Imagine Day

Recently, the Ubyssey published an article essentially questioning the value of UBC’s orientation activities. I’ve already partially had my say on this topic before, but I’m intrigued that it has come up again.

In my experience, participating in Imagine Day was neither particularly educational nor enjoyable. MUG groups were too large for us to explore campus in the detail that would have been useful for orienting our schedules. Games catered to the handful of students who have issues turning off enthusiasm. The pep rally was a slight exaggeration of how crowded UBC streets are between classes. Clubs never e-mailed new members back with meeting details. Lunch was simply mediocre. Essentially, I walked away from Imagine Day with two things: a headache (it was crazy loud), and an introduction to one person whom I still talk to occasionally.

As a MUG leader, my experience did not change greatly. It seems most of my group was decently versed about campus already, and the parts they weren’t well versed in we didn’t have time to explore in much depth. Lunch was again, mediocre. I think the only two times I recall my group smiling and feeling not awkward about how UBC had miraculously turned into a petting zoo for the day were when we stopped to play mafia for a while before the pep rally, and in the first few minutes of the pep rally when the Zerg hordes were still exciting and faculties were showing their spirit (or at least trying to; there were many laughs at failed attempts to show spirit).

For a better solution, perhaps it would be best to allow students the day to explore their schedules on their own. Have guides in recognizable outfits spread around campus to direct them where they need to go. Allowing students to experience their schedule as their own schedule would be worthwhile. I think it would make more sense for many students instead of “This building is over there. I know this is two classes later, but if you walk down that road over there and take a left, you’ll see that building on your right.”

With regards to getting students more comfortable on campus, perhaps we should leave it to the students to do what they do best. That is, perhaps a day where clubs had their regular club activities, allowing first years (and transfer students) to join them on a trial run and on a drop in basis would be worth it. This way, instead of “Hi, I’m Bob. I am a first year student. I swim in my spare time.”, “Hi Bob, I’m Joe. I’m a transfer student. I knit and do archery in my spare time.”, “Hi Joe, my name is Avril. I am a first year Arts student who enjoys snowboarding and playing mafia.”, students could go where they’re most comfortable and meet people there. After all, it is likely that those are the people they will be bonding most closely with. (For students who don’t know where to go, there are other clubs that could provide activities for them to meet new people, such as UBC Rec, the UBC Mafia Club, residence associations, SPAC, etc)

As for school spirit, why create it artificially via the pep rally? Why not foster a sense of comfort and community within the students and allow true school spirit to emerge from there?

These are just my thoughts and my experiences with Imagine Day (and the other orientations events) on campus. What are your thoughts on orientations?

I’m (Not) From Here – Takeoff

Clearly this picture wasn’t worth my cousin’s attention for 1 second.

In March 2011, the Hong Kong government announced “Scheme $6000″ where all citizens of Hong Kong can receive $6000 HKD if they submit an application in Hong Kong. No strings attached except for having a new ID card. Thus, I planned for a trip to return in the summer of this year to collect my just reward for being born in Hong Kong (thanks mom and dad!).

On April 30, 2012, I boarded an afternoon flight on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong with my mom. It was the first time we’d had been on a plane in three years, the last time of which was a flight back from Hong Kong, and we were really excited to see my dad and all our family members.

The flight was fantastic, even though it was 13 hours and I was squished in an Economy seat. On every flight I’ve ever been on, I’ve never had more than an hour’s of sleep.  There are simply too many movies and TV shows to watch and food to eat that I can’t sacrifice sleep for any of it.

On my flight I watched 4 movies:

  • Iron Lady (2011) – Meryl Streep was fantastic as always. This was the first time I’ve learned or heard anything about Margaret Thatcher and the Falkland Islands. I found it to be inspiring, informative, and sad throughout the film. Dementia is a scary disease that affects more on those around the affected than the actual patients. Seeing your loved one struggle with their lives, trying to grasp at the thin threads of their memories, and forgetting who you are, that is the most unbearable experience I can imagine.
  • Hugo (2011) – the hype for the film was over hyped. I only found the film to be okay, not something that I could watch again. I did like the twist in the story though.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) – creepy wouldn’t even begin with this film. You know on the outset who the killer is because it’s painfully obvious.  This film made me fear having children in the future in case they are born a sociopath and is good with a bow and arrow.
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) – Tom Cruise really made his comeback with this movie. You can’t even imagine he’s 50 seeing the stunts he was doing. The storyline was ok, I got to see the wicked German vertical parking lot, and the addition of Jeremy Renner was good.

