Graduations and goodbyes

Hello friends. It is likely that this will be my last blog post, since in a few short months I graduate from UBC, and my blog will probably become part of an archived library of forgotten words, sinking into the deep recesses of the internet, rarely read anymore. That’s fine with me. I got to spend a few lovely years writing and sharing my feelings and my experiences with you lovely readers, and so I think you deserve a proper goodbye.

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to think about what to write, but I have constantly come up short of ideas. Technically, I’m still enrolled at the school, but I’m only in two full-year courses and strictly speaking, they aren’t academic. I work full time now and I’m rarely on campus. My participation in campus life is limited nowadays, and it seems to me that I don’t have much to offer anybody. So, instead of writing about nothing, I’ll tell you about an experience that absolutely changed my life.

This past summer, I went on a Global Seminar with UBC. It was a month-long trip through Poland titled “Witnessing Auschwitz: Conflicting Stories and Memories.” I can say with 100% certainty that this trip was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. The course involved full days of lectures, museums, tours, and research in a few of the places in Poland most related to the Holocaust – Warsaw, Auschwitz/Oswiecim, Krakow, and Bialystok. My fellow students and I spent multiple days in concentration camps and death camps; we toured what remained of the Warsaw Ghetto and had lectures by the leading academics in the field of Holocaust history. We saw huge piles of clothing and suitcases in exhibits at Auschwitz, and we walked in fields where every blade of grass had been richly fertilized by the bones of dead Jews. We saw the scratch marks on the walls of the gas chamber in Auschwitz I, and we stood in the spot where many of those destined to die in Birkenau stood, just moments before they were killed. Our sleep was plagued by nightmares involving those who we were studying, the horrific history replaying in our minds every night as we tried to slip into a dreamless slumber. The experience, for me at least, was harrowing, exhausting, and troubling; however, it was also life-changing, brilliant, and inspiring. We were able to meet with the most learned historians in the field of Holocaust history, and more specifically, Auschwitz history. We had the rare privilege of having full access to almost everywhere inside Auschwitz, allowing us to research freely. Personally, I think it was incredible to be able to see the passion behind the field of Holocaust history. It is a difficult subject to research, partially because of the emotional impact and partially because of the lack of original documents, but to those who teach and give tours, it is an endless source of fascination. They are passionate about discovering the truth and listening to the stories of survivors, and they love being able to teach others about the subject.

Witnessing Auschwitz absolutely changed my life. I am more conscientious about my language now, more critical of scholarly text, and more aware of biases in memoirs. I have been able to conduct my own research into a subject that I’m passionate about, and my supposed term paper for the course is being published in a book that the Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial is releasing. I think more deeply about certain issues, and I am much less hasty when demonstrating judgment. Witnessing Auschwitz was an incredible experience, and I am so lucky that my school offers such amazing opportunities to its students.

I’m not trying to convince you readers to go on this trip; please only go on it if you think you can handle the research, the emotions, and the month in Poland with very minimal fruit and vegetables (trust me, you’ll even miss broccoli). There are other Global Seminars that UBC offers in quite a few different fields. If you’re interested in studying abroad but you can’t necessarily do a semester abroad (I couldn’t due to my music requirements), these Global Seminars are a phenomenal way to experience the world in an academic setting.

So check them out! Explore. Become better students and better people. Have experiences that challenge you and change you and help you to grow. Open your minds to new ideas and be constantly learning. Because maybe the UBC motto doesn’t mean that your undergrad or your masters or your PhD is yours to control, like I previously thought. Maybe it means little a bit more, has a larger meaning beyond the scope of the school. Maybe, just maybe, the University of British Columbia is just the first step in creating your own destiny.

Tuum Est.

“It is yours.”

And the world is yours.

Learning a lot about things you don’t care about

I’ve just started my last semester of university here at UBC.

Well, not exactly. I still have a whole year to go before I graduate in May of 2017, but because of my scheduling, I’m finishing up all my required courses to graduate this term. So in that sense, I’m finishing my last semester of taking actual academic-based classes (except for the ones that I’m required to take in fourth year and only in fourth year), and it’s a bit crazy to think about. It seems like just yesterday that I was moving into Place Vanier, meeting all new friends in residence and at the school of music, that I was going to rehearsals for the first time, and especially that I was getting lost on the buses in Vancouver. I don’t want to write about everything that has changed in my life since then – there’s already a post I wrote about that. Instead, I just wanted to reflect on how it feels to be finishing up my university career.

