Category Archives: Around Campus

Finding your way around UBC

dear life, today i want: to be found, to get lost, go crazy, make sense

Orientations, orientations, orientations. I never realised — physically — how many orientations we have. Jump Start. GALA. Graduate Students. Parents. IMAGINE, today. And I’ve been to almost all of them to table information booths this year.

There is something about working at Speakeasy that bestows a ‘come hither and ask for directions’ aura even when there isn’t a single sign around you saying ‘directions’ or ‘maps’. A good third of the questions I received at Grad Students Orientation, for example, were ‘I wasn’t here for orientation this morning — what do I do?’ and lost GALA students looking for International House.

Not that I mind the questions — for some reason, I like smiling and being helpful.

But I still think it’s a really good idea for people to carry their own campus maps, particularly when they are new to the area. Printable maps are readily available on UBC Wayfinding. It’s also the go-to site for looking up those mysterious building codes and impossibly tiny locations that can’t be spotted with the naked eye. Paper copies of these maps are also available in Brock Hall, the UBC Bookstore, and at the Speakeasy information desk in the SUB (when we haven’t run out).

If you’re new and have time today, go to all your classrooms before school really starts. Know where they are and how long it takes to get from one class to another, if you’ll be able to make it in ten minutes or if you’ll have to plan to leave early from one, arrive late to another, or find some speedier mode of transportation than rapid walking.

Also, have fun today! I’ll be one of those friendly Speakeasiers at either the SUB desk or the IMAGINE Day booth smiling and pointing you in the right direction.

Well, what do you know…

Sorting through my notes from last year to decide what to keep and what to discard, I found a few scribbled sentences from a mental health conference I attended in October. One that caught my eye was:

Helping someone else produces endorphins in the helper — helping others helps you cope with your problems.

While the happy feeling you get from helping someone else is not news to me, it’s interesting that helping others also increases your capacity to handle your own issues. (Unfortunately, I can’t place who said that or where that comes from, but I’m sure someone can correct this statement if it’s far off.)

Have you found anything lately that surprised you?

(And this was too good not to share…)

Character 1: "Hello. Oh, so you are angry? I know how to deal with grumpy people! Take this!" The two hug. Character 2: "I'm confused." Character 1 (while hugging): "Die, bitch!"

On another note, are you looking for well-paying jobs on campus? Find out about Work Study (for domestic students) or Work Learn (for international students) on the Career Services page, including eligibility criteria, and apply early through CareersOnline.

You can also take a look at the post I wrote last year on Finding Work On Campus for other ideas if you don’t manage to land a Work Study/Work Learn position (these are fairly competitive, after all).

Secret Study Spaces

School is getting to me. Isn’t it getting to you? I read when I’m waiting for the bus. I read when I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. I read and read and read and none of it’s for pleasure.

These days I move from class to study space to class to study space again, and find myself hovering around the same few places. In an effort to exercise my legs and to expand upon possible places to haunt, I’m going to start a list of study spaces on campus that don’t include the already overpopulated libraries (namely, Irving K. Barber and Koerner, for my purposes), where you have to hunt and fight to carve out a place for you and your books, and ask you to add places you know!

The ones below are somewhat hastily compiled, because I have too much work to get back to:

Brock Hall offers two great spots for studying: the Centre for Student Involvement, and the corridor on the second floor just outside Classroom Services. This corridor has desks and chairs going all the way down, and is not often fully occupied (at least, from what I’ve seen of it). Probably a great choice for commuter students in particular, who may want to be within close proximity to the bus loop.

The window alcoves in Buchanan Tower, particularly on the fourth and fifth floors. Small benches next to the windows make for almost perfectly undisturbed reading, except for when professors and students pass by and look at you funny, because they don’t really expect to see anywhere sitting there. No desks, though, so it’s no good if you need to write anything substantial, just if you need to read.

