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Valuable Life Lessons That I Learned Growing Up in Vancouver

A Diverse, Intricate City Filled with Yoga Pants, Hockey Sticks, Smoked Salmon, and Paleo Diets

Photo Credit: Michael Mak Photography

Looking back at this post, I realize that some of these might sound a bit... obvious. But how often does one remind themselves to do these simple yet excruciatingly difficult things and eventually find themselves not actually doing them until it's too damn late?! It is precisely those 'ugh–damnit' moments that encouraged me to write about the valuable-yet-simple life lessons that living and growing up in Vancouver has taught me over the years. An umbrella-in-the-face nudge, just to remind you, if you will. So roll out your yoga mat, strap in and channel your inner Buddha; here are some of my most valuable life lessons I learned growing up in Vancouver.

There really is no better ice breaker than talking about the weather.

If there is one thing that Vancouverites come together in united fronts about (aside from their fanatical love for hockey), it's the weather. When one complains about the amount of rain, everyone complains together. When it's beautiful out and you are in a good mood, it's safe to say that Vancouver is probably in a pretty good mood too. When you're complaining about the 2 cm of slushy, slippery ice on your driveway from the phenomenally exaggerated amount of snow the night before, you can find solace in knowing that Vancouver is collectively just as frustrated as you are. This point makes meeting new people a practiced art form.

Always take your umbrella etiquette, very, very seriously.

It seems nowadays it is incredibly easy to tell if one hails from Vancouver or if they are a simple tourist, just from the way they carry their umbrella. It is a rather known fact that raincoats and waterproof boots aren't the only weather-appropriate essentials for a good drenching, and Vancouverites are big fans of the brilliantly invented umbrella. But if your ma and pa didn't teach you to lift your umbrella for the taller folks coming towards you heading in the opposite direction, or if you are so inclined to walk under the awning with your umbrella wide open, forcibly pushing those without umbrellas into the rain...well sir, you're in for a treat! The lesson here: don't jab peoples' eyes out and learn to rain-walk considerably, otherwise ditch the damn thing altogether and rock the hood like a real Vancouverite would.

Learn the difference between Vegetarian, Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Raw Vegan, Pescatarian and Gluten-Free. It's important.

Ok, here we go:
-takes a deep breath-
  • Vegetarian: Does not eat meat but can eat everything else, including animal products.
  • Paleo: Only eats what cavemen would eat.
  • Keto: Does not eat carbs, is meat, cheese and nut heavy.
  • Vegan: Does not eat meat or animal products.
  • Raw Vegan: The Tao monks of the Vegans. Generally seen hanging out together.
  • Pescatarian: A fishy version of the Vegetarian.
  • Gluten-Free: A confusing, complicated mess of a person who seems to be unable to eat anything. 

See, I got this.

Don't let your dream of meeting your favorite celebrity in a coffee shop ever die. Like, ever.

Despite what most people believe, celebrities are, actually, real people! (gasp!) And no, they don't all live in Hollywood, that one collective part of the world where God stores all the beautiful faces we see grace our TV screens on the daily. In Vancouver, the novelty is almost overrated, in fact. Faces such as The Rock, Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogan, and David Suzuki all call Vancouver home, and it's rare for a true Vancouverite not to have met or seen a famous face at least a few times throughout their lifetime. I bet if you look real close, you can still see the back of my head in that one episode of Smallville where I was trying to get to class on time after just having shaken hands with Kristen Kreuk.

It is very physically possible to go to the beach and hit the slopes all in one day.

You ever get those moments when you've set your sights on a nice day of skiing, but when you get to the top of the mountain you suddenly reconsider your uncanny choice to freeze your fingers off and change your mind? You get visual cues of sandy beach and warm sun kissing your skin and unless you can get a cup of hot chocolate in your hands right this instant, you're probably going to end up convincing yourself to try the skiing some other day. In Vancouver, we've been so incredibly spoilt in that this one factor is actually possible, and it's certainly a luxury to have the mountains and beaches so close to one another. And hey: in case cows are more your thing, we can certainly accommodate that too!

Don't ever forget which direction is North.

Unless you decide to leave Vancouver, in which case 'North' isn't always going to be 'where the mountains are' like all your grade school teachers originally taught you. Oops.

Know and appreciate the collective culture that is food.

If there is anywhere in the world that is a collective definition of 'food variety', it's Vancouver. We champion sushi (fun fact: we created the California roll!), make a killer smoked salmon, rock the tacos and burritos every Tuesday, consistently crave sweet and sour pork, subconsciously encourage the youth of today to come together at 9 AM for dim sum, dedicate an entire city to curry and spices, and ALWAYS put pineapples on our pizzas.

Don't hate.

It is extremely important to know the difference between good and bad sushi.

...which segues into the topic of sushi. This one saves lives: I remember going to a restaurant once with my parents in the States and hitting up a Japanese restaurant where they served salmon sashimi that, to my knowledge, was much more pink than it should have been. We eventually opted for a few bowls of ramen and udon, just to be on the safe side. Two weeks later, we learned that the restaurant had in fact picked up a round of tapeworms in some of the salmon. Long story short: fish mistakes are costly mistakes, but in Vancouver, they're only really costly for a short period of time (or until your sushi palette is craved-out).
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