*March Welcome*, stressful courses, and general UNCERTAINTY

Hi guys! I’m finally back– I’ve completely put this blog on the back burner for quite a long time. School has been especially stressful these past few weeks and I didn’t know at all what to write about so instead of writing a bunch of halfhearted, emotionally distraught posts I decided to take a break from blogging!!!

I’m still not convinced that March is about to end… I barely remember the month even BEGINNING. But it’s that time of year when high school seniors are getting their acceptances into UBC and deciding where they want to spend the next chapter of their lives. So CONGRATS!!!!! to all those who got accepted. I really hope y’all will consider attending UBC <3.

Last Saturday was MARCH WELCOME. This is the day when all the orientation, Jump Start, Peer Program, and SLC leaders (there are probably many more groups that I forgot/don’t know about) get together for the first time. I am so SO SO excited to be a new member of SCI-TEAM!! Since high school, I have loved being a part of the behind-the-scenes operations of events and I cannot wait to organize fun and informative events for Science students next year! It’s going to be a blast!!

On March Welcome, I first met my fellow Sci-Team members and we got to know each other through ice-breakers and puzzle games. Then we, and the other 1000+ orientation leaders went to the gym for a REALLY INSPIRING presentation that involved all of us turning on the flashlight on our phones. Each light represented a small impactful action each of us took and with over 1000 of us, there really are no limits to the impact that we can collectively make on students. After the assembly, the Sci-Team members met up once again to go over our responsibilities for the next year and continue getting to know each other!

March Welcome was, no pun intended, a WELCOME break in what was truly an INTENSE, STRESSFUL few weeks of the relentless cycle of class, assignments, midterms… lather, rinse, repeat. I had 5 midterms in March and 3 of them had averages in the 50s…. WHOA. This was truly an unprecedented string of terrible averages, and granted, I’m only a first year student, so I’m not sure if this happens every year or if this was out of the ordinary. But until now I haven’t seen any midterm averages in the 50s, let alone 3.

For the most part, I’m not letting these crappy midterms get to me, and my low scores are just adding fuel to my fire when it comes to studying for finals. However, what is really bumming me out recently is just the UNCERTAINTY in my life. As the end of first year creeps closer and closer, I’ve realized that I have no plans at all for the summer. With these unexpectedly low midterm scores, I now have no idea where my grades stand in any of my classes. The recent string of Facebook posts about friends accepting their on campus housing offers only remind me that I still have no clue where I’ll be living next year (read all about it: http://blogs.ubc.ca/katieli16/2014/02/22/what-ive-been-up-to/).

Some people may thrive off of uncertainty and living life day-to-day without a clue (do these people exist?), but I crumble under those situations. My already high anxiety levels spike off the charts and my mind begins to close off. I feel like I’m juggling 100 different things– I’m just ready for classes to end (7 days left!!) so I can focus all of my energy on finals. And hopefully along the way I can get some clarity on summer plans! But for now, it’s just taking things day by day and ENJOYING SPRING WHICH HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. ♥♥♥♥

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What I’ve Been Up To…

Hello all you lovely people! It’s been a long time since I last posted, and I’ve finally felt guilty enough to start writing another one. For lack of a good subject to write about, I now present this conglomeration of random things that are going on in my life…

  • Reading Week: Hooray, UBC FINALLY gives us a week-long break. I don’t know much about the Canadian school system but it’s been awfully painful seeing all my friends in the US enjoy their lengthy fall and winter breaks. Last week, I went back home to Chicago and had a great time with my family. I didn’t do a single bit of schoolwork. It was delightful.
  • Homelessness: A while back, the results of the 2014-2015 Residence Allocation Process were released. Basically, everyone who signed up for housing next term were placed in a giant random lottery. When I first saw that I was number 2648 on the WAITLIST, my eyes bugged out of my head because I did NOT see that coming. And now I’m on the hunt for apartments off campus next year. This giant cloud of housing uncertainty is stressing me out, big time.
  • Instrumental Playlists: HOW IS IT THAT I JUST NOW DISCOVERED THIS???? If you ever need a solid study/concentration mix, I IMPLORE you to listen to this: http://8tracks.com/libbyschiller/concentration
  • Vegan-ism: A few weeks ago, I decided to start transitioning to a dairy- and meat-free diet. I had started noticing that all the cookies, muffins, cheesy stuff, etc that I was putting into my body was probably affecting my physical and mental performance. Obviously, as I am on a meal plan and have no access to a kitchen, it’s been hard for me to find a lot of vegan variety in the cafeteria and campus eateries, and by no means am I a STRICT vegan, but cutting dairy and meat has “forced me” to adopt a diet that is more natural, clean, and vegetable-packed. As a result, my body feels a lot more energized and alert.
  • Interviews: I signed up for a few peer programs next year, such as orientation leader and Science Peer Academic Coaching. I didn’t really know what the application process would entail, and I was definitely surprised to find out that all of them required an interview. I mean, it makes sense, but I am THE WORST at interviews. My brain refuses to come up with cohesive thoughts on the whim, and I always think of the perfect answers to questions AFTER the interview is over. Hahaha. So I have little to no expectations about getting the positions but at least I get more experience with interviews!

