University acceptance season!

Hello everyone! Recently, I’ve been noticing a bunch of facebook friends who are still in high school posting stuff like:

 

“OMG I GOT IN TO _______ AND I’LL BE GOING THERE TO STUDY ________ NEXT YEAR! I’m so excited and thankful to all the people who’ve helped me to get where I am today…”

 

and all the rest of that sappy nonsense. And that’s when I realized – it’s university acceptance letter time! I remember that time with many fond memories… And by fond memories I mean anxiously checking my email like 500000 times a day to see if I was accepted. And thanks to the lovely music faculty, I didn’t find out until mid-April, which was terrifying. And then I had like three days to pick which university to go to (it was mostly just between Memorial University in Newfoundland and UBC, U of A was the backup school that I reeeeeally didn’t want to go to) and I was on band tour that whole time so I didn’t have the easily accessable reassurances of my parents and it was quite frightening and all that jazz. So after days of deliberation and calling the universities and questioning everything about their music programs, I decided that I liked the West Coast more than the East Coast and I came to UBC! Obviously it was a fantastic choice! So, to help out all you new kids who are deciding whether or not to come to UBC and stalking all the blog squad members (I totally did that, not gonna lie), I decided to make a list of things that should help you make your decision! And then I’ll totally try to sell UBC to you because frankly, it’s the best school out there.

 

HOW TO MAKE IMPORTANT UNIVERSITY DECISIONS

 

1. Follow your heart (and your instincts). When I was trying to decide on a school, I had narrowed it down to my two choices. My high school band teacher was pushing me towards Memorial since it was where he went. The East Coast is a gorgeous, rugged place, and the school was quite lovely as well. However, when we had visited it the previous summer during a family vacation, it just didn’t feel right to me. The people were lovely, the dining hall looked like the great hall from Harry Potter (that was a huge plus) and the music building was newly renovated and beautiful. There was no reason why I shouldn’t have gone to Memorial – everything was incredible! And UBC? I had never visited UBC. I went to a presentation about UBC in high school and I immediately knew that was where I wanted to go. It was the most prestigious school on my list, and I knew it would involve the most work, but in spite of that, I wanted to come here anyways. So I spent ages determining pros and cons for both schools, but in the end, whenever someone said “just go to Memorial!” I found myself shirking from the idea. So I turned down Memorial and accepted a place here at UBC, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I followed my heart (cliche, I know) and I ended up right where I belong.

 

 

2. Don’t rule out cost as a factor. Let’s face it, university is hella expensive. Between tuition, housing (if you’re out-of-province or international), and food, university will separate you from all of your money in a heartbeat. UBC was the most expensive choice on my list. In fact, it was about $9000 more per year than Memorial (including housing and food), and that’s definitely not a number to lightly throw around. However, I weighed the benefits. UBC was more expensive, but it was on the West Coast, which meant that it would be an ideal setting for the arts scene that I wanted to get into. Although Memorial was cheaper, it was much further away (5 provinces away as opposed to 1) so plane rides would cost significantly more. After graduating from UBC, I could try to stay in Vancouver and start working on building a career, one which would not be possible out in Newfoundland. As well, UBC would give me an education that would cater to my specific needs, whereas it was too general at Memorial. In the end, I decided that if I was going to get a quality education, it might as well be the best one I could get, even if it were more expensive.

3. Think about the distance. University is a trying time for everyone, no matter how you look at it. For a freshman, you have to deal with adapting to heavier workloads than high school, meeting new people, dealing with all the people (campuses are so crowded!), navigating the whole campus, trying to stay fit, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and still have time to relax and get out to some parties or other social gatherings. And for the first time, many people have to do it without their parents standing one step behind them, ready to catch them if they fall. Before I came here, I was really close with my parents. They were my moral support and I loved spending time with my family (or most of my family anyways). Then I moved here and all of a sudden, I didn’t get to hug my parents every morning and watch Star Trek with my grandma every day after school (nerdy, I know). The first few months were pretty tough. You never really know how heavily you rely on your family until you have to be away from them for extended periods of time. I eventually adapted, but it took quite a while and was a really tough transition to make. I know some people who never speak to their parents. They live an entirely autonomous life, living completely separately from their family and only speaking with them when they go home. I also know a bunch of people who live in res, but are from Surrey or Burnaby or White Rock. They have the opportunity to live away from their parents, but they usually go home on the weekends. UBC is an incredibly inclusive community, but you definitely want to think about distance before you make your choice.

