How I fell in love with BC

“Let’s go, bro, almost there!”

mountains and treesI am slowly making my way up the Eagle Bluffs Trail. Beads of sweat are rolling down my cheeks. My heart is beating so fast. My legs are shaking. Every step is a challenge, but I keep pushing forward. Finally, the trail gets less steep, and the wind starts playing with my hair.

I can see my brother standing near the edge of the cliff. I head closer to have a look, and my heart leaps in awe.

 

 

A stunning view greeted me: the beautiful sky, deep-blue ocean, huge mountains, amazing weather, and microscopic people. Even as we stand here now, I still cannot believe how far my brother and I have come.

Ten months ago, we arrived in Canada to start our studies (2021 winter term) in the middle of the pandemic. I was so happy to come to Vancouver to study in the Telecommunications Systems program because BC has long led this industry. My goal was to earn a diploma and become a knowledgeable and skilled specialist ready for work.

School was always a top priority, as I had, after all, come all the way here to study. I had numerous hands-on courses and labs starting from the first week of school. My classes felt very safe, and everything went well with all health safety guidelines in place. Over the many months that followed, I learned a lot about telecommunication technologies, worked on various equipment and machines, designed interesting projects, and connected with great people from the industry.

Outside of academics, I got to dive into the world of work. After we settled down, I decided to find a part-time job to learn about the Canadian workplace culture. I looked into BC restaurants and food services, and after a month of job hunting, I landed my first job at LOCAL Public Eatery (Local Gastown). That was super exciting since Downtown Vancouver is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine. This job gave me a taste of the Canadian workplace culture. During the three months I worked there, I learned a lot about the restaurant industry, from line cooking to portioning and serving. My cooking skills got much better! During that time, I worked with an incredible team of chefs and servers from Mexico, the Philippines, the States, South Korea, Russia, and Vietnam.

Through another job, I got to see BC for the vast and beautiful province it is. Last summer, my brother and I found perfect summer jobs in door-to-door sales. We went on daily road trips and followed our own schedules. This has been the most interesting, rewarding, and challenging job I’ve ever done. Every day, I drove through and explored new neighbourhoods, met many people from different backgrounds, learned valuable life lessons, discovered different cultures, and challenged myself to walk faster, knock harder, and sell better. My best summer memories were our crazy weekend hikes to the mountains and swimming in lakes and rivers. This work experience enhanced my speaking skills, boosted my confidence, strengthened my character, and showed me that hard work and perseverance beat talent.

Beyond academics and work, I also got involved in on campus activities. Last spring, I was elected as the Chair of the School of Energy for the BCIT Student Association. I am grateful for my brother and my best friend (an international student from Taiwan), who helped me run my campaign. During my term, I spearheaded many projects and events, such as coordinating grocery deliveries for students living in residence, developing social events like a Spike ball contest and a Halloween event, and creating hands-on opportunities for Engineering students.

My brother, my best friend, and I also participated in the 2021 BCIT Student Innovation challenge, where we introduced our start-up idea: a mobile app for finding the best restaurant deals and offers.

My work experience at the LOCAL Public Eatery helped a lot. After several rounds (with many pitch deck presentations), we won 2nd place and got funding for further development. Earlier this year, my team of three also participated in the Nourishing Innovation: Campus Nutrition and Food Security Contest, held by several institutions, including BCIT, SFU, UNBC, and VIU. This competition focused on solving food insecurity in post-secondary institutions. We competed against ten teams from other schools and won 3rd place. We earned funding to run a pilot project this winter term. Our idea is to offer students living on campus free weekly shuttle bus rides to stores like Superstore, Walmart, and T&T directly from residences.

Looking back on all these experiences, I feel that I have transformed as a person. Now I am in my last term, and things have been going well. Over these past months, I have also faced many challenges, whether they’re related to academics, work, or involvement. But I was able to navigate them—here are two key support systems that helped me along the way:


1. People

So many individuals are very friendly and always willing to help. Even as an international student away from home, I never felt lonely or homesick: I have great friends, instructors, roommates, colleagues, and my brother. They always support me as I pursue personal growth and bring happiness and unforgettable memories into my life.

2. BCIT resources

Many Canadian institutions have international student cen- tres, student associations, and student life departments that focus on helping students thrive at school and navigate challenges—and BCIT is one of them. I connected with all the BCIT resources and services I needed to make the most out of my time here.

And here I am now, standing on the top of a mountain with my brother and reflecting on what I’ve experienced. We came to Canada with just ourselves and vague ideas about the future. That feels like yesterday, but it has been a year. I feel so grateful, looking back on everything we went through together. Every obstacle I encountered was a learning experience. I adapted to the new demands of life, and nothing has diminished my hunger to achieve and learn more. I see where I need to go and what I need to do.
My adventures here have been like the hike I just had—I can make it to the mountaintop by moving forward. But I also know that there is always a taller mountain waiting for me.