I’m 18 and went to the beach alone in a brand new city – here’s what I learned

The beach and mountains in the background, taken in from a picnic table.

I moved to small and dense city Vancouver, British Columbia on August 31. On September 1, I met the first group of people I’m going to school with for the next four years. September 5 was my university Welcome Day where I met even more people. Since then, I have met and gotten know more and more people in each lecture, activity, and event to exist. However, I quickly came to the realization that people here are the same as back home in Toronto.

There aren’t as many “Toronto manz” or “nyeeahhh ehh” people here, I actually find that strangers in the train stations, malls and at the bus stops are much more friendly than in Toronto. Though, I won’t call it laziness because that’s just not nice, everyone has their own life with its own problems and things to focus on, but (its always the but) people don’t seem to want to get out, try new things, and explore the world.

So far, every time I have asked people to rent a bike and go for a cycle around the city, or go to the mall, or go to the beach, the response is always hesitance, indicating a later “sorry I can’t, maybe another time”. Whether it be because of an assignment, family obligations (which don’t necessarily exist in university, so I’ve learned), or that its cloudy outside (be real, you don’t get out in the sun either lol), there’s always some other cause, or excuse, that halts their consideration for exploration. Its only been a few weeks, but those other times have yet to arrive. I can understand the lack of need to explore a city you’ve been in for years or your entire lives, considering all of these people are locals, but it is genuinely disappointing to see how little interest my generation has in the world outside of academics – the world that doesn’t need alcohol, vapes, dap pens, weed, etc. to enjoy.

I had already gotten used to doing things on my own and finding comfort in my own self. In this new city, new chapter of my life, most of my time is, in fact, spent alone, lone wolf type of thing. And so, I had a realization within the first 20 minutes of my three hour lecture – what if at 80 years old I’m thinking about all those times I didn’t explore a new city, a new beach, a new shopping centre, something or the other, simply because nobody wanted to go with me?

A lot of the time when I am walking away from something I debating on doing, for example, sticking my feet in the fountain (don’t worry other people were doing it too), I tend to consider “Will I think about how it would’ve turned out if I did follow through with the thing?” If I think I will, I go back and do it. If I don’t think I will think about this intrusive thought ever again, off I go to the next one.

That said, I texted a group chat of 8 girls, “I’m going to the beach on Friday after our math lecture, lmk if you’re down to join lolz”, and to no surprise, the message was only liked, not responded to. Thursday night, I laid out my things, took a picture of it all (in case I got robbed and needed to show the police an image of my belongings, of course), packed it all up, did my homework for the next day, and went to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a good day – a day of definition and improvement for me.

Friday came, I snuck a burger and fries from the dining hall into a container for lunch, the math lecture came and went, and one of the girls in the group chat was kind enough to hold on to the posters I had bought for my brother at a university fair but didn’t want to take to the beach (thanks btw). I then began my hour and a half bus, train, bus, downhill hike journey to the beach. Upon arriving, I scoped out my surroundings, got into my swimsuit (cause I love swimming), and settled on a nice shady spot against a massive log. I decided to call one of my best friends, but he was showering so I hung up (weirdo). I called my other best friend, she was busy studying so I let her be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the feeling of being alone on this absolutely gorgeous beach and people watching while my thoughts ran rampant, but I hadn’t spoken to them in weeks and it was the perfect time to catch up – in peace and quiet, no disturbance to anyone. That’s when I began to realize – everyone else who was at the beach alone on a Friday at 3pm was on the phone with loved one, at least I don’t think it was a telemarketer call that lasted the hour. Was it because all of them had gotten “sorry, maybe another time” from their new friends too? Or, did they just do it, no thought of another person? I couldn’t ask the middle-aged lady, she fell asleep and was all red from the sun.

Eventually, I got in the absolutely freezing water and called my parents from the ocean, simply because they had no idea I was doing this and I thought it’d be cool to be the daughter that calls you from the middle of the ocean. Obviously, my mom had a million and one questions, none of which I could answer considering the speed at which she was throwing them at me. Nothing more to say there, my dad and I had a long chat and my brother asked “what kind of school is this”.

It got to 6pm and my phone was nearly dead when I decided to commit to the up-a-mountain hike to the bus stop. Surprisingly, I made it up alive, after my mom and I had to call an Uber the first time we came to this place. Me and these three boys, one of which was literally screaming at his friends on his phone about how he’s waiting for the bus to get to the party on time. The bus, however, never came and all the available buses from this somewhat disconnected place had a caution sign for “Detoured” on Apple Maps. Then began the series of questions I asked bus drivers, the old-fashioned way in order to save my phone battery. One bus, not the one I was waiting for, finally turned up and I asked if it got me to desired location. He said it did so I hopped on, leaving one of the boys alone, waiting for the bus that never actually arrived (I hope he’s okay). Within minutes, we’re stopped behind four other electric trolley buses (the ones with the cables and poles out the top). There was a major car accident that caused all the detours, but all these buses had yet to be detoured so tens of us were just stuck – and I was stuck in a random, unfamiliar downtown area with no other apparent way to desired location. In continuation with my old-fashioned efforts, I asked some bus drivers that got out to check the accident on what to do since the entire road had been closed and I was way too tired for this sh-

I was advised to walk up this road, turn left at the A&W and take the buses at the traffic light to get to desired location. I decided to sit in the bus with all the other confused and weary passengers to rethink my options. I saw some buses were getting detoured but since they were trolley buses that had to be unhooked and rehooked over and over to the wires above, it was going to be a while. I started my walk, bought a burger at A&W because I had no idea when I’d get access to food again, and spotted the duck on a car (image on the right).

Finally, I spotted a bus and asked the driver who was quickly fixing the trolley wires at the back of the bus, since he had to go off-route, if it will take me to desired location – flashbacks, am I right? He said, and I quote “Yes, it will” very hesitantly. So I got on, sat for nearly 40 minutes, and asked this nice young lady if she knew if this would take me to the train station. The middle-aged lady of course got involved, put her thinking cap on, and stated that it would take me close to there. And so, like a sheep in a heard, I followed along when most others got off – it really does work at times. I got on the train, updated my family, and sighed in relief as I got back to bed, sweet bed.

I absolutely DEMOLISHED that A&W burger from earlier, showered, did my laundry, and felt proud of myself and my adventure from the day.

If you can’t learn anything from a day like today, what’s the point?

Lessons from the day:

  1. Be ready to communicate, and don’t panic if your phone dies (a local might also ask you for directions, wild)
  2. Have food, so you’re not hangry when you’re communicating – it might be dangerous for the opposing party
  3. Get used to spending time alone, and if you’re not, bring something for you to do along for your solo adventures – whether it be something productive and/or relaxing (rest is productive too)
  4. Finally, be ready for your mom to bombard you with questions about the 5Ws and H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) of your happenings, especially if you call her from the ocean – don’t worry, you won’t have to answer a single one – they’ll be thrown at you as fast as she’ll forget them


  1. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and
    tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a
    youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she
    has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    1. Would’ve loved to see how this turns out! Crazy to think someone is using my school project as data for their school project HAHA

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