Living with a Roommate- My first year experience

My roommate and I
My roommate and I in our dorm room.

It was August 2012 and the time right before I would find out where I would live and with whom. I had wondered for days about what my roommate would be like. Would she also be from BC or from some exotic place on the other side of the world? Would she be in the same faculty as me? Would we get along? What if we had nothing in common? With these thoughts, I grew more anxious and began checking my email every day in anticipation of my roommate assignment.

A week into August the email arrived! I was excited, happy, and relieved. But I grew hesitant. Now that I knew who my roommate was, should I message her? At first I decided I didn’t want to. Instead, I looked her up on Facebook and contemplated sending her a friend request. I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure if we’d get along, and I wasn’t ready to find out.

However, with a push from my friends, I sent her a message and am glad that I did. It was what started the wonderful friendship that my roommate and I still have today.


I don’t think I would have felt so comfortable living with my roommate if we hadn’t started talking in the weeks prior to moving in.

Our conversation started with small talk—where we were from, what we were going to be studying, how our summers were going. We even began to plan out our first week at UBC and what events we would attend. This was really comforting for me. I had been worried because I didn’t really know anyone who was going to be living in the Totem Park Residence with me, but now I knew at least one!

We were in the same program, which meant that we had a lot of the same classes. We helped each other with schoolwork, worked on lab reports, and pulled late-night study sessions together. These times led to late-night talks about our values, dreams, and aspirations, helping us learn about how the other viewed the world and become really great friends.


Living with a roommate for the first time was definitely a new challenge and there were a lot of things I learned that year. But the key things I took away from the experience are:

1. Set out rules and expectation from the start Continue reading “Living with a Roommate- My first year experience”

Maintaining healthy relationships


Beyonce once said, “Perfection is a disease of a nation”. These words have resonated with me in my own personal life and experiences where the more I strived towards perfection and moulding my own relationships to a standardized model, the more difficulties seemed to arise. As a Wellness Peer, I have come to look at relationship differently. For example, arguments are inevitable; disrespect is not! It’s more important to have a healthy relationship, than strive towards the idea of a “perfect” one. Although there is not one definition of what a healthy relationship is, all healthy relationships SHARE certain core elements that are not only necessary but also make you feel goo about you and your relationships: Safety, Honesty, Acceptance, Respect, Enjoyment. 
In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), I would like to SHARE with you some strategies for maintaining these elements within all relationships.
Accepting & Cherishing
Recognizing your own strengths and uniqueness can not only be motivational, but also allows you to look through a lens of positivity for other aspects of your life. When it comes to relationships, voicing the qualities that you admire in a person is a way of showing conscious appreciation and acceptance for them.
Playing an active role in getting to know yourself gives you the opportunity to flourish within any relationship. Being honest with yourself includes thinking about your own expectations as well as knowing and establishing your own boundaries. Also think about what does a healthy relationship look like for you?
While acceptance and honestly is important, they don’t work without actually communicating to those you care about! It is important to be able to talk and express yourself in any relationship. Not only can communication improve existing relationships, it is also a tool to seek support outside of relationships if the need arises. UBC offers many resources that are available to students who are seeking support. Visit the Wellness Center located in IKB if you are interested in learning more about some of the resources that are available. Another place to check out is the Relationships and Respect page on
One way to communicate how a healthy relationship makes you feel is to check out the Helping Hands Event as part of the SAAM put on by the Wellness Centre, just outside Irving on January 28th. During this event, you will have the chance to trace your hand and express some tips that make you feel good in any and all of your relationships! For complete list of all the events happening during the SAAM, visit:
Have a healthy, happy week ahead and remember to wear denim on Wednesday, January 21st to stand up against sexual assault during the SAAM!


Roommates: make the most out of living with a stranger!

Are you living with roommates this September? As scary as living with someone new for the first time can be, it is also an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and if you play your cards right maybe even make a life-long friend.

In my first year at UBC I lived with three strangers, and unfortunately didn’t take the opportunity to really get to know any of them. It’s not like we fought or didn’t get along, but we barely spoke to each other. I did my studying in the library, hung out with friends at their places instead of mine, and went straight to my bedroom when I came home.

As ‘functional’ as this relationship was (the kitchen was always clean, garbages got taken out, and no one ever brought over loud guests) I missed out on the best part of having a roommate: friendship.

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My three roommates this year who became some of my closest friends.

Continue reading “Roommates: make the most out of living with a stranger!”

The Courage to be Authentic

Can you pinpoint a moment in your life that changed the way you relate to and interact with people to this day?

