The Reason I Moved
As part of completing my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, I have just moved to Vancouver last week to work on my Bachelor’s thesis at the ICORD institute. ICORD is a health research centre with research focusing on spinal cord injury (SCI). As part of my project, I will be carrying out a clinical study with people who have SCI. Due to their severe injury, SCI subjects often experience spasticities (=involuntary muscle contractions) in their muscles which can significantly impair their quality of life. It has been shown previously that different forms of vibration can decrease some of those spasticities. In my study, I will be comparing the neurophysiologic effects on spasticity between Whole Body Vibration (WBV) and Focal Vibration (FV).
This research project is very exciting to me because I get the chance to work in a state-of-the-art biomechanics laboratory, using cool devices such as surface EMG, force plates, goniometers etc. In addition, I get to research something that will (hopefully) benefit people who have SCI and improve their quality of life in the future. I really like this aspect because my work will directly benefit people in a practical way in the real world and not remain a theoretical construct that goes under in the scientific world.
Vancouver is a Very Health-Conscious City
Vancouverites are some of the most health-conscious people I have ever experienced in any culture. Taking a stroll through West Vancouver one notices that there is a big emphasis on eating healthy, moving much and living in a „spiritual“ way (whatever that means). There is a great selection of health food stores, vegetarian/vegan cafés, Yoga facilities, fitness & wellness centres and fancy bars/restaurants.
This is great news because, as many may know, I love exploring the areas of health & fitness. Being surrounded by all kinds of sports facilities and stores carrying high-quality foods will make my experience here a lot more worthwhile.
As for the food part, it surprises me that many food stores (while outrageously expensive) offer an excellent selection of grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish. Of course, the latter shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that the waters around British Columbia are home to the largest salmon fish stocks in the world. This means that the various species of wild-caught salmon can be found in almost every good supermarket.
I got to try some salmon jerky which was simply amazing. For me as a foodie, it is wonderful to eat my way through all the different variations that salmon is offered in. Salmon to this region has been staple for centuries, just like tropical fruits have been a staple to the tropical countries. Unfortunately, farmed salmon in BC is infecting much of the wild salmon stocks with the deadly ISA virus. If you don’t believe me, watch the documentary Salmon Confidential which has been a real eye-opener to me.
Also, it is good to see that grass-fed meats are gaining in popularity here in Canada considering that the meat sector is still heavily in the grips of the farmed meat industry. I have already found a few butchers who offer excellent grass-fed + grass-finished meats. Since almost everybody goes for the more pricey muscle meats, I usually get a pretty good deal on the organ meats. Since I am on a limited budget, I have found that buying high-quality organ meats is an effective way to keep costs low while providing your body with an abundance of essential nutrients.
Nature is Just Mind-Blowing
There is a reason why so many people want to move to British Columbia and especially the Vancouver area. It is definitely neither for the sky-rocketing prices nor is it for the constant prevalence of rainy weather. For the most part, it is a desire to live in a unique urban environment while also experiencing the stunning beauty of the surrounding nature. Coming from mainland Europe, I am relatively used to forests, mountains and waters. However, once you get to B.C. the dimensions and the vastness of this virgin nature are magnified multiple times.
One example I experienced just a few days ago was going to the wilderness of Vancouver Island. Experiencing nature there is unlike anything you have access to easily in Europe (except maybe Scandinavian countries). Wild rainforests made up of entangled and crooked trees formed by their exposure to the brutal rain and wind make for a very scenic and dramatic setting. Add to that the great number of wild bears and cougars in the forests and the orca and humpback whales in the Pacific ocean. Couple that with multiple water inlets as long as 100 km and intense weather which can change from one minute to another and you end up with an environment that still to this day has retained much of its raw and unadulterated state.
You don’t even have to go that far, though. A short 15 min walk from my institute and I end up on Vancouver’s beautiful urban beach, Kitsilano beach. I will report back once the weather gets shitty and I get to spend more time at the computer writing articles.