Respectful Relationships Matter

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

UBC is big. Really, really, big. I came to the Vancouver campus as a first year knowing that I’d be just one of over 50,000 students. But it wasn’t until Imagine Day, when I was surrounded by an Olympic-sized arena full of other first-year students, that the magnitude of campus really hit me. There was a moment amongst my 7000+ “classmates” where I was overwhelmed by the realization that I was but one small fish in a very big pond.

Despite there being a huge number of students at UBC, how was I going to connect with people? How was I going to find my place?

As it turned out, meeting people didn’t prove to be that hard. There are lots of opportunities to meet like-minded students in residence, at organized events, and through the hundreds of clubs on campus. After overcoming my fear of rejection (an incredibly common and arguably natural fear most students won’t admit to feeling), I took the initiative and introduced myself to classmates, neighbours, and people at events. And within a matter of weeks I had quickly formed a network of friends. However, what took real work was sustaining those relationships throughout my undergraduate degree

Developing and maintaining relationships takes effort, and with all the demands placed on students, friendships and relationships can drop in priority (especially when life gets hectic!) But it’s during these stressful times that we need the support of our friends the most.

Although there is no singular definition of what a ‘healthy relationships’ looks like, respectful and caring partnerships with friends and loved ones often include these five elements:






Healthy relationships are based on these core elements, and setting boundaries is a great way to honour these five elements, all the while keeping relationships respectful and secure. There’s nothing that compares to the continued support and feeling of happiness and comfort that healthy relationships can offer. In fact, they can strengthen all aspects of your life: your health, your wellbeing, and your academics! University is full of exciting opportunities, and having great people to share those experiences with will add meaning to your time spent at UBC.

This framework also allows us to handle the conflicts and tensions that inevitably occur. The important thing is to make sure to try to resolve these conflicts by sticking to the present issues, and not bringing up issues from the past.

The relationships I’ve fostered during my time here at UBC have been incredible. They’ve allowed me to experience huge personal growth and happiness. They’ve also been a huge stress release! And, in the end, it’s the connections with great people, and the memories those connections inspired that I will look back on as some of the greatest moments of my time at UBC.

A Connection Too Often Forgotten

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

Starting your first year at university is a big deal. If you’re like me, this is probably the first time you have almost full control over how you spend every hour of every day. For me, first year came with the freedom to order a large pizza at 2 am after a late night out with friends, the freedom to forget about doing laundry until I was down to my very last pair of underwear, and the freedom to spend three hours scrolling through Tumblr without a parent nagging over my shoulder to ‘get back to my studies’.

While this new-found freedom was great for the first few months of my first year, I couldn’t help feel as though I could have been doing something more meaningful with my time. After all, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “with freedom comes responsibility”. It was time I partook in activities that didn’t involve the regret of consuming a large pizza (all to myself) or a hangover in the morning.

So, by my second semester, I had signed up for every club I was even slightly interested in, went to almost every event put on by my residence association, made significant friendships that have lasted to this day, and volunteered for a few key charity fundraisers. While my involvement in all of these activities added meaning to my new freedom, I was also unconsciously wearing myself out. I still didn’t feel comfortable, I was often sick, perpetually tired, and a little disappointed in the work I was producing.

I was so consumed by trying to do it all, making a ton of friends, and feeling more connected to the UBC community that I was ignoring another vital connection – the connection to myself.

University is a time to discover yourself. It’s a rare opportunity to explore what you value most, try new things, have the freedom to make mistakes and grow from them. What I’ve come to learn over the past four years as a UBC student is that in order to effectively contribute to an inclusive, caring, and respectful community, we must first offer ourselves that same respect.

