Ah yes, sniffle season.

With the sudden subarctic temperatures hitting the Lower Mainland, we finally have our winter. And thanks to that, I’ve caught the sniffles. I woke up in bed this morning with a sore throat and was faced with a dilemma.

Should I even bother waking up and going to my 8AM class?

I was sick, but not sick enough to spend the stay at home. Just a sore throat and nasal congestion. The worst kind of sick, and it was partly my fault for not dressing warmly enough the past few days. In the end, I did drag myself out of bed, pop some pills and head to school. I was definitely not my normal self though, and it was a terribly long day.

How sick do you have to be before you deem yourself too sick for school?

Where do you choose to sit in the exam room?

As I was standing in the corridor today waiting to enter SRC to write my first final, many thoughts went through my head, but the one that I was thinking about the most was not the actual exam, but rather…

It’s a tough decision okay? Usually I like to sit in the back I find it pretty intimidating to sit in the front, but lately I’ve found it comforting to sit in the front. There’s less distractions since there’s no one else that’s in front of you so I find myself more focused on completing the exam. And in the even that I don’t remember to bring a watch, there’s usually a clock at the front where I can keep track of the time and pace myself through the exam.

Today I found another reason to sit in the front. I can keep my eyes on my bag. There is a disturbing prevalence of theft that happens during exam time, and I didn’t want to take that risk today. It also made it easier for me to leave the exam room once I was done.

So now I turn it to you. Do you have a preference as to where you sit in the exam room? If so, is there a particular reason?

Studying 101

As my midterms have rolled to an end, I want to take a minute to reflect on my study habits. I’ve always struggled with studying. I change my studying habits a lot trying to see what works and what doesn’t, and for the most part, nothing works. This time however, a friend of mine shared his study habits with me. Although they did sound really typical at first, I decided to try it out and see how it went. Below are some things I learned about myself.

I found out that I study better when I’m alone. I’ve thought that I would do better studying with someone as I could get instant answers to questions when the arise, or just have someone to keep me on track. Turns out it’s actually the opposite. I’m way more productive when I’m alone. Perhaps because I get distracted really easily. To keep myself on track, I choose a place where other people around are studying so I’d feel guilty if I were to slack off.

In addition to studying alone, I study better in silence. I’ve always loved to be plugged into music while I’m working or studying, thinking that it would help me concentrate. Turns out it’s the exact opposite. At first it was really tough, but after a while it felt really good. I found myself actually absorbing the material that I was reading rather than reading the same line over and over again because I was more focused.

Of course, I ditched all my electronics. I think this was the toughest part. I printed out everything off Vista, left my laptop at home and my iPhone in my bag, and if I was at home, I’d give them to my mom. Laptops, phones and electronics in general are a huge distraction. Not surprisingly, my productively went up exponentially once I rid myself of them.  I also felt as if I was in control of my life instead of having it controlled by electronics. My backpack was lighter without my laptop and my back probably thanked me for that too.

Lastly, I didn’t take breaks. I had general guidelines of how much I wanted to study during each session, say 2 chapters, but if by the end of those 2 chapters I was on a roll, I’d keep going. While most people find that having a break would be refreshing, I actually found that it was distracting for me. I would lose all my momentum that I’ve gained while studying, and in turn lose motivation. Having said that though, I wouldn’t burn myself out. If I’m done, I’m done. Pushing myself too hard wouldn’t do anything to help.

Everyone has their own way of studying and the above strategies just happened to work for me. I’d love to hear little tricks and tips that everyone else has about studying :)

Researcher In Training!

Recently I’ve found myself a position in a research lab on campus and have been working for about 2 weeks. I was super excited for this whole experience as it was what I have always dreamed of doing, working in a genetics lab. In the past 2 weeks, I have really enjoyed going to work. I’ve used the hashtag #ilovework way too many times on Twitter lately.

A lot of my friends have been asking me how I was able to land an opportunity like this. It’s not as hard as one may think it is. The biggest tip that I can provide would be to apply to any and every position that remotely interests you. Persistence and determination is key. I probably applied to every work study posting when they came out and only had interviews for about 2 of them. But it was from one of those 2 interviews that I found out about the position that I currently hold. Your interviewers may know of other faculty members that are looking for help and are not posting it, making every interview valuable. Let your instructors know that you’re looking for a position as they may be looking for help too. Dropping by during their office hours is a great way of getting to know your professors.