So those are a few things that are going on in my life right now. I’m actually in the Denver airport right now, since I have a connecting flight from Chicago to Vancouver. Isn’t it the worst when you have like 4 hours between 2 flights? My first flight was at 6 am, and I got to the airport at 5 thinking that security would go by quickly but for some reason there was ONE line for EVERYONE and once I got past security it was 5:45. I was literally the last person to get on the plane. It was super embarrassing because the plane was packed and I could feel everyone’s eyes staring into my soul but when I got to my seat, to my delight THE ENTIRE CLUSTER OF SEATS WAS EMPTY!!! Oh my, all that leg room was heavenly. Anyways, I am SUPER sleep deprived and rambling so I’m going to end this post now!

Chicago Sunrise and Airport Adventures


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Part 2: Academic regrets and GOALS!! (Plus: MIDTERMS?? *shudder*)

HELLO readers. It may be a delightfully sunny day today but I can’t help feeling like it’s going to be a gloomy week because I have THREE midterms this week (!!!!!!!!!). Speaking of the weather, apparently the Groundhog claims there’ll be six more weeks of winter 🙁

I should really be studying for said THREE midterms, but in the true spirit of bad academic decisions, I now present PART DEUX of my “things I wish I did differently/goals for the future” post based on my first term of my first year at University:

3.   Go to Office Hours / INTERACT with Profs&TA’s

If I could go back to the beginning of first term and only do one thing differently, it would be to interact more with my Profs and TAs. There have been numerous times that my life couldn’t been a lot less stressful had I gone in for help instead of trying to comprehend difficult topics by myself. Also, I do think it’s really important to get to know profs better on a more personal or intellectual level, especially those from the department you’re majoring in, as it’ll help immensely with making connections, getting into research, or any career help you may need down the road.

4.   DITCH less classes!

This is pretty self-explanatory. I didn’t ditch too often last term, but often enough that I should probably show more self-discipline this term and not ditch as much. After reflecting, I’ve found that the two things that would trigger me skipping class were pure laziness and being so behind in course material that I found it not worth it to go to class. So to help with the laziness and exhaustion in the early mornings, I’ve been setting multiple earlier alarms (so I can give myself 10-15 minutes of snoozing), eating more protein-packed breakfasts, and sometimes taking showers in the morning right after getting up (it does wonders for keeping me awake). And obviously I’m trying not to get behind in any of my courses (i.e. doing the pre-readings like I stated in my last post).

5.   Work efficiently

Also self-explanatory and super lame, but when I’m studying or doing homework I get so distracted by stuff like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and FLAPPY BIRD that I’ll end up working for like 15 minutes and then spending an hour wasting time. This term, I’ve been going to the library a lot more to study, thereby removing myself from any distractions. I’ve found that I work super efficiently when I’m not in my room- there’s something about coffee shops and quiet libraries that just make me get things done really fast!

I guess that’s the end of my list! Good luck to anyone with midterms or tests this week. At least next Monday is Family Day, so there’s something to look forward to!

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PART 1: My biggest Academic regrets and GOALS for 2nd term! (Plus: NEW blog title)

New year, new term, new blog title???!!!

Yep, my blog (formerly known as “Coffee, Chocolate, and Physics”) is now “Shades of Serendipity”. I changed it primarily because I’m not taking a Physics course this year and probably will not for the rest of my uni education haha. I mean, I like Physics, but I wouldn’t want to be misleading and have a student visit my blog hoping to find info on physics at UBC.

So for this post I wanted to share some of my Academic goals for this new term. All are on aspects that I really struggled with or neglected my first term.

  1. Do the PRE-READINGS!!!!

It’s so so easy to be lazy and neglect pre-readings or any kind of pre-class work, and trust me, I know this SO well as this was one of the major reasons I struggled last term. I genuinely thought that pre-readings were negligible and that I could always do the work later and catch up. The problem was, since I didn’t do the pre-class work, lectures became confusing, incomprehensible, and frustrating.

