The trials and tribulations of returning to my small hometown for the summer

Op-eds Opinions

Just a small town girl

Photo accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

In the summer of 2014, I moved from a small village in the U.K. to Nanaimo, B.C. You may have heard of Nanaimo; we have a very entertaining unsolved crime bulletin board, with headlines like, “suspect steals $300 worth of Himalayan dog treats,” and “‘surprisingly heavy’ bench stolen from park.” You may know the town for its beautiful hiking trails or the wonderful Woodgrove Mall (the bustling, culture-rich heart of the town — not). Perhaps you know it as the “hub” for incoming drugs to the rest of the island.

Obviously, my family and I didn’t know all this when we moved. We were charmed by the idea of Canada after life in a stuffy English village. Nanaimo’s remarkably high ratio of Tim Hortons to people wasn’t a deterrent, it just fed our beliefs of the Canadian stereotype and our dream of becoming real Canadians one day, eh? We were clueless to the sheer amount of crime and, worse, polyester clothing we’d face in our daily lives.

Despite its flaws, Nanaimo isn’t all bad. We have nice beaches once you clear the empty cans of Lucky Lager. We have some semblance of a nightlife if you can stomach unrelenting harassment from 45-year-old men in muscle shirts. Best of all, there are plenty of other towns just a short bus ride away — for example, Victoria.

I’m not ready to go back to a town where there is little to do besides get high in a jacked-up truck outside a Dairy Queen.

I fell in love with the capital city after spending an afternoon at the Victoria Jazz Festival with my parents (no, I was not a cool teenager), and I decided to transfer to UVic after a dreary first semester at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island University. VIU was a nice, smooth step up from high school — I didn’t have to ask to go to the bathroom any more, but some of my homework still involved colouring. I visited Victoria almost every weekend during that first semester, and these trips were responsible for saving my sanity.

As my very first year in Victoria comes to an end, I’m wishing for a time machine to go back and do it all again — UVic, please funnel some of my tuition into researching this! I’m not ready to feel unsafe walking 10 metres from work to my car. I’m not ready to stick out like a sore thumb in a group of people my age because I’m not married yet. I’m not ready to go back to a town where there is little to do besides get high in a jacked-up truck outside a Dairy Queen.

Thankfully, I’ll have access to a car this summer. I can’t help but sympathize with the poor souls stuck in their hometowns who won’t have the luxury of an emergency escape vehicle. To everyone in this situation, stay strong and remember that another great year of Blundstones, Patagonia, and white people with dreadlocks is just four months away.