For me, it took widely overstepping my comfort zone by taking on more things than could fit on my plate to realize I wasn’t honouring and respecting my boundaries or values. After becoming more aware of the dwindling pieces of my wellbeing and the consequences that arose from not taking care of myself, I knew a shift needed to occur. Here are some things I’ve learn about the importance of establishing a connection with myself:

  • Communication is crucial. As almost everyone will agree, communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. Normally this implies a relationship between two individuals, but who says it cannot apply to the relationship you have with yourself? Having these internal conversations will help put things into perspective, ensuring your actions are deliberate and honour your goals and values.
  • There’s no need to do it all. Taking a step back from activities or clubs, and working through which ones you feel add value to your life will benefit you in the long run. Once I established a personal connection, I was better positioned to realize that not all of the activities I was participating in were meaningful. Now that I’m only involved in a few key clubs and programs, I feel as though my impact on the community is much larger and more significant.
  • When I take care of myself it’s easier to care for others. When I take the time to eat well, move my body, get enough sleep, and care for myself I am better primed not only to succeed academically, but also to fulfill my role of being a respectful and caring member of the UBC community.

While it’s important to take advantage of being in a new environment and own the opportunities that are here for you, it’s also important to find a balance that works for you by checking in with yourself. With respect for yourself and your wellbeing, you’ll find a way to honour your boundaries and establish that connection. It’s okay to slowly dip your feet in, rather than diving head first into the deep end – if that’s what you are more comfortable with. Because in order to fulfill our role of being respectful and caring members of the UBC community, we must first allow ourselves that same respect. When you’re well, you’ll be better able to serve the overall wellbeing of your new community!

Doing the Do

Post written by Madison Candline, Wellness Assistant

Sex is everywhere. We are born into a hypersexualized culture, where images and their implications groom us as little humans into the kind of sexual beings we’re supposed to be. Unfortunately, the messaging is not only heteronormative, restricting to our sexual exploration, but it’s also incredibly hard to live up to.

We all feel the pressure. But how can we make sure that this pressure does not negatively affect the choices we make about our sexual experiences?

At one point, even I gave into the casual sex-thing millennials are imagined to be doing. Personally, it was far from fulfilling. I finally realized that although that may work for some, it just wasn’t working for me. University culture can magnify the pressure to have sex as there’s the university/college stereotype that everyone is young and horny and sleeping around. Knowing the truth that people are actually having sex much less often than we might typically think can help take a bit of the pressure to “do it” off.

The Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) collected data from more than 30,000 students from more than 30 Canadian post-secondary institutions in June of 2013 in a survey known as the National College Health Assessment (NCHA). The data below collected in British Columbia may surprise you – not everyone is actually doing-the-do:

  • When asked about intercourse, 26.6% students said they had never had [vaginal] intercourse. That’s slightly more than 1 in 4 students. And this is without taking into account differences in sexuality and/or those who are not interested in vaginal sex.
    • 72.2% have never had anal sex, and 26% had never had oral sex
  • With regards to frequency, those who are having or have had [vaginal] sex, there’s 21.0% who haven’t done it in the last 30 days.
    • From those who have had anal sex, 22.2% had not done it in the last 30 days
    • From those who have had oral sex, 28.4% had not had it in the last 30 days.
  • When asked how many sexual partners they’d had in the last year, 29.3% said they had none, and 48.1% had only had one.
    • The remaining 21.2% had between 2-8 and only 1.4% had 8+.

The above stats do not reflect the diversity of sexual experience and sexualities on university campuses, as penetrative intercourse is definitely not the only form of sex/sexual activity people engage in. Sex can mean something different to everyone. For some it may be penetration, but to others it could be other forms of intimacy like sexual touching, or even masturbation, for example.

The pressure to have sex, especially in university, can be very frustrating and possibly even isolating if you’re not having “enough” or are having “too much”. Maybe you’re questioning your sexuality or gender orientation. But, (as the data would indicate) if it seems like everyone is talking about sex, chances are they’re probably not all actually having sex! The only right time for sex is when you’re ready. But how do we know what “ready” looks and feels like?

