I’ve lived all of my life a mere 40 minutes away from Vancouver, and yet I’ve hardly spent any time there.

Sure when I was younger I did the typical tourist-y Vancouver things like biking the Stanley Park seawall, exploring Science World and visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. But for the most part, these were all attractions experienced through elementary school fieldtrips.

This fact has spawned two important realizations.

First, it dawned on me the importance of educational fieldtrips, especially for children and youth. For the average young family, it may not be financially or logistically convenient to spend weekends and evenings at places like the Space Center or the Vancouver Art Gallery.

But Vancouver’s wide array of exhibitions not only provide information sometimes not covered in public school curriculums, young minds also get to learn about and experience their city and province.

Fieldtrips are also a different learning style, offering a more hands-on immersive learning environment than the typical textbook method. And honestly, they are just tons of fun.

My second realization, was that we really ought to spend time getting to know where we live more intimately; that is to say, culturally and historically.

I spent yesterday being a tourist in my own town of Vancouver, something I really haven’t done before, barring the Winter Olympics.

A friend and I went to the Space Center and Planetarium, the Burnaby Museum, the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Stanley Park and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens.

I learned a lot about the history of Vancouver, and realized how culturally rich this city is. No wonder it was named “Top City of the Americas” in the 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards in the Condé Nast Traveler magazine, or the world’s “Most Liveable City” in 2005 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, or was a Top 100 World Destination pick in Trip Advisor’s 2008 Traveller’s Choice Awards.

My yesterday was spent learning and experiencing and simply living. It was like being a little kid again (especially when I rode the Burnaby Museum’s carousel). And for that, I am thankful.

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