Go West, Young Man…

Or in this case, Woman!

It was the title of my Dad’s first email to me on my way out west. I had decided after having worked at Walt Disney World that I couldn’t stay in the small farming community my parents resided. I needed a plan and fast!

Back then, a friend and I had plans to go to England and do the whole work/live abroad thing. After much resistance from my Mum, I decided that maybe going overseas for my next adventure wasn’t the greatest idea. So I picked Vancouver. I knew mum and dad would like that idea because they had lived there for a time 30 some odd years ago.

I remember as a kid listening to Dad talk about their time out West. He was there for an orthopaedic residency program. Even then it was expensive, especially with two babies. He spoke of the beauty and serenity of the mountains meeting the ocean all in one view. You could ski in the morning and head to the beach in the afternoon. Who wouldn’t want to live there?!

I came home from Disney in February of 2008 and moved to Vancouver by August the same year. On the plane ride across the country I remember watching the Olympic Games on the tv. I thoroughly enjoy watching the Games. I just didn’t know at that point it was an omen for what lied ahead of me.

Vancouver…..it is where my heart stayed. Whenever I go back to visit, I feel a sense of being home. I lived there for 2 years and had my plans for future adventures not gotten in the way, I would hope to still be out there.

It really is everything my dad said it would be. I remember walking the downtown and just being in awe. Not because the buildings were all that impressive, but everywhere you turned you have this amazing view of the mountains. You can’t escape them and who would want to?

For the first part of my time there I lived in an area of the downtown called Yaletown. A very affluent part of Vancouver, it’s very industrial looking. It was once where the Canadian Pacific Railway established its work yard. Filled with lots of restaurants and boutiques, it’s a great place to spend some money.

My first roommate situation did not workout. I ended up breaking the lease to get the hell away from him. Having furnished the entire apartment myself, I left him with nothing but his little tv and his precious X-Box. It was then I decided that I never wanted to live with a roommate again. Until the man of my dreams comes round…then I’ll reconsider ­čśë

So I found a cute bachelor turned one-bedroom apartment closer to English Bay along Davie Street. It was the perfect location! Not only was I within a 5 block radius to some good friends, but I was a mere 2 blocks from the ocean! I loved that little place. Perfect for me! And I was still within walking distance to everything the downtown core had to offer. Everything in the downtown core was within walking distance to everything. Vancouver is one of the most walkable cities I’ve had the pleasure of living. Even though my job was clear across the core, I still walked to work.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I landed two jobs within the first week of living in Vancouver. Although one didn’t last long, my job with the Vancouver Canucks lasted the 2 years I lived there. I had filled out the online application before I had left Ontario. While I was mid-flight, they called my house to set up an interview. I remember how excited my dad was when he spoke to me on the phone about it. ‘Call them right away Brit!’ So I did! I had an interview within the next few days. Sitting down with Sarah for the first time in an odd storage room was fun. One of the questions on the application was, ‘Favourite NHL team (it doesn’t have to be the Canucks).’ I answered honestly and said it used to be the Toronto Maple Leafs but seeing as how often they lose, I think it’s time to jump on a new bandwagon. Go Canucks Go!┬áNeedless to say I was hired! Sarah got a kick out of that response ­čÖé Thanks for taking a chance on me all those years ago!

Working for a team I knew nothing about was fun. I would meet players in the store and have no clue. Thanks to a few fanatic fellow employees, I learned a lot about my new home town team. It didn’t take long to jump on this team’s bandwagon. I started off working only game nights in the retail kiosks/store in the arena. I soon ended up in the warehouse working with product orders and stock. Those days were always fun. Just three of us plugging away at tagging new merchandise, laughing our days away. After my time in the warehouse, Kelly was promoted which opened up her position. I was offered and I accepted. It was more of a visual merchandiser role. I was in charge of restocking the arena kiosks and creating displays for game nights. I spent a lot of time alone, but soon gained a helper. I would remain in that position until I resigned in 2010.

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Working at then, GM Place, had its perks. I knew that Vancouver was the next host city for the Winter Olympic Games. I knew that GM Place would be a venue. Ultimately I’d be in the middle of the Games by working at this arena. How exciting! Little did I know that this arena would not be my ‘home’ for the Olympics.

A friend at the time mentioned an application floating around online for a hospitality company to work for during the Games. She thought I’d be perfect because of my recent time at WDW. I looked into it immediately. Jet Set Sports is THE┬áhospitality company for the Games. Corporate sponsors and the like use this company to enjoy the Olympics up close. Who wouldn’t apply…I did and I got called up for an interview. The process was a bit long but nothing I hadn’t already been through with Disney. I ended up snagging a position as a hostess to Deloitte. My team was small, just two hosts and a hospitality suite hostess. My manager was easy to get along with as she had seen my skills on the mic during a training session.

My job was the ensure my clients got to and from their events without any issue. I was lucky enough that my client had tickets for their hosts to attend all their events during the Games. I was sitting in prime seats for all the mens and women’s hockey games, ice dance, speed skating and Opening/Closing Ceremonies. I was literally living the dream! Never in my wildest dreams had I thought I’d get the opportunity to attend an Olympic Games let alone watch them up close and personal.

The city was a buzz with Canadian spirit. The whole world was in Vancouver and it was amazing. My guests were from all over Canada, and big time CEO’s of major corporations. I felt intimated at first, meeting such important people. But they were the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Two weeks of non-stop work went way to fast. My days were literally blurred into each other. There would be times where going to bed just wasn’t an option. Being ready for 6am and not getting home until about 4am….what’s the point of sleeping? The day after Closing Ceremonies, the city was dead. It was surreal walking to work that morning. It was as if the world hadn’t been here at all. All was quiet…eerily quiet. Athletes have been known to talk about a post-Olympic depression; being on such a high for that short period of time and then it stopping suddenly. It does happen. I remember feeling quite sad after my job ended with Jet Set Sports. It was an energy I didn’t want to end. All the people I had met and the friends I made, they’d all be going home to their parts of the country and world. It was sad seeing it all come to an end.

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A whirlwind of a Games and I wanted to do it again! It was brought up in the interview that the potential of working the Games in London was good having put one Games under my belt. My manager had even told me that if I apply, she’d make sure I’d be placed on her team again. Of course I’d work for them again and for the Games.

Two years in Vancouver and my life changed dramatically. The items on my bucket list were being ticked off and I hadn’t even realized it. It was after the Games that I had pulled my list out of a box in storage. I made it a point to work towards completing it. It was also then that I had to make the hard decision to move back to Ontario. If I wanted to get to England for the Summer Games, I’d need to save money. Paying rent in one of the most expensive cities in the world meant saving money would not be easy.

And there it was, the idea put in motion to make my life one hell of an adventure. I miss Vancouver everyday. I miss the friends I made while living there and I miss the atmosphere of city life. I don’t regret leaving Vancouver though. I needed to in order to do something incredible with the next chapter in my life. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up! Being in Vancouver at the right time in my life set up some amazing experiences for the next few years. I’m so lucky to have lived there when I did. If I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

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