Superstitions around the world

It’s not a secret that New Years Eve is a very special day all around the world, but did you know that countries have different ways of starting the new year? Taking English courses in Vancouver means meeting people from all over the world and it is interesting to find out how they are celebrating the beginning of a new year. People from all places have superstitions about the right way to start the upcoming year. For example, the most common practice worldwide is wearing coloured underwear to match what you wish to have during the next year. Red normally represents love, yellow luck and money, and white prosperity. In Latin American countries it is very common to carry lentils in your pocket to ensure that your wallet will be filled with money through the entire year. In places such as Colombia you can see people running around the block with an empty suitcase, with the superstition that this will increase their possibilities to travel. Another common superstition, not only in Latin America but also in Spain, is to eat 12 grapes on midnight. Each grape is meant to represent a wish. You must chug the grapes and think of your wish as you are eating them in the fastest way possible. In Brazil the superstition is all about throwing flowers and gifts into the ocean as an offering to the Afro-Brazilian spirit of Yemanja. This is part of an African tradition that spread around Brazil many years ago. In China the superstition is receiving the new year with a clean house, although it is very important to clean the house from top to bottom to make room for upcoming fortune. Some European countries such as Estonia have different superstitions like eating several different meals through the night to receive … Read more


New Year’s Eve in Canada

You get a break from your English courses in Vancouver on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 because it is a holiday. But New Year’s Eve on Monday, December 31, 2018 is not a public holiday so businesses usually have their regular opening hours. There will be fireworks, festivities and parties around Vancouver and Public Transit will be FREE from 5 pm on Monday, December 31, 2018 until 5 am on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. To celebrate the end of the old year and the start of the new year people come together in different constellations. Some prefer small private parties with close family members or a few good friends and others like big family parties with every single member of the family or parties with all the friends they know. There is also the option of joining a giant New Year’s public street party outside and getting to meet new people there. In Canada people usually look at fireworks, open champagne bottles and toast to everyone’s health, go skiing and snowboarding, or go fishing at a lake. In Vancouver you can celebrate at Canada Place, at the ski hills and at different night clubs. There will be fireworks in Burrard Inlet taking off at 9 pm and 12 am from the water near Canada Place and you can see them from Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and North Vancouver. A free New Year’s Eve street party with live music is happening along Canada Place Way or you can get tickets for parties at the Convention Centre. Fireworks at 9 pm are part of Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas activities on New Year’s Eve. There will be evening laser tobogganing, fireworks and other activities at Mount Seymour. Enjoy free music and walk around a labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 1130 Jervis … Read more


Seymour, Grouse or Cypress Mountain

There are three options you can choose from to find your mountain to go skiing or snowboarding in Vancouver. The mountain range north of downtown is formed by – from east to west – Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain, and Cypress Mountain. Mount Seymour Its highest lifted point is 1265m and its lowest skiable point is 935m. Mount Seymour has 3 lifts: 1 quad chairlift (Mystery Peak Express), and 2 double chairlifts (Lodge Chair & Brockton Chair). There is a total of 40 runs plus many acres of off-piste terrain. 13 of them are night runs (including Terrain Parks). Mount Seymour offers a ski area of 200 acres = 81 hectares = 0.81 square kilometres. 40 % is beginner’s terrain, 40 % is intermediate terrain, and 20 % is advanced/ expert terrain. The ski and snowboard area pass prices for this mountain for 2018/ 2019 are $64 (open-10pm), $48 (2:30pm-10pm), or $35 (5pm-10pm) for adults (19-59). It’s $47 (open-10pm), $39 (2:30pm-10pm), or $30 (5pm-10pm) for youth (13-18). Every Monday to Friday the special price for students (19+) is $45 (open-10pm), $39 (2:30pm-10pm), or $30 (5pm-10pm). You can also purchase a pass for 3 days called 3Ski pass (prices do not include tax). The 3Ski night (5 pm) pass (age 13+) including 3 evening lift tickets is $109 ($36.33 per day) with rental equipment and $79 ($26.33 per day) without rental equipment. The 3Ski day pass (age 13+) including 3 full-day lift tickets is $199 ($66.33 per day) with rental equipment and $139 ($46.33 per day) without rental equipment. Grouse Mountain Grouse Mountain’s highest lifted point is 1231m and its lowest skiable point is 866m. This mountain has 4 lifts: Olympic Express High-Speed Quad Chair, Peak Quad Chair, Screaming Eagle High-Speed Quad Chair, and Greenway Quad Chair. There are 33 runs, 13 … Read more