It feels good.

I love being in school. I love learning, and I love being able to grow intellectually and as a scholar. In that sense, I have truly enjoyed my time at UBC. I’ve loved almost all of my classes, and I rarely feel like I finish a course without learning exponential amounts of data. But you know what? I’m ready to be done. I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things, to stop paying ridiculous amounts of rent in Vancouver, and to pursue other interests than music. God knows that UBC has made it hard to do so. This is because so much of my experience here has been sullied by the insane bureaucratic procedures in the school of music. For years, I have consistently been told that my wants and needs as a student are irrelevant, and that some specific professors only care about the needs of the music school as opposed to the needs of the individual students. I was constantly not accepted into my desired major because of the subjectivity of composition – that was unpleasant, but understandable. But when I tried to pursue music technology as an interest, it became a problem. Due to course scheduling conflicts, I couldn’t take laptop orchestra (which was required for my minor) because I was placed in an ensemble that rehearsed at the same time; even though playing in the ensemble was below my level of expertise and I was not learning, I couldn’t switch out because a certain professor cared more about his ensemble than my needs. Let me make this very clear – I was not pursuing music technology as a hobby. It was what I wanted to study in graduate school, and what I wanted to make a career with. Instead, I was kicked out of a course that I worked my ass off to get into, and I lost out on a trip to England with the orchestra, all because there was a course scheduling conflict that could have been sorted out with any bit of compromise.

You can say that I’m a little disheartened by that.

There is no moral of the story here. I just wanted to tell it in the hopes that someone will read it and understand that not everything in university will go your way. It doesn’t matter if you have crazy high marks and a burning desire to become someone better than you were before you started. More and more now, universities exist solely to make money off the students that they’re supposed to be teaching. Individual professors are usually less like this, and much more devoted to education, but my point still stands. And if universities get to the point where they discourage students to pursue any of their dreams because of the bureaucratic bullshit, then why go to them at all?

Myself? Because I love to learn, and I have faith in people, so even when I’m constantly disappointed, I always expect that it will get better.

I’m not writing this to put down UBC. Far from it. There are problems like this in universities and colleges all around the world, and they most definitely are not exclusive to UBC. I do think that this is a problem that should be addressed though. An older adult in my life, after I told them this story, said

“UBC works for you. You pay them. Why won’t they allow you to get the education you’re paying for?”

I wish I knew the answer to that question. I’m sure that if I did, I would have had a much better university experience. As it stands, I’m still not completely disheartened. I’m planning on pursuing some type of post-grad degree, although I’m not exactly decided on what it’s going to be. I’ll continue putting my faith in the education system of this country even when it keeps deserting me at every turn. I’ll do my best to keep learning and becoming the person I’ve always wanted to become, and I’ll do that while still remembering the lessons that UBC taught me: dreams and determinations are nothing in the face of bureaucracy, money can’t necessarily buy you the education you want, and years of education will go by in the blink of an eye and you will still have barely anything to show for it.

The motto of the University of British Columbia: “Tuum est”- it is yours. But is it really?

most illogical spock

The value of vocabulary / the significance of syntax

My apologies for not putting up any blog posts recently. I suppose it’s because I haven’t felt like anything special has been going on in my life, and especially not in my schooling. Starting my third year simply seemed like a return to the normal, uninteresting life that I lead here in BC. Everything is routine, and maybe because I’m so used to living in Vancouver and going to UBC, it seems like nothing is new anymore. I honestly don’t mind it – I like routines – but nothing has seemed important enough for me to write about.

So here I am, trying to figure out something to write about because I feel a bit guilty for not blogging.

