DIANE: To the Other Side of the World

It’s no secret that I have this incredible admiration for Canada and everything about it (I have no idea when it started or how it even happened, but here we are). The only time I’ve ever set foot in Canada was in 2016 (READ: Victoria, Canada), though I’m grateful for the experience, I left with a heavy heart and promised myself I would come back in the future.

This week’s post for Friends on Channel Maddie is written by a friend I met in college. After I messaged Diane asking her to write a lifestyle piece, she mentioned that she’s been a long-time reader (oh, all the feelings!!!) and in all honesty, I didn’t think she meant that long of a time! Thanks so, so, so much Diane! ❤️

Though taking on a new adventure — getting on that flight, moving a thousand miles away from home, starting over — can be quite exciting, not everybody likes to share about the initial reactions that usually come with it. The feeling of leaving the life that you’ve built, the friends you’ve made, and letting go of the plans you’ve made. In this post, Diane writes about how she was first averted to the idea of moving yet again, until she was finally able to see her family’s permanent move to Canada in another perspective. I hope you relish in reading Diane’s post. 🙂

Socials: Instagram

Hi, everyone! First off, I just want to thank Maddie for letting me make a brief appearance in her blog (and apologize for taking so long to finish writing… sorry, Maddie!)

I was so excited when I received a message from her (on my birthday too!) asking me to write something for her mini blog series. I have been a silent reader from when she wrote about her passport accident (which truly gave me anxiety), her travel blog when she went on a trip with Lara (my favorite prayer leader – hi, Lara!!!) and friends, to just about all her exciting adventures (READ: Taipei, Taiwan).

I knew Maddie thanks to mutual friends from college and she always seemed so quiet and shy so when I say I didn’t waste time reading her entries when she first started, you better believe me. I wanted so badly to see what kind of thoughts she had and what her story is. So Maddie… thank you for giving me a chance to share a little bit of mine!

Photo taken on January 1, 2020. How I miss the days when we were allowed to have nice things like not wear masks, actually be around people, and not worry about a pandemic.

Almost two years ago, I had my life mapped out. I was about to finish the last draft of the thesis I was writing (hoping to get my Masters degree – which unfortunately did not happen), I had passed both the PhiLSAT and my entrance exam, and I was blessed enough to have been able to get into a law school as a scholar. I believed I had my life sorted out. I really did. Boy was I wrong.

I woke up one day to my parents discussing our permanent move to Canada. I was scared because…

  1. I already had a solid plan. For the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted to do and I had laid out a process to follow.
  2. I despised the idea of a long distance relationship. I mean… I was basically with my boyfriend every single day so how in the world will that even work out?
  3. I did not want to start my life all over again. As a third culture kid who grew up in the Middle East, I was always second guessing what to answer when people ask me where I’m from. I was not happy to leave behind the life I’ve already decided to keep living to move to the other side of the world… again.

Reading the points above, I realize how self-centered I was. Always using the word “I” and always being the pessimist I tend to be. I didn’t even think of giving this fresh start a chance. Well… that’s until we bought a one-way ticket and we ~tried to~ packed our whole lives into a few suitcases.

…so in June of 2019, my family and I just up and left. 

For a while, I thought I was in a movie set. I will never forget how in love I was with the different seasons and just the place in general. It was so baffling how fast the seasons change. One day the flowers are blooming (which means all stores sell overpriced plants lol) and next, the trees just lose their leaves just like that and you find yourself raking your lawn.

I will also never forget how excited I was with the random deers/elks/bears/coyotes crossing the streets, the squirrels greeting you good morning on the spruce tree behind the house (which my mom still looks forward to btw), the rabbits hopping around with the thickest coats of fur, the abundance of dandelions in the spring (quite annoying during windy days), how the sun was out even at 10:00 PM (sometimes, it’s gone by 5 depending on the season… but you get what I mean), and how confused and in awe I was looking at a snowflake glued to the car window. 

I remember thinking… how is it shaped exactly like that??? It was not my first snow, but it felt like it was. It felt unreal. I wanted to just keep it forever to look at. It’s so funny because I’ve never really been a nature person – literally anyone who knows me can attest to that – but when I say I am (or I feel like) a brand new woman… I kid you not.

This was last summer when my friends and I decided to go hiking. We thought it’d be an easy 3-5 hour round trip with time to spare. 9 hours later, when we were soaking our aching feet in the ice cold lake after just barely reaching the bottom again, we realized we should’ve done our research properly. LOL.

Let me take you to my most favorite places here in our province – at least through the photos I’ve taken. 


Breathtaking. This place has such an unworldly beauty. The Spirit Island cruise in Maligne Lake is a MUST. Please… if you’re ever in Alberta… just… please. Seeing actual Glaciers and Queen Elizabeth’s very own mountain ranges is nothing but exciting!


How can you NOT fall in love? You’re literally in a beautiful, rustic looking downtown with the Canadian Rockies in the background. In. The. Freaking. Background. I don’t even consider this as a long drive since the view going there is sooo beautiful you won’t even notice two hours have passed.


How does this not look like it’s straight out of a painting? However, I will be lying if I said I actually did go around… we only really drove to some parts and stopped by this particular area where you could see how majestic this little town looks. It’s a bonus that it’s just a short drive to the famous hot springs in British Columbia.

Lake Louise

I don’t even know how to begin describing Lake Louise. I’ve seen this place every single season – winter, spring, summer, and fall… and every single time I’m just as stunned and breathless as the first time I visited. I do have to warn you – if you decide to visit when the ice has stuck, please wear shoes with plenty of grip.. the slope down this beauty is terrible. Don’t be like me. Please don’t wear your Air Force 1s.


Nothing beats eating ice cream while walking on this dainty little street with the mountains just behind (I literally just described what my sisters and I are doing in the picture). So so so close to the US border. It’s a bummer the borders have been closed for a while. I mean… why, COVID?

Moraine Lake

Last but definitely not the least is my personal favorite!!! There’s really not much to see but this view in the photo above and the parking space sucks. Totally worth the super short hike though. I instantly felt all the stress leave my body the moment I took the last step to the top. I remember thinking I’m just going to see the same view I already saw in other places, but had I not pushed myself to climb up, I surely will regret it big time.

A few bonus pictures from our city center – or what we simply call “Downtown“:

Looking back at these photos, I realize how foreign everything looks. It makes me reminisce about the days when I struggled to think of an answer whenever people ask me where I’m from. I love Riyadh. I’ll always do. It was where I grew up and where I met so many friends who are now family. I, of course, also love the Philippines, my birth country – where I learned how to be independent and where I was free to explore the world outside my comfort zone.

It’s been almost two years since I moved to Canada. I still feel like I’m on vacation… but I can also finally say that I am home 🙂

Enjoy this random photo of my dad’s rum buried in the snow in our backyard.

4 thoughts on “DIANE: To the Other Side of the World

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