Useful Links Around Campus

Summer is drawing to an end and I had a fabulous year here on the Blogsquad. A shoutout to my fellow bloggers and Humaira: you guys made the experience awesome! This may be my last post as my “tenure” here draws to an end. Feel free to comment on all the old posts – I check them regularly!

Here’s a batch of links I’ve bookmarked over the months that were helpful. Hope it helps you in some way or another.

Best Places to Nap on the UBC Campus – an awesome list for the sleepier ones amongst us, compiled by Humaira

Grade Distribution and Curves for UBC Classes – this is an absolute GOLDMINE. You can check all the grades for past classes here. This is as reliable as you can get! You will never have to wonder whether a prof is easy or not or how many A’s he or she hands out! It gives highest, lowest, passing rate, average, total attendance etc.

UBC Rate My Profs – y’all should know this already. Take every comment here about profs with a grain of salt!

UBC LEAP – “We Help You Learn” is the perfect for LEAP (Learning Enhancement Academic Partnership Program). This huge site has everything you need for academic survival and beyond. Check it out! On a sidenote, I actually worked on part of the site with the awesome folks over at Student Development and the Office of Learning Technology for the majority of the summer!

An Ancient Guide to Climbing Almost Every Building on the UBC Campus – Caution: try at your own risk. I thought this was hilarious.

The Ubyssey – our official newspaper! Lookin’ gorgeous after a makeover this summer. Keep up-to-date with campus news.

UBC Blogsquad – of course ūüėÄ Don’t forget everyone in my blogroll!

I wish everyone an exciting and fruitful school year. Keep in touch.

Truth: My Love for UBC and How I Got Here

This entry has been a long time coming.

It makes me kind of sad that I don’t have a single photo from my high school graduation ceremony.¬† You know those ones, where everyone is dressed in oversized, red-rimmed black gowns with somewhat forceful grins on their faces? And then there is some blurry shot of a figure walking across a dark stage? Nope, not me. In fact, I didn’t even attend this fabled important rite of passage. At the time, I was on a plane to Beijing, with the plan of coming back to Vancouver ASAP and spending as much time as possible during the the summer working to pay for a $40 000 per year tuition.

So I guess I should start my story at the beginning.

UBC was not my first choice university. For a brief time in junior year, the basement of Koerner became my second home as I toiled over a thesis paper. During the last few years of high school, I had the “fortune” of riding the 480 bus, where I vowed to never become one of the tired-looking university students spending two hours on commuting every day. UBC was too familiar, too local, too easy to get in (I know, I’m sorry). The “been there, done that” feeling was overwhelming.¬† In April 2008, I promptly submitted both my Statement of Intent to Register and housing deposit to a fine university on the west coast of the United States. Sunny California was calling my name and I prepared to bid farewell to rainy Vancouver.

Three months later, after I had gotten my dorm room number and planned cost-effective ways of getting to Cali by train, I threw it all away. Multiple banks turned down my loan applications. My parents shook their heads soberly: they simply couldn’t afford it. That day in August when I gave up the US school and decided to attend UBC instead, I cried – both out of frustration and relief. On one hand, I finally have a definite future, one involving one of best-regarded universities in this country where I knew what to expect in terms of academics, involvement, and expenses. On the other hand, why should I be restricted in my education by finances? Why should I be bereft of the opportunity I earned by merit, when other people had trust funds, RESPs, rich relatives, and parents with savings? What was so fundamentally wrong with me that private universities with financial aid turned me down? It is with these unanswered, unanswerable questions that I came to UBC.

I won’t lie. Despite all the wonderful things that were going on in my life, the best way to describe the first few months of my university career would be¬† “mundane and trivial”.¬† School was neither intellectually-stimulating nor particularly challenging. Some of my profs cared, some didn’t. I still worked two to three jobs, was dead tired half the time, and yearned to sleep in on Sunday morning.

Some where along the way, things changed. UBC took its hold on me. I lived and breathed Sauder and started to love every single moment of my time here. I met a supportive group of friends, peers, staff members, faculty etc.¬† They say university is where you meet your best friends for life, and it’s absolutely true. In addition, I had – and still have – numerous opportunities to observe how things work behind the scenes in this great institution. I appreciate and vividly remember every single elusive moment that left a happy impression on me. Four years of post-secondary eduction in the grand scheme of things is a mere instant. I intend to treasure my time at UBC, no matter how brief or intermittent.

I love UBC. I love it for the humbleness with which it presents itself to the world. I love it for the opportunities it gives to people like me to blog at our hearts’ desire. I love it for its glorious achievements on the world stage of academia. I love it in all its imperfections and idiosyncracies.