I’ll start by talking about language. I’m enrolled in CENS 303A this term (Representations of the Holocaust) and it is a completely life-changing course. Up until this point, everyone spent at least one unit of social studies in high school learning about World War Two, briefly touching on the topic of the holocaust, and talking about the gassing of the Jews. In this course, I’ve been learning lots of facts that I didn’t know before, but also about how important language is. Words were created in Auschwitz out of the need for a language that everyone could understand. And after the holocaust ended, one of the only things that came out of the camps was language. Language united people inside Auschwitz, helped them to understand their situation. They created words to describe things that were so horrible that previously, there were not words to describe them. As I write my final paper for this course, I am incredibly careful to phrase each and every sentence in the correct way, as not to disrespect the memories of the victims. Every time I use the word Nazi, I have to go back and change it, because saying Nazi does not imply that they are the German Nazi’s that were the perpetrators of the holocaust. Language is so, so important, and words hold much greater power than we think.

Which brings me to my next topic. The recent attacks on Paris.

This is a hard topic to speak about, and because I don’t consider myself particularly knowledgeable about terrorism and political matters, I’ve refrained from going on facebook and posting an angry/hurt/saddened status. Of course, I am all of these things, but as of today, I have not seen a SINGLE status on facebook that has not offended somebody. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that some people are looking for a fight, and are purposefully saying they are offended, but some of it is not. I came across a status from a colleague that said “these terrorists are barely people anymore…they need to be exterminated.” I’ll admit, the status terrified me, but what terrified me even more was the sheer amount of people commenting on it with words of agreement and support.

Do people even realize what they’re saying anymore?

Look at the holocaust. Look at Nazi Germany. Look specifically at the Nuremburg Laws. Look at the “doctors” who practiced their “medicine” inside Auschwitz I and II. All the supporters of the genocide said the same thing. They all believed, with all their heart, that Jews were not people. They enacted these horrible, discriminatory laws to PROTECT the people that they thought deserved their protection: specifically, the Aryans. Jews were seen as nothing more than pests, a plague that the world needed to be rid of. In my opinion, the scariest part about the holocaust was not the genocide – it was the fact that hundreds of thousands of people firmly believed that, by destroying an entire race of people, they were doing something that aided the greater good.

Now look on facebook and tell me that you don’t see the same thing happening again. Uneducated people all over the world are looking to place the blame on anyone, and so they are – Muslims. People all over the world are preaching that Islam teaches hate, that there are more terrorists who are Muslims than any other religion in the world, that Arabs are the enemy. And probably without realizing it, these people are forming the same thoughts and opinions about another race that Nazi’s had in the 1920’s and 1930’s about Jews. And they think they are absolutely right about the fact that Arabs are the enemy.

After the holocaust, people said “never again will we idly sit by while atrocities like this are being carried out in other parts of the world.”

Yesterday, a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, was burned down. In Canada, one of the more tolerant countries in the world, a place of worship was set on fire purely because of ignorance and as a reaction to a supposed injustice.

People are sending letters to Justin Trudeau, trying to explain that if there’s even the slightest possibility that a fleeing Syrian refugee could be a terrorist, that we, as a country, should not be allowing refugees in.

The people of the world are turning on Syrians and other refugees, afraid that they could be dangerous to their communities.

Now tell me this isn’t anything like what was happening in Germany in the early 20th century.

I, myself, am not a huge fan of religion. Too many religions are intolerant of other religions, and they cause conflicts which seem unnecessary to me. But this does not mean that I don’t respect the rights of people to believe in their own religion, and I firmly believe that actions done in the name of one god does not mean that everyone who believes in that god thinks the actions are correct. I believe that you can’t generalize people based on the colour of their skin, or on the holy book they have on their bedside table. And I wish that it was more commonplace for people to believe this. But the fact of the matter is, people are always looking for a way to place blame, and as per usual, they make a huge generalization and end up placing the blame on those who do not deserve it.

I don’t mean to say that these events can be compared to the holocaust. Nothing can be compared to the holocaust. I simply mean to say that we, as a society, need to look much more closely at our words and actions, and try to learn from our past mistakes. We need to focus on our similarities, not our differences, and we need to stop jumping to such radical conclusions. We need to stand together in times like these, not push people apart.

We need to realize that there is no “we” and “them,” because by excluding people, we dehumanize them, turn them on each other, create situations in which they believe that it’s them or us. We cannot repeat the mistakes of our past. We cannot blame innocent people for this tragedy.

As a great woman once wrote, “we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

peace sign

(image credit to the artist Jean Jullien)

A tip from me to you

Since I’m entering my third year of studies at UBC and I obviously know everything now (or nothing, just a bit less nothing than I knew in first year), I thought it would be worth it to pass along the greatest bit of advice that I’ve come across since coming to this university.