Canadian foods

Studying at our Vancouver English Centre is your chance to try different Canadian foods. The most famous Canadian food around the world is Poutine, a nice healthy mountain of crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside fries with a big drizzle of hot gravy and a nice scoop of cheese curds. It truly is one of Canada’s most delicious foods, but it doesn’t stop there. Butter tarts are one of the most confusing desserts because of its name but it really is a delicious two bite tart made with eggs, butter and sugar. But the winner of confusing dessert names are Beavertails, not to worry, no Canadian Beavers are harmed in the process of making the exquisite dessert. Think of a churro but very large and flat, covered in Nutella, peanut butter, honey or really anything you can imagine. Something very special that you can only get in Canada are Ketchup potato chips. Yes, you read correctly, Ketchup potato chips! They are an extremely delicious snack to have on the go but be careful as they will stain your fingers a little bit. But it’s all worth the deliciousness of the chips. It doesn’t get any more Canadian than Maple Taffy. To make maple taffy all you need is a big chunk of clean fresh snow and some hot, melted Maple Syrup. Take the syrup and pour some of it on your clean chunk of snow. Then, after a few minutes, check if it has set. Grab a popsicle stick and roll your taffy so you can enjoy it. Canadian foods sure are very interesting, eh!?


Metropolis by Metrotown

Metropolis by Metrotown is a shopping mall in Burnaby about 35 minutes away from Downtown Vancouver where you can find a lot of different stores to suit your needs. Even though shopping in Vancouver can seem expensive, if you branch out from Downtown Vancouver you can find cheaper prices and, in some cases, even bigger selection. As a student you can get 10% off with your EC Vancouver English Centre Student ID which is always appreciated. Metropolis by Metrotown not only has a lot of clothing stores to go shopping but it also has two different supermarkets where you can find tons of international products and snacks. A well know Asian supermarket named T&T has a franchise inside of Metropolis by Metrotown where you’ll find all the best Asian snacks and drinks, feel free to explore all the different products that are in store. Recently Metropolis by Metrotown got a nice addition, Walmart, the department store carries a lot of different products for a very reasonable price from clothing to toys and everything in between. Shopping in Metropolis by Metrotown is easy because you don’t need to go to a lot of different places to go shopping, there you can find clothes, shoes, electronics, soaps and even great food in the food court. Don’t forget to try one of Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese cheesecakes (the fluffiest cheesecake you’ll every try, they are so nice that even after 6 months of opening, the store still has a very long line of hungry customers every day).


Aurora Winter Festival

Close to our Vancouver English Centre and to Science World you find the Aurora Winter Festival. It is Canada’s largest Winter Festival and offers several attractions and activities from Friday, November 23rd to Sunday, December 30th. Gather your friends and explore this magical Christmas village. Go ice skating on a frozen river and enjoy the lights all around you. Rent your skates for $7 and skate as long as you want. Take a ride on the tube park which is 200 feet (60 metres) long and 20 feet (6 metres) tall. One ride is $4, three rides are $10 and eight rides are $20. Get on the 60 feet (18 metres) ferris wheel and see the whole festival event site and everything around it. Next to the amusement rides you can also discover the Christmas village. There you will find 50 market vendors and 12 food trucks with delicious snacks, drinks and meals. Have some hot chocolate or mulled wine while you are shopping for your Christmas gifts. Meet Santa, his elves and other mystical characters. Take pictures with all of them and write a letter to Santa. Listen to their stories and participate in a workshop to create your own gifts. Huge sculptures and beautiful light arrangements are waiting for you to be captured with your camera. A general admission ticket is $19.99 plus tax. It is cheaper to buy your ticket online than at the box office. To avoid big crowds and long lines join the festival from Tuesday to Thursday. Check the ticket availability for your day on the Aurora Winter Festival website. It will tell you if tickets are available, limited or sold out. Have fun!


Decorating Christmas cookies

Join us on Monday, December 24, to decorate Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses at school. You are not only here to learn English in Canada but also to participate in North American traditions. It is fun for all ages and everyone discovers their creativity when decorating Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses. Gingerbread houses are a little bit more difficult than Christmas cookies because they are multidimensional while cookies are simply flat. Decorating a gingerbread house requires more skills because there are different walls and a roof but Christmas cookies only have one side to decorate. Gingerbread is a baked good which can be like a soft cake or a hard biscuit or cookie. It is usually flavored with ginger, cinnamon, honey, sugar and/ or other spices. The term originates from Latin zingiber and Old French gingebras and translates the French word pain d’épices meaning spice bread or the German words Lebkuchen/ Pfefferkuchen meaning pepper cake. Christmas cookies can be baked using different dough recipes. There are also various ways to decorate them, just be creative. Some ideas on how to decorate your Christmas cookies are stars, moons, snowflakes, snowmen, Christmas trees, hearts, bells, gift boxes, candy canes, cup cakes and so on. You can use different colored icing, frosting, colored sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate pieces, nuts and other decoration material. Try it at home with your family and friends as well as at school with us and your classmates and friends here. Find out who is the most creative and of course enjoy eating the cookies after decorating them. Explore your imagination and have fun!


