Sometimes I rap about Storm on the Internet

Photo by Carter Brundage, UBC REC Media

I know, I’ve been notably absent from the blogosphere this term. This semester has been particularly crazy for me, and between balancing all my involvements and my crazy intense course load, there has not been much time for blogging. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am going to try and pick it up in the last few weeks of class, giving a rundown of the highlights of this past term and offering some hopefully useful information for prospective students during this exciting time.

One of the involvements that has been taking up all my time lately has been my Assistant Director position with UBC REC. I had wanted to be a part of REC since first year, but did not end up applying at first because of the demand of SLC and RezLife. But when some spots opened up at the beginning of this term, I jumped at the opportunity and found myself sporting a spiffy green REC raincoat around campus. I’m now a part of The Point, REC’s online magazine (you should read it and stuff. It’s pretty good).

This is a particularly exciting time to be a part of REC: Storm the Wall is happening this week. As the largest intramural event in Canada and one of the Ubyssey’s 93 Things to Do Before You Graduate, this is a mandatory event for your the UBC bucket list. Here is a video of me and my director, Jill, rapping about Storm. We’re kinda stoked. You should be too.

If you want to catch the action, the wall-storming will be happening in the North Plaza by the SUB. Not on campus? Fear not, you can watch Storm LIVE all week on The Point’s Storm social page! I storm the wall at 11:20 tomorrow (provided my team can find a sprinter ). Hope to see you there!

Saving the planet, one shower at a time

I feel like I’m in the 1800s, writing a letter with quill by candlelight. That’s how little light I am using to read my EOSC 114 textbook right now.

Why am I putting myself and my poor, squinting eyes through this?

The answer: Do It In The Dark.

No, this isn’t the punchline to a dirty joke (although if you can turn it into one, more power to you). Every year, all the houses in Totem Park and Place Vanier participate in a residence-wide energy-saving competition. We compete against other residence areas in UBC as well as over 39 other universities and colleges to reduce your electricity and water consumption as much as possible. In return, you get cool stuff and the bragging rights of being the most sustainable residence building.

Kwak has been slacking a little on the DIITD front so far, but today I badgered everyone to take the stairs, turn off the lights in the bathrooms, and air dry their laundry (I followed my own advice – every surface in my room is currently covered in drying clothes). I also put up these super cool 5-minute mini hourglass timers to help people reduce their shower times. One Salish RA has gotten his shower down to 30 seconds, so try and beat his record y’all.

Why go to all this trouble? In case you haven’t heard, UBC is huge on sustainability. Not only did it coin the phrase “ecological footprint” and build the greenest building in North America–UBC offers 30 degree programs related to sustainability and tons of classes with a sustainable focus. Plus, frequent events like DIITD are especially great because they help students to become more conscious of their energy usage and think about the global impact their actions can have. Which is pretty cool, if you ask me (and you obviously do, since you’re reading my blog right now).

Want to learn more about sustainability initiatives at UBC? Check out the Sustainability website. Also, if you’re a current student interested in sustainability issues, you should think about getting involved with Common Energy or the Sustainability Ambassadors Peer Program. And if not, at the very least turn off the light when you’re done in the bathroom (I’m looking at you, Kwak 6th ladies!).

Long live Longboat

Freezing cold water? Kwak 6th isn’t scared.

One of UBC Rec’s signature (and super fun) events, Day of the Longboat, went down over the weekend.

In first year residence, it’s pretty much tradition to make a team with your floor, head down to Jericho Beach together, and paddle your little arms off in longboats. Last year, not enough people signed up on my floor so I didn’t get to participate, so this year I was on two teams to make up for it: one with my residents and one with my KU friends.

Did I spend enough time studying for my organic chemistry midterm on Thursday? Probably not. But I had an absolutely amazing time (my floor’s team even came first in our heat!) so I say say it was worth it. Also, a team from Totem took the campus-wide Longboat crowd. Represent, yo.

UBC Rec has tons of absolutely amazing events throughout the year. Longboat and Storm the Wall are the most well-known, but there are other super cool ones like The Chase which is happening next Friday (I have a midterm, but you should do it so I can live vicariously through you). Just another of the many things that makes UBC amazing.

If you want to see the magic of Longboat firsthand, check out last year’s Longboat wrap-up video:

PS: I apologize for my lack of posts since the start of term, and I promise this will be my return to the UBC blogosphere. I’m back, y’all.

I’m baaa-aaaack!

Did you miss me? The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of highkicking at Advisor Orientation, losing my voice on Imagine Day, and navigating around UBC’s elaborate network of construction fences. You know what that means: my second year at UBC has officially begun.

