The Student Not in School

And no, I’m not skipping classes or anything.


HELLO WORLD. Here I am, splashing in like a half-naked kid doing an ill-executed cannonball into the sea of first year posts. You are welcome.

I didn’t attend Imagine Day for the first time since I started UBC, so I wasn’t able to get free stuff and sign up for newsletters that I will delete from my inbox on sight. I didn’t go to class today, so I wasn’t able to listen to professors talk about the syllabus and let everyone out early. I’ve also never stepped into the new SUB (I stubbornly refuse to call it the AMS Nes- ARHFSGDSJH!!!), and I probably won’t have any reason to for a while.

I’m doing co-op!

It’s a little strange, as I still receive constant e-mails from UBC about CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT and CLASSES and THINGS, but I now commute to an office building downtown, where I act semi-professionally (I didn’t make any inappropriate jokes or anything, I swear). Instead of studying conflict in the modern world and public policy, I now do tons of research and data entry. My eyes BURN. But what I really like about my job is that we don’t have a dress code, so I didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to look like a kid wearing her mom’s grown-up clothes.

I’m not going to spend this post waxing lyrical about the UBC Arts Co-op Program, because anyone else would do a better job. But I’m only two days into my 8 month co-op term, and I’m already really grateful to have this experience. I’m grateful for everything! I’m grateful for the chain of events that lead me here: I’m grateful that my mom felt my education was worth spending money on, I’m grateful that I ended up in UBC, I’m grateful that my hair looks great after I wake up, I’m grateful for the people who make butter chicken because what is in that thing? It’ssofreakingdeliciousIwantmore. I’M SO GRATEFUL THAT THE WORD GRATEFUL HAS LOST ALL MEANING.


That is all.



So you’re not attending Jump Start…

“Oh, I didn’t go for Jump Start.”

“What? Why?!”


This was a conversation that occurred many times during my first year. Some of us are just not able to attend Jump Start.. for starters, it’s not exactly cheap, and visa delays happen to the best of us. I happened to receive my entry visa to Canada on the very day Jump Start was scheduled to start, so you can see how it was a little impossible for me to just hop on a plane and bid the world adieu. I was quite crushed – I was really excited about making new friends and trying to look cool – but I made it work. If for some reason, you’re not able to attend Jump Start this year, fret not. As an international student who, prior to UBC, had never been to Canada nor lived abroad, I’m here to tell you that you’ll be fine.

– Research

This is the biggest part of adjusting to your new life in Vancouver, and also the most tedious. I know I spent much of my time anxiously conducting research about EVERYTHING Vancouver. But seriously, do. your. research. If you just hop around the UBC International Student website, you’ll find lots of resources on health insurance, immigration documents and filing taxes. (Yes, health insurance is mandatory and yes, you do have to pay that every month.) The website is updated very frequently, so that’s another plus.

If you’re worried about setting up a phone number or a bank account – research comes in here too. What are the major phone carriers in Canada? The major ones are Rogers Communications (which includes Fido, Mobilicity, Rogers Wireless), Telus (Telus, Koodo) and Bell (Bell Mobility, Virgin). Before arriving in Vancouver, you could always take a look at your options.

What about banks? There are already several banks within the UBC Campus (BMO in the University Village, RBC in Wesbrook Village, Scotiabank by the small bus loop…. but of course, you’d know this if you did your research!). There are also (unofficial) Facebook social groups for UBC students, so if you’re really confused, you could always ask for some guidance from your seniors. Yes, I know that setting up accounts and dealing with paperwork isn’t always fun (in fact, it never is), but these little things will really be the foundation of your new life in this city.

– Travel

This is rather connected to the point above. Say hypothetically, you just won a trip to…. Iceland! Yay! Good for you! The flight tickets are free, and your hotel fees are totally covered. You just don’t have an itinerary, and you have no idea what to do……. so you conduct research! I found that I really found my way around Vancouver by acting like a tourist and going on holiday for the first week or two. Within a week, I knew my way around Downtown.

