Liz Stokes, 23 from Stratford-Upon-Avon, tell us about her Olympic experience on Work Canada
My BUNAC experience started in Vancouver in January 2010, just in time for the Winter Olympics. I have been travelling around the world since 2008: destinations including California, New Zealand, Australia, and New York, and never before have I experienced such a patriotic nation with such pride and passion for their country as Canada! Running up to and during the games, the residents of Vancouver were so hospitable and welcoming, and I could see their country’s pride written all over their gleaming, smiling faces.
Running up to and during the games, the residents of Vancouver were so hospitable and welcoming, and I could see their country’s pride written all over their gleaming, smiling faces. Not only were the Canadians beaming, but people from all over the world that had come to Vancouver to experience this amazing event. Every second person in the city was wearing a pair of red mittens with a white maple leaf on, a popular piece of merchandise- even I had a pair to show my support for the winter Olympics- as they say ‘When in Rome.’ Cars donned Canadian flags painted on their sides, and flags fluttering out of their windows.
I live and work in North Vancouver, and every night after work we would head to Downtown Vancouver to experience all it had to offer for the games. Words cannot even start to give justice to the atmosphere in Downtown Vancouver. On the sea bus (the way you get from the North Shore to Downtown) all you could hear was the roaring of the Canadian National Anthem, of which I and every other non-resident had learnt all of the words! There was never a sense of negative competition between any of the different nationalities, and I felt such a feeling of nations uniting by the support everyone showed each other!
As we headed across to water to downtown we could see the glare of the Olympic Flame glistening across the water, which was positioned on the shore of downtown. You could feel the excitement building in the atmosphere the closer we got to the city!
As soon as we stepped off the sea bus all you could see for miles was a sea of red and white flowing through the streets, people standing on rooftops, hanging out of cars and shop windows; nobody was taking a single second for granted. Everybody was cheering, chanting, ringing cow bells, honking car horns, and saying hello to people they had never met before, but knowing that this was one of those memorable experiences that everybody was in together to share and remember for the rest of their lives.
We had our photos taken with so many different people dressed up for the occasion in their nation’s colours, and there was never a moment of unease in all the chaos; everybody was there to have a great time a cheer on their country!
As I made my way through the crowds I saw an ice rink that had been put up for the event with people skating on it, and a zip line going from the top of a high rise building back down to the ground. There were fairy lights everywhere, and people partying in the streets; I felt like I was in some sort of modern winter wonderland!
During the last day of the Olympics businesses closed their doors, and people were drawn to the big screen TV’s that had been put up throughout the city to watch the final events in suspense. I have never heard such a roar of cheering as when Canada won the Gold in Ice Hockey (THE sport of all Canadians)! Everybody was ecstatic and so proud of their country and even those people who are not Canadian, like me, could not help but cheer along and feel their pure sense of pride.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to hold the Olympic torch when it passed through West Vancouver, something that none of my Canadian friends got to do. The torch is carried all around Canada by volunteers who run a short distance with it and then pass it on to someone else, like a relay. I felt so lucky to have this once in a lifetime opportunity and it will be something I will remember forever!
I do not think that Vancouver will ever forget this incredible event, which has definitely put them on the map and made them a place where more people will want to come and visit. I had such an amazing time and the whole experience has put Vancouver in a very special place in my heart. Bring on London Summer Olympics 2012!
There are so many things to do and see in Vancouver, and I can’t wait to experience more! From sunbathing on one of the many beaches, to rock climbing, wake boarding, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, ski-ing, quad biking, ice-hockey on the lake, kayaking in Deep Cove, walking to Sea Wall, exploring night markets, or just watching the world go by at a local cafe. Vancouver has everything to offer for those who are adventurous, free spirited, and like to take life by the horns and live every day like it’s your last.
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