Ryan’s story

"and my dream is to move to the island."

Portrait of RyanRyan is one-third of the Great Escape Pod podcast team. Along with Mark and Owen, Ryan set out to tell the tales of Brits living in foreign lands. Being behind a microphone rather than in front of a camera is more Ryan's thing, but, he graciously accepted my ask to be part of the Brits in Vancouver stories.

During our portrait shoot, Ryan chatted about his life on the West Coast after leaving the north-east of the UK a couple of years ago.

"I moved to Vancouver after doing some backpacking around Canada and America and learning about the working holiday visa. I fell in love with many places in Canada but, settled on Vancouver due to it having the most similar climate to Britain!"

I can visualise the nodding heads of other expatriates. There are so many stunning places to visit on this continent, yet, this tiny corner of the Pacific North West has a climate that Brits are familiar with. We can handle rain and grey days. If there was an Olympic event for just getting on with life when it's raining, Brits would surely take gold, silver and bronze.

Having mentioned being a backpacker, I wondered if Ryan had any people to connect with once he made the decision to settle in Vancouver.

"I knew a couple of people here but was essentially starting from scratch. I played footie straight away and, that's how I met pretty much everyone I know, either playing football or friends of people I played football with."

One of the great things I've noticed about this city is, due to the diverse community here, football has a strong following. There are many central and south American immigrants as well as Europeans. Add to this the locals that also enjoy 'the beautiful game' and boom, Vancouver delivers a great footie community.

As with most folks I've met on this project, Ryan likes his fill of outdoor activity. Tennis, hiking and bike rides feature in his go-to activities. He also is an avid cinema-goer, so I asked Ryan what movie/tv sets he'd happened across.

"I've come across a couple of tv sets out here, I watched a bit of Batwoman be filmed. I do like the Marvel movies, so it would be cool to stumble across that being filmed."

Stumbling across filming is one of those Vancouver happenings. This place serves up the unexpected so, I was curious about what Ryan gets up to that wasn't on his to-do list.

"The main thing I didn't expect to be doing was co-hosting a podcast! Not something I had even thought about, but Mark and Owen sold me a dream and, I love doing it now."

In a previous story, I'd mentioned how moving overseas gives one the chance to reinvent life and, Ryan is a case in point. Being somewhere different has liberated him to try something different.

Although relocating offers opportunities, it also has its challenges. I asked Ryan what he found hard about moving to another country.

Portrait of Ryan"The thing I didn't expect is how hard it would be to make this move. I moved about a lot as a kid and found that easy and exciting. The same with the backpacking. This was different, I still find myself struggling and getting homesick, which is not something I thought would happen when I boarded that plane 2 years ago."

Whether you're single or with a partner, reflecting on what you've given up is invariably a struggle. The feeling hits when you least expect it. It hurts. Yet like Ryan, most immigrants take a deep breath, refocus and move on. It doesn't take the feeling of separation away, though. For some, those feelings continue to wheal up, for others, feeling's subside over time.

Given Ryan's conflicting feelings, does he feel that Vancouver offers him a long-term future?

"I can't see the rest of my life being in Vancouver, I love it here but, I'm not a city guy. I could see myself in BC for the foreseeable future, and my dream is to move to the island."

It seems that BC will be hosting Ryan for some time yet. 

I returned to the challenges and what Ryan missed since moving here. He offered up;

"I miss savoury snacks, a good scotch egg and sausage roll. I miss going to Middlesbrough games. I miss cricket the most in the summer, playing it and watching it with family and friends.

I miss the history of the UK, I can't think of any particular landmark but, something from Whitby or York that is just really old would be nice. Obviously, the Riverside Stadium and Headingley as well."

I suspect Ryan speaks for many immigrants. I may not miss the Riverside Stadium. Seriously, I do not miss the Riverside, but, I do miss the roaring Valley and Charlton Athletic stretching my patience.

To wind up our conversation, I asked if Ryan would return to the UK, despite earmarking Vancouver Island as a destination of choice.

"If I return to live in the UK, it would be begrudgingly, as there are still so many places I want to see. I'd know that I really did make the best go of things out here and would leave with minimal regrets. At least, I hope so."

I believe that sums-up how many immigrants approach the move to another country. Give it their best shot. No regrets. 

Ryan, it was a pleasure to chat with you and find out more about your journey. Wherever you end up, I hope you'll have enjoyed the experience of living in Vancouver. As you mentioned, sport is your life here and, this is a pretty good place to have a sporting life.

Welcome to the Tardis.

You’ll find more images from Brits in Vancouver on my photography site.

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Portrait of Ryan with the Tardis

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