I started out by covering the basics – what is there to do in Vancouver? And how do you get there? What can I see? Where should I eat? Wikivoyage and other websites like Yelp or Travel Advisor have lots of information. A quick search will return the usual suspects – Stanley Park, Capilano, the Grouse Grind… and eat the sushi! This simple research is something you’ll always be falling back on.

I also suggest walking around campus before classes begin. The Fall term is starting on the 8th, so there’s an entire week of exploring to do! In my first year, I ambled all around UBC (and took lots of photos for Instagram). I suggest not worrying about getting lost or getting somewhere. I actually found the Cecil Green Park House by just aimlessly wandering around campus.

Besides, you should be able to claim your U-Pass in September, which means unlimited travel in 3 zones! This is the perfect opportunity to discover the heart of Vancouver… or something cheesy like that. Don’t worry about getting lost – if you have no Wi-Fi or phone data to look for directions, you can always ask a friendly stranger, or even a bus driver. Most of the bus drivers have excellent knowledge on where’s where in Vancouver (and they should!), so they’re a pretty safe bet. They’ll usually let you know what bus you need to take to get to wherever you want to go. The Transit app might also be something you’d want to download, as it shows all nearby transport options (and their ETA!)

– UBC’s International House

If there’s something that’s still bothering you… the International House is here, have no fear! This building is basically a safe haven for international students. I remember getting unnecessarily distraught about applying for a Social Insurance Number, and running to the warm embrace that is the I-House to ask for help. And help me, they did.

– Other resources?

If you’re lucky enough to have high school classmates coming along with you to UBC, they’ll be very important resources (and friends!) during your first few weeks in Vancouver. Share information with each other! Introduce new friends! GO OUT THERE AND LIVE! FLY! BE FREE! YOU CAN DO IT! DON’T LET YOUR DREAMS JUST BE DREAMS!

Also, like I mentioned earlier, UBC Facebook groups can be really resourceful (when they’re not annoying and filled with spam). If you’re more of a Twitter person, there are several UBC-associated Twitter accounts that tweet reminders, important information, and the like (they also tweet out UBC Blog Squad posts! So watch out for that! /end shameless plug). These are some examples: UBCfyi, Youbc.

And if you’re worried about culture shock, homesickness, or if life just gets you down, all you need to do is ask for help.

– Attitude

Sometimes, it’s all about perspective. I find that when I do something that scares me, or put myself out there, the world usually rewards me in the strangest ways. All right, now that the cheesy moment is over….

But seriously. Maybe you’ll be missing out on the Jump Start community and fun (just like I did………. sigh), but there are plenty of opportunities to build and join communities of your own. You’ll meet people in clubs and classes…. If you happen to be in a first year program like CAP, Arts One, CSP or Science One you’ll build a strong bond with your colleagues, as all strong bonds are built through suffering caffeine-fueled nights and horrendous midterms together. If you’ll be living in rez, you have the chance to meet so many people and experience the glorious roller coaster ride that is rezlife. You’re not the only one looking the make new friends, so just reach out, and you might be surprised.

(Unless you actually don’t want to make friends. That’s cool too.)

I may have just written a whole wall about things you should do, but really, it’s all up to you. How do you want your life at UBC to look like? Tuum Est, and all, man.

Jeff Davis - Ballerina


An International Student in Vancouver

I wasn’t entirely sure what to title this post. “5 Things That International Students May Find Shocking… Number 4 will Amaze You!” didn’t seem right, not just because of its rather click-baity nature, or because I don’t really have 5 items to talk about, but also because I don’t know if it’s something international students might find SHOCKING. In fact, as an international student myself, these things did not necessarily SHOCK me and AMAZE me either. However, the points I will be raising below were definitely things I experienced during my first few months in Vancouver (and that was two years ago! Can you believe it?). Depending on where you’re from, dear reader, you might not identify with any of these at all (once again, explaining my dilemma over the title of this blog post).