Don’t be discouraged if you get rejected. It does take time. I know of a friend who sent out about 50 emails to different labs only to get 3 replies back. However, when you do land the position, the feeling is very fulfilling. Take it from me. Happy job hunting (:

Twitter in the Classroom!

It’s been a week since school started, and like most people, that was long enough to build some first impressions on the different classes. Last year it was BIOL121 that really stood out for me because well, I’m a Biology major so that was natural, but also because Dr. Greg Bole was simply the best.

This year, I actually have two that stick out for me. Both my BIOL234 and CHEM233 use Twitter in the classroom, and being a Twitter fanatic, I was super excited to hear about it all. In my opinion, Twitter fits right into the classroom setting, especially in today’s society where technology is steadily advancing.

In BIOL 234, we use the hashtag #biol234 to ask questions, and once in a while, Dr. Redfield would pause and answer questions. She encourages us to also have background discussions and to retweet those questions that are important so they get bumped to the top. Since lectures haven’t really started yet, I haven’t had the chance to see how well this works, but personally, I can see myself asking more questions in class as I won’t be put on the spot and ask questions by putting up my hand.

CHEM 233 uses Twitter differently. My professor has a Twitter account, @chem233ubcjay, and encourages us to follow his tweets, and I suppose ask him any questions that arise. I find that this is another effective way of having students ask questions. I personally, have tweeted him a few times, and had some friendly replies. After knowing that he isn’t as intimidating as all professors seem, this may be the first that I actually drop by during office hours for a visit!

I guess one downside to that is that some people think it’s immoral. I had a friend that thought I was getting too close to my professor because we were tweeting each other. I can see where he is coming from, but I believe that it is no different than dropping by office hours or emailing a professor– it’s just a more informal setting. As long as the content doesn’t cross the line, it’s a great way of building on a professional professor-student relationship.

I’m glad that UBC instructors are starting to catch on all the new different ways to incorporate technology into their lessons!

Tuesday Night Rant: I don’t want to go into med.

Quick, what’s the most common question a science student gets asked?

“Oh, you’re in Science? Do you want to go into Med?”

No. Not all science students are pre-med students. Although I can see why it’s a fair assumption. I can safely say that 90% of the people I met in my first year UBC Science wanted to go into Med, and 95% of the people have at least thought of it. Even me. I can also see why people think that I’m going that route. All my extracurriculars point in that direction. At the same time, I think that’s how I truly made up my decision that it just isn’t for me.

Med School isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of time and effort to go through it and graduate. I’m just not one of them. I personally don’t think I’d have the persistence and determination. Not to mention I’d feel like I’m “wasting” my time as I’m the type that loves to live by the moment.

I really do admire those who do go through med though. It’s no easy route.

Textbook Troubles

As the school year is nearing its start, it’s time for students to buy/sell textbooks again! I consider myself lucky as my friend lent me most of my first year textbooks. I ended up only having to sell one textbook this year, my MATH 104/105 textbook. That shouldn’t be too bad right? I bought it new from the bookstore last year because UBC decided to change the textbook so I wasn’t able to buy new.

Wrong. UBC decided to change up the textbook again. Although I do suspect they just split it up into 3 volumes like what they did with the Biology textbook last year, I’m having little to no success selling my Math textbook. I’m angry because I spent the whole year keeping my book in mint condition hoping that I can sell it for a good price, but instead I’m potentially left with $168 of mint condition dead weight in my room.

Really UBC, do you need to change your textbooks every year? Especially for math where most of the material hasn’t changed at all.

Presenting: The New U-Pass Program!

Starting this September, UBC will be having a different U-Pass program. After looking through the FAQs, here are some notable differences that I saw.

First thing of course is the new look of the U-Pass. Sorry to break it to everyone who loves collecting U-Passes, but starting in September, it will look like this:

Personally, I don’t really like the change. I quite liked the plastic-y feel of the card. It also no longer has your picture or name on the pass so it seems like a generic bus pass, without the ads. It is stated that it can only be used by the person whose name is written on the back of the U-Pass, but I can see this being exploited. Although TransLink employees do have rights to verify your eligibility, how often would they check?

