoughts and prayers, God well and truly pulled through big time with this one.  2) Mike’s visa has been accepted (!!!!) and he’s flying over in 2 week’s time! I honestly cannot contain my excitement about this – it’s been 3 months since we’ve seen each other and it’ll be great to finally be able to hang out in person (Skype is great and all but it just can’t beat the real thing). Eeeeeeeeeeep.

So yes, that’s about all from me. Over the next couple of weeks I’m preparing for my new job, trying to get connected in Church, and planning a super fun outdoorsy weekend for Mike when he arrives. Watch this space.

Adios Amigos

this fortnight’s highlight reel

It’s weird to think that I’ve been in Vancouver for over a month already. In a way it feels like it’s been longer than that – I’ve achieved so much and done so many things that it could easy be 6 months. Because I’ve been exploring the city a lot and now have a place in the city (more to come on this late) I feel at home here already, and because of this I’ve finally started to get a bit of much-needed routine back into my life. I thought that for this blog I’d run through the main highlights from the past few weeks.

First highlight was snowboarding on Grouse mountain. Grouse is the most touristy mountain in Vancouver, you can literally jump on public transport for $2.50 and it takes you right up to the ski lift in 20 minutes. I’m hoping to explore the other two mountains, Cypress and Seymour, later on (they’re more mountains for the locals), but Grouse was a great starting point for me. Anyway, I think I mentioned this in my last post, but I’ve never been snowboarding on a real mountain before. Leading up to this lesson I was so nervous and worried that I’d accidentally snowboard off a cliff or start an avalanche or fall off the ski lift or something. But when the time came I actually did okay… my worst injury was a bruised wrist (there were no broken bones praise the lord), a bruised tailbone and a mild case of whiplash! It was the most incredible day to be up the mountain – it snowed for the first hour and then cleared to reveal a beautiful sunset looking out over Vancouver city. At this time I couldn’t help but stand in awe of God’s creation, isn’t it just so amazing that the God who made the mountains and seasons and sunsets made us too? Blows my mind errytime.

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First time snowboarding up Grouse mountain (literally just after it snowed and just before it cleared)

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This scenery just gets me every time. So beautiful!
Another highlight was spending a weekend in a corporate box at the Canada Rugby World Sevens. Even though it was for work (it was a networking & rugby watching shindig for NZ companies and their clients), it was an awesome weekend and didn’t feel like work at all. I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of Canadian and NZ players, sit next to the pitch while the Kiwis were playing, and make some valuable connections with people in various industries working in Canada. I left the weekend feeling very tired, starstruck and happy.

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VIP tour around BP Place Stadium before the Rugby Sevens.

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Sasja & I having a yarn with Mike Fuailefau from the Canadian Sevens team.
I also managed to squeeze in time for my first hike last weekend: Quarry Rock. Even though it was only a short hike, it was cool to get to know some people from Westside church’s outdoors group, explore the Deep Cove area, and get some much needed fresh air! I also saw my first eagle on this hike (which was EPIC), unfortunately I didn’t have my phone out at the time but its image is forever ingrained in my memory #cheesy.

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Looking out over Deep Cove from the top of Quarry Rock.
Oh and last highlight – I moved into my new apartment this week! Woohoo! It’s super central (literally a 7 minute walk to work in the morning), has a mean view of the harbour, is right next to the Seawall (aka. heaps of cool running tracks), and is shared with an awesome christian girl, Jenni, who’s also from NZ and has been living here for the past 2 years. Apart from the fact I now have to consciously reduce my use of heating (which is impossible considering how flippen cold it still is here) and buy myself a bed (cheers to Sasja my workmate who’s lending me her air mattress!!), it’s a pretty sweet gig, and I’m incredibly thankful to be living here. God is so good!

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Taken while on an evening run along the Seawall.

