Monthly Archives: May 2012

Commuter Tunes Vol. 3 + I love my Kobo

Today’s song: Train Song by Ben Gibbard & Feist. Since I spend 2 hours a day on a train of sorts, I thought this seemed appropriate.

In other news, I’ve added a new item to my morning commute: my brand spankin’ new lilac Kobo. I never really liked the idea of eBooks, but now that I’ve gotten my hands on this beautiful piece of technology, I don’t think I’m ever going back. (Side note: we actually read a paper comparing books and eReaders in my first year English class. High fives for real-world applications of knowledge!) Plus, it’s more sustainable, which makes my inner Vancouverite very happy.

Other things I did today:

  • Stained some stem cells with fluorescent colours. It was like making nerdy glow sticks.
  • Baked chocolate brownie mint cupcakes to show off via Skype at tomorrow’s SLC portfolio meeting
  • Practiced the guitar. I can now play 4 chords which has me convinced that I am, in fact, the next Hendrix
  • Accepted my residence offer for Totem Park! Still don’t know which house I’m going to be advising, but I’m starting to get super pumped for next year.

Commuter Tunes Vol. 2

Hoodie AllenNo Interruption
Hoodie gets the high honour of being featured on Commuter Tunes this week since a) his music has been putting a spring in my step since my Canada’s Wonderland commuting days and b) his Toronto show on Monday was absolutely unbelievable. For those of you who are not familiar, Hoodie is a rapper/compulsive tweeter/former Google employee whose recent accomplishments include having the #1 album on iTunes without being signed to a record label, upgrading Toronto venues twice since the show kept selling out, and being really, really ridiculously good-looking.

You can download his new EP “All American” as well as a couple older mixtapes here. The best part about the old stuff: “It’s fo’ freeee.” (Said like the roommate in Bridesmaids with the drinking worm tattoo. Making my KU 2nd family proud.)

PS: He totally tweeted me yesterday. Okay fine, he tweets everyone. But I like to think that what we have is something special.

Butter chicken therapy and other lessons from first year

Since coming back to Ontario, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how much I’ve learned, grown, and changed over the past eight months. The high school senior who sat at this very desk last year, stressing about whether she was making the right decision in moving to Vancouver, seems like a complete stranger to me. I wish I could go back and tell myself that everything is going to work out, and that going to UBC will be the best decision I ever made. Here are some other things I wish I’d known going into first year:

  • Leave the books behind sometimes. As important as schoolwork is, no good stories ever begin with, “So this one night, I was studying in the library…”
  • You’re never going to get up for that 8 am class on Thursday mornings. If you’re me, even 9 am is pushing it.
  • Explore Vancouver. You are about to live in one of the best and most beautiful cities in the world. Don’t waste it by sitting around in your dorm room.
  • Never leave your door unlocked unless you want your friends throwing your mattress off the top of the commonsblock (yes, this really happened)
  • Let people surprise you. First impressions can be very, very wrong, and you never know who might end up becoming your lifelong friends once you give them a chance.
  • Every bad day can be remedied by butter chicken night in the Vanier dining hall. Or a Blue Chip cookie. Either one should be effective.
  • Get involved. Cannot stress this one enough. Find something you love and go for it. It’ll take your first year to a whole new level of amazing.
  • Everything will be okay. At least once (and probably much, much more than once), you will feel like a complete and utter failure, but just grit your teeth and remember that everything works out in the end.
  • Make friends with the dining hall staff. They will give you free food, especially in the last few days once your meal plan balance has run out.
  • Don’t wear your housing lanyard around your neck. You basically have a neon sign over your head screaming “I AM A FIRST YEAR”. Probably not the look you’re going for.
  • Embrace the rain. It’s the reason this place is so green and beautiful year-round. Plus, jumping in puddles in your rainboots helps combat exam stress.
  • Go to class, regardless of whether the lecture slides are posted online. This is a big one. There was a direct correlation between my final marks in courses and how often I attended the class. Coincidence? I think not.
  • Deactivate your Facebook during exam time. You’ll thank me later.
  • And last, but certainly not least: remember that you’re only in first year once (YOFYO? Drake ain’t got nothin’ on me) and believe me when I say it’s over way too soon. Enjoy every second.