  • Check out for a great “checklist” to help you go through any questions or concerns you may have about being ready for sex. This website is a sex ed resource where professionals in the field of sex and sexuality respond to the diverse questions and concerns of real and curious young adults.
  • also has some great info on how to communicate with your partner about being ready to have sex.
    • Being ready for sex means being ready to have conversations with your partner(s) about how to protect against pregnancy and STI’s, and also being able to discuss your boundaries with each other. Having these discussions are important for your safety, but also your enjoyment!
  • The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, located on the third floor of the Nest (room 3127) at UBC’s Vancouver Campus, is available for conversations around sexuality, sex positivity, healthy relationships, and sexual assault support.

Whether you’re having lots of sex, have never had sex, never want to have sex, or are floating somewhere in the middle of all this, your feelings are valid. You are the only one who gets to dictate where you want your sex life to go. What matters most is that you are happy with your choices, healthy with choices, and feel in control of your choices regarding sex.

The Darker Side of Cellphone Use

Post written by Vivian Huang, Wellness Peer

It seems as though everyone has jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon. Everywhere I look, strangers are stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, heads bowed, and eyes glued to their phones. Though it cleverly encourages us to get outside, move our body, and connect with others through a mutual hobby, long periods of time spent playing the game (or more specifically, starring down at our phones) can have some major drawbacks on our wellbeing.

As members of an advanced technological society, we are constantly tuned into our smartphones. Whether it be for communication, social networking, or information, we are never more than 10ft away from our phones. However, being aware of the potential risks and managing our usage can keep us in check and take care of our wellbeing. Below are some things to think about for the next time you pull out your phone:

  • Cell Phone Radiation: I can distinctly recall my mother warning me to place my phone away from the bed at night. While this seemed like a huge nag at first, there proves to be some validity to her concern. Many people are worried about the electromagnetic waves cell phones emit, affecting the closest tissues in our body. Evidence for direct causation to cancer haven’t been conclusive, so the National Cancer Institute classifies radiofrequency energy as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Using hands-free technology like wired/Bluetooth headsets will help keep the phone away from the rest of your body.
  • “Text Neck”: With the rise of cellphones, the term “text neck” has come into existence along with it, affecting users of all ages. It comes with symptoms like chronic neck and upper back pain, shoulder tightness and soreness. The greater the angle your head is lowered, the greater the weight you put on your neck. There are many recommended exercises such as:
    • Slowly tucking your chin inwards then raising it upwards repeatedly
    • Turning your head towards one shoulder and rotating it tneckowards the other
    • Rotating your shoulders in circles while your arms are kept at your sides

But small changes to your posture can also be very preventative, by holding your phone at eye level and making sure your head is aligned with your shoulders and spine. Go out of your way to give yourself breaks in between prolonged use every 30 minutes. Not only does this help alleviate the strain you put on your body, but it also gives your mind a refreshing breather!

  • Blue Light: Lastly, cell phones emit the blue wavelengths of light that electronics are notorious for. This spectrum of light increases our attention and mood during the day, but disrupts our circadian rhythms during the evening by inhibiting our sleep hormone, melatonin. It’s good to be out in the bright light during the day, as it helps keep you energized during waking hours and improves sleeping at night. But when the night comes, avoid bright screens two or three hours before bed, and try using red lights for night lights. I personally, through these steps, have noticed a change in the quality of my sleep each night, helping boost my energy during the day, and allowing me to start every morning feeling refreshed. After finishing my work on my laptop, instead of turning to my phone, I read a book or write up a plan for the next day. Everyone has different ways to distance themselves from their phones during the short time before bed, and you can find your own preferred activities.

Being well informed on cell phone use can help you manage your habits, and make sure that they won’t stand in the way of staying healthy and balanced!

What do the words ‘Healthy’ and ‘Active’ mean to you?

