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!).
Last night I had the dreaded CHEM 233 midterm. If you’re in science at UBC, you have probably hears the rumours about this evil course. So what did I do to prepare? Here’s a rundown of my week leading up to the midterm:
5 days before: Did some textbook problems at Blenz in between Longboat races. Blenz Belgian milk hot chocolate helps soothe the pain.
4 days before: Initiated hardcore study mode. Killed a small forest with the amount of paper I used for practice problems. Completed online acid/base assignment. Aced it.
3 days before: Switched my Monday workout to the morning so I could use my midday break for work. Studied in the Harry Potter room while the presidents of UBC looked down on me in approval. Had a zombie apocalypse social with the rest of the Totem RAs in the evening.
48 hours before: Took a study break to watch talented Totem residents rock the Totem Coffee House. Highlights included QLXN’s Liam playing the hits of the 90s on the bassoon.
36 hours before: Visited my chem prof’s office hours. Spent so much time in the Law Library that people are beginning to wonder if I live there. Bernouilli’s Bagels and coffee are my only forms of sustenance.
24 hours before: Study session in Swing with fellow science student and generally awesome dude, Aaron. Spent most of the time jamming to Kanye and speaking to each other in German accents.
12 hours before: Crammed for a forgotten biology unit test while shoveling eggs into my mouth at breakfast.
8 hours before: Did some practice midterms. Reassured myself that I do, in fact, kind of know what I’m doing.
5 hours before: Chemistry class time. Tried to ignore the looks of intense panic on my classmates’ faces.
3 hours before: Realized that I am incapable of cramming any more knowledge into my brain. Went running up and down the Wreck Beach stairs instead.
90 minutes before: Headed to the Totem caf with fellow RAs and CHEM 233 students. Ate a grilled cheese sandwich and sweet potato soup (comfort food is a must). Made science puns to lighten the mood.
30 minutes before: Began the trek to the Chemistry building. Listened to pre-exam pump up music (“Til I Collapse” by Eminem always gets me in the zone).
10 minutes before: Descended into the toasty warm dungeon of CHEM B150. Found a spot in the middle of the room right next to Melinda for moral support.
5 minutes before: Started to bubble in my information on the Scantron. Watched the clock creep closer to 7 PM. Tried not to be freaked out by how thick the midterm felt.
1 minute before: Deep breath. Let’s do this.
After: Breathed a sigh of relief. Shook off the feelings that it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Headed to a friend’s place in Dunbar for celebratory margaritas.
Could I have done more to prepare? Definitely. But while I may not have gotten a perfect score, I still had a pretty good week. I managed to exercise, fulfill my extracurricular responsibilities, spend time with friends, and paddle around Jericho Beach while still studying my butt off. Balance is the key to making the most out of university (although we’ll see if I am singing a different tune once I get my score back). Happy studying!
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:
We’re gonna need a bigger bag.
Has it really been a year already? It feels like only yesterday a wide-eyed, brace-faced, almost-first-year sat in this very spot, shoving all her possessions into massive suitcases (or avoiding packing by writing blog posts about it). I hate packing, but it seems like the more I do it, the easier it gets.
My most important packing tip: begin with the end in mind. Although it might seem like a long way off, remember that you’ll need to do something with all the stuff you’re bringing once the year is over. This is especially important if you’re coming from far away. Last year, I didn’t have a problem with getting all my stuff to Vancouver since my mom helped me bring everything over. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there to help me on my way back. That, coupled with the fact that I bought even more stuff over the course of the year, resulted in my scrambling to find summer storage once the summer hit. Plan ahead. Don’t overpack, and don’t stress if you forget something. You can always have it shipped out or borrow it from someone in your building. Everyone shares everything in rez – I’m pretty sure the main purpose of my house Facebook group was to facilitate the exchange of can openers and irons.
If you’re looking for some packing tips, check out this post I wrote last summer. And don’t stress – I promise you and your possessions will make it to UBC in one piece (even if you need to do a little jumping on your suitcase).
Confession: I was seriously disappointed when I was placed in Vanier last summer. All of my older UBC friends had lived in Totem, and they had nothing but good things to say. They told me about Colour Wars, the amazing community vibe, and the magical Magda’s late night grill, and I had my heart set on experiencing all these things for myself. I even found a girl who was willing to trade her Dene single for my Korea-UBC room.
So why didn’t I switch?
Well, it really all came down to me not wanting to mess with fate. I figured if the universe wanted me to live in Vanier, then I would live in Vanier (and okay, the fact that I was assigned to a fancy building didn’t hurt, either). So I accepted my Vanier destiny and since then, I’ve never once regretted my decision. I can’t imagine what my year would have been like without getting decked out in orange and losing my voice at Vanier Olympics, dancing my butt off at Graffiti Night, and developing an addiction to Chef Steve’s soups. I would have missed out on the hysterical Mr. Vanier pageant and the amazing Vanier musical. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten to star in a Sh*t Vanier Says video, and most importantly, I probably would have never met the wonderful people on my floor who have become my best friends.
The point I’m trying to make here is that your first year will be amazing no matter what residence you’re in. Even if you didn’t get placed exactly where you wanted, I promise that as long as you go in with a positive attitude, you’ll still have a crazy fun first year. You can hold me to that.
Big smiles and KU tiger growls,
PS: You definitely shouldn’t try and switch rooms if you’re on Kwak 6th. I hear your RA’s pretty cool.
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.
On Tuesday, I finally got the news I’ve been eagerly awaiting (and dreaming about–see last post) for the past couple of weeks: I’m going to be the 6th floor advisor in Totem Park’s Kwak house this year! “Crazy excited” does not even begin to cover how I’m feeling right now.
Since getting the news, I’ve been creeping all things Totem via the magic of the interwebz, and earlier today I stumbled upon the Totem Park Lipdup from this past year. I’ve posted it just in case some of the future Totem Park residents (like me!) need some reassurance that the place where they’re going to be spending eight months of theirs lives is, indeed, awesome. PS: Bret, you’re my favourite.
Also, since I didn’t post a song yesterday, here for your enjoyment are Matt & Kim and a dude dribbling a basketball.
With all the craziness happening in my life over the last couple of weeks (little sister’s high school graduation, getting my braces off, Foster the People concert, my cells getting contaminated, etc.), I’ve been slacking on Commuter Tunes. So today, you get three wonderful songs to make up for it. Think of it as my Canada Day gift to you.
Also, word on the street is that first year residence assignments are supposed to be coming out very, very soon (which means I’ll get to find out where I’m advising, too!). I’m beyond excited. As in, I’ve dreamt about Totem for three nights in a row. I need help.
Without further ado:
1) Nothing is Anything (Without You) by Wintersleep. Wintersleep makes me happy to be Canadian, and they even headlined at AMS Block Party a few years ago. Awesome.
2) Take a Walk by Passion Pit. Warning: video may cause motion sickness. Seriously.
3) And last, but definitely not least, lovely Vancouverites Hey Ocean! covering Arcade Fire’s Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). I get goosebumps every time.