When I was in elementary school, I lost a friendship close to my heart, and attributed this friendship loss to my weaknesses. Since that day, I have found it rather difficult to be completely me when I am around my friends. There were times when I was afraid of losing my friends if they see who I truly am – with my imperfections and weaknesses.

Photos used with permission from Flickr commons

I was aware that this struggle was hindering me from bringing my friendships to deeper levels. That said, I am very close to my family and boyfriend because with them I feel the freedom to be myself – they know my weaknesses yet still accept me. But, I greatly desired to feel this sense of freedom with my friends too.

Continue reading “The Courage to be Authentic”

If You’re Going to Have Sex…

I never quite understood just how positive and empowering good sex could be until my first clinic visit for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Once I got tested, I understood how knowing my status could help me feel comfortable and confident with my partners and teach me how I could help them do the same. So now I tell everyone who will listen not only about how important STI testing is, but also how great it can be! This is why we at The Wellness Centre have teamed up with Student Health Services to promote on campus drop in STI testing on Wednesday March 12th, from 2-4 pm. Continue reading “If You’re Going to Have Sex…”

Healthy Relationships and Talking to your Partner about Contraception

It is important to remember that there is a broad range of relationships, and that it is essential for any of these relationships to be healthy. There is no clear definition of a healthy or unhealthy relationship but generally, a healthy relationship possesses a series of characteristics that can be described in terms of how they affect one’s mental-health.

From Flickr Creative Commons

A healthy relationship has a strong foundation. Honesty is very important; a relationship based on lies gives no common ground for the soil and nourishment of a healthy relationship. Talking to your partner about contraception can be intimidating, but it is important to be direct and communicate what you feel comfortable with to your partner. Don’t be afraid to bring up contraception because not only will it benefit you and your partners sexual health, it will provide a basis of respect and may bring the relationship closer. Respect is another important component that allows for ideas and views to be indulged equally. Respecting one another’s feelings and thoughts is a cherishable quality to look for in any relationship. Commitment is just as important as any of the previously listed qualities. Remember that you, just as much as anybody else, deserve and have a right to your opinions, desires, and needs; however, there is no need to be aggressive about it either. Assertiveness is about expressing your concerns in a polite manner by using a lot of I-statements, such as, “I do not feel comfortable with your proposition” or “When this happens, I feel ________”. I-statements are a great way to express your concern about something. Continue reading “Healthy Relationships and Talking to your Partner about Contraception”

Back to School… Back to Distance Love

In September, campus was buzzing with excited students anticipating the new school year. For many students not from the Vancouver area, however, September meant having to bid our loved ones farewell. It was time to once again hop on a plane, hold back difficult feelings, and brave the many challenges ahead.

Fast forward the days and we are now almost halfway through October. Perhaps, like me, you are in a long-distance relationship. And perhaps, like me, you have felt the challenge of being away from your partner. I have been in a long-distance relationship for over a year now and have often wondered how successful couples cope with long-distance relationships. To help answer this question, I developed an online survey on long-distance relationships and gathered information from long-distance couples.

Here are just a few of the things which I learned from the survey, through reading professional relationship advice, and from my personal experiences:
Continue reading “Back to School… Back to Distance Love”

Healthy Relationships

Brought to you by the Wellness Centre Sexual Health and Relationships Team.

It is important to remember that there is a broad range of relationships and that it is essential for any of these relationships to be a healthy. There is no clear definition of a healthy or unhealthy relationship but, generally, a healthy relationship possesses a series of characteristics that can be described in terms of how they affect one’s mental-health.  

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Continue reading “Healthy Relationships”

As I Go On, I Remember the Lessons I’ve Learned

“It’s almost April?!” A time when students are a) stressing out b) trying to not stress out OR c) being totally cool about studies. While it’s good to learn to manage stress during this season, it’s also a good time to reflect on life lessons that we’ve learned during the past 7 months of the school year.

Reflections of life. Photo credit: Cordelia

Here’s what I’ve learned during my years here in UBC:

1. Conflicts are not necessarily bad 

When conflicts happen in a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship, it is not the end.  What matters is how you manage and solve conflicts.  When trying to resolve conflict, say “I feel…when you…” instead of, “You did this and it’s your fault!”  Listen to the other person’s point of view without interruption and with understanding.

2. Long Distance Relationships work when both partners are willing to do what it takes

I’ve gone through this journey everyday for almost 8 months now. I know how difficult it feels, (especially with the time zone difference) but with patience and courage, you can succeed in a long distance relationship.  And the good thing is, I improved my communication skills after countless hours of meaningful conversations through Skype vid calls.