Written by Kleo Fang, Wellness Peer

With the first official day of summer only a few weeks behind us and the promise of more rain to come (surprise, surprise), I am very tempted to retreat back into the comforts of my blanket and binge watch a season (or two) of a new Netflix series. However, a few summers have taught me that in order to feel my absolute best at all times throughout the year, I have to find a balance between the different, intersecting areas of health; mental, spiritual, and physical health, just to name a few. Only then will I feel rejuvenated and ready to face a new year of renewed responsibility.

A few years ago, if somebody were to ask me how I planned on staying healthy over the summer, my mind would immediately jump to plans of preparing balanced, home cooked meals and getting in my daily hour of exercise. However, I realized that while this regimented lifestyle worked for other individuals, it was making me mentally unhealthy. I was miserable from the moment I woke up in the morning to the time my head touched the pillow at night. The unhappiness I was experiencing while following a strict diet and exercise routine led me to reconsider how I understood “health”. Health goes far beyond the physical: health is about finding a balance in all aspects of your life. I learned that for myself, the process of self-care needed to include much more than just ‘clean meals’ and physical fitness. Coming to this realization allowed me to be truly happy – and not feel too guilty for indulging in that delicious chocolate brownie or skipping a day at the gym.

Personally, staying active means not accepting stagnancy, even during periods of relative tranquility. During the school year, I often neglect to do what makes me happy, forgetting self-care when faced with the constant state of ‘busy.’ So now, while I’m not bogged down by a full course load, why not embrace my hobbies and see what I can learn about myself in the process?

So, as a fellow Thunderbird, I invite you to join me on a journey of “health’ and “activity’ this summer – however you understand the terms! ”. Unlike so many other things we encounter as students, there is no right answer. Only your own.

Have a wonderful summer!


Visit the Live Well to Learn Well website for resources and suggestions on how to live well, feel good, and achieve success.

Or drop by the Wellness Centre and speak with a Wellness Peer for peer tested tips and resources.

The Value of a Break

Post written by Alice Guo and Bronwyn Graham, Wellness Peers

My past four years at UBC have been full of exciting volunteer opportunities, intriguing class projects, and relevant work experience. Since the beginning, I had set out to make the most of my UBC experience by seizing every opportunity that came my way. Before I knew it, the hours of the day were easily being filled up with every activity imaginable. I was juggling two volunteer roles, working ten hours a week, attending a full course load – all whilst trying to maintain good grades and the dwindling pieces of my sanity. Thinking back, there were years where I had got little to no sleep!

Though I was extremely grateful for the experiences I had, I was unconsciously wearing myself out.

While caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday student life, it seemed almost silly to be actively using the limited time I had in the day to take a break. However, as I’ve come to discover, taking a step back and integrating some time for myself throughout the day has been one of the most liberating, rejuvenating, and rewarding things I have learned to do.

This realization came after deciding to spend six months studying abroad in Sweden.

At first, the change of pace from my previous lifestyle as a heavily involved (and sleep deprived) student was difficult. However, I soon came to realize that my time abroad could be spent recharging and regaining the energy needed to be more purposeful and engaged in my future endeavours. It was the break and shift in focus that I needed to be more certain of where my interests lie and more intentional with my time and energy. In other words, this decision to take a break was an investment for a better and healthier future. Whether if it’s for a few minutes, hours, days, or months, taking a break and some time to yourself is an important part of your mental health and wellbeing.

Here is what I found to be beneficial in taking a well-deserved break:

  1. It’s rejuvenating. Despite our best intentions, we all get tired. Taking a needed break allows our bodies and our brains to regain focus on the task at hand, becoming more effective and more efficient.
  2. It fuels passion. No matter how invested we are in an endeavour, we can find ourselves losing the passion we once had for the task at hand, especially when we are faced with challenges. By stepping away from the task, we are able to see it in new angles, re-discover our interests, and renew our dedication.
  3. It provides space for reflection. By stopping in our tracks, we are able to see the bigger picture. We are able to reflect on what we are proud of, and recognize the areas that need improvement. We can better align our goals, so that we are more intentional with our time and our energy.
  4. It sparks curiosity. By shifting our focus, we make room for new interests and new hobbies. We become curious about things we previously didn’t have time to think about, allowing ourselves to be more well-rounded and connected to the world around us.
  5. It gives way to creativity. When we are neck deep in a task, we can find ourselves limited by tunnel vision. When our bodies and brains are given an opportunity to rest, we are able to see things from a fresh perspective – creating space for new (and perhaps more effective) ideas.