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The view from my apartment window… just imagine a mountain range where that white wall of clouds are on the horizon!
In spite of all of these sweet highlights, I am missing home a lot… I think this is because a) I’ve been teetering on the edge of sickness for about a week now and all I want is cuddles and homemade soup b) 1 month is a really long time to go without having a proper chat with friends or a hug from the family and c) I’ve been asked if I’m an Aussie soooo many times that I’m starting to worry I might actually sound like one and I really just need to be surrounded by some Kiwi accents and jandals to calm me down haha.

So yeah, that’s my fortnightly update (although a few days late). Vancouver’s still going great, it’s started to warm up a bit (if you consider a 12-degree high warm), I’m starting to get connected with Westside church, and work is going like a dream. I do have a prayer request if you’re willing: I’m in need of work in Vancouver after my internship finishes in May and I’d love to have a job that has something to do with my business degree and is also in an industry I’m passionate about (which I’m still to figure out what that is haha). Your prayers would be greatly appreciated!

That’s all from me for now, but I’ll be back!

Laura ūüôā

Excitement > nerves

So, I’ve been in Vancouver for 2 weeks now and I think I’m well overdue to give ya’ll an update. It’s been a crazy, crazy ride so far… I’ve learnt so much and been so busy sorting things out that I’ve barely had time to press pause and think! So here it is, a wee summary of the most significant occurrences in my Vancouver life so far.

On Saturday the 18th of February I took the hugest leap of my life so far and landed on a direct flight from Auckland to Vancouver. Excitement overtook nerves as I hugged my family (minus the little brother Nateo) and Mike goodbye (my eyes may have leaked a little but I think it’s because someone was cutting onions next to me how annoying) and prepared for the 12 hours and 20 minute flight… with a tail wind. I managed to score the window seat,¬†and as I flew out of Auckland at 8.10pm I got to witness a pretty spectacular¬†sunset. I was really excited about this until I realised that I had to climb over my neighbours every time I wanted to stretch my legs… not an ideal situation to be in seeing as they were sleeping 90% of the time and I was too shy to wake them up. As a result I literally only got up twice. Don’t ask me how I did it, but I did. Maybe it’s because I have a weird phobia of flushing the toilet on aeroplanes which sort of added to my reluctance towards getting out of my seat. But maybe not. Who knows!?

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Saying goodbye to Mike and my parents.

I landed in an overcast, rainy, and 6-degree Vancouver. After waiting for my visa to be cleared and my bags to arrive, I went out to meet the Australian girl I’m living with. She had kindly offered to come along and help me take public transport back to our house, something which I’m incredibly grateful for – I have no idea how I could’ve taken a¬†suitcase, a 70L hiking pack, and two carry-ons halfway across a strange city with just an address for guidance. The first thing that confused me (and still does) is how everyone walks and drives on the opposite side of the road. It seems like such a trivial thing, but I just can’t figure it out. I’m constantly walking into people or blocking footpaths because I just can’t get through my head that you need to stick to the RIGHT, not the left! I guess once something’s been engrained in your memory for the past 21 years it’s not gonna be that easy to overcome.

Finally we made it back to my accommodation – a cute wee house in North Vancouver, about a 35 minute bus ride into the city. I’m living with a young christian couple, their 2 (really cute) kids, and the Australian girl who’s also boarding with them. They were so welcoming and friendly that I straight away felt at home. After about a 15 minute yarn I politely excused myself and had a decent 3 hour nap (at this stage I’d been awake for¬†about 20 hours) then woke up to the smell of homemade pizza (what a great thing to wake up to right?). I stayed awake long enough to inhale 3 slices of pizza and then fell back into a deeeeep sleeeep.

On Sunday, I went to church with the family. It’s called Coastal Church, a cool old brick building wedged between high rises and restaurants in the heart of downtown Vancouver. I got the biggest shock¬†when I got off the bus, looked across the road and saw a huge shiny TRUMP sign glaring at me. Turns out it’s a brand new building causing, as you can imagine, a whole lotta controversy (a part of me was like what?? Trump is real? This is actually a real thing?)¬†. But anyway. Moving on. The people at Coastal were awesome, the message was great, and I left feeling really happy and excited for what God’s got in store for me in my time here in Vancouver.

