Archive for November 2013

Sweater Weather?

When one tries to small-talk with another, the first topic to talk about that comes to mind is the weather.

The weather in Vancouver is unpredictable, and sometimes bi-polar.

From where I came from, there were only two seasons: the rainy season and the sunny season. But here in North America, there are four: winter, spring, summer, and autumn/fall!

Currently, we are in the autumn season, where the leaves start to yellow and fall. This is the season when it begins to get cold and frosty. In December 21st, winter begins!

So what is it about the Vancouver weather? A Vancouverite must know the infamous moniker named to the city- RainCouver. The name says it all; it almost always rains in Vancouver.

Do not be fooled if it's sunny in the morning and haven't checked "The Weather Network" yet. It could potentially rain! There have been many days when the sun was shining up high, the sky cloudless. Then a few hours later, it starts raining like cats and dogs. Also through past experiences, most of the time if it's sunny, it's cold. On the other hand, if it rains, it's not as cold.

Of course, the statements said here are not scientifically proven but are from experiences of my peers and mine. This coming winter, make sure to bring an umbrella with you at all times unless it's certain that there would be sunshine.

When the rain and the cold come, just remember to keep calm and cozy!

Have a grand day.

A Place to Call Home

the noise of the turbines,

the abundance of x-ray machines,

the chatter of people

some with tears, some without;

they start to get to me.

I walk.



while pulling this bag of mine, I think:

this is it. I’m leaving home.

it starts getting in to me.

this is it, I’m leaving home

in hopes of finding a better place

to call home.

- Jose

How I Met My Best Friends

(This is a post about my first day of school in Canada and how I met my best friends.)

It all started when I was still waiting for the result of my assessment examinations. One morning during the first week of my school here in Canada, I got a call from my mom. She told me to dress up within 15 minutes! She said that we have to go to the school. I was really hurried because I didn’t even prepare myself. When we arrived to school, my counselor came to talk to us. He also introduced me to another new student. He is Japanese and also my first friend at the school! The counselor said that we had to start school the day the day after. On the next day, I was really nervous because I didn’t know anyone. I went to the counselor’s room and waited for the bell. After the bell rang, my counselor took me to the first class. When we got to the classroom, we were shocked to see an empty room. My counselor and I were like “where are they”? So my counselor asked the student that just passed by….. and guess what he told us? My classmates and teacher were all at the garden!! That meant I had to help them planting and cleaning up the school instead of English class.... which was interesting!

Regarding my best friends, I didn’t really have friends for the first class because most of them were ESL students who rarely talked to me because of language barrier. Luckily, in my dance class (on the same day), I met a person from the same country as me! So she brought me to eat lunch with her and her friends. I was really happy and thankful for her for bringing me to this group. I am so happy to know that we have lots of things in common and yes.. they are my best friends now! 


5 Stages You'll Go Through When Adjusting To Your Life As a Youth Immigrant

1)      Early excitement

At this stage, you are very excited about a lot of things. That’s normal. You are new to this country, so you try to imagine all the amazing possibilities that can happen to you in this new place. You think about the new friends you will make, the new places you will visit, and the different type of freedom you will experience in this country. For those of you who moved from a tropical country, you might be excited about winter and/or the snow. (I must admit I was at the beginning!) Then come winter, you'll be disappointed to find out that the snow melts so fast because of rain.

2)      Shock and longing

At this stage, you realize that moving from one place to another is not that easy, especially if this is your first time doing so. After being excited for the first few weeks, you now feel overwhelmed. You now know that your life here will never be the same as your life in your motherland. You realize that it will take a lot of time before you build friendships as meaningful as the ones you have made in your home country. You start to miss your best friends and relatives back “home”. Feeling like you can’t cope up with the changes that are fazing you, you constantly debate with yourself trying to figure out whether moving here is the right choice or not. Tears may or may not be part of this stage.

3)      Gradual adaptation

After being overwhelmed with your new surroundings, you now realize that there’s no better person to help you with your adjustment but yourself. You now start making friends with people who understand you and whom you understand. You slowly let go of your fears. You begin trying out new things, becoming involved in your community, and exploring the city you’re in.

4)      Optimism and renewed excitement

After letting your guard down, excitement starts to fill your mind and heart again. You are once again excited about the numerous opportunities that this country offers.  You start discovering your potential, which empowers you to remain involved in your school or community. You now regularly hang out with your newfound friends, and you enjoy their company a lot. Waking up for school is now less dreadful than it was during the first month of school. Now, you look forward to living a new exciting life in this country—as a student and as a youth.