I am a visual learner, when  I read concepts on a page, they naturally sink into my head. I am NOT an auditory learner. When professors lecture, it is so easy for me to get distracted and space out; I don’t think this is necessarily my fault, it is just how my brain is wired. That is why I have learned it is crucial for me to do pre-readings. Going into a lecture not knowing any of the material, and combining it with the fact that it is extremely hard for me to learn by listening made lectures a living nightmare. This term, I will take time out to THOROUGHLY go through the pre-readings and get a better grasp of the material before class.

2.  Never underestimate the power of homework and small assignments

Besides being a visual learner, another aspect of the way I learn is that it takes me a loooong time to truly understand concepts. I have found that for me to completely grasp new material, I have to reread the textbook multiple times and do numerous practice problems, a process that takes a few weeks.

Therefore, homework assignments that would be assigned right after learning new information and that were due in such a short amount of time were really challenging for me. I figured that since each assignment was only worth like 1% of my final grade I could afford to not do as well on hw, knowing that eventually I would figure everything out and be fine for the final. However, those small percentages started to add up! At the end of the term, when I was trying to calculate what I needed on the final to get a certain grade, I found that if I had worked hard and gotten full points on the hw, I could have had a lot more leeway on the final exam. BUT since I didn’t take a lot of assignments seriously, I needed to get really high marks on the final and that stressed me out a lot. So in that sense, I shouldn’t have underestimated the “power” of hw assignments when compared to my overall class grade.

When you really think about it, small assignments are “easy” points. You can get a lot of help on them from TAs and profs if you are struggling; honestly, there is no reason you shouldn’t get full marks or at least most of the marks. So this term, I’m going to try my best to do well on all homework assignments!


Okay, so that was PART 1 of my academic regrets/goals. I decided to split this into two parts because I didn’t want like 3000 words of verbal spewage. Long posts give me anxiety, haha. LOOK OUT FOR PART 2, COMING SOON (hopefully).

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≈≈≈ New Years Resolutions!!! ≈≈≈ (super late)

Hey guys! If I actually write/type down my resolutions this year, they’re most definitely going to come true….right? Here’s hoping 🙂

**edit: WOW I started this post a few days before New Year’s Eve with the full intention of finishing and posting on January 1st. However, I had the flu and a throat virus and was asleep for most of the first 2 days of 2014 🙁 . (and then i was lazy for a few days)

I can honestly say that 2013 was the most incredible, life-changing, emotional, and crazy year thus far in my life. Regardless of all the wonderfully great and painstaking difficult things that I’ve been through this year, there is NO DOUBT that my life has been changed momentously. With that being said, I have absolutely no idea what 2014 is going to bring, but I do have a few resolutions that I’m going to work towards:

  1. Hit the gym

When I got home for break I HAD to do that super cliche, ceremonious weighing-in of myself to see how much of the Freshman 15 I gained. I mean, obviously you can feel and see yourself getting fatter but there’s nothing like the quantitative proof! Although my eating habits weren’t TERRIBLE for a college kid, I was WAY more SEDENTARY then I should have been. This year: gym membership and yoga classes!

2.   Hit the books

This year, I vow to read more books. I loooove reading but I just never get around to it. On the plus side, I got a brand-spanking-new Nook for Christmas. On the down side, my Canadian debit card doesn’t work on it. UGH. I will figure out a way to utilize it though.

3.   Manage my money

Oh my goodness I am sooo embarrassed at how much money I spent last term D: . This year, I’m going to force myself to stick to a monthly allowance and try to find a part-time job.

4.    Drink More H2O, less coffee!!

The water one makes my list of resolutions every year, and last year I’m proud to say I did drink a LOT more water. However, I also drank more coffee (ummm Starbucks and Tim Hortons within walking distance). And since coffee is terrible for water retention I always felt guilty that it was “canceling out” the water that I was drinking.

5.    Less time in, more time out

I think my biggest resolution of 2014 is to see more of the world and to make more of an impact on the world. Obviously I can’t do that if I’m in my room watching Netflix or something. I’d love to do volunteer work, intern, and generally make time to explore what lies out there.
What are your resolutions? Mine are pretty generic, but I really feel like I’m going to stick to them this year! Here’s hoping we all have a prosperous, healthy, and enjoyable 2014!!!

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The 6 Stages of Finals

Hey guys! 2 finals down, 2 to go! Seeing as in exactly one week I’ll be back home in Chicago I was going to write a post about all the stuff I missed about home. But, as I was writing it, I started tearing up!! The last thing I need during this already-stressful finals season is to be a blubbering mess of emotions so I decided to save that post for a later time! good grief..

