Monthly Archives: September 2011

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday…

...down to studying, that is.

So what are you doing on this lovely Friday night? Going to a concert? Watching a movie with your friends? Partying like your life is a Katy Perry and/or Rebecca Black song? Well, if you’re me, the answer to that question is a boring one: I’m currently sitting at a semi-circle shaped table on the fourth floor of Irving, taking awkward Photo Booth pictures (bringing my laptop with me was a bad idea…) and trying to force myself to open my dauntingly thick psychology textbook. That’s right, midterm season is upon us.

Things that suck about this week: I’m missing out on Day of the Longboat, which is something I was really looking forward to. Actually I’m pretty much missing out on having a social life at all this week (although I’ll admit I was kidnapped to Triple O’s before heading over to the library. What can I say? I’m powerless before a basket of sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo.) I probably won’t be getting much sleep and will end up doubting my intelligence and sanity by the time this week is over. It’s going to be rough.

However, I think now would be a perfect time to remind myself of all the good things that happened to me over this past week. So, without further ado, here are the small joys of midterm season:

  • Finding the perfect bike parking spot. You would think that biking everywhere saves time, but the five minutes you save by biking to class are cancelled out by the ten minutes you spend trying to manoeuver your bike into a space on a bike rack. It’s the best feeling when you ride up to the rack to see that perfect end spot left open, probably by someone who just biked away. It’s like the bike gods of UBC want me to get to class on time. Definitely something to make you smile. (Also, on a sort of related note: last week I was riding my bike down East Mall and some guy biking in the other direction gave me a high five. Made my day.)
  • Coming out of class to realize that the sun has come out. The weather here is super confusing to a Torontonian. I’m used to extremes: temperatures so high you feel like you’re melting into the pavement, snow up to your waist and rainstorms to rival the Saharan monsoon season. So this mild Vancouver weather is messing with my head. It’s not fun waking up in the morning to see nothing but grey outside your window, but I promise coming out of a boring lecture to see the sun shining over the mountains more than makes up for it.
  • Eating Marbelous cookies from Blue Chip. I do this thing called stress eating. I was so stressed during my grade twelve exam week that I ate my way through two boxes of Double Stuff Oreos. No joke. I was trying to stay away from this nasty habit in university, but then I found Blue Chip in the SUB. Their cookies are so delicious, but be warned, it’s almost impossible to have just one. Your wallet (and your hips) just might start to suffer.
  • Taking classes you love! Calculus and chemistry are necessary evils right now, but I’m also taking some classes I’m super passionate about. My favourite class this term is SCIE 113, First-Year Seminar in Science, which is a 26-person class about effectively communicating science. I think I’ll dedicate an entire post to it later on, but suffice it to say, it’s awesome. We have great conversations about science as a cross-disciplinary area of study, and write essays that are so interesting that it doesn’t even feel like work. Plus, my professor, Dr. Fox, not only knows me by name, but also follows me on Twitter and reads this blog!
  • Keeping an eye out for Shia LaBoeuf? 

Okay, enough procrastinating. It’s time to teach myself the anatomy of the central nervous system. Did you know Irving is open until 1 am? I guess you know where to find me for the next week. I’m the girl on the teal MacBook with the messy high bun on her head and the permanent stress crinkle between her eyebrows. Good luck on your midterms everyone!

I’m feeling inspired today

Maybe it’s the rare sunshine that’s currently streaming through my dorm room window. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve actually gotten all of my work done for the day. Maybe it’s that my sniffles are starting to go away and I’m feeling less like Vanier’s very own patient zero. Whatever it is, today I’ve been finding myself thinking a lot about the future.

It was my dream to come to UBC throughout high school. (Seriously, I knew the UBC website so well that I could’ve probably given a campus tour without having ever actually visited.) I couldn’t really explain why, but I always felt like this was just the place where I belonged. I had so many big dreams for myself, so many ideas of what I was going to accomplish. Now, I’m finally here, and that hasn’t changed; I still have all these dreams. If only I could figure out how to go after them.

UBC is a massive campus, with over 300 clubs and thousands of involvement opportunities. It’s awesome that there are so many things you can be a part of, but it can also be crazy overwhelming, especially if you’re still struggling to adjust to classes and living away from home. There are so many things that I want to experience and get involved with over the course of my time here, and it’s almost impossible to decide where to begin. Dance team or yoga club? Vanier Musical or Vanier Ultimate? Longboat or Storm the Wall? CLASS or SLC? There are so many choices to make, so many paths to choose, and my biggest fear is that I’ll be so scared of picking the wrong one that I’ll just stay where I am, watching as more decisive individuals pass me by.

When I start feeling like this, I need to take a step back and remind myself that, as cliche as it sounds, this really is just the beginning. Everything seems to move so fast here, but the truth is, I’ve barely even lived here for a month. I have four years, maybe even more, ahead of me. That’s four long years to try different things, to meet new people, to make mistakes and learn from them, and of course, to find my path, not only at UBC, but in the world. It’s okay that I don’t have it all figured out just yet, because it’s true what they say: getting there is half the fun.