Another notable difference is of course, the increase in price. The U-Pass currently costs $23.75/month for UBC students. Starting in September, the price will increase to $30. Even with the increase, it is still a huge discount from the $151/month for a 3-zone adult bus pass. The price for a replacement U-Pass has also increased from $26.50(?) to $35. I suspect that the increase in price of the replacement cards is partly to prevent the reselling of U-passes. It should also be noted that the prices will be the same across all schools participating in the program

Which leads to the last major difference I saw. Currently, the U-Pass program is named the “Vancity U-Pass Program” and only 4 schools are participating (UBC, SFU, Langara, CapU). This will change in September when program is renamed to the “U-Pass BC Program”. As the name suggests, more schools will be eligible to participate in the U-Pass program.

I’m indifferent about the new U-Pass Program, but I do think I will miss having my name and picture on it.

Using Laptops in Class

The other day my friend was sitting in my CHEM 123 lecture and was on her laptop. I looked around, and then whispered to her “You know there are only two people here using a laptop? You’re one of them.” She replied back with “Why is your class so keener?”

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion why I don’t like using laptops during class to take notes. It’s not really that I don’t like it, I just find it really impractical for science courses. In the time that it takes me to properly format a chemical equation or math formula, I could’ve taken half a page of handwritten notes. Having to draw diagrams is another story.

In short, I don’t find a laptop all that useful in my courses except to keep me entertained, but I already have my iPhone for that. I honestly don’t think that it’s necessary to own a laptop once you enter university. I have a friend that uses a desktop and when he needs to use a laptop at school, he heads to Koerner. Having said that, owning a laptop definitely makes things more convenient.

Five Things I Must Do Next Year

Living in Vancouver all my life, and having friends that were attending UBC before I was, I was fortunate to hear much about what went on and what happened as a UBC student. I was excited and had a mental list of things that I wanted to try out once I went to UBC. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, I wasn’t able to try all the things. To make sure that I participate next year, I’m going to jot them down.

1. Form a team for Day of the Long Boat. The athlete inside me was really looking forward to this, but I had too much going on in the beginning of the school year that I missed the deadline for registration. I’m sure it was a lot of fun and I’m definitely not going to miss out on it again next year.

2. Participate in Storm the Wall, possibly even as Ironwoman. The other major event is Storm the Wall, which is actually happening now. I was really disappointed because none of my friends wanted to participate with me, and the teams that I found all disbanded eventually, thus leaving me with no team. Walking by the walls every day at school made me really sad because I wanted to participate in this even more after I missed Long Boat. Next year, I’m going to make sure I’m part of this even, even if it means doing the whole thing myself as Ironwoman.

3. Bike to School (or maybe just home from school). I live about an hour bus ride away from campus, and it’s always been one of my goals to bike across the city to UBC during high school even. I was quite excited seeing the sunny days and thinking of the perfect time to accomplish this goal. Unfortunately, my bike is under repairs at the moment and thus this was never done. Biking to campus will have to be done some time next year because I’m sure it’ll be memorable for me. Even if it’s just biking back home from a long day at school.

4. Go out of my way to meet new people. I went into university with a bunch of my high school friends, and just friends overall from my life in Vancouver. Being in Science, there weren’t many chances for me to meet many people since I would sit with my friends during lecture and didn’t have many group projects. It wasn’t so bad for me since I was involved with UBC REC and a few clubs. I was still disappointed though, as I thought that going into a larger community would mean that I would have the opportunity to meet a lot of people.

5. Stream a Canucks game over a lecture hall projector. I’ve watched a Canucks game in the SUB. I’ve watched a Canucks game on my laptop. I’ve watched a Canucks game hooked up to a projector in a Buchanan classroom, but I haven’t done it in a lecture hall before. This might be a bit challenging as I’d have to find an empty lecture hall, but it shouldn’t be that big of a problem since there shouldn’t be classes at 7 anyway. I would imagine it to be pretty exciting and a neat experience. Hopefully there’ll be an NHL next year and I’ll be able to accomplish this too!