Boxing Day in Vancouver

On the day after Christmas Day, December 25, we celebrate a holiday called Boxing Day on December 26. That means that you are getting a day off from your English courses in Vancouver on December 26. Boxing Day is originally from the United Kingdom and is celebrated in many countries which used to belong to the British Empire. December 26 is also known as Saint Stephen’s Day, Day of Goodwill, or Second Day of Christmastide. Instead of Boxing Day, some European countries, such as Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, and Scandinavia celebrate December 26 as a Second Christmas Day. We have some ideas for you on what you can do on your free day. The term Boxing Day comes from the tradition of receiving a Christmas box which is a present so it is related to shopping. Similar to Black Friday, Boxing Day is referred to as a shopping holiday in many English speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. So it is a great day for you to go shopping because there will be a lot of special sales and good deals. If you are interested in hockey you can also spend your Boxing Day at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver to experience the Hockey Canada World Juniors Championships. At 1 pm you can watch the Czech Republic versus Switzerland and at 5 pm you can watch Canada versus Denmark. There are still a lot of Christmas attractions happening on Boxing Day. You can enjoy Christmas lights, outdoor decorations, glowing plants, live entertainment and fun for all ages at different locations such as Langley Glow Christmas, Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden, Lights at Lafarge around Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake, Christmas at Canada Place, Bright Nights at Stanley Park, Aurora Winter Festival at Concord Pacific … Read more


Short trip to Hawaii

In winter Vancouver turns into Raincouver. Your English courses in Vancouver are as much fun as the vacations you can take. It is nice to get away from the rainy, cold and grey weather. Relax in the sunshine at the beach in paradise and return full of new energy to start your courses again. The closest paradise to Vancouver you can find is Hawaii in the United States of America. A six hour flight will take you from rain, ice and snow to sun, sand and palm trees. When you think of Hawaii, you think of paradise, beautiful beaches, clear water, waterfalls, rainbows, flowers and coconuts. Hawaii consists of eight main islands which are called Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and the Island of Hawaiʻi. This paradise in the central Pacific Ocean offers a lot of adventures. You can go hiking, surfing, diving, snorkeling and enjoy many other fun activities there. The numerous Hawaiian state parks, recreation areas, and historical parks are perfect for hiking and let you discover a number of monuments, beautiful nature and amazing views. Surfers from all over the world visit the island to catch some nice waves there. Diving and snorkeling in Hawaii takes you to an incredible under water world. Pack your swimming clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses and bring your camera. Get ready to smell the flowers of Hawaii and feel the Pacific Ocean breeze. Remember to change your Canadian Dollars to American Dollars and keep in mind that you are an adult at the age of 19 in Canada but you are an adult at the age of 21 in the United States of America.


Weekend trip

There are a lot of options for a weekend trip if you decide to take your English courses in Vancouver. Most of them are just a few hours away from Vancouver and can be reached by bus or ferry. Instead of seeing just one city you can discover different cities from here. Popular weekend trips include Whistler, Seattle (USA), Victoria and Tofino. Whistler Whistler is only 121 km and 1 h 35 min by car away from Vancouver. Whistler is famous for its skiing slopes and popular après scene. You can also go bungee jumping, snowmobiling, snowtubing and snowshoeing there. Nightclubs and shopping options can be found within the village. Above the village stretches the amazing peak to peak gondola between Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain. This weekend trip is perfect for you if you are into outdoor activities and love activities in the snow. Seattle Even though Seattle is in the United States of America it is only 229 km and 2 h 49 min by car away from Vancouver. Seattle is great for sightseeing and shopping. The Seattle Premium Outlet Mall is one of the many great places to shop at. Besides Seattle’s famous Space Needle you can discover the first Starbucks and the Market Theater Gum Wall there. If you are a fan of big cities this weekend trip to the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of North America is just right for you. Victoria Although Victoria is only 114 km away from Vancouver it takes 3 h 12 min by car and ferry to get there. Taking the ferry through the Gulf Islands is already quite an adventure. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and is located in the south of Vancouver Island. While it is one of the most British-influenced cities … Read more