Whenever I need a quick UBC inspiration fix, this video never fails me. I’m so happy that this is the place where I get to figure out my path, and I know I’ve said this before, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

I need to invest in some Gore-Tex

Let me tell you a story about a foolish girl from Ontario. Lulled into a false sense of security by the first couple of beautiful weeks here at UBC, she decided to put off buying herself proper raingear, which had been working out pretty well for her until one fateful Monday. That morning, after pressing the snooze button several times, she realized that she was going to be late for class, and left hastily without checking the weather report. She quickly regretted this decision once she stepped outside in her short-sleeved shirt and flimsy circle scarf, only to realize that sheets of rain were falling from the sky. Without any time to go back for a sweater, she hopped on her bike and began the treacherous uphill journey from Vanier to Wesbrook. By the time she got to her first class, she looked as though she had been pushed into the pool at the aquatic centre and by the end of the day she was feeling so sick that she had to miss her last class to go back to KU, cold, soaked, and kicking herself for not buying a raincoat.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the mystery girl in this story is me (shocking turn of events, I know). I’m currently paying the price for this lapse in judgement, hiding out in my dorm room with a hoodie pulled tightly around my face and desperately wishing for someone to come and bring me some cauliflower and cheese soup from the Vanier dining hall. Note to prospective students, invest in a good raincoat before you come to UBC. It’s true what they say about Vancouver: there’s only one season, and that season is rain.

On the upside, I have a pair of Hunters boots waiting for me when I go home for Thanksgiving (in 11 days)! I’m so incredibly excited to head back to Toronto. As much as I’ve been having an amazing time here (in spite of my immune system’s best efforts), it’s going to be so nice to see my family again, to go on a sushi outing with my best friends and to possibly convince my mom to buy me that black Gore-Tex raincoat I spotted on Granville Island… Unfortunately, three midterms stand between me and my flight back to YYZ. How do you even study in university? I’d better figure it out by next Wednesday, or else I just might be heading home for good.

Getting groceries is dangerous

Note to self: never bike to Save On Foods via Marine Drive ever again, or at least until you are significantly more fit. I almost passed out going up a hill and had a narrow miss with an 18-wheeler while attempting to turn onto 16th Ave. I somehow managed to make it back to KU in one piece though, with my bananas and Nutella unharmed (best study snack ever, seriously).

I’ve been feeling like a true Vancouverite lately, taking my bike everywhere I possibly can. Biking to classes is crazy convenient, since I get to sleep ten minutes later than I would have to if I were walking. However, the intense hill between Lower and Main Mall turns me into that sweaty, huffing girl in my 9 AM lecture. Hopefully by the end of the semester I’ll be able to make it to Wesbrook without looking like I just ran a marathon.

Anyways, I’m now in my third week of classes here in beautiful British Columbia. I’m finally starting to get adjusted and settle into a routine, and I’ve been having a lot fewer minor freak-outs as a result. Here are some highlights of this past week:

1. Shopping Week. Last week was UBC Rec’s Shopping Week. I gave zumba a try, took a free yoga class in the Vanier ballroom, and, to my absolutely delight, took my first dance class in four months. I overdid it a little bit and couldn’t walk properly for four days afterwards, but it was so worth it.

2. My psych prof is a boss. When asked to give an example of a negative correlation, someone said “Less partying, more studying”, to which my prof responded “Yeah, only if you’re not awesome!” He also gets bonus points for making Grey’s Anatomy and House references.

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It feels like I’ve lived here forever

KU Floor 2 ladies (and a guest appearance by an RA) before the Thunderbird Blue & Gold dance

Meeting Arkells after their show in the SUB Ballroom!

Seriously, it’s unreal to me that I’ve only lived here for a little over a week. This is probably because I managed to fit in so much within that short period of time. Here are some highlights from my first week at UBC:

I sported my awesome Coachella-style Firstweek wristband all week long and rocked the pink sunglasses that came in my frosh kit like no other (except possibly AMS prez Jeremy McElroy during his Imagine Day speech). I went to the legendary indoor/outdoor pool party and wiped out hardcore on the inflatable obstacle course. I got my groove on at the blue and gold dance and spent a small fortune on Swedish-made furniture at IKEA. I saw The Arkells live in concert and questioned whether or not the lead singer of one of the opening bands was wearing pants. I went hiking at Grouse and tried to muster enough energy to do the Grind (decided to pass, but I will attempt it at some point during the next four years…maybe).

I lost my keys, my wallet, my UBC card, and my severely battered iPhone, only to (thankfully) recover all of them shortly afterwards. I ate my weight in food at the Vanier commons block and developed a minor addiction to the Tropical Blend juice in Hubbard’s, screamed until I lost my voice at the pep rally, got unbelievably lost on the way to my first psych class and got way less sleep than most doctors would recommend. All in all, it’s been an amazing week, and every day this place seems to feel more and more like home to me. Even though I’ve gotten homesick a couple times, I’ve never once regretted my decision to come to UBC. Seriously, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be right now.