I decided to instead share my 6 stages of Finals feels:

  1. Determination. You confidently make your way to the library with a coffee in hand and break out the textbooks.

2.  You want to study, but REALLY you want to go on Netflix and sleep

3.   Then you crunch some numbers and figure out what you need on the final exam to get the grade you wanted in the class….

4.  It’s the night before your final and you desperately pull an all-nighter in hopes that you’ll magically understand everything the next day

5.  You drag yourself do your final and endure 2 1/2 hours of misery. Then it’s finally over!

6.   Then lather, rinse, repeat the cycle for the next few finals


Study hard, fellow students

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That time we all collectively attempt to cram four months of information in a week for a test worth 50% of our grades OKAY

Welp it’s finals season and I really want term one to be done with forever yet I really would like another month to study and ARGH. My finals are pretty spaced out which I appreciate greatly and for the most part are arranged in order of easiest (? jk easy doesn’t even exist) to hardest. Of course my physics final would be scheduled for FRIDAY THE 13th *cue scary music* so i’m prematurely preparing my grave.

Classes finished last Friday which is wonderful because the last thing I need is to worry about dragging my butt to lectures amidst all this finals mania. I have to say that no classes is REALLY screwing up my sleep schedule… I’ve been going to sleep later and later each night and waking up later and later each morning. I’m a huge proponent of healthy eating and sleep habits during testing periods so my less-than-stellar sleep schedule is really bugging me.

I’ll probably update more as finals season progresses, but my main reason for writing this post was actually to share these playlists, and of course I started rambling about sleep and other nonsense.

I usually need dead silence when studying but when I’m doing mindlessly repetitive stuff like coding Comp Sci practice problems I LOVE listening to music. These are two of my current obsessions:



Happy studying guys! (har har)

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What’s In My Bag?

Hey guys! I’ve been on a self-imposed blogging hiatus for the past few weeks due to midterm madness but as of last Wednesday, I am MIDTERM FREE!!!!! (that is, until next term) (and finals are in two weeks)

There are only two more weeks of classes until the end of first term. WAT. I cannot even comprehend that.

I carry either a tote bag or wear a backpack depending on if it’s raining or not. For my post today I’m just gonna walk you through some of the stuff that’s in my school bag. Exciting stuff. Really though, i just needed an excuse to clean/sort through my bag…


  1. Laptop: I generally carry my laptop around with me. First of all, I use it for my computer science classes. Secondly, I study a lot outside my dorm room so I always take my laptop with me.
  2. iPad: I always have my iPad mini with me for the sole reason of reading. Since I have a lot of breaks between classes I like to curl up in one of the big comfy couches in the Harry Potter room in Irving and read. I just finished “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth and am currently reading “The Wolf of Wall Street” by Jordan Belfort.
  3. Planner: OHMYGOSH I think that if I didn’t have my planner my world would just obliterate. Seriously. I write EVERYTHING in my planner, from assignments to events coming up to random reminders. I’m a pretty scatterbrained person so my planner is pretty much my entire life.
  4. Notebooks: I take a lot of notes.
  5. Pencil Case: I take a lot of colorful notes.
  6. Lip Balms: Definitely an everyday must-have for me.
  7. Keys: I love my UBC lanyard- it comes with a clear case that fits two cards so it’s absolutely perfect for holding my UBC ID card, both dorm keys, and my UPass. And it’s pink ♥
  8. iClicker: Even though I only need this for 2 classes, I never take this out of my bag because in the beginning of the year when I did, I would ALWAYS forget to put it back in (scatterbrained) and lose participation points.
  9. Calculator: I’ve had this since high school and even though I have to use those lame calculators for exams that can only add/subtract/multiply/divide I still use my ti-nspire for homework assignments.
  10. Wallet
  11. Cozy Gloves: Baby it’s cold outside. At least I’m not back in Chicago, haha… Apparently it’s snowing there already??? and it’s still mid-40s here in Vancouver.
  12. White-Out: I pretty much only write in pen so I always have a roll of white-out with me wherever I go. I’m kind of an aesthetic perfectionist and it pains me to cross things out…
  13. Gum
  14. Earphones: Walking to class is never the same if I forget my earphones in my room 🙁

Well that’s pretty much it! Clearly I was out of ideas for posts, haha. If you have any questions or suggestions for new blog posts please let me know! Thanks for reading ♥~♥~♥

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How to Deal With Academic Stress

This past week has been extraordinarily overwhelming in terms of schoolwork. That crushing feeling of disappointment and confusion when you get a failing score on a problem set that you struggled on for hours on and felt so accomplished when you finally figured it out?. Yeah, IT SUCKS.  That helpless feeling when no matter how hard you try, your brain refuses to concentrate and process the words you read over and over? It’s HORRIBLE.