Departmental undergraduate rooms. I don’t know about you, but I know that English undergraduates have their own room in Buchanan Tower that is more often than not fairly empty. I don’t often go there, however, because there are no windows, and I get a little crazy if I can’t see the outside world every now and then. It’s why, if I go to Koerner, I’ll only ever take a desk by the window overlooking the court out front, and never study in the basement.

Residence commonblocks on a Sunday morning are refreshingly empty. Actually, any early morning will do, I suppose. And you don’t have to be in residence to sit in the commonsblock, which is nice. The only problem with this venture is that these commonsblocks tend to be out of the way for commuter students, unless you have a class in Swing Space.

The Beanery in Fairview is out of the way for most people, but if you’re really lazy, you can take a shuttle bus down there. A two-storey coffeehouse with all sizes of tables and chairs on both floors, it’s a quiet place that is perfect for studying in for hours. Con is that you do have to purchase something to stay there; pro is that this place offers the cheapest hot chocolate on campus that I know of (as of last year, anyway, when I was actually comparing prices). Oh, another con is that I invariably fall asleep on the sofa if I sit there, so be warned.

Do you know of any other places you can almost guarantee will have space for you to study in? Add onto the list!

Update: For even more study spaces, check out Classroom Services’ meta-list and their informal learning spaces map.

Finding Work On Campus

Dear Friend,

You asked me how I managed to find not just one, but two, student jobs, when it seems so impossible to find any work at all. Campus jobs are highly coveted among stressed students already pressed for time but still desperately needing work, for one reason or another.

I’ve pulled together a few resources that I count on heavily to find work either within UBC or, at the very least, near it. Maybe none of it is new to you, and maybe you could even suggest some other resources for me, but I thought it would be good to put them all together in one place.

1. Work Study/Work Learn
Pay: Ranges from $12 to $20/hr, average being $16
Length: Maximum 10 hours/week

Work Study jobs for domestic undergraduate and graduate students and Work Learn jobs for international undergraduate students are definitely among the most prized jobs on campus, for their very high pay (thanks to a $9/hr subsidy).

To apply, check your eligibility first, then look up postings! You can sort by alphabetical order or (slightly more useful) by jobs posted after a certain date.

Postings theoretically remain on the website until they are filled; I’ve learned from previous experience, however, that postings don’t always go down as soon as this happens. Unfortunately, there’s also no way of seeing exactly what date a job was posted, so no clear way of guessing whether it’s really still open — so you’ll just have to go ahead and slave on those resumes and cover letters, and don’t hold out for just one job.

Also worth noting is that you can only work a maximum of 10 hours per week during the Winter Session (UBC rule). This may not be enough for people needing more money for tuition and so on, but these jobs are definitely the highest-paying part-times I know of, next to…

2. Access & Diversity
Pay: Ranges from $9 to $19/hr
Length: Maximum 10 hrs/week

I’m sure you’ve had at least one email asking if you would like to be a notetaker for a student taking one of your classes. Notetakers are paid a very decent wage by term, but did you know there are several other student positions? Yup, these are advertised through CareersOnline, or emailed to students. Jobs range from alternate text production (one of my part-times is e-text proof-reading, a very worthwhile position in my opinion), mobility assistance, and library access assistance, to peer tutoring, scribing, and exam invigilating.

3. CareersOnline
Pay: Varies
Length: Varies

UBC Career Services’ CareersOnline is the most reliable database of jobs available to students on- and off-campus that I know of. All students automatically get an account, so all you need to do is log in! You can search by many more parameters than Work Study/Work Learn: by city/location, by job type (full-time, part-time, casual, volunteer), keywords, etc.

Some of the best campus jobs, including the DRC, AMS Tutoring, and campus tour guiding, can be found here at the right times of the year.

Also frequently appearing at the beginning of the school year are jobs with AMS Food Services. Not as high-paying as Work Study/Work Learn, but more reliable in their hours, these are also jobs that get snatched up quickly. It’s best to apply as soon as you can if you want these!

