What Makes Canada so Unique

Fri, 30 Jun 2017

Alyn Engelhardt
Former International Intern, SFU Public Square

Besides doing an internship with SFU Public Square (to find out more about my internship, read my previous blog post here), my visit was about exploring Canada and getting to know the culture. As a result, I travelled as much as possible. Over the Easter weekend, I took a trip to the Rockies. Even though the lakes were still frozen, I got an impression of how beautiful Canada can be when it is not rainy. Besides travelling outside of the city, I tried to see as much of Vancouver as possible. I went to many beautiful places like Lighthouse Park, Lynn Valley and Queen Elizabeth Park.

But what makes Canada unique for someone who grew up in Europe?

Vancouver is a new city. Most buildings are less than 60 years old. I grew up in a small village which is proud of its long history. Coloured streets in the center remind people where once a wall stood in the middle ages. For me, it was interesting to see how Vancouver creates its own story. People from all over the world come to this city. You can identify the different cultures by listening to different languages, trying new food or just observing the people.

Another big observation I made is the politeness of Canadian people. People stand in line to wait for the bus, saying “thank you” to the bus driver or just starting small talk with people they do not even know. I remember a rainy day during one of my first weeks in Vancouver, I had not bought an umbrella yet. During rush hour, I waited for the bus to arrive at my stop with a few other people. The rain was falling and I just had my cap on to protect my face from the water. Suddenly, a woman next to me offered to share her umbrella with me. That was impressive and I was really grateful for her generosity.

This is special, and the Canadian people can be proud about that.

My Canadian adventure has been one of the best experiences in my life so far. If someone asks me what my highlight was during my stay, I wouldn’t be able to answer because I have so many different highlights to share:

  • Staying at a First Nations hotel in Chase, next to Shuswap Lake. In the evening, during a campfire with plenty of smores, a member of the Secwepemc First Nation person us a little about their land, their traditions, and their stories.
  • Hiking to a historic crashed airplane near Tofino on Vancouver Island. It took us a while to get there; we had to jump, climb and balance to avoid falling into the mud. Even though we tried our best, we were completely dirty at the end, but it was totally worth it.
  • Finally, just before I left, the sun finally arrived in Vancouver. But instead of enjoying the sun on the beach, we decided to drive to Joffre Lakes to hike in the snow. The view was amazing and it is incredible that three lakes are so close to each other. 

Now that my time in Canada has come to an end, I feel so sad to be leaving. It has been an incredible experience which I will definitely never forget.

Canada, thank you for everything.

"XO" Alyn