What you can get out of university – aside from a degree

A lot of people go to university hoping to get one thing: a degree. However, I think there are a lot of valuable things you can get out of university that have little to do with your formal education.

One very important thing you can find in university is a sense of community. People talk a lot about the importance of finding friends at university,  but I would argue being a part of a community is just as important. Chances are, you were a part of a community at home; you may have been on a sports team, or maybe you were a part of a club. Once you graduate from high school, you’re often ripped from these communities, which can be disorienting and lonely. University is awesome because it allows you to rediscover this sense of community. You could get this from a club, a sorority, the student council – there are so many possibilities. Finding a sense of community after high school can be pretty difficult, and university is a good environment in which to do so.

You can also experience new things at university. This might sound like a bit of a cliché, but it’s true. In high school, there are a lot of things you just can’t do, either because of the expense or because whatever you want to do isn’t available where you live. I’ve had so many invaluable experiences at UBC this year. I learned how to rock climb for free, I helped my prof out with his archaeological research, and I helped put together a zine. I helped plan a conference for LGBTQ+ youth in my hometown with a bunch of people for whom this was a part of their job. Had I not gone to university, I wouldn’t have been able to experience any of these things, some of which I’ve want to do for a long time.

Another thing you can do at university is figure out how to do adult stuff. Basically, you get to screw up without it being a big deal, because you probably still have the support of your parents. This year, I’ve had to learn how to budget for groceries (quick tip – don’t use up all your money because you might need toilette paper two days before the end of the month). I’ve had to look for housing, and I’ve also had to sort out my insurance. Of course you can still do a lot of these things if you don’t go to university, but it’s a nice stepping stone, because it’s designed for teenagers who may not have all the necessary life skills. After all, dorms, meal plans, and RAs exist for a reason.

So as you can see, university is good for a lot more than just getting a degree.


Not your usual exam advice

As I’m sure everyone is well aware, exam season is nearly upon us. Along with this comes numerous tips (including some from my fellow bloggers) about how to do well on your exams. This is probably because people want to be successful, and more often than not equate success to happiness. This of course leads to problems; when you don’t get the grade you want, you may end up extremely unhappy. So I’m going to offer some tips on how to be less stressed, and overall happier with yourself, regardless of your results.

The first bit of advice is to work hard. Working hard might not get you the results you want 100% of the time, but hard work is never bad for you. You’ll probably get better at whatever it is you’re doing, and at the end of the day, that’s a big part of the reason you’re in school. As well, learning to know when you worked hard is just as important. Some people (myself included) have a tendency to always feel like they didn’t work as hard as they could have, even if they studied for seven hours straight. Having pride in all of the work you have done is important, and will make you feel less stressed and happier no matter what the outcome was.

The next bit of advice is to realize you can’t control everything.  Many students tend to blame themselves entirely when they get a bad mark. This might be justified in some cases, but some of the time, your mark is out of your control. Your prof might be a ridiculously hard marker, or you might have gotten a flu that cause you to have to stay in bed all week. If you put all of your effort into an assignment, you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting a bad mark.

Another thing to remember is that worrying is useless, especially once you’ve completed your exams. There’s nothing you can do at that point, so take a well-deserved break and relax. Worrying won’t change your mark, and it will probably make you feel worse when you have to go check your marks.

The last piece of advice I have is that your worth is not defined by your grades. It’s so easy to feel like grades are the most important thing in the world, and that if you screw up, you’ll have nothing. To some extent, grades are important. But grades are not what determines your worth as a person, or even as a employee. If you work hard at whatever you’re doing, and are respectful, pleasant, and helpful, chances are you’ll succeed.

So good luck to everyone on their exams!


Rock Climbing (or what may be my new favorite sport)

Recently, I was able to go rock climbing outdoors for the first time (thanks to the Varsity Outdoors Club). And as you may be able to tell by the title, I loved it. So I thought I’d give a bit of an explanation as to why I had so much fun, and as to why I think outdoor sports are generally pretty awesome.

Climbing, or really any outdoor sport with a bit of risk, can come across as an absurd pastime to anyone who has no experience with the outdoors. This is mostly because the act of climbing (or other sport) is not exactly pleasant. You’re clinging to a cliff in some sort of contorted position by only your toes and your fingertips. If you don’t have callouses, your hands are probably being ripped shreds. All of your muscles are in screaming pain, and you may be shaking from adrenaline. Add to that the fact that you’re dangling by a strand of rope high above the ground, and climbing may seem like the exact opposite of a pleasant experience. However, climbing has some pretty amazing aspects that makes the unpleasant bits completely worth it.

In some ways, climbing is fun because all you can focus on in that moment is getting up the cliff. But its distracting capabilities aren’t the only thing that makes the sport amazing. As cheesy as it may sound, climbing, along with a lot of other outdoors sports, makes you feel fully alive. Not because of the risks, but because you’re being physically and mentally pushed to the limit, something that does not happen in our day to day lives. Another wonderful aspect of climbing is that it is a puzzle to be solved. Your goal is to find the best route up the cliff, which involves analyzing which tiny cracks will support your entire body weight. My biggest problem with exercising is that I often have nothing to do with my mind, something that is definitely not a problem when rock climbing.

The discomforts of any outdoor sport can be kind of discouraging. But there is so much to gain from being in the great outdoors, so many experiences that you wouldn’t have anywhere else. So I can’t wait to do some more climbing, and learn more about this great sport.


