Country Tourist, City Tourist

Oh, what a time to be alive.
Summer Sixteen has been lit, fam.
In other words, my first summer in Vancouver was a wild combination of fun, responsibility, and exploration as I was a tourist for my job, and on my days off.

In May I graduated with a Bachelors of Kinesiology and Minor in Biology! Hooray!
I wanted a fun post-grad job, and didn’t want to go home to Kelowna, so I wound up as a tour guide bus driver at the #1 tour company in Vancouver! With a Class 2 license, I got behind a 33ft bus, and was responsible for entertaining and ensuring the safety of up to 24 international folks on board (from 2-12 hours at a time). Most guests were from the US, post-boarding/pre-boarding cruise ships to/from Alaska, but some were from Aus, NZ, England and other countries. As the only staff member on the bus, I got to take my guests around the city, up the Vancouver Lookout, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Victoria and Butchart Gardens, while providing commentary on history and whatever relevant information I thought they should know (including information on trees, seaweed, Indigenous appreciation vs. appropriation, and the world’s best voted gelato).

It was probably one of the most stressful jobs I’ve had because of tired guests needing to be places in the middle of rush hour, but it was also the cruisiest. I learned a lot about the United States and fell in love with East Coast and Southerner accents. I also got to see how fun the tourism industry is – it is one giant fun family with the same goals in mind.

Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus (PC: Clara :))

This was my first summer outside of Kelowna, and it was different:
1: No flip flops, or short shorts. This summer I only really wore work clothes and exercise clothes, because all I did was work, gym and hike. Not a bad thing, just different.
2: Vancouver is not a desert. It was a cold summer everywhere, but even on hot days it only got up to 25ish and I kept waiting for it to get hotter. I definitely missed the stifling heat of 35 degrees, where the only thing you do is jump in the lake.
3: Own a bike and not a car. Have you ever noticed the difference it makes to have a full amount of air in your bike tires? Or the seat at the right height? Those things mattered this summer as I woke up and didn’t have my parents’ car to take to work and sometimes it was too early for the bus. Bike lanes and bypasses are unreal in this city, but it also meant I needed friends with cars to go hiking (bless you wonderful people).

In June I got to go camp in Tofino to celebrate graduation with some really bright and wonderful friends (whom are all on their way to grad school!)

I have no idea what came next, but I basically spent all summer all over the Lower Mainland and in the country side, being a mountain tourist. I finally got to do all the local day hikes: the Chief, Eagle Bluffs, St Mark’s Summit, Mt. Gardner (on Bowen Isl), Norvan Falls, Goat Mountain, Dog Mountain, and a couple of lakes here and there.


I got to go to Gabriola Island to visit my exchange Canucks (see Epic Aoraki). It was the only time I felt like I was actually on vacation this summer, since I didn’t have an agenda except to get there and see my friends. We enjoyed food from garden to table, and explored the island with the little time we had. Thanks for having me McCollums! Maya came to Van on August 7th to see Flume with me, which was a very good time.

I woke up like this

In July, my friend Kenna, whom we couchsurfed with in LA, came to couchsurf with me! We went whale watching and saw a pod of orcas, her favourite animal, including 105 year old Granny. We went all the way to North Van to indulge in vegetarian poutine  at Raglan’s (for her cultural immersion) and attempted a hike near Lions Bay.

imageAfter moving out of my apartment (RIP Studio 301) at the the end of July, Karin and I spent a night on the Chief, where we fell asleep on the massive granite monolith, watching shooting stars and listening to the Paper Kites. We hiked in the dark with headlamps and were dripping sweat from carrying packs up those stairs. At one point we couldn’t stop laughing at the impossible task of squeezing up and between the rocks (up to Second Peak) and nearly fell backwards down the mountain. Also, I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to camp up there.. so shhhh.

Mountain shadows disappearing over Howe Sound w my best friend and hiking champion


And now I’m moving to Korea for a year!

I have signed a one year contract and am embarking towards a 10 day orientation and immediately begin teaching class the day after finding out where I’ll live, what school I’ll teach at, and what ages I will actually teach…

I will be the only foreigner teacher in my public school, and will teach 22 classes a week, 8 hours a day. I’ll have co-teachers to help me but I’ll likely be responsible for all the students in the school, for only 40 minute long English classes.

Kids in Korea start learning English in grade 3 and English is very important to ensure a successful life, because of the importance of how well you score on the national high school test. This will be an interesting year.

This is the region/city I’ll be living in.

I am ready for whatever is coming my way, simply because I am not ready at all. This cultural experience will be the opposite of cruisey NZ, and the part that probably scares me the most is that I’ll be living alone in my own apartment. Many of you may know that I go crazy when I’m alone for too long.

I chose South Korea because it’s one of the best programs for teachers out there, since they orient you well and pay for your flight and rent.

Since I’m a tall person, I’ve packed a bajillion articles of clothing and like to think I’m ready for any weather condition. However, it is 26 degrees at 5am in Ulsan, and 35 with humidity during the day. Please send help and pray for me. In fact, thanks for reading this far!

You can check to see if I’m still alive or follow along on my adventures under the South Korea Teach page at the bottom of the menu bar (or click on the link).

These are my current feels.

Current song for these feels^

One thought on “Country Tourist, City Tourist

  1. Oh Sarah, we have many of thought about you. Think about this Irish prays: may be the angels flying around you. Some of them below, some of them on the right and on the left, some of them above, all of them carryingcfor you! We are with you in our minds and are proud about your confidence for life! You arme a very brave woman!
    Take care and let is be very close!
    Karin and Carlos from Ratekau

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