Overstuffed with thanks and pumpkin pie

October is here again, and despite the return of my mystery October illness and the stressful onslaught of midterms, I am finding so many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my friends and family all across the country and the many places that I call home. I am thankful for free trips to Toronto courtesy of UBC Student Recruitment that will let me meet prospective students and see my best-friend-slash-sister very soon. I am thankful for Totem Park, my wonderful Kwak residents (especially those who attended the Kwak/Shu Thanksgiving yesterday!), and my inspiring and perpetually smiling coworkers, who confirm my belief that I have the best job in the world.

I am thankful for interesting courses and better-than-expected organic chemistry marks, for discovering my passions and pursuing my academic goals. I am thankful for the Student Leadership Conference, the Centre for Student Involvement, and the quickly-approaching promise of snow at Whistler.  I am thankful for the ocean, the mountains, and the tectonic plates that make them both possible (EOSC 114 must be rubbing off on me).

I am thankful for my newfound self-confidence and signature curly hair, for Blenz hot chocolate, sweater weather, and West coast sunsets. I am thankful for October sunshine, Blue Chip cookies, fall foliage, and most of all, I am thankful for the person that I am becoming.

Happy Thanksgiving, UBC. Thank you for all the happiness you’ve brought me.

Packing my life into a suitcase (again)

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).

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!