Monday was errands day. Pretty much a whole day dedicated to a) sleeping in and b) sorting out my life. I had to do bank stuff, and phone stuff, and visa stuff… I’d heard stories about people who’ve really struggled with this sort of thing so I was a little worried at first, but¬†luckily it all went really smoothly.¬†Throughout my day I realised that Vancouver is actually really similar to Auckland. It’s a big city, it has lots of shopping (although VAN definitely has the upper hand when it comes to variety and quantity. I could shop for days. Literally. Someone needs to stop me), it’s really culturally diverse, there’s a lot of people and buses and traffic, and it’s right next to the harbour. I don’t know whether it’s just the novelty of being in a new city or what, but I definitely prefer Vancouver over Auckland, despite their similarities. There’s a sort of freshness and energy to Vancouver, and I guess you can’t beat the fact that you can see snow-capped mountains (Grouse, Seymour, Cypress…) from downtown. That’s pretty spectacular.

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Looking over towards North Vancouver and Grouse Mountain from downtown Vancouver.

Tuesday was my first day of work.¬†[For those of you who don’t know, I’ve got a 3-month internship with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) through my uni’s internship programme ‘internz’.]¬†I was pretty nervous to meet the team and find out what I’d be working on during my time here, but the fact that I’d worked with the company in Wellington before coming to Vancouver helped calm me down a bit. Meeting the team for the first time, my fears were instantly mitigated. This friendly, tight-knit team of 4 (now 5) made me feel comfortable and confident, and I instantly clicked into their wee office ecosystem. There’s 3 kiwis, a Kansian (a guy from Kansas. Makes sense right?) and a born-and-bred Vancourite – together I think we make a pretty cool team. The most exciting thing about my time here with NZTE is definitely the Canada Rugby World Sevens coming up in a weeks’ time. We’ve got a corporate box, so we’re organising an event over the weekend where our customers and business partners can come along, network, eat (my favourite part) and watch some sevens! My role is to help with the organising and logistics of the event, and to sort of be an extra pair of hands where needed. It’s great, it keeps me super busy, and hey… free ticket to the sevens (which, might I add, has completely sold out. Maybe the Wellington sevens can take some pointers?). So yes. That’s my work. I’m loving it.

Weather wise… well, it’s cold. But it’s a nice cold… not the usual Auckland cold where you feel constantly damp and wet and muggy and icky. No, it’s the sort of fresh, crisp cold where you don’t actually mind being a little on the chilly side because you feel so refreshed. According to all the Vancouverites I’ve bumped into, this winter has been really out of the ordinary. It usually never snows in downtown Vancouver, however this winter it’s snowed multiple times (and we’re forecast for more next week… apparently a snowfall in March is like, UNHEARD OF, so it’s quite cool to be witnessing this record breaking winter… Woohoo!), much to my delight but¬†the local’s¬†dismay. I’ve never witnessed proper snowfall before, so I’m pretty thankful for this random winter weather Vancouver’s been having.

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First time seeing snow in our backyard! Like a kid at Christmas.

I haven’t really had a chance to get outdoors and explore yet. Because I’m working full time and it’s dark until 7am and then dark again around 5pm, I can’t do much before or after work. So I rely on the weekend (of which I’ve only had one) to give me my adventure fix. So, this weekend, I’ve decided to step completely out of my comfort zone and take a snowboarding lesson to give me my adventure fix for the week. I’ve only ever snowboarded twice (at Snowplanet so it doesn’t really count) so this will be a very interesting experiment. I’m really nervous but hey, how could I come to Canada in their record-breaking-cold-temperature-and-snow winter and not go snowboarding?

