Paolo Catozzo, 24 years old
Destination: Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 10 months (2012 – 2013)
Hi everybody! My name is Paolo Catozzo and I’m here to tell you about my life experience in one of the most famous cities in North America: Vancouver.
I remember my departure from Italy just like it was yesterday, although now it has been a year since then. I went to Vancouver to take part to a Work Experience Program with ESL, a program that allows people to study in one of the destinations offered by the agency and to work for an equivalent period of time.
I chose Canada for different reasons: the beauty and the vastness of the Country, the quality of life, the opportunity of a work experience that could be useful to my CV, etc.
During my entire stay, I lived with one of the Canadian host families of the city. I really had a great time with them and I forged strong bonds of friendship with all of the members of the family. Even today, I can say I have a second family on the other side of the world!
My family hosted other students from different Countries of the world: Germany, France, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. The most beautiful aspect in that mix of nationalities was to share our opinions and to talk about our cultural differences. I am still in contact with them on the main social networks, and even though the great distance is not helping us, we always try to keep in touch.
During this long-term stay, I studied in one of the most popular English schools in Vancouver. The school is divided in several campuses, very close to each other and located in the main streets of the city. The classes took place in different buildings of the school and it was not unusual to change both classroom and building during the same day. It didn’t bother me at all, as it was a very good occasion to have a break between classes and to stop at a nice café to get some coffee or hot drinks, especially in the winter.
The study program is very well organized, because it gives students the possibility to choose among a wide range of subjects. You can also follow several curricula, in order to get – at the end of the program – one or more certificates offered by the school, which will be very useful for your CV. Such study programs have a variable duration, according to the frequency and intensity of study (part-time, full time, full time intensive).
Extra-curricular activities are managed by an internal office and are offered on a monthly-basis: they change according to the month and the period of the year and I can easily say that even the most demanding student in terms of fun and free time will be satisfied! Some activities are temporary, i.e. watching a game of the Canucks – the local hockey team and pride of the city – or of the Whitecaps – the local football team playing in the MLS. Others are available year-round, for example the excursion to the Rocky Mountains, to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, or a day of shopping in Seattle, US. Yes, that’s right: students can also visit the United States!!! During my stay on the West Coast, I seized the occasion to fly to Portland and watch an NBA game between the local basketball team and Houston. I couldn’t have spent my money better, since the Blazers (the Portland team) won the match 104-102, during the first overtime!
The city of Vancouver is simply wonderful. The weather, both during the winter and the summer, is never too extreme if compared to other areas in Canada, I dare say it is similar to the weather in Italy. Cold in winter, but not freezing. Warm in summer, but not muggy. The city is amazing every time of the year. The nature is luxurious and green is a predominant colour, even in the city centre, dotted by a variety of skyscrapers that remind the famous L.A. skyline.
Travelling inside and outside the city is very easy, thanks the numerous and efficient means of public transportation. In a few minutes, both with the bus and the skytrain, you can get to the airport, to Richmond or to Metrotown, home to the largest shopping centre in the city. Even at night, the city attracts tourists with all its lights, including those of BC Place football stadium.
Winter sports are a must for all ski & snowboard lovers, who need to experience the thrill of a downhill in one of the ski resorts of the area: Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain or Whistler, home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games who saw the famous snowboarder Shaun White win the gold medal in the freestyle.
Also in these destinations, the school offers a wide selection of activities, from skiing to easy snowshoeing.
During my free time, both when I went to school and when I started working, I really liked going out with my classmates and, thanks to them, I often had the chance to meet new people. By this, I could practice my English, but also my Spanish, and maybe – why not – try to learn a new language. With my Brazilian friends, for example, I learnt how to communicate in Portuguese. My goal is now to improve my skills in this language.
When it was time to find a job, the school and the staff of the internship office immediately suggested me where to search and provided me with very useful web sites. In a very short time, I found a job that allowed me to gain a valuable experience to boost my CV.
To finish, I would like to say that my language study stay in Vancouver left a very positive mark on me. It gave me the possibility to live as a true Canadian in one of the most famous and beautiful cities of the world, to get to know amazing people and to have a deep insight in their culture and lifestyle throughout the year. I was so impressed by it, that some friends and I decided to write, record and film a song & video, to give a tribute to the extraordinary beauty of this city and to show it in some photograms. I would like to thank all the people who helped me in this project and I hope it will be useful to other students, who wish to live this experience and to discover what it means to be Canadian and to be in Vancouver.
I would also like to thank ESL Language studies abroad for all the help and support given to me during these 10 months away from home.