BUY A BIKE.

Seriously. You’d think this was a given, but I spent my first two years living on campus, so I didn’t really have the need to bike anywhere. I finally live off campus, and luckily enough, I’m pretty close (only about 5km away). Because I arrived in Vancouver before September started, my U-pass wasn’t valid, so I had to pay a minimum of $3 every time I wanted to bus. In change. Do you know how hard it is to carry around more than $5 worth of change at any given time? It’s very hard. So I went out and haggled some old guy down on a price for a bike. The bike isn’t the nicest bike in the world (thankfully, otherwise it would get stolen in a heartbeat), but it functions. I can change gears and it isn’t broken and it gets me to campus in about 15 minutes, which is exactly the same amount of time it takes me to bus to campus. Since my ride to campus is 5km, I’m biking 10km a day whenever I bike to school. And since I’ve biked every day in the last week, that’s 70km ridden. And boy, does it feel great.

I could put a whole paragraph in here about how the exercise is great and how the calories burned have probably earned me a latte or something, but that’s not why I bike. I bike because I love the smell of the forest (Pacific Spirit Park) as I ride through it. I love the feel of wind on my face, and I love the fresh air. When it’s raining, I love feeling the raindrops smack against my face as I pedal to the music building (although I don’t love the fact that I have to bring dry clothes to change into). Honestly, I just love biking, and the fact that I get to do it through beautiful Vancouver makes it all the better.

So yeah. Buy a bike. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth it.

napoleon dynamite bike

(also buy a helmet, because it pays to be safe. Also you can get a ticket for not wearing one. Also you can die if you don’t, so weigh your choices carefully)

A reprieve from the recesses of my mind

Hello dearest readers!

Sorry it’s been a while. I haven’t really had anything to write about lately, so I decided that I would rather keep my lacklustre words to myself than to spew random nonsense just to placate the masses. And by masses I mean the few people who actually read this blog (hi incoming students, random friends, people who see the sticker on my laptop, and my parents).

Lately, I’ve just been revelling in the reverie of my thoughts. The summer is always a time for revelation (and alliteration) and I like to spend some time alone in the swirling mass of musings in my mind. I usually have no objections if this alone time is accompanied with a nice glass of white wine and some movie soundtracks for background music. As I write this, I’m listening to the love theme from Star Wars Episode II. It is truly quite wondrous. Possibly the only wondrous thing from the whole movie (other than Natalie Portman; she’s a total babe).

Recently, I’ve been reading some classic novels. They range from Sense and Sensibility to Dracula, from Dickens to Atwood. A plethora of poems have been running through my mind, ensnaring my senses and reopening my eyes to the seductive power of words. I’ve been greedily gulping down poems by Blake, rejuvenating my sense of romance with Keats, finding my love of simplicity with Rimbaud, and sinking into the sweetness of Neruda.

I never stop talking, but I never talk about things that matter. Words flow from my mouth like a river of remarks, slowly eroding away at the base of my consciousness and the edges of my thought. I find that the more I speak, the less I say. Writing is easy for me; I can compose and erase and rewrite, and the words come to me like they are destined to be penned. Speaking is a different kind of poetry, one where you only get a single chance to make it perfect and precise. When you’re speaking, inner soliloquies are irrelevant and unheard, and the tongue is a rambling and rambunctious destroyer of implication in order to favour enunciation. Your lips move in a dance of elocution and your teeth are gleaming white gates that open and close at your will.

I’m not even sure what I’m writing anymore. The words are rushing from my fingers, implanting themselves on the screen in front of me, demanding to be written into the sentences and phrases and paragraphs which make up eternity. Maybe I keep writing because I feel like my spoken words are woefully inadequate; maybe I keep writing because it helps me perceive myself as less of an incompetent human being.

Maybe I just write because I love the feel of words on my fingers and terminologies on my tongue and the versification of the voluminous power of words.

Or maybe I write just to escape the existentialism of my insipid existence.