3. Miracles happen when you believe.  Just don’t give up.

I’ve had tough times. But I’ve also seen miracles. I’ve seen a broken relationship fixed, and it’s even better now than it was in the past. Also, this year, I had quite a number of interviews. I didn’t get accepted for most positions. But I was offered one position and it was the one that I really needed for my future career. I am now a step closer to my dreams and I thank God for His provision. Keep believing in your dreams and keep persevering.

What are some personal lessons you’ve learned? I would love to hear from you, yes YOU!

Get the free, rapid HIV test

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Nurse Cherlyn Cortes explains what’s involved in a rapid HIV test.

During OutWeek 2013, Know on the Go, PrideUBC, YouthCo and UBC Student Health Service are pleased to offer free, drop-in, rapid HIV testing in the SUB on:

  • Drop-in: February 5, 11am–4 pm, SUB, room 42V and 224
  • Drop-in: February 8, 7pm–11pm, SUB, Council Chambers and room 211
  • Appointments are also available on February 5 and 8 (see the bottom of this post)

How rapid is “rapid” HIV testing?

Results are available in as little as five minutes. A nurse will also speak with you about the test and answer any questions you have before and after the test.

Why should you consider the test?

Being aware of your sexual health is an important aspect of your overall health, and knowing your status is one of the most important ways you can be aware.

Speak to a doctor if you’re ever concerned about your sexual health. If you’re sexually active, get tested yearly (or up to every 3 months if you engage in unprotected sex or use injection drugs).

Even if you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, it is best to always use protection and for you and your partner to get tested regularly.

More information

Learn more about sexually transmitted infections like HIV.

Make a rapid HIV test appointment

Tuesday, February 5: SUB, room 56A

11:00 AM

11:30 AM

12:00 PM

12:30 PM

1:00 PM

1:30 PM

2:00 PM

2:30 PM

3:00 PM

3:30 PM

Friday, February 8: SUB Council Chambers and room 211

7:00 PM

7:30 PM

8:00 PM

8:30 PM

9:00 PM

9:30 PM

10:00 PM

10:30 PM


Healthy Relationships: One Life to Love Other Lives

“Hey!! How are you? ” is a question many of us ask and respond to several times everyday.

The response to this question could be “Good, how are you?” However, it is common for students to say “Good…just feeling tired. Been rather busy with work, volunteering, midterms and assignments.”

As students juggling multiple things everyday, we may be overwhelmed with the list of things-to-do and the various difficulties that could come our way. Not surprisingly, I was so caught up with my studies to the point in which I forgot to treasure the gift of life.

Recently, I was reminded of life’s  fragility when I heard about the news of my friend losing her loved one. Suddenly, my worries about midterms seemed small in comparison to the bigger picture of what matters the most – life.

I was deeply moved and wrote a letter of appreciation to my boyfriend, telling him how grateful I am that he is still alive and well!  Take a moment to ponder about your life and the life of your loved ones.

Decide anew everyday to:

You only get one life to love.  So take this chance today.


One Life to Love Official Music Video by 33 Miles

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Counselling Services: You’re not in it alone

Guest post by UBC students Navi Dasanjh and Shahbano Bhatti

University – a place of excitement, adventure, learning, and growth. While the university experience can be filled with wonder and joy, it undoubtedly also has its perils (helllooo, midterm season).

Throughout this time, no matter how daunting your school/work/personal life my feel, always remember to take a step back and have some time to yourself. Also remember that you’re not in it alone – there are numerous campus resources to help you through whatever rough patch you may be facing.

Getting through personal difficulties

Counselling Services is one of these resources. Free to all registered UBC students, Counselling Services is a group of trained professionals available to chat, listen, and help you through any personal difficulties you may be facing.

Helpful tips from Vanita Sabharwal, Counsellor

We sat down with one of the counsellors, Vanita Sabharwal, to learn more about her work and get some helpful tips.

Continue reading “Counselling Services: You’re not in it alone”

PSYC 350A: Sex Info Central

When registering for classes last year, my friend Ale recommended I check out PSYC 350A-“le human sexuality class”.  This is the most comprehensive body of information on sexuality I have found to date.  Aside from being entertaining, the class replaces widespread myths with research-backed findings. So far Dr. Jason Winters has covered the hard facts about:

  • Anatomy and people’s relationship with their body
  • Attraction and arousal
  • Sexual behaviour (fantasies, masturbation, intercourse in all positions, …)
  • Sexual orientation (gay, bisexual, lesbian, queer, asexual… you name it!)
  • Relationships
  • Coming up: STIs, atypical sexuality, sex for pay, etc.

In addition to increasing my body satisfaction and confidence in my ability to successfully maintain a relationship, this class has showed me there’s a world of possibility when it comes to sexuality.