We got 2 meals and a midnight snack during the flight. The meals were average. I had chicken or beef of some sort and I wasn’t really hungry because I had lunch before my flight. I also had a Cup of Noodles in the night because I was hungry while watching We Need to Talk About Kevin (not weird at all…).

The plane got to Hong Kong at 9.30ish at night. When we got on the bus to my aunt’s place, my cousin’s girlfriend who is a flight attendant on Dragon Air was on the same bus as us. It was pretty creepy and weird that I walked up to her and said her name and she had a look on her face like “Where is my mace”. We chatted a little bit and got to my aunt’s place safely. We had “a little something” to eat when we got to her house. “A little” became a running joke because during my vacation whenever my aunts would say “eat a little”, it became a lot. Without fail.

I slept a good 5 hours and then began the best summer of my life.

UBC 101 Food Edition – Syllabus

UBC 101 is back and better than ever because this series of posts will be about my favourite thing in the world: FOOD!

Join me and follow my adventures and critiques on our campus food, everywhere from the trusty Delly all the way to Sage Bistro, the Point Grill and the food market at UBC Village. I can’t promise you that a post will be up in the next week, but I can promise you that you’ll get to enjoy some beautiful pictures of food minus the drool that’d be on them while I take pictures with my trusty iPhone 4.

Watch out for the food porn and I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

Posted in UBC

Music is so…amaz…actually no it comes and goes

Ever hear a song that makes you want to get up and dance? or seems to just portray your current mood so well? It’s a wonderful feeling, but how about when you want to skip pretty much all the songs being played? When you’re at that point, music kind of sucks. Cleaning out that music list seems like a good idea, but then that’s a bit of work so you can’t really be bothered to. Plus, maybe you’ll grow nostalgic towards an old song when you hear it again a few weeks down the road! So we tell ourselves anyway. The best thing is probably to clear out the songs one at a time. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing fairly recently when I have my songs on shuffle on iTunes. Each time I hear a song I don’t quite like anymore, the delete option is not too far off.

It’s hard to work in a subject where you lack interest. That’s how it is for most people and a lot of people (not all) are still able to work pretty hard in subjects that aren’t interesting anyway. This year I can’t seem to do that. I find it increasingly difficult to pay attention in class and work hard. It’s strange, my first and second years were probably much more busy and chaotic than my third year is now. I dropped many things to concentrate on school and I ended up doing much worse than when I had absolutely no time to study. I have more time to study now and yet…studying is the hardest action to do. I find a very limited number of things that are mentally stimulating. My camera has seen little use these days, blogging is infrequent (if not nonexistent), questioning of myself is frequent, slight aversions towards the internet are abound, and the turning to books (not school related of course) as a source of comfort. Maybe I’ll try and do some book reviews in the future…

As for the music, I’m probably just gravitating towards a different style. What it is I don’t know just yet. Keeping posts short and simple for now.

Here’s a pigeon.

Welcome death like an old friend and you’ll be fine.

It is a fact that the new of the passing away of the man in the SUB is spreading rapidly. To me he was always known as “that guy who sits in the chair in the SUB”. It wasn’t up until I found out about the news of his passing that I learned what his name was (might be). It is, dare I say tragic, to learn of his passing but then it is also curious. It is curious to read all the comments regarding his death. It is curious that his death has impacted not only those who talked with him, but those who never did. It is curious that not all that much is known about him. It is curious that he read and sat in the same chair for so many years. It is curious…well everything about all this is curious.

All this eerily reminds me of a previous experience (in a good way though). There always was longing to go and talk to him (and possibly take his photo, what? I like photos) and I wouldn’t be the first one to admit regret over not doing so. It seems that his passing is a shock (of various degrees) to many at UBC. Logically speaking, it really shouldn’t be such a shock. People die/pass away all the time, strangers, friends, family, and acquaintances. Even then though, the feeling from the knowledge that we won’t be able to see this silent man again is…peculiar. Future UBC students may only hear of him in passing or his memory may end up becoming a story.

In a way, he was more than just a person sitting in a chair, reading a book. For anyone who came to UBC on a regular basis (and especially the SUB for that matter) he may have represented a sort of consistency. Seasons change, courses change, faculties change, servers change, friends change. As people, we’re all stubborn towards change (think of Facebook style changes), some more than others. Among all the mid-terms, social conflicts, renovations, and graduations he was generally there; his chair was always there. Day or night, I can’t even count how many times I may have walked by him. I can say that he may have represented one of the many anchors that keep us from drifting to and getting lost in open waters. For those of us who noticed, he may have been an uncomfortable sight, a familiar sight, a curiosity, a quirky secret of UBC, or a mysterious person who was just there. He could have been just about anything for anyone. Or he could have just represented nothing at all. Perhaps it is just the silence and mystery of his past that makes him so memorable. Whatever he represented, he was a part of the UBC campus for many students and staff both past and present.