We’re Not There Yet

Vancouver is pretty well know as being a socially progressive city, especially in terms of the safety and rights of LGBTQIA+ people. It’s part of the reason I love this place so much; I don’t have to worry about being harassed or abused every time I leave the house. However, something happened recently to me demonstrated that although this city is a pretty great place to be, it’s not free of those who want to harm people belonging to marginalized groups.

A friend of mine and I were sitting in SUB last week, tabling for Trans Day of Remembrance. Normally sitting at the table isn’t a big deal; we just talk to the few people that come up to us and let them know about all the resources we have to offer. Most people don’t pay much attention to us, and go about their business. Unfortunately, we had someone come up to us that Tuesday who wasn’t exactly friendly. This person, while not outwardly abusive in their comments, made it pretty clear that they thought people who weren’t straight and cisgender were somehow morally inept or dangerous. It was not the most pleasant experience to have someone come up to you and tell you they’re afraid of their daughter “becoming gay”.

The feeling my friend and I  had after this happened was along the lines of “how could we have possibly responded to something like this?” Neither of  us knew what to do in this situation. How can you stand up for yourself, and try to prevent people like this from causing more harm? We were shocked by the fact that someone in this city would find it reasonable to be so directly hateful.

I think it’s easy to forget, living in what is a generally pretty accepting place, that in many places people’s basic rights are being infringed upon every second. We have a tendency to lapse into complacency, and say “things are okay, why complain?” We still need events like the pride parade, and Trans Day of Remembrance because stuff like this happens with extraordinary frequency. We need to remember our privilege, and the fact that some people don’t have the rights that we may take for granted.


School Survival

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts. I’m going to use the excuse of “adjusting to university life”.

Given the fact that it’s Thrive Week, I figured that now’s a good time to make a quick post about surviving school. As someone with general anxiety disorder, school can be super overwhelming for me. So here are some tips that help (in my experience) to reduce stress and to make school a little easier.

1) Make a plan for getting stuff done

While not everyone likes to plan exactly what they’re going to get done right down to the last detail, having at least a vague outline can be really helpful. Then you won’t end up in that awkward position where you realize you have two days to write three papers, all of which are worth thirty percent of your grade. As well, it makes you feel like you’re on track and accomplishing something, even if you’re just doing one math problem or writing 100 words.

2) Treat yourself

If you feel like you need to eat an entire chocolate bar in a day in order to survive assignments/midterms, go for it. That being said, subsisting entirely off of junk food probably isn’t the best idea; you’ll feel a lot better if you’re eating at least some healthy food.

3) Take breaks

I’ve definitely been in the position where I’ve sat at my desk for six hours trying in vain to study. But getting up for an hour and socializing or doing some exercise can be very helpful in studying effectively.

4) Do whatever you need to do to feel good

This one is a little vague, but the point is, don’t let everything go because you feel like you should be studying. I know that for me personally, putting on a cute outfit and taking the time to do make-up and hair makes me feel infinitely better, which in turn makes me more productive.

5) Deep breathing

Deep breathing is magical. If you’ve gotten to that point where you’re completely overwhelmed and want to break down into tears, doing some deep breathing patterns will snap you out of that state almost instantly.

While I’m most certainly not free of stress about school, I’ve managed to find ways to be a little more productive and a little less anxious. Stress and mental illness can make school infinitely more challenging. If you want help with these issues, or any other well being-related problems, you can can check out the resources UBC has to offer here.



I have official been here for over a week, and what a strange 11 days it has been! There are a million ways I could describe my time so far at UBC: confusing, exciting, rewarding, challenging, just to name some; but I think perhaps the best descriptor would be surprising. While the actual events of my time here so far haven’t been as much of a surprise to me (although there are some definite exceptions), it’s mostly the feelings I’ve experienced that were unexpected. I didn’t think I would like my professors or my classes as much as I do, especially my CAP classes, some of which I was not particularly excited for originally.

However, academic-related feelings aside, I’ve been very much surprised by how many rewarding interactions I’ve had with other people. I did not expect to have conversations with people at orientation that went beyond small talk, nor did I expect some of them to become my friends. I also was surprised by how awesome the club meeting I attended was, and by how good going to that meeting was for me emotionally. I was able to talk with people with whom I shared similar experiences, something which I had never been able to do back home.

Among the things I’ve learn so far at school, I’ve discovered that surprise, as terrifying as it can be, is really good. Do things that you didn’t plan to do, talk to people you didn’t plan to talk to, and you may find yourself having some unexpectedly amazing experiences.


First Days

So as you may have guessed by my extraordinarily original title, this post is about the first three days I’ve spent at UBC. Nothing particularly eventful has occurred so far, but most of what I have experienced has been enjoyable.  I moved into residence on Saturday, which was not a big deal, as I’m only living about an hour from where my family lives. Res is great. I’m enjoying the kitchen, and, surprisingly, cooking for myself. I’m still not used to the sense of freedom that accompanies living residence, as I can pretty much do what I want without having to worry about other people’s schedules.

Despite my fairly uneventful few days, I’ve had some stereotypical university experiences, such as eating scrambled eggs directly out of the frying pan with two other people because all the places to eat were closed. However, the best part about university so far seems to be getting to know people. I’ve had conversations with completely random people, such as the one I had with an exchange student in the grocery store while we were trying to decide what type of peanut butter to buy. Interacting with people here has been so comfortable, since everyone is in the position of having to make new friends.

The gist of this post seems to be that so far, I like university. I can’t wait for classes to start; I almost prefer the school year to the summer because I love being busy and having the challenge of schoolwork.

On a random note, go check out my about me page. You can see my beautiful face, along with all of my interests.