1. GST/PST and non tax inclusive prices

When I first left Malaysia, we had no GST (it has since been implemented earlier this year). If I went grocery shopping and decided to buy a bottle of juice priced at a dollar, I would have been able to assume that I’d only have to pay a dollar, and nothing else. I’d obviously done a lot of research before I left for Vancouver, so I knew the gloom and doom and boom that awaited me. However, it was still a nasty surprise when the cashier announced a price that did not add up with the numbers in my head.

I felt the same shock again after I got back from my Europe trip. Prices in London reflected the value-added tax (VAT), so something priced at 50p was still 50p at the till. When I was in Paris and Amsterdam, restaurant prices also included service charges and taxes. It was all fun and games and I had a blast paying what I knew I had to pay (I mean, as much fun as you can have when you have to pay money). I got so used to the tax-inclusive prices that coming back to Vancouver was a big slap to my face. Man, what a way to greet a girl back.

2. The sheer size of Canada

Canada is one big country. It’s the second largest country in the entire world. I know that. Yes. I can intellectually process this, and I have seen Canada on a map many, many times.

I still had a hard time getting this information through my thick skull. Ontario is not a simple hop away. Kelowna is already about an hour’s flight away. I suppose Canadians might be used to this, but as a simple girl (but a very charming simple girl) from a country that is about THIRTY times smaller than Canada, it was a little…. difficult to digest. That knowledge must have been full of fiber. British Columbia is already larger than my entire country. From where I lived in Malaysia, it would take maybe 4 – 5 hours by car to get to the northern tip of the country. Here, it takes about 5 hours to get to Kelowna by car.

My flight to London took about 10 hours, and 5 or 6 of those hours were spent flying over Canadian airspace. Man.


As a simple girl (but remember, a charming one) from a tropical country that is constantly plagued by monsoons, I thought the rain would be no problem. I even looked up precipitation rates in both Vancouver and the town I was originally from, and my town beat Vancouver by more than 1000mm. It rains LESS in Vancouver. Noobs, I thought. I assumed that the rain would be no problem.

And it wasn’t. Not for a while. What I didn’t take into account, however, was the type of rain. In Malaysia, when it rains, it usually pours, especially during monsoon season. The rain gets very heavy, heavy enough that sewers flood and life essentially stops because no one can be bothered to get stuff done in that kind of weather. Laundry hung out to dry (we don’t usually use dryers) outside will NEVER get dry, not just because of the rain, but also because of the resulting humidity.

The rain in Vancouver, on the other hand, is tedious. As a general rule, it’s never really heavy (I’ve seen what some Vancouverites call “heavy” rain……), but it lasts alllllllllllllll day. The skies stay clouded for 99999 years and the rain is always falling. Always. Always looking for a party to poop on. Looking for a parade to rain on. Maybe this is how Chinese water torture works? But I digress. At one point, I felt like I could understand what Seasonal Affective Disorder was all about (aptly known as S.A.D.), because I was growing increasingly frustrating at the never-ending rain, and the absence of the sun, which was obviously taking some kind of vacation. I wanted to punch something. Punch the rain. Punch the sky. Punch the weather.

In short: The city is nicknamed “Raincouver” for a reason.


Otherwise, I actually adapted to life in Vancouver almost seamlessly. I didn’t even have to learn a new language! This is a list based on my first (and a little bit of second) year in Vancouver, so other individuals will probably have different perspectives. [I also don’t know why I feel the need to keep adding these disclaimers]. What was your experience like?

Also, to all incoming first years:



UBC Tandem Language Exchange Program

If you know me (and most of you don’t, so I don’t know why I started my post like this), you’d know that I am a big fan of languages. In fact, I speak about 5 of them. I speak English, Mandarin and Malay fluently, and I’m pretty okay with Japanese. By that, I mean that I’d be able to live in Japan with very little problems, but would struggle with detailed descriptions, talking about politics and philosophical nonsense… I also have strange holes in my vocabulary (For instance, I don’t know what “eyelashes” are in Japanese). In addition, I have a limited grasp of Korean and Cantonese, for I had to stop my Korean studies for various reasons and my dad never really bothered to teach me Cantonese. Boo. Languages and language-learning are a big part of my life for some reason I can’t comprehend, and it has come in handy in the most unlikely situations, such as eavesdropping on inane conversations on the bus, overhearing people saying nasty things about you, or using it as a party trick to impress people (“WHOA YOU SPEAK SO MANY LANGUAGES U R SO KOOL!”), but I digress.