But now that the first week is over, it’s time to actually get down to business. I am here to learn after all (I know, I’m as surprised as you are). However, I promise that getting to work is easier said than done, especially when you feel like you’re at summer camp. There’s always something to do around here and someone to do it with, not to mention that I’ve barely even seen a cloud in the sky since I arrived. I had to turn down a couple invites to Wreck Beach this afternoon in order to stay in my room and finish my Bio 112 readings. Times are hard. I’m going to go actually attempt to get some hardcore studying done before the sun goes down. Stay beautiful, UBC.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

This quote by Alan Kay has been my personal motto for a while now, and hearing UBC president Stephen Toope use it during his speech yesterday at Imagine Day only reinforced my belief that I’m meant to be here. Never in my life have I felt as completely and utterly inspired, so motivated and powerful as I did during the UBC pep rally. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Science UBC: We whip our towels back and forth.

Obviously, being as clumsy and directionally challenged as I am, I started Imagine Day off by getting lost on the way to meeting my MUG group (shout out to Strontium and squad 53!). Who knew that Thunderbird arena and Thunderbird stadium are two completely different places? But at least I got to cross out #13 on the Ubyssey’s list of 93 things to do before you graduate. I eventually found my group though, and we began to swarm campus in a sea of blue. After playing the classic icebreaker games and learning the science cheers (the clear winner out of all the faculties, if I do say so myself. I still can’t get it out of my head. What what what we’re science!) we headed off to meet the Dean of Science, Simon Peacock, who got us all fired up about being a part of the best faculty at UBC. This was followed by a Student Success Workshop in which we learned about all the academic resources that are available to science students, such as SciTeamSPAC and Science Advising, and then a tour around campus. But it was what came after lunch that I was really looking forward to: the Imagine Day pep rally. Picture an Olympic hockey arena filled with thousands of new students, all dressed in their bright faculty colours, most with their faces (and bodies, occasionally) painted, cheering and whipping I AM UBC towels over their heads. The excitement was pure insanity, and I was seriously concerned that my teeth were going to fall out from grinning.

However, my favourite part of the pep rally wasn’t cheering so much that I could barely speak today or singing along to Oh Canada with Mark Donnelly (I might have to become a Canucks fan after all), nor was it watching the deans march onstage to the Darth Vader music from Star Wars. The moment that really affected me was Professor Toope’s address (and not just because he made fun of a certain school from near my hometown). In his speech, he encouraged us to make the most out of our university experience, to get involved and to take chances. He spoke about the importance of creativity and imagination, and how both of these will be essential tools for our success over the next four years.

The fact that the president of the school wanted us to become as involved as we could, to get the most out of our university experience, really showed me just how much UBC cares about its students. At other schools, I know that I would be one of over 1600 other first-year science students, namelessly lost in the crowd. But not here. While UBC is a huge, sprawling school and I’m just a lowly first year, I don’t find myself feeling overwhelmed, because UBC isn’t just a school, but a community hundreds of thousands strong, all with the same drive and the same Thunderbird pride. Everyone here seems to know, as I do, that we all have the potential within us to do all that we imagine.

That’s all for now, I’m off to dinner in the Vanier commons block and then I plan on hitting the Firstweek Indoor/Outdoor Pool Party. Word on the street is that it’s gonna be pretty legit, possibly even legendary. Expect a blog post on rez life, Firstweek, classes and other fun shtuff later this week. Until then, I’ll be off imagining and creating as much as I possibly can.

This is really happening

All of a sudden, the day that I thought would never come had arrived. After three years of dreaming about UBC, about the classes I would take and the adventures I would have, all of my dreams suddenly weren’t dreams anymore. I’d ordered my books, bought my plane ticket, packed all my stuff, and said my tearful goodbyes to my friends and family. I was really doing this.

Sitting on the plane, watching Toronto slowly fade into a series of green rectangles below me, I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach, and for a single, panicked moment, I thought I’d made a horrible mistake. The reality of the situation had sunk in: I was leaving, moving thousands of miles away from my friends, my family, and my home. There would be no coming home after school and sharing a snack with my sister, laughing and talking about the kind of day we’d had. Gone were the days of driving around Richmond Hill with my friends in my run-down ’99 Chevy Malibu. I would no longer be able to have movie nights with my mom. I couldn’t even go back home if I forgot my favourite cardigan. I was leaving everything and everyone I knew behind to move to a city I’d only visited once, where I knew virtually no one. It was completely and utterly terrifying.

But then, just as quickly as it had come, the panic was gone. As we descended into Vancouver International Airport and I saw the ocean rush towards me, a huge, uncontrollable smile spread across my face. In that split second, I realized that I belonged here. There was a reason that I’d dreamt of going to UBC for so long, even though it was going to change my life dramatically. I wanted it to change my life. I’m going to have amazing new experiences, meet a ton of new and incredible people, and study things I’m truly passionate about. I’m going to work harder than I ever have in my entire life and be inspired by my amazing surroundings. Most importantly, I’m going to be able to steer my life in the direction I choose and become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

As all of these thoughts raced through my mind, I felt the plane’s wheels make contact with the runway and a much more welcome feeling washed over me: the feeling of coming home. That feeling has persisted ever since my arrival in Vancouver yesterday, and I know it won’t be going away any time soon.