There’s no need to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Breaks are important, healthy, and will help you thrive! So go ahead – enjoy that 30 minute walk in the sunshine, spend that hour watching your favourite Netflix series, or cook yourself a delicious meal. You deserve it!

Got Spirit? Connect to Something Greater

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

When I started at UBC four years ago, stepping foot on campus for the first time was a surreal experience. I distinctly remember swelling up with excitement and wonder as I looked around and listened to other students tell me about all of the opportunities and services UBC has to offer. To me—a girl from a small town in southern Ontario—UBC seemed to have it all. There were so many new things to see, events to attend, new people to meet. I quickly got wrapped up in the rush and excitement of diving head first into this new experience known as “university”. I must have attended almost every basketball game, gone to all the events organized by my residence hall, participated in a few key fundraisers, and joined more clubs than I could actually take part in. I was wholly embracing my new life as a UBC student.

Four years later and here I am – just a few months away from completing my undergraduate degree. And over the years, I’ve come to realize there’s much more to life than UBC and being a student. Although sometimes it may not feel like it, life extends far beyond the perimeter of UBC’s campus. In retrospect, I realize I got swept up in the excitement of university life, losing sight of the “bigger picture” and who I am in the context of the world around me. My first year at UBC was amazing, but I couldn’t help but feel as though something more meaningful was missing – a different kind of ‘spirit’:

What are my goals, my purpose, and do my actions align with my values?

Having these internal conversations led me to realize that my university experience could have a purpose beyond academics. In short, I was practicing spirituality without even realizing it.

Spirituality is as important to your health as exercise, sleep, and good eating habits. While most people associate spirituality with mono- and poly-theistic religions, it’s important to note that spirituality extends far beyond those distinctions: Spirituality is whatever you want it to be!

For those of you who may be curious about different forms of spirituality, UBC has many resources available to help foster your spiritual growth.

UBC Chaplains

Curious about a specific faith? Or perhaps you just want to talk to someone in the religious community on campus? The Multi-faith Chaplains Association at UBC is a great place to start! Religions and philosophical traditions include:

  • Buddhist
  • Islam
  • Jewish
  • Christian
  • Bahá’í
Healthy Minds Blog

Studies suggest that students who are spiritual or otherwise more comfortable with themselves as a whole perform better in their studies. For how to keep a healthy mind, check out the spirituality section on the Healthy Minds Blog.

Student-Run Organizations

Maybe you’re more into clubs and talking with your peers about beliefs and spirituality. There’s a page for that! The AMS has a listing of all student-run spiritual organization on campus, along with dozens of others. They’re a great way to get involved with the surrounding community through volunteer work.

UBC Yoga Club

Looking to exercise and work your spiritual muscles? Check out the UBC Yoga Club for a listing of classes.


Many of these resources can help you explore your spiritual side, discover more about yourself, and get in touch with your values beyond academics. No matter how you come to understand spirituality, it’s always valuable to make a connection to the world around you.

Staying Safe on Campus

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant


The UBC campus has been my home for the past four years – literally. I’ve lived within a thirty minute walk from all of my classes throughout my entire undergraduate experience. But living here hasn’t always felt like home.

From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s no fun having your bike seat stolen – especially when you’re running late for a midterm. Laptops, tablets, and phones have also been known to “disappear” every once in a while. It can take just a few seconds for valuable items to be snatched up, so I always make sure to never leave them unattended. However, in the odd event that a personal item of yours is stolen on campus, you can report stolen items to Campus Security.