ANYWAY. The reason I’m rambling this time is to bring your attention to a resource that you might not have heard about. Maybe you have, I don’t know. But if you are seeking to improve your skills in a particular language, you might want to check out UBC Tandem. UBC Tandem is basically a student-run program that pairs you up with a native speaker of the language you are learning. Let’s say I want to improve my Korean, and my first language is English; I’d get paired up with a native Korean speaker looking to improve their English skills. Pairs normally meet up during regular hours in the Global Lounge, but if your schedule is a little less forgiving, you can always choose to meet independently.

I actually decided to give this program a test drive this past semester. After all, I had nothing to lose. I was very, very shy and hesitant at first, but I made my fingers fill out the application form and send it off before I could overthink it. Really. My heart was racing when I sent off my application. I was afraid of being paired up with a rando and having to MAKE CONVERSATION, OF ALL THINGS, but I can honestly say that I have no regrets. I got paired up with a young Japanese girl from Osaka, who was in UBC studying in the English Language Institute, and my weekly meetings with her were some of the highlights of my second year. I didn’t suddenly become really good, but I certainly gained a lot more confidence and became a lot better at expressing myself, whereas before I used to stutter and spend lots of time conjugating verbs in my head. It’s not just about the language either; you really get to know someone from another culture (one that you might be studying/really curious about too!). If you’re really worried about making conversation with someone you don’t really know/might not have anything in common with, Tandem creates lesson plans every week so that you have a general idea of what to discuss. In my case, we just talked about whatever we wanted.

Of course, I’ve heard stories from other people who didn’t have such great experiences as well. A friend of mine had a particularly flaky partner who would never show up for meetings…. so there’s that. But honestly, what’s the worst that could happen?

So er, if you speak a second language and you’re hoping to IMPROVE YO SKILLZ AND LEVEL UP, this might be something worth checking out! /end endorsement


*Update: So apparently, eyelashes are まつ毛*



There are always things that bother me.

You know, just little things. Sometimes, it’s sweat running down my back. Other times, it’s crying babies on airplanes. But there’s been something that has been bothering me for a while now, something that has been fermenting (like fine wine, kimchi, and other things that ferment) in the recesses of my rather blank mind.

I haven’t updated this blog in a year.

I know. Wow, Jay. WOW. W-O-W. How could you?

I really wanted to blog. I really did. But as I sat in front of my computer, fingers positioned on the keyboard, I realized that I had absolutely nothing to talk about, and I really didn’t want to write up some half-baked nonsense just to keep my blog alive. I’ve been waiting for that aha moment, that moment when I realize that I had something worthwhile to blog about, but alas.

Second year was also a little difficult for me. It was also easier in some ways. For one, I had grown accustomed to UBC and I had my first year experience to fall back on, so I knew my sneaky excuses to escape the responsibilities of school (“I’ll do it tomorrow”, “After this round”, “After I clear this area in Dragon Age”). I was more familiar with courses in UBC, so I knew how to study, how to write papers, how to dance with the demon that is sleep deprivation, and how to juggle my studies with a job. Even so, I could feel myself burning out. I didn’t want to do any more readings, or write papers, or cry my eyes out at night as I strangle my poor brain for thesis ideas. By the end of the April exam period, I was done. I could barely bring myself to study for my last exam because I could not find any hoots to give.

I’ve also come to accept the fact that I am me, and not anyone else. Just because some people make it past second year without feeling as burnt out as I did, just because these people did “more” while I was slacking off compared to them…. It didn’t invalidate my feelings. It took me a long time to accept that I am permitted to feel like absolute rubbish without feeling doubly like rubbish just because other people don’t feel the same way. Did that make sense? What I am trying to say is – I’ve learned to stop comparing myself with other people (just a little though; I’m not completely free from that), and I have somehow come to terms with the fact that I am disgustingly human with gross human feelings that are icky.

