From East to West: The Ins and Outs of Going to School Across the Country

Not to turn up the pressure or anything, but the time is drawing near for all you high school seniors to make one of the biggest decisions of your life. The deadline to accept UBC’s offer of admission is June 1st, and I’m sure that a bunch of you are struggling to decide whether this school is the right place for you. Some of you might have to move across provinces, country borders, or even oceans in order to attend UBC, and you probably have a ton of questions about what that move is going to mean for you. And that’s where I come in.

I know what you’re going through. Just a year ago (although it feels like it’s been much, much longer), I was in your shoes: getting ready for prom, persevering through the last few weeks of high school, and trying to decide if I was ready to move across the country. You see, even though I had been set on UBC for the majority of my high school career, my head was swimming with doubts as the deadline approached. I had lived in the same house my entire life and gone to school with the same people since kindergarten. Would I be able to cope with such a dramatic life change? How often would I get to come home? And how was I going to fit my entire life on a plane? I wish I’d had someone to answer these questions, but I pretty much had to figure things out for myself. Luckily, you don’t have to.

Why did you choose UBC?

As soon as I discovered that UBC existed, I decided that was where I would go to school–probably because it was as far away from Richmond Hill as I could get without actually leaving the country. But as I continued to research the school, I started to fall in love. It was a little strange, but without having ever been to Vancouver, I somehow felt like it was my home. I could picture myself hiking in Pacific Spirit Park, wandering around Granville Island, and skiing at Whistler on the weekends. I was awe-struck by the mountain views, the beautiful buildings, and the fact that there was a beach on campus (plus, UBC’s amazing academic reputation didn’t hurt). And so, at the end of last summer, I boarded the plane to YVR, saying goodbye to my Ontario roots and waving hello to my new West coast life. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

Was it difficult being so far away from your friends and family?

Honestly, moving to UBC was a huge change. It was surprising to me, because before I went away for school I felt completely prepared to live away from home and wasn’t expecting to get homesick at all. Continue reading

This is really happening

All of a sudden, the day that I thought would never come had arrived. After three years of dreaming about UBC, about the classes I would take and the adventures I would have, all of my dreams suddenly weren’t dreams anymore. I’d ordered my books, bought my plane ticket, packed all my stuff, and said my tearful goodbyes to my friends and family. I was really doing this.

Sitting on the plane, watching Toronto slowly fade into a series of green rectangles below me, I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach, and for a single, panicked moment, I thought I’d made a horrible mistake. The reality of the situation had sunk in: I was leaving, moving thousands of miles away from my friends, my family, and my home. There would be no coming home after school and sharing a snack with my sister, laughing and talking about the kind of day we’d had. Gone were the days of driving around Richmond Hill with my friends in my run-down ’99 Chevy Malibu. I would no longer be able to have movie nights with my mom. I couldn’t even go back home if I forgot my favourite cardigan. I was leaving everything and everyone I knew behind to move to a city I’d only visited once, where I knew virtually no one. It was completely and utterly terrifying.

But then, just as quickly as it had come, the panic was gone. As we descended into Vancouver International Airport and I saw the ocean rush towards me, a huge, uncontrollable smile spread across my face. In that split second, I realized that I belonged here. There was a reason that I’d dreamt of going to UBC for so long, even though it was going to change my life dramatically. I wanted it to change my life. I’m going to have amazing new experiences, meet a ton of new and incredible people, and study things I’m truly passionate about. I’m going to work harder than I ever have in my entire life and be inspired by my amazing surroundings. Most importantly, I’m going to be able to steer my life in the direction I choose and become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

As all of these thoughts raced through my mind, I felt the plane’s wheels make contact with the runway and a much more welcome feeling washed over me: the feeling of coming home. That feeling has persisted ever since my arrival in Vancouver yesterday, and I know it won’t be going away any time soon.

Packing my life into a suitcase

 

The essentials: duvet cover, movies, day planner and a circle scarf. What more could I possibly need?

Well, actually, it looks like it’s going to be closer to four suitcases. I’ll definitely be quite the sight while unloading my car on Saturday; come out to Vanier move-in if you want to see a clumsy girl with no upper body strength struggling with heavy bags that are twice her size. The current odds of me injuring myself are an estimated 1 in 5.