While keeping your stuff safe is important, keeping yourself safe is even more of a priority. Even though I’ve sometimes felt uncomfortable walking home after late-night study sessions, I know UBC has safety resources to help me out no matter where I am on campus, any time day or night!

Here is a list of some resources and important safety contacts you can use to make you feel more at home:

*If there is an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of others, please call 9-1-1.

Campus Security

  • It’s always reassuring to see security guards strolling throughout the buildings or riding by on their bikes down Main Mall late at night.
  • Use one of the forty new Blue Phones that have been installed around campus to contact Campus Security in an emergency, for general assistance, or directions. You can also call them at 604-822-2222.

UBC Lost & Found is located next to the UBC Bookstore.

AMS Safewalk

  • I often use Safewalk when I’m walking home late at night after the community shuttles or buses have stopped running.
  • There is no wrong time or reason to use AMS Safewalk! Call 604-822-5355 and a co-ed team of friendly peers will meet you and walk you to any point on campus.
  • They are available nightly between 9pm and 2am during the summer months, and from 7pm to 2am during the winter term (excluding statutory and university holidays).

Community shuttles

  • Put your UPass/Compass Card to good use. Take a shuttle bus to that class across campus, your residence, or the main bus loop – the drivers are always incredibly friendly.
  • You can check bus times by texting the stop number to 33333 or downloading the Transit App.

Commuter Hostel

If you want more information on the latest safety alerts and updates for UBC’s Vancouver campus, check out the Campus Security website. You can also sign up for UBC Alert to receive critical campus emergency updates sent directly to your phone.

These resources are here for you, and I’ve even saved many of these contacts in my phone.

Like many of you, I live and study on one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. And while campus can sometimes be an intimidating place (from its mere size and population alone!) I feel more comfortable knowing that safety is a priority at UBC. The best way to keep our campus safe is to look out for each other and to reach out when we need help.

Stay well and stay safe UBC!

Tips and Tricks for the Perpetual Wanderer

Post written by Kleo Fang, Wellness Peer

Nothing excites me more about summer than packing a suitcase, picking up my passport, and heading overseas in seek of adventure and fun. It’s easy to forget about exams that have passed, assignments to come, and responsibilities of the present when stretched out on a beach in Mexico, piña colada in hand.

And yet, travel can also be a stressful experience. The sudden onset of illness, the theft of an important item, and not to mention a new environment can really throw any traveler through a loop! I, too, have experienced the overwhelming sensations that arise when exploring a new country. For example, after walking around for hours trying to find my hostel in a city where I didn’t speak the language, stress and anxiety naturally crept up inside. So I took a moment to breath, collect my thoughts, chat with a friend, and instantly felt much better.

While stress is an unavoidable part of everyday life, and minor hiccups will more than likely arise during your travel experiences, it can never hurt to be over prepared. Below are a few travel friendly tips to keep in mind when abroad, no matter if you are an experienced traveler or venturing beyond borders for the first time.

Are you easily allergic or prone to insect bites?

If so, it is useful to carry insect repellent, polysporin, Afterbite and your common over-the-counter allergy pill. I have personally witnessed a friend have her entire foot swell up from mosquito bites. There have been a number of times where I myself have been thankful I came prepared with bug repellant. I’ve lost count of the times Afterbite has given me the relief to rest through an otherwise itchy and sleepless night.

Visiting a city infamous for pickpocket activity?

I love wearing backpacks when out exploring new destinations. They are roomy, light, and they free up my hands to use cameras and GPS navigation. However, backpacks also make for easier pickpocket targets as the zippers are often out of the carrier’s direct line of sight. A few weeks ago I would have never anticipated that an undone shoelace delaying my advancement up a set of stairs in the Metro would put me in perfect line of sight to see and fortunately prevent a theft from happening to a girl who had accidently exposed the location of her wallet when purchasing a train ticket. After this experience, I can only say that for myself, I will try to be a bit more discrete when making purchases and I will most definitely not carry all of my valuables in one pocket. Losing all my foreign currency can only be made worse by the loss of a passport or important electronic!