I’ve always dealt with stress extremely well; in the past, whenever I struggled with schoolwork, I’d always be even more motivated to work hard and succeed. But lately, things have been really rough and the thought of giving up has more than once crossed my mind.  Here are some of the ways I’ve been coping and some tips on dealing with stress and being overwhelmed:

  1. Push the books aside for a moment: The more stressed you are, the less likely your brain is going to process anything. Just take a break. Do something that makes you happy. Then when you reach a more relaxed state, take a deep breath and go back to studying.
  2. Drink tea: During high school, I was a coffee fiend. But ever since I’ve been at university, every time I drink coffee, I end up having more anxiety… So I’ve been drinking tea a lot. It’s incredibly soothing and calming and it always makes me feel infinitely better.
  3. Go to office hours: If you ever feel like no amount of studying will make you understand a certain subject and that’s making you feel like giving up, try going to a professor’s office hours. Most professors/TAs are genuinely interested in your academic success and will try to help you understand the material better.
  4. Be inspired: When you’re just about ready to give up, try doing something that inspires you. For me, I scroll through quote pages on Pinterest. Some of the quotes are really inspiring and have helped me find strength and motivation. Same thing goes with music. Find your source of inspiration and tap into that whenever you are overwhelmed.

Scrolling through the “quotes” pages on Pinterest is my favorite way of getting inspired

  1. Give yourself more credit for your abilities: It’s easy to feel like the most stupid person in the world when you get a bad mark or put yourself down for not being more intelligent. It’s so important to praise yourself and not fall victim to self-destructive thoughts. I always remind myself that I’m in one of the universities in the world and taking some of the most rigorous first year classes. And even if that’s not you, struggling academically DOES NOT mean that you are a stupid person.
  2. Put things into perspective: It’s so so easy to feel like it’s the end of the world when you get a terrible mark. Especially for me since I’m the kind of person who takes grades soooo seriously, haha. But really you have to put things in perspective. First of all, one (or two) bad grades aren’t going to drastically ruin your overall grade. And if it does end up affecting your final grade, a low class grade is probably NOT going to ruin the rest of your life. Let’s be honest.

I started this post a few days ago and I already feel so much better than I did when I began writing this. I’m not saying that you should completely ignore bad marks and have a “who cares” attitude, but you shouldn’t allow bad marks to emotionally destroy you; rather, you should channel your frustration into positive energy and work harder! Everyone is destined to be successful, and overcoming obstacles is just a small part of the road to success! ♥ (wow that was super cheesy)

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Things I’m Doing Instead of Studying

  1. Pinning

Guys, help me. I’m PINTEREST-OBSESSED. Lately I’ve been finding myself scrolling through Pinterest when I’m bored, when I wake up in the morning, when I’m waiting for the prof to show up in class, when I’m in line at Starbucks, when I go to bed at night, and… yeah. It’s so absurd how pinning clothes I’ll probably never own, recipes that I’ll probably never make, hair styles that will never work with my unruly hair, etc can make me so happy inside. I really don’t care though, Pinterest just has the coolest things.

2.  Snacking

I’m obsessed with food. Luckily (or un-luckily depending how you think about it) for me there’s a mini-mart at Vanier a mere 1 minute walk from my dorm that sells everything that satisfies late-night cravings, from Pocky to Ben and Jerry’s to microwave mac-n-cheese. It’s literally the perfect distraction from studying. I tell myself I’m only going to have a 10 minute break to snack but I always end up consuming volatile amounts of ice cream/nutella while watching Ryan Gosling movies. Happens every time.

3.  Blogging (like right now)

Totally forgivable 🙂

4.  Watching Reality TV

Totally NOT forgivable. Ugh, reality tv is definitely my guilty pleasure. Last weekend I ran out of shows to watch (is that even possible??) so I settled for watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians (the lowest of the low) just for the sake of avoiding my homework.

5.  UBC Pages on FB

These are pure comedic gold. I love scrolling through all the posts. They’ll definitely make you laugh.

UBC Confessions: https://www.facebook.com/pages/UBC-Confessions/133839236776756?ref=br_rs

UBC Overheard: https://www.facebook.com/pages/UBC-Overheard/137720223059895?ref=br_rs

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