So I decided to go on a holiday. A really long holiday. I was off in Europe for about 5 weeks this summer, and I forbade myself to think about school, jobs, and other things that get my palms clammy. It was a really grand adventure, and it was leg day every day as I traversed across a number of European towns. My holiday was long enough that I needed a holiday from my holiday by the end of it, and now I’m back in Vancouver, ready to rev my engine once again. Gently, though.







and here’s a llama i met in Sheffield


Wrapping Up





First off, I would like to congratulate the people who got their acceptance letters from UBC! Well done! If you’ve accepted your offer (and I don’t see why you won’t), you’re going to be in for a ride. The UBC Blog Squad is a really good resource to get to know more about life as a first year and more. Hashtag shameless plug. Hashtag ubcblogsquadforever.

So after 8 months of being lost, doing stupid things, having heart-breaking exam schedules and many sleepless nights, I am done. DONE. Well, not DONE like graduating-from-university-done, but I’m done with first year. I can scarcely believe it. I can still remember the day I left for Vancouver (I cried secretly on the airplane; I think my mom noticed but she pretended not to). I was young(er), and so naive…. Now I’m still fairly young – turned 19!, and I’ve learned so much from my first year in university. Still pretty stupid, though. I had to live in a foreign country all by myself. I had to file taxes (it was painful and I didn’t know what I was doing most of the time). I had to do scary adult-things like pay bills and go to fancy offices and speak nicely. I presented at an academic conference. I ogled some cute guys.

It’s been a year to remember. Sure, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows and puppies, and I did occasionally want to flip tables and cry my eyes out, but it has been illuminating. I would never trade my first year in university for anything else.

(Unless someone wants to give me a pet dragon. I want a dragon.)

I thought I’d be a little more social and outgoing in university, but umm, leopards don’t change and their spots and stuff. I am a natural recluse. So I spent time outside of classes either working or sitting in my room. I enjoyed my time cooped up in my tiny room, but I suggest you do not do this. I hope I get involved a little more next year… (without having to socialize much… wishful thinking. What can I say, we can’t all be outgoing and energetic. I usually fake it, then run back into the embrace of my bed asap)

Many of my friends in residence are jetting off home, but I am staying in Vancouver. *silent sobs* I miss the food back home a LOT, and I really want to see my friends and experience crazy driving (if you think the drivers in Vancouver are crazy, you ain’t seen nothing till you head to Asia). I want to bask in face-melting heat and hair-ripping humidity. I want to eat spicy food and see an entire family ride on a single motorbike (this is an actual thing) (PS this is dangerous please do not try it). I want to have oily skin and sweat profusely. I want to finally not have to use a universal adapter to charge my laptop. But nope, I’m staying here, and I’m completely cool with it. I’ll actually be taking two summer courses, so I guess I can blog about that too.

I also need to look for a job. I applied for some Work Learn jobs but they rejected me…… Which didn’t hurt at all. Haha. Ha. ha. SOMEONE PLEASE HIRE ME.


Well, this chapter is now over. (Now I’m going to rest and not study for two weeks before summer school, play some Bioshock Infinite maybe and not think about life). I can’t wait to see what second year holds. I’m already excited. And scared. But mostly excited.


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

“A tale that will warm your heart and soul, perfect for winter!” – Jack Froze, North Pole Times

“… a magical story of love and reconciliation… sure to be a family favourite!” – Nicholas Claus Jr., Thine Magazine

“Heartbreakingly powerful and exquisitely crafted…” – Easton Bunny, Magazine Magazine, starred review.




“I’m going to take my exam now. Wish me luck.”

“Don’t go.”

I roll my eyes. “Stop being so clingy, I really have to take this exam. I don’t like it, but I have to go. I’ll be back in three hours.”

“But baby, it’s cold outside.”

I heave a deep breath to steady my nerves. I have a final exam in 40 minutes and now I have to deal with the kind of temptation that even a saint cannot resist. Why is this even happening to me? “I really can’t stay,” I breathe, looking away.