4. Think about the weather. If you hate rain, don’t come to UBC. Simple as that. If you hate snow, don’t go pretty much anywhere else in Canada. Constant rain is pretty depressing, and it can lead to SAD (seasonal affective disorder, very aptly named). If you must have your sunshine, I would suggest staying away from here.

5. Look at how the universities can cater specifically to your needs. Like I already stated, UBC had the better program for what I was pursuing, but that isn’t always the case. If you want to study something incredibly specific, it would be well worth your time to find a school where that is really prevalent and think about going there. Although UBC is amazing, it doesn’t always have the programs you want or need, and that can pose a serious problem.

Okay! There are some things to think about. Now ponder!!

Alright. Done pondering? Good! Time for my incredibly convincing arguments on why you should come to UBC!

 

WHY YOU SHOULD COME TO UBC

 

1. We have an ocean. Yeah, we have an ocean. Who else really has an ocean? It’s really freaking awesome. Living in Vanier, you can just run across the road and take the obscene amount of stairs down to Wreck Beach just for funsies! And the ocean is right there.

2. We also have Wreck Beach. It’s a nude beach. That’s some pretty cool hippie shit right there, let me tell you. All year long, there are old naked dudes just wandering the beach, sunbathing, and swimming. It’s not really fun to go down when the weather is really warm and the beach is FULL of naked people, but it’s gorgeous in the winter when the wind is blowing off the water and the sun sets behind the mountains.

3. We also have a forest. Sorry, this landscape thing is getting pretty extensive, but it’s just so cool! We’re kinda on a little triangle jutting out from the mainland. On two sides of the triangle, there is water. Then, on the last side, there’s a huge forest. Said forest contains multitudes of running trails, biking trails, and sketchy paths through the undergrowth. Great for pondering, picture taking, or getting exercise while pretending to be chased by a serial killer who’s following you in the darkening twilight (this last option is scary, do not recommend).

4. We have super cool events like Day of the Longboat and Storm the Wall. How many other schools have you heard of that have a huge longboat race in the ocean right beside their school? Oh right, that would be NO ONE. Day of the Longboat is a huge longboat race at Jericho Beach. It happens at the beginning of the year every year, and it gets tons of people out. I was supposed to do it in the fall, but I wimped out due to the rain (I know, I know, shame on me). However, I did do Storm the Wall yesterday! It’s pretty much like a better version of a triathlon with a sprinting portion added. And at the end you have to climb over a 12 ft wall with 4 friends (or strangers). It’s super exciting and pretty exhausting and my arms are a little bruised, but it’s incredibly rewarding to use the powers of TEAMWORK to get people over a wall.

5. We had a giant campus-wide snowball fight a few weeks ago. Yeah, you heard me right. When it snowed here, everyone got super excited and some very ornate and impressive snowmen were built (see here). Then TheCalender planned a super cool snowball fight, and made a big video about it. You see me about 44 seconds in looking super badass and throwing snowballs at people (I accidentally hit some girl in the face. It was awesome). Here’s a link to it in case you don’t believe how epic it was! (here)

6. We have TheCalender. TheCalender is the UBC Party Calender. They do quite a bit on campus, from organizing really awesome parties and taking really sick photos, to planning events like the snowball fight and the UBC Polar Bear swim. Which is equally as awesome.

7. Place Vanier and Totem Park are super awesome. The first year residences are a blast. Although the food is pretty sub-par, the general feeling of community is incredible and your floor (or parts of it) become your best friends, your moral support system, and just people who are easy to hang out with in general.

8. UBC is one of the top-ranked schools in Canada. If you’re looking for a quality education, UBC is the place to go!

9. Vancouver is one of the most culturally diverse places in Canada. If you’re afraid that you won’t fit in because of race or ethnicity, guess again. Vancouver is extremely tolerant, and there are many student associations on campus that are dedicated to a race or ethnicity. So far, I’ve found that most people here are extremely tolerant, and that they are more eager to learn about your culture or religion than to put it down simply because they don’t believe in it.

