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Exploring Vancouver: Expectation vs. Reality - Part 2!

Updated: Feb 23



What international students think about Vancouver.

Thrivve is on a constant quest to be your ultimate wing person in Vancouver, and we had a coffee chat with some of our Thrivve tribe! The 'Expectation vs. Reality' topic came up in our talk, and it's part of the crazy adventure experienced by anyone who is an international student 🌆🎉 So, whether you're an experienced student or a budding explorer, we have the inside information to make the most of your time in Vancouver.


City of Opportunities

Expectation: Vancouver, located in beautiful British Columbia, is frequently praised as a city of limitless potential, where jobs and aspirations thrive, and success seems easily reachable.


Reality: Vancouver does, in fact, provide a wealth of opportunities, but it's important to recognize the level of competition. The high competition in many of these areas makes it necessary to build a strong professional network and hone specialized abilities in order to stand out.


"I had assumed that obtaining a job would be simple, but the employment market is tough. My hidden weapon has evolved into networking." - Maria from Brazil 🇧🇷


Weather Problems

Expectation: Some newcomers anticipate Vancouver's weather to be mild year-round, with little snow, a decent amount of rain, and plenty of sunshine over spring and summer.


Reality: Vancouver's weather can be unpredictable. Rain is a frequent companion, like, a super frequent one… and the city occasionally experiences snowy winters. When this happens, it turns the city upside down! Vancouver is never ready for the snow.


"I came here expecting constant rain, but I didn't anticipate the snowy winters. It's a whole new experience! It was crazy; the whole city stopped because of the snow" - Alex, Colombia 🇨🇴


Outdoor Paradise

Expectation: Vancouver is often touted as an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, with easy access to hiking, skiing, and other recreational activities.


Reality: While Vancouver does offer a wealth of outdoor activities, some students find the cost of equipment and access to certain outdoor spots to be higher than expected. Most of the best hikes and places to visit are only accessible if you have a car. #truestory


"I love the outdoors, but the gear can be expensive, and most hiking trails are pretty far away." - Sofia, Spain 🇪🇸


Language Learning

Expectation: Many international students come to Vancouver with high hopes of rapidly improving their English language skills.


Reality: Immersing oneself in an English-speaking environment is an excellent way to learn, but some students find it challenging to overcome language barriers and achieve fluency quickly.


"I thought I'd speak better in no time, but I still struggle with some expressions and accents. It's a learning journey!" - Mia, South Korea 🇰🇷


Cost of Living

Expectation: Vancouver's cost of living is often cited as one of the highest in North America, but some students underestimate just how true this is, even if they frequently read how expensive everything is while doing their research in their home country.


Reality: The high cost of rent, particularly in desirable neighborhoods (Downtown Vancouver), can be a shock to international students, and they often need to adjust their lifestyle, live with roommates, and budget accordingly.


"Rent prices in Vancouver were a surprise for me. I was hoping to live in my own place, but without roommates, I would definitely not be able to afford this." - AJ, India 🇮🇳


Navigating the System

Expectation: Understanding Canadian systems, from healthcare and immigration to employment, might seem straightforward yet occasionally complicated.


Reality: Canadian systems can appear daunting at first, but with time and effort, they become more manageable. For example, while Canada's healthcare system is simple to grasp, the absence of annual check-ups can be a surprise.


"There is no culture of prevention. You only get tested if you are complaining about something specific." - Andrea, Mexico🇲🇽


Life in Vancouver for international students encompasses a rich tapestry of experiences, from exciting opportunities in a new country to unexpected challenges and cultural differences that can cause immigrant cultural shock. The adjustment to Canadian culture and society, coupled with the pursuit of a better life, is a common thread among those who leave their host country to explore the foreign lands of North America. These expectation vs. reality insights, coupled with the voices of international students, provide valuable perspectives for those looking to start their own journey. 


Now, please, don’t forget that you can join our Slack community. There, you will be able to talk with other students just like you!


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