“But baby, it’s cold outside.”

“Stop!” I throw my hands up in the air in exasperation. “This exam is worth thirty percent of my grade. That may not mean anything to you, but it sure means something to me. Please respect that. I’ve got to go.”

I feel forlorn eyes gazing into me and my eyes tear up unexpectedly. Crap. No. No no no. Not the eyes. “But baby, it’s cold outside.”

Now I find myself weighing the possibilities in my mind: I can stay a little longer and be up to thirty minutes late to the exam…. Or maybe I could just skip it. What is my current grade in that class again? I mentally attempt calculating my scores but give up immediately. But well, life is short… right? Right?? No one cares about grades in first year… right?

“Yes… Come back here.” My bed entices me, showing me its silky sheets. My eyes fall on its soft duvet and I feel myself falling under its spell. I feel my body grow weak as I gaze at its softness. Mmm… it would feel so good to just forget everything and go to sleep…

“Yes… it’s cold outside… stay in here with me.”

“I-I-I must… I must go?” I whimper, torn between my immediate desires and sense of responsibility. What responsibility, though? I couldn’t remember why I had to leave anymore. What could have possibly driven me to go out? I must have been mad… Yes. I was mad.

“It’s cold outside.”

“Yes. It’s too cold outside.” I throw my bag down and leap into the arms of paradise.



I first converse with inanimate/intangible objects here 


#UBC50K (and procrastination)


I’m procrastinating right now, kind of. I have a paper that’s due tomorrow, but I have reached this certain point where I just don’t give a hoot anymore. My paper doesn’t make sense, and I don’t even care. I don’t even like that class. POLI 101 Government of Canada is the pits. No offense, Canada.

And now I’m going to tell you guys about something that’s going on!

Most of you may know about the recent typhoon that devastated the Philippines. Well, UBC Dollar Project and UBC Kababayan have joined forces to organize a fundraiser – UBC50k, in order to help the victims of the typhoon. The idea is to collect a dollar from every student on campus and like get a whole bunch of money to donate to the Red Cross. This project is also in collaboration with UC Berkeley and UC Davis in California. (It’s called UC Davis 33k or something on the other side)

(I honestly don’t think 50k will be achieved, but it’s always good to aim high.)

A friend of mine brought the initiative to Totem Park, and they’ve started to branch out, and even collected money by the fountain today. At least, my friends did, for the most part. I spent most of my time eating kimchi, drinking hot chocolate from Tim Hortons, and watching our bags, because I am inordinately paranoid. I did help though, I swear. I just have trouble approaching strangers, because I usually don’t talk to people unless they talk to me first. Very friendly, I know. Also, going up to strangers and asking for money? Um. Check back on another day, when I get a little more self-confidence. Hashtag awkward people problems.

I kid (mostly). Helping out with this project really makes me happy, not because of the whole helping out people in need thing, but because of the interactions we have with people we encounter. You really meet a lot of interesting people by hanging around in the cold.

We’ll be at the fountain again from 12 – 4pm on Friday, and there’s going to be music and a bunch of singing as well (having talented friends I crai everytim), so do drop by. You don’t even have to donate a dollar – 5 cent coins gladly accepted. We don’t discriminate. Even if you’re as broke as a broken thing, come by and say hi and be awkward then run away. I think we’re fun people.

And now I will go back to my paper and rearrange words.



Why you no




That is me, imagining you. Because in my imagination, I’m actually wanted, you know. People like me and adore me in this version of reality. People watch my blog in hopes that I will update and regale with tales of dwarves in misty mountains cold. Real life sucks.


This is me right now:


I almost want to call it quits. I don’t want to write this stupid paper on Canadian elections. I don’t want to write anything anymore. I want to sleep forever… which sounds really morbid, because it may seem a little like dying to you, but really, I just want to sleep forever. Many fun.. so sleeep much snorez.

Then I think about the thousands and thousands of people with degrees, the people causing this academic inflation. If they could do it, why can’t I? So I’m sucking it up now.