I’d suggest visiting CareersOnline regularly, just to get an idea of when certain jobs appear, since you’ve got a couple more years to go, and this information will be useful to you in your later uni years.

4. AMS Safewalk
Pay: Currently around minimum wage
Length: Varies year by year

Safewalk’s been undergoing some changes, so I don’t know what the new hours and pay are like, but I do know that they’ve traditionally been a very well-paying job, so it’s something to consider if you’re a night owl.

Safewalk offers teams of two, one male, one female, to walk students around campus from 7 pm to 2 am. You’ll have to be ready to cover those shifts, so you’ll have to be a night owl to do those. This job is best for students who live on campus, and actually have a way to get back to their own beds at that hour in the morning. If you’re interested in this, send your resume to the email address listed on this page.

5. Co-op Programs
Pay: Varies
Length: Usually full-time work

I’m not sure if every faculty has a co-op program, but I know that Arts, Sciences, Engineering, and Commerce each have their own. The rules are different for each in terms of how long you have to work, and the pay ranges wildly, but what they all have in common is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience and build connections. My other current part-time job, for example, is the result of my first co-op term.

Even though the primary point of co-op is not to earn money per se, going into the co-op program can definitely be a strategic method of paying for your university education in alternating work and study terms rather than in giant lump sums each year. You also earn far more money working full-time during a term than you can part-time, and at least you won’t have to struggle with school and work at the same time.

6. UBC Grad Psychology Paid Studies
Pay: $10/hr, average
Length: Varies, about a couple of hours at a time at most

Get on the mailing list to become a test subject! Pick and choose which studies you’re willing to participate in, and get $10 in return for your time — a fairly easy, stress-free way of earning more than minimum wage when you’ve got a few spare hours. Quite a sweet deal, I think. (I haven’t done them yet, not having the time, but I have friends who said it was a great way of getting some extra cash. And it makes grad students happy. Think of how we’re expanding the boundaries of knowledge together!)

Those are all the places I can think of getting jobs from for now. If I think of anymore, I’ll let you know. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I’d love to expand on my list, just for future reference.


Retracing, Remaking

It’s been almost three years since I moved to Vancouver and started at UBC. After two years of living off-campus, I’ve taken the offer to live in Marine Drive in my last full year at school, and will be returning to residence life come September 1st.

This prospective move back on campus has got me reflecting upon all that has passed since first year; I feel like I’m retracing the steps of the past—with differences, of course.

When I first went to UBC, I attended the ASSIST—now Jump Start—international students orientation and stayed at Gage while we learned to familiarise ourselves with the campus. Back then, the campus felt So Big—walking from Gage to the Shoppers drugstore on campus was an adventure, and I was one of those people who had to stop at the Rec Centre to ask where the Student Union Building was (right next door). I remember one rainy night I got lost with another student on the way from International House to Gage, and thought, ‘I wonder when I’ll ever know all the shortcuts on this campus.’

In a few weeks, would be my answer to my first-year self. For anyone who’s going to UBC, there’s nothing like the Wayfinding at UBC site to help you wend your way around campus. Print off two of their maps and keep them on you at all times in separate places, so that you’ll still have something even if you lose one. Learn where the Student Union Building (commonly referred to as the SUB) is), so that you can also pick up another map from the Speakeasy Peer Support and Information desk on the north side of the ground floor if you manage to lose both of your own and have no idea how to get to your next class. Take the time to explore campus during your free hours, particularly in the first couple of weeks before school gets busy. You’ll find your favourite spots and routes before a month has passed.

On another note, I’ve decided to blog about my UBC experiences here instead of on my UBC blog because that one was getting far too many spam comments, and I was getting increasingly tired of sorting them out. In addition, has more themes and features than the UBC version, so it won me over.

I’m also probably going to be moving some of my projects (e.g. Day Zero, Resident Tourist) over from my other blog, as I want to give my blogs a tighter focus. I haven’t quite decided what the other one will look like, but this is definitely going to be my new place for living and studying in what I truly think is one of the most beautiful places on earth.