 

Love and other dalliances

Vancouver is where I fell in love. With people, with places, with ideas, with sights and sounds and smells. I fell in love with the way the waves break on the beach when there’s a storm. With the way the grass smells after it rains. With the majesty of sunlight, and the unexpected brilliance of cloudy days. I fell in love with the water in the air, and how it makes my hair frizz up like a fiery red mane. I fell in love with the smell of the sea breeze and the silence that surrounds you on a calm day at the beach. I fell in love with the fog, how it clings to your every pore until you feel like you’re swimming in the sky. I fell in love with the feel of sand between my toes, and the feel of the wind lightly caressing my cheek. I fell in love with the mountains, the forests, the ocean. With the way my heart thumped and my blood pumped as I ran through the streets. I fell in love with the smell of the city, the feeling of always having somewhere to go, always moving. I fell in love with the rush of people, the crush of cars, the ever-present smell of marijuana. I fell in love with the cleansing rain, which somehow always seemed to have the ability to wash away parts of myself I didn’t want. I fell in love in Vancouver, and I fell in love with Vancouver. Most importantly, I fell in love with myself.

And here we are. The day of love itself. Valentine’s Day. The single most hated and loved holiday of the year. For couples, it’s a day to celebrate being together and being in love. For single people, it’s a day to sit at home and eat chocolate and watch TV. The media capitalizes on this, airing special romance movies all night and showing commercials for chocolate at every opportunity. Sappy movies are released all over the world (Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?) and restaurants start sending out ads for a “special Valentine’s Day couples dinner: 40% off if you dine with someone and you’ll also receive a special dessert to share”. Our modern society places so much on the concept of togetherness; there are parties all over campus tonight stating “Singles Awareness Party – come alone, leave together”. Many restaurants won’t actually take a reservation for you unless you’re in a group of two or more. Valentine’s Day is not a day for people to be alone, but frankly, I love being alone.

I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t want to be tied down. Everything in my life is constantly changing. I still don’t know who I am, and who I want to be. I spend hours and hours practicing and writing music each day, and when I come home, I just want to watch “Hannibal” and drink a smoothie. By myself. I’m not, and never have been, a huge fan of PDA. I don’t like walking around campus with people. I prefer to listen to music in my headphones and block out the world. I like being by myself most of the time, and yet society has placed this huge stigma on people who are like that. If you don’t have someone to share your life with, you somehow seem unworthy of attention. If attention is placed on you, then it’s usually negative, and it implies that you’re a sad, pathetic, lonely person who’s looking for love and can’t find it. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of attention. I’m happy the way that I am. I’m single, but I am not alone. I have family and friends who mean the world to me. And isn’t that kind of love enough?

emma stone nodding

(also watch Crazy Stupid Love because it’s the best Valentine’s Day movie ever and Emma Stone is great)

 

Finals and freezing weather

A few days ago, I realized that I was almost done my first term as a second-year UBC student, which isn’t a particularly important milestone, but it still came as a kind of shock. As I thought about the past few months, I realized that I really haven’t done much this year. Normally, I’m enrolled in 5 or 6 academic courses, and 3 performance based courses. My life is usually a whirlwind of theory homework and tuba lessons and frantically writing compositions and sitting at my desk until 3am writing last minute papers that are fuelled by coffee and the blinding desire to do well at everything in my life.

And here I am after 3 months of doing absolutely nothing, feeling like I’ve done absolutely nothing, and feeling pretty damn crappy about it.

I tried making a list of all my accomplishments for the past 3 months. It goes something like this.


1. I wrote a single composition (one hastily written orchestral piece which was finished approx. 6 hours before it was due and ended up being embarrassingly bad), and I finished one piano piece (90% of it was written at home in the summer and I just tacked something on to the end of it)

2. I wrote three super cool pieces (in my opinion, at least) for my electroacoustic music class. I also was required to write them, so I don’t really feel like they were huge accomplishments.

3. I joined a sports team, then I promptly started missing a majority of the practices that occurred in late October/November because I have issues with commitment.

4. I did a re-audition for the UBC band program and I ended up in the exact same spot that I started in. Which isn’t a bad spot or anything, but I definitely didn’t accomplish much by staying there.

5. I shrunk my stomach because I don’t eat much. Only an accomplishment because I LOVE to eat and I didn’t think it was possible to shrink my stomach. Definitely one for the scrapbooks.