So, all in all, I’m really loving Vancouver and I think I shall continue to love it into the foreseeable future. It’s so exciting being in a different country. There’s always something new to learn or observe or visit,¬†and¬†I think the fact that Canada is so similar to New Zealand has also helped me to feel at home here. The people are really similar, there’s a real¬†outdoor adventure focus, and the scenery reminds me a lot of back home. I’m not saying I don’t miss home, because I do (so much), but I think the excitement outweighs the home sickness and nerves I’m experiencing. And I think that’s a pretty great way to be.

How I feel about moving to Canada

Hey folks. My life has been insanely busy lately, what with organising my departure from Wellington, my interim stay in Tauranga, and my imminent arrival to Vancouver. ¬†If I have to pack ONE MORE SUITCASE I think I’m gonna cry – either from exhaustion or from the sudden realisation of what I’m about to do.¬†I’m flying out on Saturday which gives me around 3 more days to sort my life out, say bye to my fam, and buckle in for the ride of my life (so poetical). Who would’ve thought there was so much to organise to simply move to another country (it’s simply not that simple)? Thanks to this big move, I’m really¬†beginning to master this ‘being an adult’¬†thing – sorting out insurance, bank stuff, flights, visa, work… just call me the Mr Miyagi of adulting.

That being said, there’s a couple of things I need to get off my mind – one good and one bad¬†– so bear with (get it, because there’s bears in Canada? Really on form today).

Firstly, the cold. This is bad. I CANNOT DEAL with cold. For the past 3 years, I’ve spent my winters in Auckland, which usually averages around 14.5 degrees during the day. To me, it feels like Antarctica, and I cannot leave the house without¬†turning into a walking icicle unless I have 5 layers of clothing on and a warm cuppa coffee in my frozen wee hands. So now, moving to a city where the average temperature is currently 7 DEGREES and SNOWING overnight, I don’t know how I’ll possibly survive. Maybe I’ll turn into a snowman and be the next Olaf in Frozen. Or maybe I’ll turn into an ice statue and be discovered by archeologists 1,000s of years into the future. Or maybe I’m totally exaggerating and I’ll actually be fine. We’ll soon find out.

Next up: a good thing. It’s something I’m so excited about and have been dreaming of since I was a kid… the outdoor adventure. Canada, like New Zealand, is well known for its scenic beauty and extreme sports. From snowboarding and skiing in the winter to hiking and mountain biking in the summer, it’s got it all, and I cannot WAIT to experience what Vancouver & beyond have to offer. My initial to-do list is¬†cycling around Stanley Park and snowboarding on Grouse Mountain. After that, it’s an open book… I’m spoilt for choice.

All in all, I think that the idea of a new, beautiful, adventurous country waiting to be explored far outweighs the cold¬†(and possibility of turning into a human ice block).¬†Follow along if you want – I’ll keep you updated on my whereabouts, the ins and outs of moving to Canada, and my general outlook on life overseas.

T-3 days pals. Hold ya breath. This Laura is about to fly the nest.

Murky waters

Well hello there, and welcome to my wee blog. I’ve never done anything like this before – writing, expressing my thoughts, sharing my adventures. I’m usually one to keep to myself and quietly watch the world go by. Not anymore, it seems. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just sit inside all day literally staring out my window and watching. I get outside, I hike, I run, I swim, I explore, I eat (a lot). But I don’t usually write it all down… I prefer to quietly appreciate the things I experience in life then go and do something else.

I think the reason that I’ve suddenly felt the need to blog is that my life is no longer¬†predictable. For the last 15 or so years I’ve always had a next step, it’s always been laid out for me; go to intermediate school, finish high school, get a degree…but now what? The future which has always seemed so clear is suddenly murky and unknown. And I guess that freaks out the over-obsessive-planner in me a little bit. I can barely even begin to imagine where I’ll be¬†3 months down the track, let alone 5 years! So, I guess that’s the purpose of my blog. To record and reflect my adventures, my missteps, my revelations¬†and my successes… and wherever they take me.

Hopefully this gives you some insight into what my blog will be about. Just lil old Laura, finding some clarity in the murky waters, stepping out of her comfort zone and trying to do something that challenges her every day. Take today, for example. I started a blog. Scary stuff.