Dr. Winters is humorous and will use plain language to answer any question students dare fire away.  His epic stories never fail to give me a good laugh.  A real must for UBC students interested in learning more about sexuality, health, relationship management and well-being.  Winters tops it off by posting information about  human sexuality on his open blog for PSYC 350A.

Healthy Minds Tip: Safer Sex

Man looking shocked
Image Credit: Student Communications Services

Did you know that condoms were believed to have been invented by the Egyptians in 3000 B.C.?  Although safer sex products have been around for thousands of years, today they remain the best way to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections or STIs. When used properly, in fact, male condoms and female condoms are approximately 97 and 95% effective respectively. Oral (or dental) dams are also a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of STIs during oral sex.

Aside from using condoms and oral dams, making smart choices is also key to reducing your risk of getting an STI. Getting regular testing to screen for STIs is part of responsible sexual health, and the UBC Student Health Service clinic offers confidential and convenient testing services to students. Knowing how to properly use condoms and oral dams is also important. Sexuality and U offers an excellent source of information about sexual health products along with other areas like STI prevention, testing and relationships.

On campus, the UBC Wellness Centre sells a broad selection of at-cost, safer sex products including male and female condoms, oral, lubricants and toys. Trained, student volunteers at the Centre, called Wellness Peers, are also available to answer your questions about sexual health or to refer you to other services on campus.

You can also read more about STIs on the Live Well Learn Well website.

Healthy Relationships 101

Guest Blogger: SASC Outreach Worker

Whether your significant other is new, or if you are high-school sweet-hearts, Valentines Day can be a perfect opportunity to check in about where your relationship is at. It can be very easy to go with the flow, and just ‘let things happen’, especially in a new relationship. I challenge you all to take a moment in your busy Valentines Day plans to communicate about your relationship, and check out if it is healthy for you, and for them.

So what is a healthy relationship? How do you know you’re in one?

First and foremost is communication. Healthy relationships are ones where you and your partner communicate openly about any problems or concerns. You listen respectfully to what they have to say, and are willing to compromise when their opinion differs from your own. Respecting them means valuing their beliefs and celebrating who they are. In a new relationship, this can mean respecting their boundaries and allowing them to have their own space to process.

Talking about your sexual decisions is very important! This can mean discussing everything from birth control methods to condoms types, from allergies to sexual boundaries. You should feel comfortable to communicate your sexual decisions, and respect your partner’s. Consent should be mutual and ongoing. You should both be aware of what is ok to do, and what is not. If you are unsure about something, simply ask your partner.

Along with communication and respect comes honesty and trust. It can take time to build up trust in a relationship, and the only path towards trusting each other completely is through honesty. Cliché as it may sound; being honest and truthful with yourself and your partner can be extremely difficult at times. Honesty means feeling safe and valued enough to share your thoughts and experiences. This does not mean that you have to share everything! It is ok to keep certain things private! Honesty simply means sharing feelings, situations, concerns or experiences that are relevant to the relationship.

Finally, a healthy relationship celebrates the individuals that are in it! Maintain your individuality. Yes, compromises are key to healthy relationships, but this should never mean hiding who you are, or pretending to be something that you are not.

So, take a moment to think about which aspects of your relationship are healthy, and identify the areas that need work. Taking the time to check in with these topics will result in a healthier, happier relationship!

For more info on the Sexual Assault Support Centre

(604) 827 – 5180
SUB 119 A/B

Healthy Minds Tip: Healthy Relationships

Multi-coloured hearts
Image: hinnamsaisuy /

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, February is a great time to think about what it means to have a “healthy relationship.” Every healthy relationship (not necessarily romantic) is based on mutual respect, trust and communication. Relationships have their highs and lows, but when it has problems or comes to an end, your health and wellbeing can be affected. This, in turn, can negatively influence your academic performance.

When you’re in a relationship, make sure you share these responsibilities:

  • Safety
  • Honesty
  • Acceptance
  • Respect
  • Enjoyment

For more information, try out the Red Cross Healthy Relationship checklist, and read more about relationship advice at Live Well, Learn Well.

Consider your situation carefully, and make sure that your relationship is having a positive effect on your health and wellbeing. If you’re finding it hard to cope with difficulties, think about talking with a counsellor. If you’re in a situation where your safety is at risk, call the RCMP at 604-224-1322 or, in an emergency, 9-1-1.

If a relationship, be it romantic or otherwise comes to an end, make sure you take care of yourself. Talk to friends, take care of your health, and give yourself time to heal. If you have further questions about healthy relationships, feel free to visit a Wellness Peer in the UBC Wellness Centre.