6. I made approx. two new friends who weren’t on the quidditch team. Both of whom are super completely awesome, but seriously. Two friends. I’m practically a hermit.

7. I bought a cool ugly Christmas sweater.

8. I got some pretty mediocre Christmas gifts for my family and friends.

9. I went to two frat parties at the beginning of the term, and one in October. Where I lasted about 5 minutes, left, got propositioned by a creepy drunk guy, ran home, and gave up on parties altogether.

10. I almost wrote a history paper. And by almost, I mean I haven’t started it yet. I have a topic though!

11. I watched the whole series of Boy Meets World in two months.

12. I managed to keep up with 10 TV shows at once without missing any episodes.

13. I thought of a name for a 3-movement orchestral piece. I also thought of names for the movements.

14. I made a palace on Minecraft.

15. I kept a straight A average in all of my 3 academic classes. Which is cute, because I literally did nothing.

16. I wrote 3 blog posts.


As you can see, this is a very extensive list which covers the last three months of my life perfectly.

Maybe I’m just having trouble with this feeling of accomplishing nothing because I don’t know how to relax and not be killing myself over school every minute of every day, but I feel like I’m here at UBC to make something of myself. And if I’m not accomplishing great things, what am I really doing? Am I even trying? I’ve come to the conclusion that I am. And that your greatness isn’t determined by how much you’re accomplishing at one time, but by how much you’re living. Because your school marks don’t define you as a person. Because it isn’t wrong to want to take time to relax and give everything you’re doing 100% instead of trying to do too much and half-assing everything.

Well, friends, these are just some late night thoughts. And I’m pretty positive that I’m just writing this post to avoid writing my history paper, which is cool I guess. However, the most important thing to focus on right now is your own well-being. Killing yourself over school isn’t healthy. It’s finals season, and everyone needs to study, but there’s no point in studying and stressing to the point that you make yourself sick or give yourself a panic attack. Trust me. I’ve been there, and it sucks.

So relax a bit. Watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Make yourself a cup of your favourite tea. Buy yourself an ugly Christmas sweater and wear it with pride. Take a walk. Watch the sunset.  Light a pinecone scented candle because you don’t have the money for a real tree. Eat a big bowl of ice cream. Drink lots of water. Hug someone. Cry if you need to. Blast your favourite song. Dance in your underwear. Have a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese. Sleep 8 hours a night. Put twinkly lights up in your room. Tell someone you love them. Dress up fancy for no reason at all. Do something that makes you unequivocally happy. Read a book.

Remember, during this finals season, to live. And to love. And to take care of yourself. Because even doing that is accomplishment enough.

jude law youre lovely

(thanks to Jude Law for being so wonderfully attractive in “The Holiday.” If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. Right now)

On electronic music and introspection

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.

It’s just a fact of life.

You can try to stop it, but you might as well be trying to stop the tides. The truth of it is simply that people change. And you’re not always meant to change along with them.

This year has been a bit difficult for me. I’ve always been pretty good with changes, but they seem to be coming too hard and too fast this year. When I think about it, though, a lot has changed in the past few years.

I went from the cultural vacuum that is aptly named “Deadmonton” where I had lived for almost my whole life to a new city in a new province with a whole new set of people to base my life around.

I went from the community of Vanier where I had my best friends living 3 doors down the hall to a new apartment in Marine Drive where my friends are all a few bus rides away.

I went from being a brilliant composer in high school to being a moderate one at best in university.

I went from being surrounded by family and friends 24/7 at home to being alone 99% of the time here.

And yet when I look back on all these changes in my life, I don’t think I, myself, have really changed that much. I still see myself as the slightly terrified but completely and utterly excited girl who I was when I moved here last year. But I guess I have managed to change quite a bit since I left home last year.

I went from depending on my family and friends to be my constant support system to realizing that I actually really like being alone most of the time.

I went from being overly confident (bordering on cocky) in my abilities and expertise as a musician to being humbled by the sheer amount of talent at this school and becoming more willing to learn.

I went from living in a bubble where everything went as planned and nothing interesting really happened to living in a huge, wonderful city where dreams run rampant through the streets and culture is ingrained in every aspect of the city.

I went from obsessively studying film to obsessively studying music technology and electroacoustic music.

I went from partying like my life depended on it to staying at home with a cup of tea, a candle, and my guitar.