10. Marijuana runs wild and free. Okay, so this point is NOT FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, but I have friends who smoke pot and apparently the cops are super chill about it. Again, I can’t vouch for that, so you can’t blame me for anything, but if that’s your scene then apparently Vancouver is the place to be.

I think I’ll stop here, since it’s really late and I wrote way too many words (seriously, this post is at like 2000 words. I could have written an entire term paper with this many words). So take some or none of these points into consideration when choosing whether or not to come to UBC, but I really hope you do! It’s an amazing community and I love it so much! Hope to see you next year!

Disillusioned with the enchantment of education

I sit here at this very moment, desperately despondent. It seems like the endless parade of facts marching through my head is slowly blending into a writhing mass of irrelevancy. The large floats from the parade have all but disappeared, being overtaken by the small creatures that live underneath them. Everything is relevant and yet everything is irrelevant.

My life seems to be broken up into little pieces. There is the part of my life involving schoolwork and marks. It seems to be receding into the distance as my other priorities overtake it. There is the part of my life involving friends and family, and it has stayed the same over the past few months, although I seem to be needing more moral support as the time goes on. There is the part of my life involving relaxation and recreation, and this part of my life solely relies on when my favourite TV shows air and how quickly someone can link to them online. There is the part of my life involving healthy eating and exercise, and that part has disappeared behind the shadow of larger issues. I seem to be focusing more on myself than on school, which is unfortunate due to the fact that the singular reason I am at UBC is to get a quality education that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

For the first time in my life, marks don’t bother me. I used to be a straight A student in high school, probably like many of my fellow UBC students. Any mark under an 85% was a disappointment, and the lowest mark I ever finished with in a course was a 78% in grade 12 calculus. Now I find that the steady stream of decaying marks blends into the background for me. I still average 70’s, which I guess is a good mark for university, but to be totally honest, I stopped caring. I still put effort into my papers and tests, but as to which extent those efforts are rewarded, I am indifferent.

My future is uncertain. It fluctuates all the time, and every little decision I make seems to affect it so completely it terrifies me. To have the future I want, I had to submit a portfolio of my heartfelt pieces in order for someone to judge. That seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it? To tear out your heart and put it to music and feel it so passionately it seems like you might explode, then to submit that piece of artwork to a panel of judges so they can determine if you have the ability to pursue your dreams or if you just won’t make the cut? To see your feelings in broad daylight and determine them unworthy for the highest honour of being one of their disciples? I understand that in order to weed out the best composers, they have to make some cuts in their program, but for the love of god, couldn’t they just let me in? I’ve seen other composers who are applying. Some apply just for the fun of it. They posses a certain amount of natural talent, and they decide that they should apply just for the fun of it, leaving people like me, who put their heart and soul into everything that they write, in the shadow of their unsuspecting brilliance. To have five pieces of music determine your entire future? Seems a bit weighty for a few flimsy pieces of paper which surely won’t last very long in the grand scheme of things.

It’s been raining a lot lately. The dull drizzle of cloud tears seems never ending, and it seems to fit the moods of the students with midterms perfectly. Sunshine is a rare commodity, and when it comes, it’s usually so unexpected that no one has time to enjoy it and savour the few moments in the light.

Wouldn’t it be nice if professors actually understood their students? that the menial and tedious time consuming work they think will help us understand a little bit of their subject is actually just detracting from the quality of our education? that being in university doesn’t mean having no life outside of schoolwork and practicing? that in order to become a successful musician you have to have the ability to form lasting relationships that they seem to warn you against using the powers of endless homework and papers?

And in the grand scheme of things, why does this even matter? Why should our futures be determined, to a certain extent, by a piece of paper with a signature from someone important and our names on it? What is it that makes us so important, and the tasks that we complete so paramount to our success? Who had the idea that in order to mean something in the world, we had to get a degree first? that we will not be equals because an education is something only the wealthier of society deserve? that status in society is determined solely by wealth and schooling? Shouldn’t we all be able to enjoy our time on earth doing what we love? Because in the end, we will all become small particles floating in the air, completely equal to each other, regardless of literacy or how we lived our life.

It feels like summer will never come.

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