5)      Continuous swim between the currents of two (or more) cultures

You are now well adjusted to your life in this country, but that does not mean that there will not be times when you will suddenly miss your motherland again. Every now and then, you think about what your life could have turned out to be if you did not emigrate your home country at all. You will constantly ask yourself where your true “home” is. Oftentimes, there will be no clear answer. That is okay, because here’s the truth: the country that you left, and the country that you are now in are, in one way or another, both your homes now. Do not worry about being confused as to where your true loyalty lies. Even though you now are having a blast in this country, you will still long for some memories that you created in your native country. You can never entirely abandon your love for either country. So there’s no point debating where your true home is. Just remind yourself of how blessed you are to have two places that you can call home--not everyone is given that chance.

- Sean

What I Will Tell You

As I  sit in front of my computer and stare at the blank document with that annoying cursor that is continuously blinking in front of me, I wonder and wander what to write and share to the rest of the world. But mostly, I am thinking about what I will tell you.

You see, there are a lot of things that I want to tell you. But I don’t know where to start and how exactly I am going to tell you. I want to say it in a way that you will understand –maybe not today but someday.  Someday when you finally figure out how to navigate your way into this place you now call home. Into the life that you are unfamiliar with but will later call your own. Someday when that frown and confusion will turn into smile and realization. Someday when you are the one sitting in front of the computer and thinking about what you will tell them.

If I am going to tell you something, it might sound like this.

I will tell you that it is okay to be nervous on your first day of school. It is okay to feel that heart pounding against your chest. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. And remember, that you are not first person that felt that way. And if they survived their first day – you will, too!

I will tell you not to feel awkward and perhaps a little embarrassed about your accent. It will always be a part of who you were, who you are and who you will be in the future. It will always be a reminder of a place you once called home, a part of your identity and something that makes you even more special.

I will tell you that as you adapt into the new ways of living in your new home, you may or may not have a lot of questions about your identity. You may question who you will give your loyalty to. You may or may not question where you stand and where you really want to be. So I will tell you, you don’t have to choose. You can have the best of both worlds. You can love both without being guilty. You can love your home country and your new home at the same time. No one will take that away from you because that will always be a part of you.

I will tell you that as time passes by, you will have a lot of experiences –good and bad. So the best thing that you can do is take something from it, learn from it and use what you have learned as you move forward.

I will tell you, that someday, you are going to look back and realize how far you are from where you started. And you may be confused right now, but I will tell you, it gets better.

But the most important thing that I will tell you is that it is always up to you. No matter what I say or what other people will say, it is up to you to make the best of everything around you. It is you and only you that will decide what to make of and do with what you have. It is up to you to paint the world as you see it fit. It is up to you to decide where you want to be and who you want to be. It is up to you to become the best version of yourself and embrace the experiences you will have along the way. It is you who can tell what you can and what you cannot do.

As I look up and read what I have written – or typed, I realized that I have a lot more things to tell you. But if I will tell you something, it will definitely sound like this.

- Janine

Where I Grew Up


I grew up in a country full of history,

From the Spanish Era to the Americans,

From Martial Law to People Power.

I grew up in a country filled with passion,

From sports to flag-waving

From  one helping hand to

A community.

I grew up in a country

That never loses hope.

From one war to the other,

From one calamity and another,

My country stands still.

We may cry,

We may fall,

You may stick us with dirt,

With trials,

With tragedies,

We will stand up.

And we will continue

To survive.

Because I grew up in a country,

Where there is unity.

Where love, hope and passion,

Are our inspiration.

For we are a strong nation,

That will continue to hold on

No matter what the situation.

- Janine

New is Always Better

"New is always better" 

I've heard this line from a TV show and my first reaction was "What? are you serious? That's a very wrong philosophy in life" Turns out, I ended up changing my mind.

If we think about it, we will probably reach a
 consensus: new is never always better. Just think about the development of new technology. Pollution is all over the world and human beings are always inventing new machines that have indeterminable outcome. 

But the thing we're
not seeing here is, our mistake or the past itself is highlighted by the "new" that we created. Even though the "new" isn't better, we learn that it's not a better replacement ergo it’s a "better" for we learn something from it. Was I clear on what I'm saying? 

Let me give you
an example, say you have the new PlayStation (PS) 3 but a newer PS4 came out. Of course, PlayStation® will always say that the newest PS system is way better in terms of quality than the previous one. So as a keen player, you bought it. Then voila! You realize that they’re exactly the same. And you can even notice that in some ways, your PS3 is actually better than the PS4 that you just bought. Still, even though the new console is bad, it's actually better that it happened because you found about it and maybe you can give a heads up to your friends. It's like a "learn from your mistakes" kind of thing.

When I first got here in Canada I thought to myself, "I'm in a completely new place, which means new faces, new experiences.. everything is a 'first'  again." I'm a person that dislikes
first experiences, simply because it makes me anxious. I don't like doing it by myself alone, at least if I saw someone do it I guess I would know my way into it when it's my turn.  

