Here we were, December the 30th ! It was time for us and our future classmates to take the plane for a new adventure! Trust us, adventure was the right word.
This adventure started at the airport when the airport security stopped us for our non-valid ESTA (Visa). Some were interrupted 2 hours before, while others were stopped 5 minutes before boarding. While talking with the security guard, we realized that everyone took the wrong number, the one located on the bottom left of our passport instead of the one on the top right. The only difference between the 2 numbers is one 0 at the end of the bottom one. Good to know!
But this was only the beginning…
After 3 hours waiting in the plane, we finally took off. Fortunately at this moment, all the students were in the plane and everyone around noticed them! Finally, after 13 hours sitting, sleeping and watching all the movies we could find, we landed in Vancouver YVR!!
You would think the adventure ended at that moment, but nope. While some of us lost their luggage, others had bags exploded. We each had to find a way to our Airbnb. Really quickly, we realized that GEM students were not only easily recognisable in the plane, but also in Vancouver! Every time we decided to go for a walk, we felt at home, meeting up with people we already knew! Vancouver is not so big when the French people come downtown.
We were the 31st of December, so what could we do to have fun in the afternoon before the New Year?! What about taking a 1h30 bus to go to the Mountains to visit SFU’s closed campus in a snowstorm. Yes, we did. After 2 hours, our bus driver announced that he had to stop and that no other buses would be going up or down the mountain. After walking in the snow storm for half an hour, we finally discovered the closed campus. Campus is even more impressive in the snow. Thankfully, we found a little open door that let us find a shelter in the gymnasium. This way, we visited the empty campus on our own until a kind security guard found us. He drove us down to the middle of the mountain. Five minutes later, we nearly died in the car of a crazy guy who offered to take us down to the city. That was the only car we met, as he decided to go drifting with his car in the snowy mountain…
However, we got back safe and sound in downtown Vancouver. It was now time to have some diner to prepare ourselves for new year’s eve. As good French fellows who don’t deal with traditions, we brought with us some baguettes, red wine and foie gras, a bit of France in Canada. Then, we decided to meet everyone on the pacific harbor to watch the fireworks. With no phones and a poor knowledge of the local geography, we did not manage to meet up with all of them, nevertheless we found the concert and the firework Launchpad. After walking around, we decided to find a place where to celebrate the New Year with Canadians. After searching for a long time, going from full pubs to full clubs, we finally found one which still had some place for us. We had a beer and some Champagne de France until the jet lag caught up with us in 2017.
The 1st of January was a day off for us. We walked along English Bay, took some pictures of the bay, and discovered the Polar Bear swim initiative (swim in the cold water of the bay). Then, the jet lag caught us again.
Here came the Day! Woke up early, called a cab and let’s go to SFU! As we already knew part of the campus, it was easy to find our way to the residence office where a hot coffee and some biscuits were waiting for us. We took our keys and instructions, then went to our new home for the next few months!
By Catherine Chourpa and Corentin Charneau