It’s no secret that I loved my first year experience, but this year is shaping up to be pretty cool as well. Here are just a few reasons second year is awesome:

  • No longer the new kid: Watching first years sprint to class in fear of being late is rapidly becoming my favourite spectator sport. It’s nice to be the one giving out directions to Buchanan B for a change.
  • Everybody knows your name: It’s amazing how many people I know (or at least recognize) after just one year. Today I was late to every single one of my classes because I kept stopping to talk to friends. It was worth it.
  • Hitting your academic stride: I actually know how to study now, which is pretty fantastic. That doesn’t make reading 50 pages of organic chemistry in one night bearable, though.
  • Even more new experiences. UBC’s massive size means there are always new things to be discovered. On Friday I ate half-price Delly for the first time, and in a couple weeks, I get to have my first Longboat race. Not to mention the fact that I’m experiencing first year all over again in Totem Park. UBC, you are never ever boring.

That’s it for now (my BIOL 200 textbook isn’t going to read itself!). As for all you new students, consider this your formal welcome to UBC. Strap yourselves in tight, kiddies, because it’s gonna be a crazy ride.

UBC? More like YoutUBC

Side note: My attempt at wordplay in this blog title failed miserably. This is why I’m not in Arts.

There are only twelve short days until move-in day! I hope all the incoming first years are getting as pumped as I am (and if you’re lucky enough to be living on Kwak 6th, you should be especially excited!).

Just in case you need a reminder of why you’re excited to go to the best school this side of the Milky Way, here are twelve UBC-themed YouTube videos to get you better acquainted with your new home:

  1. Storm the Wall 2012. Storm was voted the quintessential UBC experience by the Ubyssey, and all you have to do is walk around campus in mid-March to figure out why.
  2. UBC Class of 2015 Video. Class of 2016, you guys get your very own video at this year’s Imagine Day pep rally!
  3. Sh*t UBC Says. Get ready to say all of these things, a lot. There also might be a Sh*t Vanier Says video floating around the internet starring yours truly.
  4. This Week at UBC. Watch this weekly show to find out more about awesome events happening around campus!
  5. Imagine Day Pep Rally 2011 Time Lapse. Yep, prepare to be surrounded by lots of colour and lots of screaming come September 4th.
  6. Stephen Toope singing at UBC’s Got Talent. What other university can say their president has sung a Eurythmics song with their student body president?
  7. Undie Run. How do UBC students combat exam stress? By stripping down to their skivvies for charity, of course.
  8. UBC Valentine’s Day Hero. Proof that UBC boys are big softies at heart. Warning: may give you unrealistic expectations about being serenaded from your dorm room window.
  9. Dorm Room Tour. Curious to see what your room is going to look like? Fellow Blog Squadder Samantha has made a super helpful video to show you firsthand. Also, if you’re living in KU or Tec in Vanier (lucky you!), check out this post to get a sneak peek at your room.
  10. SLC Opening Ceremonies Video. Don’t worry, getting paint splashed in your face isn’t a regular thing on campus. Also, did I mention the SLC is Canada’s biggest (and most awesome) student-run conference?
  11. Engineers blowing things up. Just because we’re smart doesn’t mean UBC students don’t know to have fun. Watch engineers do awesome things with science.
  12. UBC LipDub. The epitome of UBC school spirit.

The truth about Raincouver

A warning to incoming first years: you will be lulled into a false sense of security in September. Still aglow in the summer sunshine, campus will be absolutely beautiful. Wreck Beach trips will be a daily routine and everyone on campus will be happy and friendly and really, really, ridiculously good-looking. “This is awesome,” you will think to yourself. “Everyone who said it rains in Vancouver all the time was totally wrong!”

And then October hits, and you can kiss being dry goodbye for the next four months.

If it weren’t for the rain, I swear Vancouver would be the most perfect place to live in the world. Sadly, you can’t have it all. But if you’re able to cope with the weather, life in rainy Vancouver really isn’t so bad. Here are my tips for dealing with the drizzle:

Buy a solid pair of rainboots. UBC doesn’t have puddles. It has small lakes. You don’t want to suffer through your longest day of the week with wet, squelchy socks. Plus, you feel like a badass wading through massive puddles with dry feet. Get a raincoat as well. They might not be stylish, but you’ll be glad you bought it when you’re not dripping as you walk into lecture. An umbrella is a good idea, too, although you can survive without one if you have a raincoat and don’t mind your hood messing up your hair (I made it through the whole year umbrella-free). Just make sure you have an extra, because I guarantee you will lose at least one over the course of the year.