I went from swearing never to get a tattoo to getting a tattoo.

I went from listening to pop music to listening to folk/indie and electronic music.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have changed, but not in all the ways you would expect me to. I didn’t go through any huge physical changes (shaving my head and getting like 18 piercings, tattooing my whole body in leopard print, losing/gaining loads of weight), I didn’t go through any huge mental changes (becoming depressed, getting anxiety, having problems with stress control), and I didn’t go through any huge emotional changes (having a breakdown and catching the next flight home, realizing I wasn’t okay without my family around me all the time).

Nothing changed about me that is easy to define, but I am not the same person I was when I was leaving home. And there are a few things I definitely never knew before I moved here.

I never knew the invigorating power that the ocean has on a tired soul, and how the crashing of the waves and the salt air can make you feel refreshed like nothing else.

I never knew how much sweeter it was to see people after being without them for so long.

I never knew how easy it was to make your own little world while living in a huge crowd.

I never knew how to be comfortable in my own mind for long periods of time.

I never knew how easy it was to make new friends, and how it was just as easy to lose them.

I never knew how hard it was to live with roommates who aren’t your family members.

I never knew how naked I felt without my headphones in.

I never knew how much groceries cost goddammit.

And how much everything else costs. I’m so broke.

I guess I’m really just trying to say that change isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t easy, and you might not notice that it’s happening, but you are always evolving and adapting. And that’s the beauty of life. Nothing stays the same forever. You will gain some things, and lose some things, but that’s what makes you who you are.

change is good lion king

(thanks to Rafiki and Simba for tying this whole thing together)

((also listen to Slow Magic because I’m slightly obsessed since I’m now an electronic music kind of person))

(((and because I haven’t changed that much listen to Danse Macabre because it’s flippin terrifying and also brilliant and wonderful and everyone needs to listen to a little Saint-Saëns to round off their musical edumacashun)))

Clubs and blatant propaganda

Hello dearest readers!

I hope this blog post finds you well. The first few weeks of school are always a trying time, and things don’t usually start winding down until about now. That’s why I’m writing this post! Like many of you, I came to the school completely lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my 4 years here. I didn’t go to Imagine Day (not by choice, as any of you who have been reading my other posts will know) and I walked through the club booths set up in the SUB like a zombie. When you come to a new school, it’s easy to get lost in range of opportunities available to you and end up getting overwhelmed and deciding not to pursue any of them. That, my friends, is why I have decided to make this handy helpful list for you! It’s a list of opportunities that are just so fantastic that you can’t say no to trying them just once (I know, I’m making them sound like drugs. I promise, they aren’t that bad for you, although they are quite addicting). So read this list, branch out, and try a few of my favourite extracurricular things at UBC!

1. UBC Thunderbirds Quidditch. Yeah, the quidditch team. I finally joined it a few weeks ago, and I’ve been having the time of my life in it. All of the people on the team are really accepting and fantastic, and it’s a great feeling to be surrounded by people who share the same nerdy love for Harry Potter as you do. They also trick you into exercising, but somehow make it FUN. How?? Hint: it involves tackling people, speeding down the field on broomsticks, and throwing dodgeballs at people. The club is still hosting open practices, so if you still want to join quidditch, you have until this Thursday (the 25th)! It’s only a $20 membership fee for the whole year, and it’s a great community to join. The link to their facebook page is here.

2. UBC Slam. Late last year (too late, in my opinion), I was introduced to UBC Slam by my lovely friend Heather, who runs it. UBC Slam is a fantastic club that hosts a poetry slam at Benny’s Bagels every fortnight (always on a Wednesday evening). This slam is open to everyone who wants to participate, and there’s an open mic part and a competitive part. Admission is absolutely free, and the poetry is stunning. I strongly advise every single one of you to go check it out sometime. The link to their facebook page is here.

3. UBC Film Society. I joined the Film Society a few weeks ago, and so far I haven’t done anything with it because I’ve been too lazy busy.When you join, though, you get a $1 discount at the Norm Theatre (so it’s $4 instead of $5, huge discount there) and you also have the ability to volunteer at the theatre! It goes by a sign-up basis, and you can work the concession, the ticket booth, or even the projector! You have the ability to learn the inner workings of a movie theatre, and all for free! Plus the popcorn is pretty good. The link to their facebook page is here.