Credits to Miya Gu

Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men.
-Quintus Ennius

It’s curious that I have been affected enough to go visit that chair tomorrow and visit I shall. There are already many flowers and cards, my own share shall join it soon. It would be very curious indeed if nothing was made in his memory. I do hope UBC or its students puts that into consideration.

With credits to the UBC Campus Security Facebook page


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How to Choose a Faculty Based on how You’ll be Perceived

A little fun bit that’s been in my head for a while. This by no means applies to everyone (and isn’t meant to offend anyone, but if it does I’m kind of sorry. No not really. I’m not), but stereotypes are stereotypes sometimes! I would like to see my other Blog Squadders write something similar.

In no particular order: 

Applied Science (Engineers): The most respected faculty. Known for having the most time consuming and the hardest workload, but still somehow being able to have fun, party hard, and have a social life. Vocabulary will end up consisting largely of terms on electrical circuitry, physics, and mechanical parts. Most time is spent where all the engineering buildings are on campus. Visits to other parts of the campus are generally unlikely. Rarely gets made fun of. Faculty with the largest feeling of community, based on outside impressions at least. Most likely to obtain crazy stories of university life from an engineer. Boasts the highest guy to girl ratio and the craziest stories (car off a bridge and cow in the clock tower to name two of the best ones). EDIT: There is competition between Science and Applied Science. Any ridicule regarding Engineers usually comes from Science (it’s like peanut butter making fun of jelly, they go very well together in the end)! The Engineering “E” is also a fun thing to paint over by all faculties.

Science:  Second hardest faculty and possibly the worst dressed faculty (which is generally ok as students are usually indoors). Vocabulary will often consist of terms taken from chemistry and biology for the average science student. Things get better when a science student is involved with the SUS or other extracurricular activities that are outside the faculty (it is often hard to tell that they are science students in this area). Good portion of students are assumed to be aiming for medical school. A constant stream of mid-terms almost up until finals, making studying/cramming a consistent habit. Boasts a lab rat as a mascot.

Sauder (Commerce/Business): Possibly one of the most isolated faculties now that its building is finished renovations. Stereotypically dressed in formal attire and have a reputation for having stuck up attitudes, aiming for money, using people, and generally looking down at most other faculties (except for engineers). Those that take Arts courses (it is required) will often take either psychology or sociology courses. If not one of the two (or both), it will be in EOSC, English, or any course that is considered a grade booster. Knowledge of world issues is limited (unless it relates to commerce courses). However, this is offset by the fact that Commerce students are the most likely students to get things done well. Generally will take more initiative as a whole (supposedly and stereotypically). Boasts the most expensive building.

Arts: The faculty that is the target of the most jokes. It is the most uniquely dressed faculty containing hipsters, hippies, fashionistas, and bicycle fashion. Vocabulary will include terms from, but are not limited to: psychology, sociology, economics, philosophy, english, and art history. Will generally have all papers due around the same time of the month, making last minute paper writing an inevitability. Generally speaking, there is no spot on campus where all arts students are able to “chill” in or congregate at. Arts students will be found all over campus and in the buildings of other faculties. Also the most likely students to get impassioned over a lack of knowledge of world issues and social injustices. Obscure hobbies are abound in this faculty. Movements/projects started by arts students are generally meant to help others and communities. Boasts a 3:1 girl to guy ratio.

Music: Faculty of Music. Kind of incorporated into the Faculty of Arts, but at the same time not at all. The smallest faculty as far as this writer knows. Boasts…I’m not entirely sure, great music!

Kinesiology (formally known as Human Kinetics): One of the smallest faculties, but among the most outgoing ones. Students are generally buff/muscular/fit. Best people to go to to obtain information on working out. Boasts the most healthy group of students (go figure).

Land & Food Systems: Arguably the least known faculty. When a student in this faculty mentions they are in Land & Food Systems, the listener will often do a double take and then will often ask “So you deal with food eh?” Boasts obscurity and field trips.

