On a rainy autumn day of 1995, I, a foreign student graduating from a Canadian university, boarded a Greyhound bus to Ottawa to start a new job in Canada’s high-tech city. The long, arduous bus travel was a painful ride. Soar legs, back pain and nausea aside, I was suffering from the agony of separation from my 6-months old baby. As the windshield wipers were slapping against the window in sync with the falling rain, tears welled up my eyes and dropped down my face.
However, a job offer would bring tremendous opportunities and hopes to newcomers who were eager to establish a new life and a career in the adopted country. Back then, China remained a poverty-stricken nation and students from China were struggling financially. We were relying on scholarship, bursaries, and part-time jobs to pay for tuition and meager living expenses, and a car became an unaffordable luxury commodity. Greyhound buses thus became the only means of transportation for those who were willing to work long distances to raise a desperate family.
But decades later, Greyhound is losing favor and no longer matters to recent newcomers from China. International students are much better off financially as China enjoys a rapid GDP growth. The economic boom has created a wave of multimillionaires, allowing them to provide their children with generous budgets for living expenses in Canada. With their parents’ vast wealth at their disposal, Chinese students live a life of luxury on Canadian campuses, never having experienced the financial hardship and struggles faced by those of my generation. They can access any means of across-city transportation as their favorite choice and are even able to cater to their egoistic needs as well as their driving passion for luxury.
大量新闻报道显示，今天来自中国大陆的留学生们是开北美跑车的生力军。他们开着总价高于200万加币的兰博基尼，法拉利飙车于温哥华高速路上；而在波士顿校园中开着Nissan GT-Rs和BMW M5型超级跑车者几乎无一例外的都为来自中国大陆的留学生。
Media reports have found that international students from mainland China today are the dominant users of flashy sports vehicles. They drive Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and other supercars worth more than C$2 million on Vancouver highways, and those driving high priced cars, such as Nissan GT-Rs and BMW M5s, at schools in Boston are almost, without exception, students from China.
A sharply declined ridership in Canada, including dwindling clienteles from the newcomer demographic, threatens Greyhound’s business bottom line, leaving its intercity services fading away over the decades. On July 9, Greyhound announced that it would stop running buses in almost all of Western Canada this fall, leaving routes in Ontario as one of the last vestiges of bus lines connecting between distant cities in the province.
The sad news brought my vivid memories of Greyhound trips when it served as a lifeline for those striving for Canadian dreams. While the trips on remote Canadian roads were fraught with agony and pain, they have paved a self-reliant path to a promising future and supported our journey of growth -- personally, financially and professionally. Under blue-sky weathers when dark clouds disappeared, joyful sunshine inside the bus would always enlighten my mind, giving me the courage and strength to meet any challenges ahead and to embrace new opportunities in life.
In hindsight, I am very grateful for the Greyhound trips that today’s Chinese students have not taken and will never take. These trips have transformed us powerfully, providing a rite of passage that led to who we are today -- proud Chinese Canadians who live a happy, fulfilled and independent life in this adopted country.
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