Don’t buy a canvas backpack. It will get soaked, and the rain will ruin all your meticulously copied lecture notes. Try and get one that’s somewhat water-resistant, and keep your important papers in a plastic folder to avoid runny ink and disintegrated sheets of lined paper. If you simply must have that Urban Outfitters canvas bag, spray it with some water-repellant spray. You can buy it at most shoe stores (I got mine from Soft Moc).

Prepare your bike for the elements. If you bike around campus, make sure that you have fenders on your tires to keep water from splashing water all over your derriere. Also, lock your bike up in a covered location wherever possible to avoid rusting, and be sure to take it for regular tune-ups.

Always be prepared. It doesn’t matter if the sky is as clear as a Neutrogena model’s skin when you step out your door. By the end of the day, the weather could be as wet and dreary as ever. Dress in layers and always, always bring your raingear along.

Take vitamin D pills. You can go weeks without seeing sunshine in the winter months, which could mean that your body isn’t getting enough Vitamin D. You can buy these pills over-the-counter at any Shoppers or health store. Make sure to take them regularly, as you need the vitamin to build up in your system in order to reap the benefits!

Embrace the rain. As effective as you might believe your rain dance to be, you can’t control the weather. Don’t let the dreary, grey scene outside your window keep you from having an awesome day, and remember that rainy days just make you more thankful for the sunny ones. Besides, the rain is what keeps everything so green and beautiful year-round!

Dining Hall Nutrition 101: How to avoid rocking the first year muffin-top

The Vanier dining hall: a place so magical, it causes your clothes to shrink.

In case I haven’t made it quite clear by now, I’m crazy excited to go back to school. I’m excited to see my Vancouver friends again, to shop for school supplies and textbooks, to start my super interesting classes, and meet all my Kwak residents! One thing I’m not excited about, though, is going back to eating in the dining hall. It’s not that the food in residence is bad (although by the end of the year in Vanier, you’ll pray to never see a rice pilaf ever again). It’s really good, actually – maybe a little too good.

Nutrition was definitely not a top priority during my first year (I can recall one particularly bad day during finals where I ate nothing but lemon poppyseed muffins – it’s no wonder I ended up looking like a muffin myself). I went on too many runs to Hubbard’s and too few runs on the treadmill, and packed on a ton of pounds by the time April finals rolled around. Thankfully, I’ve been able to change my habits over the summer by eating healthy and becoming a regular at the gym. But now, I’m worried about going back to the dining hall and undoing all my hard work!

Determined not to let that happen, I’ve been brainstorming ways to avoid the Freshman Fifteen (or the even more horrifying Sophmore Seventeen), and, as always, I’m going to share my ideas with the people of the Internet. So, without further ado, here are some tips to keep you healthy, happy, and muffin-top-free throughout your Totem or Vanier dining experience:

1) Plan ahead. Did you know you’re able to access the Vanier and Totem dining hall menu online three days in advance? Check out what the dining hall is serving and plan out your meals. This will keep you from going to dinner hungry and buying the first thing you see when you walk in – which could very well be a hamburger and fries.

2) Snack healthy. If you’re a stress eater like I am, late nights of studying can wreak havoc on your waistline. Pick up a bunch of fruits, veggies, granola bars, etc. from Safeway or Save On Foods and keep them in your room for when you need a snack. Bring a handful of trail mix when you head off to study at Irving so you don’t buy yourself cookies instead. It’ll also be useful to learn the difference between eating because you’re hungry and eating because you’re bored/stressed/upset/etc. Mind over matter, y’all.

3) Bring your own condiments. Dressings and sauces can add a ton of hidden calories to your meals. Bring along your own fat-free salad dressings, all-natural peanut butter, etc. when you head to the dining hall. You might not be able to control every aspect of your meal, but at least you’ll know that your salad really is as healthy as you think.

4) Pack a lunch. The portions in the Vanier dining hall were absolutely huge. It’s great that they want you to get value for your money, but you really don’t need an entire plateful of macaroni and cheese. I’ve tried asking the dining hall staff to give me less food, but they would usually respond with, “You’re paying for it anyway!” and proceed to pile my plate higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A quick fix: grab an Eco-to-go container before your meal and save half of your food for tomorrow’s lunch. Not only does it keep your dinner portions under control, but it can also save you some money on lunch the next day.