I know that most of my fellow first-years have already left for their future homes in beautiful British Columbia (I’m talking to you, Jump Starters), or at the very least have all their stuff together, but if you’re like me and have been putting off packing until the last possible moment, here are a few tips I’ve come up with to help you get to Vancity in one piece.

Make a list. Whenever I go on a trip, I end up forgetting about twelve things at home, forcing my very grumpy family to turn the car around. Chances are, if you do happen to leave something behind, most of you won’t be able to go back home and grab it, so it’s always better to plan ahead. If you’re in a rush, UBC Housing has put together a packing list specifically for new residents (including twin XL sheets and Ethernet cables!), which you can find here.

Roll up your clothes instead of folding them. It saves a ton of room and keeps your clothes from wrinkling. ‘Nuff said.

Know your airline’s baggage allowance. If you’re getting to UBC by plane, make sure you know just how much stuff you can get away with bringing along. I thought that I was allowed to bring 2 suitcases with me, and planned my packing accordingly. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that this is only the case for international flights. Westjet and Air Canada only allow one suitcase per passenger for Canadian domestic flights, and it costs $20 to bring a second bag. If you have more baggage than that, prices start to get crazy high, which brings me to my next tip:

If you can get it in Vancouver, do it. In order to avoid paying for shipping or additional baggage, bring only the essentials with you. Things that can be picked up on campus, like toiletries, aren’t really necessary to pack. Also, large items for your dorm room like drawers or a drying rack can take up a huge amount of space, so you’d be better off buying those once you arrive as well. Keep in mind that there’s an Ikea trip during Firstweek where you’ll have the chance to get a ton of cheap and stylish Swedish furniture (and some amazing meatballs!). I will definitely be taking advantage.

Also, Bed, Bath and Beyond recently started offering an amazing service called Pack and Hold, which basically allows you to order your stuff in-store before you leave, then pick up everything at the location closest to your school. I personally bought pretty much everything for my dorm, from my bedding to my shower caddy, using this service. The closest BB&B to campus is in North Van, so it’s a bit of a trek, but it’s more than worth the fortune I’m saving on shipping. As an added bonus, you also get to use the bridal registry scanner when shopping for your stuff, which was pretty legit if I may say so myself.

Anyways, I’d better get back to packing before I’m buried eternally in a mountain of clothes. Seriously, I haven’t seen the floor of my bedroom in a week; I feel like I’m living in an episode of Hoarders. I hope everyone travelling to campus this week has a safe trip, wherever you’re coming from, and I’ll “BC-ing” you all very, very soon! (Please excuse the awful pun, I couldn’t resist!)

I think introductions are in order

Countdown to BC: 2 days

I guess I should get some practice introducing myself, since I have a feeling I’ll be doing it a lot over the next few weeks. Here it goes; I’ll do my best to keep from rambling.

Hi everyone! I’m Campbell, also known as Cam, and I’m so excited to be a part of the first year Blog Squad this year. Yes, I realize I have a last name for a first name, just go with it. I’m from Richmond Hill, Ontario, a town in the ‘burbs just north of Toronto, but I was born in Calgary, which may explain the soft spot I’ve always had for western Canada and cowboy boots. I’m entering the Faculty of Science and will be living in residence at Place Vanier this year.

Yay UBC! Side note: please ignore the awkwardness of this picture and the messiness of my room.

My summer was spent pipetting and centrifuging in a downtown Toronto lab and recovering from jaw surgery that left me looking like a Cabbage Patch Kid for a month. I have hilarious pictures if anyone is interested. Some fun facts about me: I’ve never eaten a cucumber, I have a severe addiction to making lists, I’m scared of cats, and I have a Harry Potter-esque scar on my forehead from an encounter with a coffee table at a Christmas party (I was three and may or may not have been chasing after the fake Santa Claus).

I’ll likely be seen cruising around campus on my snazzy new bike (a moving-to-BC present, thanks Dad!), jamming to some Arkells on my iPod (on repeat since I found out they’re playing at Firstweek!) and, if I’m on the way to one of my 9 AM classes, bearing a striking resemblance to a walking zombie (I am definitely not a morning person).

Finally, I’m insanely excited to be heading off to UBC, which has been my dream school ever since I found out that it existed. I can’t wait to meet all you other first years and I hope you’ll feel free to introduce yourself if you see me around—even if it is early in the morning.