There are some fun things to do in Vancouver, and also some practical things
you need to take care of when you move in. Here are a few ideas to
start getting you settled. If you’re in the mood for a seriously free
travel guide, check out Wikitravel’s entry on Vancouver or BC Insider. Inside Vancouver is a great blog written by locals with the scoop on a wide variety of events, culture, places, restaurants, and more! Quick and dirty bus directions from UBC are provided below for activities, but for details from your home or anywhere else, check out the Translink home page or just use Google maps.
The Fun Stuff:
The first thing on any tourist’s list is the massive, multi-hectare park on the tip of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. Buried within the numerous wooded paths are beaches, restaurants, and even an aquarium. For the real deal, reant a bike on Georgia and Denman and spin around the deliciously flat 9k seawall path while taking in the views of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore.
Buses: Take a 4, 44 or 17 to downtown, then grab the 19 on Pender Street to get up to the park.
Strap on your fanny packs and grab those reusable canvas bags that have been
sitting in the trunk, because it is time to go shopping. For the
ultimate in tourist entertainment, there’s no better public space than
Granville Island. Besides the seawall path running through it and great
views of downtown from right on the water, there’s also a public market
with fresh produce and deli products along with endless artisanal shops
and artist studios to keep the locavore inside you hungering for more.
If you can stomach the line, grab fish and chips at Go Fish for some of the city’s best fresh-off-the-boat fried cod.
Buses: Grab the 4, 44 or 84 to Fir street, and stay under the bridge until you see the madding crowds.
Those of you who like cheap coffee, dreadlocks and international cuisine need look no further than east Vancouver’s own Commercial Drive. A home to a
veritable smattering of offbeat and strangely wonderful restaurants,
cafes, head shops and other assorted emporia, the Drive is certain to
have whatever it is you came looking for. Especially if that something
smells like patchouli. Make sure you head in and snap your fingers for
the poets at the Vancouver Poetry Slam, every Monday at Cafe Deux Soleils.
Buses: Take the 99 B-Line until they kick you out.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of great things to see and do right on campus. The UBC Anthropology Museum is world-renown, and comes highly recommended by most published travel guides. Other great day activities (most of which are free for
students) include the Nitobe Memorial Garden, the UBC Botanical Garden and, of course, the GSS’s own Koerner’s Pub. Or, if it’s your thing, bare your soul and check out the selection of treats down at Wreck Beach, just leave the kids at home, will ya?
For those of you curious for a little taste of the United States, looking
for a cheap flight or are interested in visiting the spectacular public library, there are many options for getting down south. Quick Shuttle is one easy option that will stop in either Downtown Seattle or at Sea-Tac airport and has fairly inexpensive rates (60 to 80 bucks,
round-trip) for students.
The Practical Stuff:
There is every bank imaginable in Vancouver. The trick is finding one close to where you live, or that offers the services you need. Many banks offer student checking accounts, but many of these also have limits or charges depending on your debit card usage. CIBC
offers a student checking account with unlimited debit charges per month, and they also have a campus branch located in University Village. Bank of Montreal (BMO) also has a branch office on campus and an ATM in the Student Union Building (SUB). The other major banks (HSBC, Scotiabank, Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust) all have branches on 10th Avenue, just outside of campus on the 99 B-Line bus route. Vancity is a local credit union if that’s what you’re looking for.
The UBC bookstore apparently offers a cell phone deal for students each year that provides a substantial rate reduction on a basic voice plan. But, if you need more minutes (or, say, want an iPhone), Rogers, Telus and Bell (plus their various subsidiaries like Fido and Koodo) all have various plans for Vancouver residents and students. Check their websites for any additional information. Freedom Mobile has spotty service in some places (don’t expect it to work on Vancouver Island, for example) but is dirt cheap.
Television, Internet and Home Phone Service
Shaw is perhaps the most common Internet/cable provider in town, but Telus also provides Internet and cable services to many homes across the city. You can also try TekSavvy. Many companies will provide you any or all the services you need bundled, and both offer various student pricing each year with proof of enrollment. You’ll have to check the individual websites for specifics.