5) Scope out healthy lunch spots. They do exist! For a healthy lunch, head to Sprouts or the Delly in the SUB basement. Free hot meals from Sprouts and half-price Delly on Fridays! (See, eating healthy can even be easy on your wallet, too.) Another favourite lunch stop of mine was The Loop in the CIRS building, where they have really tasty and 100% sustainable salads, soups, and sandwiches. Bonus: it’s only a short walk away from Totem!

6) Everything in moderation. While you might not be able to make nightly Hubbard’s/Magda’s runs, I give you permission to indulge in a post-Physics 101 final Marbelous cookie. Go ahead, you’ve earned it.

UBC Commuter Tips (+ Final Commuter Tunes!)

After twelve weeks of making the trip from suburbia to downtown Toronto and back, I finally appreciate how difficult it is to be a commuter student at UBC.

For my first couple of weeks, I was so exhausted from the commute that by the time I got home I just curled up in my bed and dozed off halfway through an episode of Parks & Recreation. While I’m now able to go to work and back without transforming into a complete sloth, the commute is still long, draining, and more than a little boring at times. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to make it more bearable.

Here are some commuting tips that I’ve figured out over the summer, with a few UBC specific tips thrown in:

1. Get everything ready the night before. Commuter students don’t get to roll out of bed and walk across the street to class. When you’re living off campus, you sometimes need to wake up brutally early in order to make it to class on time—especially if it’s one of the dreaded 8 am sections. This can be super challenging if you’re not a morning person (like me). So how did I manage to catch my 7 am train every morning? Simple: I would prepare everything the night before. I would set out my clothes, make my lunch, pack my bag, and put my Starbucks French roast in the coffee maker so that when my alarm went off in the morning, I wouldn’t need to put any thought into getting ready.

2. Charge your electronics. Along the same lines, make sure that you charge your phone/iPod/Kindle/iPad/whatever other pieces of technology you might have the night before your commute. There’s nothing worse than wanting to cozy up to Fifty Shades of Grey only to realize that your eReader’s battery is as dead as Julius Caesar (not that I read Fifty Shades or anything…).

3. Bring snacks. Warning: food on campus can be kind of expensive. Even if you only shell out a few dollars here and there, it can add up. My favourite commuter snacks were granola bars, grapes, homemade trail mix, and red pepper and hummus. Plus, you’re forced to eat healthy foods for lunch this way! (Although I recommend you indulge in a Blue Chip cookie every once in a while)

4. Get yo’ text on. You can find out when the next few busses are coming by texting the stop number to 33333. I wish the TTC offered this service. It would’ve saved me many minutes of wondering whether I have time for a Starbucks run before the next bus arrives.

5. Remember your U-Pass. I was notorious among my group of friends for misplacing my U-Pass on a regular basis. Keep it in a designated pocket in your wallet/backpack/satchel/whatever and leave it there. And don’t forget your student card, too!

6. Buy good headphones. The purpose of noise-cancelling headphones on your commute is twofold: a) to block out everyone around you and b) to keep your music in your ears and no one else’s. While I realize that not everyone can afford Beats by Dre, you can get a good quality pair for $20-$30, and they’re definitely worth it. I personally use SkullCandy Inkd ear buds, and love them! They come in lots of pretty colours and get the job done. And please don’t use the white Apple headphones. That is, unless you want everyone on the 99 B-Line knowing that you’re jamming out to One Direction (I’m revealing way too many of my guilty pleasures in this post).

7. Be courteous on the bus. Give up your seat for that Betty White look-a-like. Don’t reserve a spot for your gym bag. Text your friends (or mom!) instead of calling them. It’s just good manners, and you’ll earn karma points. Win-win.

8. Switch up your commute. Take a different route or method of transportation every once in a while. This can make the commute seem a little less monotonous and give you a nice change of scenery. And if you live close enough, why not try biking to school? You can fit in a little morning exercise as well.

9. Stay the night! There’s a commuter hostel in Gage where commuter students can stay for $30 a night. This means that if you’re studying late during exam time, you don’t necessarily have to bus all the way back to Surrey.

10. Get involved on campus! Don’t use the fact that you’re not on campus 24/7 as an excuse. I can 100% guarantee that you’ll have a better university experience if you get involved. Whether this is through a REC intramural league, peer tutoring, or a fraternity/sorority is completely up to you, but make sure you do something! If you only come to UBC campus for your classes and then hop back on the bus, you’re definitely missing out.

To celebrate the fact that I’m one step closer to Vancouver (and no more commutes!), here’s a song that reminds me of my favourite city in the world: The Only Place by Best Coast . Just replace “LA” with “Vancouver” and the Kings jersey with a Canucks jersey (and in case you were wondering, yes, the band’s name was the inspiration for my blog title). Enjoy!