Though these
 new things and experiences made me scared, it only made me better in the end.
I learned that, the thrill you feel when you do something for the first time is actually fulfilling and achieving. 

New things and changes will scare you, but no matter what outcome happens from it, it will always make you better.


       “don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life” – anon.

Are We Becoming Robots?

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my phone for missed messages and/or calls. Admit it, you do it too. However, that’s not the only thing I do. When the world is at your fingertips, it gets harder to get up in the morning.

I’ll be honest, I check my social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) before I get up in the morning (or even the afternoon). It is as if these sites are the source of news, celebrity gossip, and our friends’ lunch. When I ride the transit, I put these earphones that shoot out music in them in order to shut out the noise. Is there anyone out there with the same experience? I’m sure I’m not alone. What is happening?!

When the food comes when I eat out with my friends, they all whip out their smartphones and go on their cameras to take a picture of their hopefully scrumptious food. During the meal, we all become silent not only because we’re eating, but also because we’re on our cellular devices tweeting how good or how sucky our food is. Sometimes we go on our phones to see how many people have “liked” or commented on our photos. Slowly, we are being devoured by what we call the internet. Gradually, we forget that we have friends around to enjoy times with. We turn into metaphorical robots. WAKE UP!

Somewhere in this blog post is a short YouTube clip that you must watch. After seeing it, my eyes opened and I said, “what is happening?” I then realized that I have been a victim of this, and want to stop it.

So ride with me. Whenever you catch yourself, remember to live in the moment. The moment is not going to be there forever! You must cherish it. Being new to Canada, one must be exploring the great outdoors, not the interwebs. Actually be with your friends and have a good time. Maybe leave your electronic device at home on purpose. That way, we all become present and alive in every moment.

The best thing you could do after reading this post is to ask yourself, “am I being a robot?” If not, then you’re living it right. If you said yes, then maybe you should consider the few suggestions given above. Make the acts to seize the day.

Living in the moment,

A Lesson I Learned in My Life

Behind every beautiful life, there is some kind of pain.


I have reached the phase where I think everything is unfair. I'm sure everyone has experienced this at least once in their life. Everything seems to be antagonizing us. That even though we're working our backs out there, it never pays off and what's  worse is those who seem not to deserve it get the pot of gold.

Now, I realize that life will never ever be fair. Life is different to everyone. We must stop comparing ourselves to others if we want to feel content  of what we have done. Sure, good things happen to others even though they don't seem to deserve it, but we only know their story not their journey.  

I have always been jealous  of others, or rather felt betrayed by life. I'm not talking about materialistic jealousies because honest to god, I don't care about having the finest bags, shoes or clothes in life. What I'm contemplating about is, how come I, who went through so much hardships, never get rewarded? Nor even get a rest?

I've been thinking about why those  people who  don’t even burn a sweat from what they do are the ones who still win the treasure chest? Why is my life at constant downs?

Why is life so unfair for me? Then it hit me. Life isn't about fair and equality, because no one gets to decide what's fair and equal. It only depends on how we see things happen.

I was not giving enough credit to myself. All I've been trying to see is the big reward while the reality is, the journey and what have I become is what matters. Sure there is sadness in our journey, but there is also lots of beauty. We just tend to overlook it so we think of our life as unfair.

We must learn not to compare our achievements with others' because everyone is different from one another. Sounds cliche but this is often what people forget.

So whenever I  feel hurt or exhausted by everything, I pause for a moment and take in what's happening around. I think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to think, to breathe, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love.

       “Once bitten, twice shy” – G. Northall

On Vancouver Schools

I’m currently in grade 11 and I’m currently studying at a secondary school in East Vancouver. Have you ever heard one of those typical stories where students get lost on the first day of school? Well, I have another story to add to those. Yes,  I got lost at the first day of school. Thankfully, the students there were so friendly and I barely had a hard time in the school. They even offered to tour me around the school, and guess what? I got a friend on my first day.
A friend. On my first day!
The teacher was also very helpful. They are always there to give you a hand whenever you have problems with your studies. The school teaches you to be very independent too; you are required to work if you want to graduate. Next, if you ever get lost around the city, just ask anyone around the area and they are assured to help you. In conclusion, Vancouver is a very safe and good country for new immigrants. Don’t worry about not being able to adapt well here. There are always great opportunities for you here in Vancouver that will help you find your way into your new life here.
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Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog is an online space made for youth, by youth. Here, you will find stories and experiences written by youth immigrants who once felt how challenging it was to be a newcomer in Vancouver. If you are a newcomer in Vancouver (or anywhere in Canada), we hope to give you all the resources you need to feel comfortable in this country. We hope to give you tips and advices on how we adjusted to our lives here as youth immigrants. Through this site, we want to empower you to bring out your full potential.





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