Cape Peron
Cape Peron

Passport Security

Note: If you are a non-Canadian citizen, you require a valid visa or must be approved by the Visa Waiver Program if you are entering the United States, even if it is only a layover on route to another country. See the United States Customs and Border Protection website for more information.

A personal friend of mine had not been aware of this requirement prior to becoming a Canadian citizen. Although she was a permanent resident of Canada, my friend still held a foreign passport. She was required to have a valid visa when transferring flights in the United States. As a result, she was heavily delayed and almost missed her connecting flight due to visa complications. She was fortunate enough to join us later in the day, but it still makes me shudder to think of how a small oversight on all of our parts in the preparation process could have led to a vacation missed.

Travel Insurance

If you are covered under the AMS/GSS plan, there is up to $5,000,000 in coverage for travel insurance. This includes, travel health coverage, medical incidents, trip cancellations, and trip interruptions. Visit for complete details.

If you are covered by an alternative insurance (such as Pacific Blue Cross), visit their individual websites or contact them with questions on your travel insurance coverage.

No matter where your plane ticket takes you, the sense of anticipation and awe is one that is shared across continents by travelers young and old alike.
Good luck with all of your wonderful upcoming adventures and have a wonderful summer!

Your UBC Experience – Tuum Est

Post written by Gavindeep Shinger, Wellness Peer

UBC Rose Gardens

I remember the day I got into UBC. My hands trembled as I opened the acceptance letter and a rush of excitement overcame me as I read the words “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted….”. At the time, I thought of UBC as a picturesque campus with innovative professors and a sea of driven, motivated students. While all of that is true, I now realize where I fit into the picture. The power and responsibility I hold as a student is tremendous. Students have many opportunities to create change on campus by taking on leadership roles and contributing to the inclusive community we have at UBC.

As a Thunderbird, it is up to you to make your time here as memorable and enriching as you can. Instead of just getting stuck in the routine of going from class to class or logging in hours at the library, you should step out of your comfort zone. Go out and make some memories! When I look back at my few years at UBC, the times I connected with my peers and made a difference in my community are what I cherish the most.

I have learned in order to do good you have to feel good too. Living well and learning well go hand in hand, meaning it’s important to prioritize your health and wellbeing during university in order to succeed and reach your highest potential. Although wellbeing is a broad idea, it often includes topics like academic, physical, spiritual, personal and social wellness (to name a few!).

In my experiences, feeling good is about finding balance between those different areas rather than focusing on just one specific part of my life. Throughout the year, the time and energy you devote to each area of wellbeing can change as your needs do. I have learned that wellness is a dynamic topic that will look a little different for every person.

As a new UBC student, there will be many enriching and exciting experiences to look forward to – so many it might become overwhelming! But speaking with other students can give you insight into how to get involved, make friends on such a large campus, learn about upcoming events, and where to go if you’d like more help taking care of your wellbeing. Stop by the UBC Wellness Center to speak with a peer and learn more about all that UBC has to offer – we are open all summer long! Good luck and welcome to UBC!



Practice Safe…Sun!

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

This past weekend, with the sun (finally) shining in all of its glory, tanned bodies could be seen crowding the shoreline. Almost everyone seemed to be out enjoying the sun – and I myself was one of them.

But in the thick of the summer heat, with the cool breeze blowing off the ocean water, it’s easy to forget how dangerous the sun can be if we are not properly protected.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada. Odds are that you likely know a few individuals who’ve been diagnosed with it. My mother is one of those individuals. She’s been diagnosed with benign forms of skin cancer three times, making me especially susceptible.

Luckily, a deep scar on her nose is all she has to endure. Others are not as lucky. Melanoma, the more deadly form of skin cancer, is also on the rise. Knowing that frequent and intense exposure to the sun’s UV radiation is a major risk factor for developing these types of cancers makes those perfectly tanned bodies seem much less appealing. With this threat looming over, suddenly the thought of stepping out into the summer sun seems much darker.