4. UBC Band and Symphony Orchestra concerts. The music program at UBC is truly phenomenal, and all the students are required to perform in a large ensemble for their whole time at UBC. There are three of these ensembles: UBC Symphony Orchestra, UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and UBC Concert Winds. All three of these ensembles have concerts a few times each year (Concert Winds and Symphonic Winds each have four, while the Symphony Orchestra has a buttload) and they’re absolutely free to attend! Maybe this is just blatant propaganda about how awesome the music program is here, but if you enjoy classical or contemporary band and orchestra music, come out to one of the concerts! The dates are listed here. Plus the concerts are all in the Chan Centre, and it’s not often that you have the opportunity to see a concert in such a wonderful hall for free!

So there you have it! A condensed list of my favourite things at UBC. And even if none of these tickle your fancy, I encourage each and every one of you to branch out and try a new club this year. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a place where you fit in perfectly!

they choose wrong

(PS this is a blatant lie heralded to you by a sassy and slightly terrifying Meryl Streep. Y’all choose whatever you want)

(PPS I have one last piece of advice – OWN YOUR NEW THANG!)

bad curtsy

 

West coast best coast

… summer is over?

What?

When did that happen?

Why am I back at school?

But… but… summer went by so quickly compared to the last school year!

yzma cruel irony

Well I guess school is back in session for the term! It did feel like it snuck up awfully quickly though. One minute, I was sitting at home binge watching The Mentalist and going for drinks with my friends and the next I was moving in to my new apartment (Marine Drive, holla!) and saying goodbye to my parents. Even though I’ve only been back in Vancouver a week, I can tell that this year is going to be much different than the last.

First of all, I’ve decided not to be hospitalized at any point in the year. That is my number one goal for pretty much the rest of time. Hospitalization sucks, especially when it’s during the first week of school. I’ve decided to start with small goals. I won’t get hospitalized for a whole year first, then I’ll extend my goal to two years, then four, and so on. Then it should extend to pretty much forever.

Rambling. Sorry.

This year I have a much lighter courseload than last year (THANK GOD) so that will leave me with a lot more time to practice tuba and write music. I’m really hoping to improve myself musically rather than academically this year, so my goal will be to focus on my instruments more than my courses. Not to neglect my studies, of course, but just to improve in my musicality.

I have also somehow escaped the hellhole that is the Vanier cafeteria and Cariboo house (it was just too loud), and now I live in a GORGEOUS apartment in Marine Drive! That means I have three awesome suitemates and the wildly anticipated KITCHEN. I have a beautiful single room that I’ve decorated with all sorts of colourful and obnoxious objects, and I don’t have the constant annoyance of my roommate from last year. This apartment is practically perfect. I can even see the sunset from my FLOOR TO CEILING window in my room. The only downside is that a few of my roomies don’t really have fantastic cooking skills, so there’s always the possibility that I could come home and find the kitchen on fire.

josh ramsay and fire

For this year, I’ve decided to devote myself to healthier eating habits. I’m always fine when I eat at home in Edmonton, and I do have a fair amount of cooking experience, so I should be able to pull this off. My diet mostly consists of quinoa, spinach, fruit, yogurt, and eggs. And it tastes FANTASTIC.

I also exercise now. It’s a new development. I’m not sure how to feel about it, but we’ll see how it goes. I also decided to execute this by joining the school quidditch team (yes, there’s a quidditch team!) Mixing nerdy things with athletics is the best way to go about it.

Anyways, I’m just hoping that this year will be an improvement on last year! Judging by all the amazing events and things that UBC keeps pulling off, I won’t be surprised if it surpasses even my wildest expectations for what university can (and should) be. To all the new UBC students: welcome! You’ve become part of an amazing campus-wide community that’s just so inclusive and awesome. If you’re still feeling slightly lost amid the hustle and bustle of this huge school, don’t worry about it. Talk to the person sitting beside you in your lecture, say hi to someone on the bus, and join a club or two. You’ll find your niche soon enough and if you don’t, just keep looking until you do. There’s something here for everyone, and I’m sure that you’ll fall in love with this place just like I have! Ta ta for now.

jim carrey smiling

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