Ten years down the road, no matter where I am, I will always remember how UBC as an institution and as a collective of talented minds young and old changed my outlooks on life forever.

Overhead on the Bus

Listening to: Music of the Night by Paul Potts

Bussing
(Credit)

On the 480 UBC bus the other day, two guys were talking.

Guy 1: Hey have you ever noticed that in UBC, NO ONE EVER RUNS TO CLASS?!
Guy 2: Yea dude. Do YOU want to be the guy running like crazy?
Guy 1: Haha… well sometimes they do like these short sprints … for a block or so and then they stop because they realize they look like an idiot.

Wow, how amazingly true and accurate is this?! Personally, I absolutely hate showing up to class late so for the first week or so, I always did an odd combination of jogging and speedwalking when I had back-to-back classes in Buchanan and ICICS (south tip of campus, argh!). However, any time I did this I felt extremely out of place amongst the casually-strolling student population. In fact, I fully expected someone to come up to me and say “Where’s the fire?!”

Am I in the minority for being so self-conscious?

So the next time you have a break, stand at a busy location (the bookstore intersection is great) on the hour and observe the frantic decision-making that’s going on in the heads of students late for class.

How long will it take me to get to Econ if I speedwalk? Am I late? Should I run? Will I look like an idiot? Wait better question, will anyone NOTICE me looking like an idiot? Screw this I’m running… uh-oh uh-oh abnormally long scarf getting caught in boots… coffee spilling… INCOMING TREE!! WHAM.

Selling: One (1) Kidney for Textbook Money

Currently: blogging in D. Lam (to avoid reading the OB chapters) and craving a honey cruller donut from Tim Hortons.

I stopped by the bookstore in the summer armed with a booklist and a debit card, ready to breeze through the rumored “painful process”. Little did I know that I would soon be considering advertising kidney sales on my blog. I’m a pretty thrifty person so the price tags there were devastating to my soul. Instead of taking the easy way out and reserving my books, I decided to experiment a little and see how much I can save by buying my UBC textbooks elsewere (online mainly), despite not having ANY experience in textbook hunting (all you seasoned pros out there, feel free to send over more tips!)

Class Book UBC $ I paid $ Bought from
ECON 101 Princi. of Microecon 96.00 35.00 Facebook Marketplace
ECON 101 Lyryx card Incl. Bookstore, tbd ($35)
COMM 292 Org. Behavior 116.00 50.00 Craigslist.com
CPSC 111 Big Java 90.00 30.00 Saveonbook, prev ed.
HIST 237 Thomas Jefferson 20.00 0.00 Borrowing from library
HIST 237 Portia 23.00 0.00 Found free copy online
HIST 237 Sovereignty etc. 15.00 5.00 Facebook Marketplace
HIST 237 Frederick Douglass 7.00 0.00 Found free copy online
HIST 237 March to the Sea 33.00 12.00 Powellbooks.com
TOTALS (w/ tax) 400.00 132.00

That’s a saving of¬†over $250¬†(Mmm…shoes!)¬†In addition to the above list, I did end up buying two costly textbooks from the Bookstore, so my total spendings were just under $400 (as compared to the $640 I would’ve spent).

List of resources I used and/or recommend

  1. Facebook Marketplace – great for local searches as it first displays results from your networks. Private message ensures privacy. Lots of haggling room available. Be sure to ask for notes for free.
  2. Saveonbook.com –¬†UBC student’s “secret” tool. Pretty convenient since most people have their cellphone numbers on there. Another local resource and notes are usually thrown in. Lots of texts available!
  3. Craigslist – The somewhat “sketchy” corner of the internet… the search is a bit more difficult as a lot of SFU and BCIT books are mixed in.
  4. Bookfinder – This gives you a rough idea of how much the books are being sold online. Just enter the ISBN numbers and it’ll search the corners of the internet for you
  5. Amazon – A bit pricy than the local alternatives ($2 book, $15 shipping, grr!), but they usually have the right editions here. Used books option also available.
  6. Bookmeat UBC – Very minimalistic and organized website, no search option but browsing through courses is easy. Not TOO comprehensive. People who want to sell it go there and list their asking price, save % (GREAT feature), book condition, and contact info.
  7. UBC AMS Sub – “In the basement there is a massive wall filled with for sale textbooks!” (Thanks Andre!)
  8. Bigwords.com – “Bigwords compares all the best textbook stores at once finding the sweetest, cheapest textbook deals on the planet” (Thanks Brian!)
  9. Friends/Family/Coworkers – seriously, ask EVERYONE if they have taken/know someone who have taken the courses you have. Turns out one of my coworkers had a few Econ books to give away from his BCIT days!

Hope this helps you on your book hunt, for next year least!