It may seem a little ridiculous, but the reason I decided to go abroad was because I wanted to live on my own. My parents had not allowed me to live on my own in Korea, so I decided to go abroad! Then, I narrowed down my options to English-speaking countries, hoping that it would help me improve my English. Out of them, I decided on Canada, which is known to be a safe country with Americanized English, and I enjoyed the sunniest and most vibrant summer in Vancouver.
What makes Vancouver unique
It's been said that Toronto is similar to Seoul, and Vancouver is similar to Busan. Toronto is known for its skyscrapers, while Vancouver is known for its ocean and mountain views. When I went to Vancouver, this saying's meaning became clear. I was able to experience the beauty of Vancouver's natural landscape, with a small downtown area, a harbor right next to it, green trees, and numerous parks. The city is part of the province of British Columbia, and to be precise, this Vancouver refers to the area around downtown, while the majority of people live in Burnaby, which is the area next to Vancouver.
Vancouver has great transportation options, with the sky train and buses connecting downtown to the rest of the city. There is a great diversity of ethnicities living there, especially Japanese and Korean students who come to study English, like me.
Whether or not to choose a language institute
Honestly, I recommend you reconsider coming to Canada if you want to learn English. Students preparing private study abroad programs often think that enrolling in a language institution is essential. However, in terms of ESL courses, it is not recommended to enroll for more than three months, whether it is a working holiday or a simple language course, because it is lacking excitement. If it's just grammar, reading comprehension, and listening instead of special courses like IELTS. Despite that, language institutions are a great place to meet new people and make friends, so it's a good idea to think carefully about your enrollment period. If your goal is not to improve your English, but to see, feel, and experience a lot of different things, then a language institution is not so important.
Cool but torrid weather
Summers in Canada are some of the best summers I've ever experienced in my life. It's dry, but it doesn't have a rainy season and it's not humid like in Korea. I can feel cool in the shade of a tree during the summer when the sun is hot. Therefore, while I was in Canada, I rarely broke a sweat, and I even always wore a long-sleeved cardigan to shield myself from the sun. It's also great for getting a tan on the beach, picnicking in the park, and doing outdoor activities like hiking because it never rains. However, the sun is very hot, so I want to suggest putting sunblock on to avoid burning. In my case, I got freckles and sunburn from being in the sun for too long, even with sunscreen.
Where to go from Vancouver
I traveled a lot in the three months that felt too short. The first destination was the Rocky Mountains. The mountains are known for their beautiful scenery, with valleys carved out over millions of years by glaciers and mountains. Unfortunately, the hot and dry summer weather didn't stop wildfires from spreading nearby. For this reason, the smoke-filled skies of the mountains made for a very sorrowful sight. Next, I visited Seattle, the closest American city to Vancouver. If I had to fly from Korea to Seattle, I would have had to pay over a million won, but from Vancouver, it's only about a four-hour bus ride. I quickly saw the famous tourist attractions, including the Space Needle and the first ever Starbucks. Additionally, Vancouver's location on the west coast makes it a great base for traveling around the western United States. For this reason, I was able to visit LA, California. I went with a Japanese friend I had met in Vancouver, and although it was difficult to communicate with each other only in English because of our different mother tongues, it was a meaningful experience. Finally, I visited Toronto to see Niagara Falls. I didn't have any traveling companions, just myself. It was my first time traveling alone, so I was a little disappointed that I couldn't take any pictures, but it was relaxing and fun.
One summer dream
Being alone in a foreign country was a bit scary at first, but I enjoyed it and returned to Korea safely. My time in Vancouver was short-lived as I was more excited than scared. I made the most of my time in Vancouver by filling every day with various fun encounters and events, but three months was too short for me. This experience taught me that it's okay to not speak English well. I learned that English is all about confidence and attitude, and if you ever find yourself suddenly wanting to go somewhere, I recommend preparing for it from that moment on. Experiencing the world beyond Korea will definitely be beneficial.