Pearson / The tour

the road to pearson college

(yes, the literal road to Pearson College, from the city of Victoria. I am writing this post, and this series of posts, for two reasons. Well, I could rattle off a list, but they boil down to two with all the explanation evaporated off. I want to remember, and I want to tell people. Hopefully, this will help potential applicants or people who want to know more about Pearson, if they stumble across it, and ideally, this will be my farewell to Pearson. In my head.)

Are you ready for the rest of your life to begin?

I arrived at Pearson with two suitcases (one very large, and one single-woman travel size), three cardboard boxes (one of them – the biggest – with food, one of them – the heaviest – with books and the last – the most useless – with a careful selection of the necessities I thought I’d need in Canada, including, among other knick-knacks, a desk lamp you could power by hand with a crank, many removable wall hooks and at least nine toothbrushes), a set of slightly wary parents and all my dogged idealism in tow.

I definitely packed with a few misconceptions in mind. For some reason or another, the impression of Pearson I had received from my third year was a decidedly … spartan one. I brought a desk lamp primarily because I thought there wouldn’t be any there. I kid you not. That is also why I flew over nine toothbrushes, a first-aid kit and two bottles of shampoo. And note paper (of the wrong size).

Imagine my consternation when I discovered the Canadian Superstore (more on that in a subsequent post).

My parents had rented a car in Victoria and was prepared to drive forty minutes to my college. No big deal, right? Seems close enough to the city, must be pretty convenient. I was in the front seat – I pretty much have permanent dibs on shotgun – and I remember I was busy marveling at the defiant intensity of the sky, a color I hadn’t ever seen before, and watching the landscape gracefully unfold itself to my awestruck eyes. It was my second time making the trip, since my parents had driven me down the day before just to ensure that we’d find the place okay on the actual day (yes, Asian parents), but repetition dulled neither the lines nor the hues of the visual feast before me.

I turn into such a lazy bum when I have the opportunity to. Pearson College is kind of gorgeous, in a hardwood, leafy sunlight-and-water way. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like studying, living there – I don’t know how I deserve it, at all. Maybe some people should study in seemingly inspiration-free areas, as a matter of productivity or not having too much happiness. It’s kind of hilarious, though. It’s right at the edge of Vancouver Island, and it has its own bay, and it’s around 15-20 KM from downtown Victoria itself, and we drove about twenty minutes through amazing seaside scenery, then rolling farm spaces and fields, then this alarmingly sandy bit with heaps of what looked like mine debris and my mom was like oh god where is your school, exactly, but then we entered this forest-y area and all was well. It is quite out of the way, in a sense – the roads leading in are windy and narrow and the one directly leading to the college is a one-way lane, but people do live in lovely houses all along the way, so it’s not like the middle of nowhere! (Also, my mom reports that the toilets are spectacularly clean, which is a huge relief.)

(30 aug, 2010)

My seventeen-year-old self has a knack for understatement. I think this is more than gorgeous.

I loved the winding roads, the honest scrutiny of the breathtakingly blue sky, the promise of infinity as the road stretches on. Initially, I thought Singapore and Vancouver Island seemed surprisingly … analogous. Both are islands with a mild climate, both have irritatingly fickle bouts of rain, both are known as Garden Cities, both are generally safe, with a low crime rate, the list goes on a fair bit. The thought seemed laughable the moment I saw the sheer luxury of space Victoria has.

All these photos remind me of the countless number of trips I’ve taken in and out of Pearson, and all the times I was dead tired and ready to take a nap on the ride to wherever it was I needed to be (awake for), but I would never actually sleep because inevitably my eyes would be drawn to the vistas outside the car (well, usually van) window.

  

Pearson is a 10-minute car ride from the Metchosen village centre, where there is a small grocery store, a restaurant with Pearson-famous cheesecake, and a town hall of sorts, and a 25-minute ride from the town of Langford, where there are the huge strip malls with all the mega brands. What the roads and the journey back to Pearson does is to remind you, gently but in no uncertain terms that you are retreating into a subtly different world.

I find telephone lines so quaint. They suggest communication, civilization, intimacy and yet also distance, which is why this photo reminds me of my parents’ growing trepidation as they drove deeper and deeper into the … countryside (and further away from Victoria, i.e. civilization). It started with the ‘beware of deer leaping’ sign and increased with the thinning out of farmhouses. The low, of course, was when they drove past the Pearson College sign and my mom realized that she no longer had any cellphone signal. We exchanged dubious looks.

I did enjoy the two years without a cellphone, though. Even now, back in Singapore, I often forget I have a cellphone, much to the ire of the various people who labor under the illusion that my number is the best way to reach me. Usually, that’s my mother, and then potential/actual employers. Truth be told, I’m even seriously considering if I need a cellphone for university.

Probably.

 

It is really quite sad that I don’t have a photo of the infamous Pearson College drive, however. Or even the Lester B. Pearson College sign. Then again, it is … a minor force of nature better experienced than seen.
The drive to Pearson is a very distinctive one; the familiar sight of the landmarks I have learnt to recognize as irrevocable signs of my return to Pearson always inspired a tiny, thrilling curl of anticipation, whether it was on the bus back from winter break or the church van back from my frequent grocery shopping trips. I daresay ten years hence, these time-worn signs, the hairpin turns, the expanse of sky and sea and land, will drag the same sigh of emotion from me.
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