Forestry: Trees. Trees. Trees. Students here have the best chance (in theory) of landing a local job in BC. Students are well versed in various types of plants and trees. Dress style is generally just comfortable. Generally hard to find on campus even if one tries to find a forestry student. Boasts the best looking building and the most comfortable lecture halls.

When life gives you lemons, burn them.

And by that, I mean get rid of what is making what you want troublesome for you as soon as possible. It helps. Really. GO!

Of course that only helps when you know what you want. I don’t particularly like talking about myself, but it’s been a while and there is a distinction between bragging and just laying out facts right? Right??…Sure. Some of the enjoyable things I’ve ever done has been on a whim. Bump into some friends on campus as they’re about to head over somewhere to eat, chill, base jump off Buchanan Tower and we end up exploring, drinking (for the first time), having philosophical discussions, and generally feeling content about life (just to name a few things). That being said, here’s a topic that is completely on a whim and something I hope I will not regret sharing.

I try my best to keep myself positive and, for the most part, look at life from an objective point of view (getting information from as many different sides as possible). I do my best to not take things personally and look at the best in people. The best part of this style of thinking? There is no one I dislike and very rarely have I come close to being angry at anything or anyone. The not so good part is that I often have a “meh” attitude towards many things and it sometimes takes some pressure before I really get into doing anything. That’s me though, and I’m not really complaining. I’m happy for the most part. I wasn’t always like this though. Back when I was younger (hey I sound like I’m 50! Can’t wait till I turn 50), I was generally a depressed kid that either didn’t fit in well with others or didn’t really feel like fitting with others. Yeah, I really don’t even know which even though it was myself. I guess that’s pretty serious, but ANYWAY. Elementary school blew and I never felt like I was part of a group. High school sucked up until grade 11 (more on that later) and I was still shy, reclusive, untrusting, and suspicious of everyone and still didn’t feel like part of a group (this includes my own family, any moments there were felt quite temporary)! 7 year story short (I count grade 4 to grade 11), I never really liked life. Something in hindsight, quite ridiculous in its own way. Life has a funny way of working that way.

Come grade 11 and I had discovered photography, probably one of the most defining moments in my short life thus far. Now comes Jeff. He’s a guy I’ve known since grade 8 and honestly speaking, also a person who has had a big impact on my life. Looking back, he was the one that encouraged me to join yearbook class the following year. I can think of two things that make it so important. First, he was the first person to encourage me to put my photography to use and for a meaningful cause (and feeling useful/meaningful is one of better feelings one can have). Two, as far as I’m concerned, he believed and trusted me with something. I didn’t recognize it in the moment, but really thinking about it now that made for a huge change. I never felt connected to academics (though one can argue that no one really is) and I was on a downward spiral that did not make me want to put any effort into my life. Having something to be decent at and having someone who believes in you and is encouraging you to pursue it further made such a difference that I ended up becoming a different person. I shudder to imagine where I would be if these two wonderful coincidence didn’t come into my life the moment they did. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be in UBC, I wouldn’t know all the people I know now because of being at UBC, and I sure wouldn’t be the me I am today. Of course, one can ponder the possibility of my existence had I gone to SFU (yes I probably would have gone there, that is a very likely possibility). It could have been better, I could still be the way I am right now, and who knows perhaps I would have met even more amazing people at SFU. That’s all a “what if” though.

Whatever happened to me and Jeff though you might ask. Well, we both went our separate ways. We co-blogged in our first year and then things just drifted, as one would say. If you asked me what I thought about him in grade 12, I would have said that he was one of my best friends. Ask me now, and all I can reply with is a shrug. The last time I really talked to him face to face in a meaningful way was back in the beginning half of first year. I still see him around here and there, but it’s never more than a “hey, how’s it going? Great, yeah me too” kind of thing. This kind of result of something so meaningful can be described in a multitude of ways: disappointing, sad, undeserving, insane, ridiculous, or stupid. It can be blamed on lots of factors. I could be blamed for it too. Is there any point in blaming? Not really. Things are the way they are and in the given context, disappointing but not worth really crying over. I see it as one of the wonderful realities of life. A concept that produces both sadness and joy, a kind of grace in sorrow. I don’t know if Jeff will ever read this. It probably doesn’t really matter, if does it would be quite interesting. If he doesn’t, it’s still quite interesting. Nothing lost, nothing gained, nothing wasted.

And with that, I shall end. A story that I would say is common, but uncommonly told.

If only papers were this easy to write…I would be halfway through one of them right now with this many words in this one blog entry. Sheesh. And in case anybody was wondering, I really do not regret writing this, and in fact it has brought me out of what was a depressive state.