However, there’s no need to fear the sun entirely: the risks associated with sun exposure are preventable! Below are some tips on how to properly protect yourself from the sun’s damaging UV rays:

  1. Before you head out into the elements to enjoy that summer sun, be sure to slather on that sunscreen. And when I say slather, I mean really lay it on thick! Most people don’t use nearly enough lotion. A thin layer of a lotion with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 50 will only be as effective as a lotion with a SPF of 15. So be generous with that sunscreen, and don’t forget your lips and ears!
  2. The BC Cancer Foundation recommends using a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. However, no matter the SPF, sunscreen needs to be reapplied hourly in order to receive adequate protection – especially if you are splashing around in the ocean or are all sweaty from hiking up the Chief.
  3. Your skin isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Overtime, exposure to UV rays can lead to cataracts and other eye diseases. So make sure you are wearing glasses with a UV defense. Not all glasses offer 100% UV protection, but when buying sunglasses be sure to check for a sticker that indicates effective protection.
  4. Check your skin regularly for abnormal growths. If you are concerned about any changes in your skin, the nurses and physicians at Student Health Service will be able to assist you or refer you to a dermatologist.

Not only are sunburns incredibly uncomfortable, but with the threat of skin cancer in my family’s health history, I’ll be sure to take all the precautionary measures possible this summer before I head out into the sun.

For more information and tips on how best to protect yourself from the sun this summer, visit the BC Cancer Agency’s website and the Government of Canada’s information sheet.


What Are Your Plans for After Graduation?

Written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

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We’re in the midst of graduation season and many of you graduates must be feeling the elation, relief, and bliss of finally completing four (or five, or six) years of rigorous and stressful work. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but you did it. Congratulations! You’ve made it and you should be proud.

Sometimes, however, all of this enthusiasm and anticipation can become subdued by the cloud of uncertainty that looms over many graduates. While graduation is certainly exciting, there are also many less-than-welcomed emotions that accompany the thought of graduating. With friends and family surrounding and supporting you, the questions many university students loath are bound (almost guaranteed) to be asked:

“What are your plans after graduation?”

“Have you applied to graduate school?”

“Do you have a job lined up?”

This interrogation into a future you may not have had the chance to think about may cause anxiety, stress, and maybe even fear – certainly if your immediate reaction to these questions is “I have no idea”. If the uncertainty of what your future as a UBC graduate holds is stirring unease and anxiety within, know that you are not alone. As a fifth year student, I’ve witnessed many of my own friends go through this transitional moment, and I’ve come to realize that it’s perfectly normal to be a little apprehensive. Allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept these emotions can lead to a healthier outcome when managing the stress and anxiety that may come with graduation.

When things become overwhelming it’s important to take a break:

The student peers who staff AMS Speakeasy can provide support and a listening ear if you are feeling distressed and want to talk.

Once you’ve taken the time to de-stress and the anxiety has subsided, there are some amazing resources you can access that will help you out on your post-graduate career path.

  1. The Center for Student Involvement and Careers can ease your transition into the “real world” by helping you explore the daunting and sometimes paralyzing array of possibilities. Book an appointment with a Career Advisor to help you navigate all of your options. Additionally, the Center for Student Involvement and Careers frequently hosts workshops that will help you develop your employability and work skills– they can help you tidy up your resume and are available for practice interviews. Check out the UBC Careers website for more information, resources, and upcoming events.
  2. Alumni UBC is another great resource that provides recent graduates with advice, tips, and tools for career development. Take a minute to explore the Alumni UBC website for upcoming events, newsletters, and more information on the possibilities for life after UBC.
  3. You might also want to speak with your faculty’s Academic Advisors if you are considering applying to graduate school or a master’s program.

Despite the mix of emotions you may be experiencing, it is important to take a moment to relax after all of your hard work. Enjoy graduation, and best of luck on your plans for the future!