Commuter Tunes Vol. 1

This is my daily summer routine: I bike to the Richmond Hill GO transit station in the morning, snag the first window seat I can find on the 8 am train, and laugh at the poor souls stuck in traffic on the highway as we pass overhead. After arriving at the train station downtown, I make the 10-ish block stroll to the hospital, which is briefly interrupted by a stop in the Starbucks at University Ave where I grab my morning grande dark roast (in my turquoise reusable mug, of course). From 9 to 5 I pipet various solutions into beakers, feed my kidney cells, look through microscopes and read lots and lots of scientific papers with words like “epigenetic memory” and “metanephric mesenchyme”. Then I reverse the whole thing and head back home. It’s exhausting, and I have a newfound respect for students who are able to commute to and from UBC every day and avoid falling asleep in lectures. I’ve come close to dozing off and faceplanting into the fume hood several times.

One thing that’s helped make the commute to and from work a little more bearable is my iPod. Like 99.99% of the people on this planet, I love music. My iPod basically serves as an extra limb, especially when there’s some old guy in a suit snoring on my shoulder and a mom scolding her child over her cell phone on the train. That’s why, in the Music Monday stylings of fellow Blog Squadder Erica, I’ve decided to start a new weekly segment called “Commuter Tunes”. Each Wednesday (because Wednesday is the worst day of the work week), I’ll post some music that I’ve been jamming out to on the train lately. Who knows, maybe it can brighten up someone else’s commute as well. Or at least serve as a distraction from the guy next to you who forgot to wear deodorant.

Today’s song: Warrior by Mark Foster, Kimbra & A-Trak. Three fantastic artists were brought together by the magic of Converse to create this dance-worthy tune. Plus, the video has underground wrestling. What’s not to love?

From East to West: The Ins and Outs of Going to School Across the Country

Not to turn up the pressure or anything, but the time is drawing near for all you high school seniors to make one of the biggest decisions of your life. The deadline to accept UBC’s offer of admission is June 1st, and I’m sure that a bunch of you are struggling to decide whether this school is the right place for you. Some of you might have to move across provinces, country borders, or even oceans in order to attend UBC, and you probably have a ton of questions about what that move is going to mean for you. And that’s where I come in.

I know what you’re going through. Just a year ago (although it feels like it’s been much, much longer), I was in your shoes: getting ready for prom, persevering through the last few weeks of high school, and trying to decide if I was ready to move across the country. You see, even though I had been set on UBC for the majority of my high school career, my head was swimming with doubts as the deadline approached. I had lived in the same house my entire life and gone to school with the same people since kindergarten. Would I be able to cope with such a dramatic life change? How often would I get to come home? And how was I going to fit my entire life on a plane? I wish I’d had someone to answer these questions, but I pretty much had to figure things out for myself. Luckily, you don’t have to.

Why did you choose UBC?

As soon as I discovered that UBC existed, I decided that was where I would go to school–probably because it was as far away from Richmond Hill as I could get without actually leaving the country. But as I continued to research the school, I started to fall in love. It was a little strange, but without having ever been to Vancouver, I somehow felt like it was my home. I could picture myself hiking in Pacific Spirit Park, wandering around Granville Island, and skiing at Whistler on the weekends. I was awe-struck by the mountain views, the beautiful buildings, and the fact that there was a beach on campus (plus, UBC’s amazing academic reputation didn’t hurt). And so, at the end of last summer, I boarded the plane to YVR, saying goodbye to my Ontario roots and waving hello to my new West coast life. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

Was it difficult being so far away from your friends and family?

Honestly, moving to UBC was a huge change. It was surprising to me, because before I went away for school I felt completely prepared to live away from home and wasn’t expecting to get homesick at all. Continue reading

First-year science course reviews

One of my biggest fears before coming to UBC was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the workload. I saw myself lost in a sea of faces in a gigantic lecture hall, failing miserably in all of my crazy difficult science classes, and being forced to move back home with my head hung in shame.

Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.

UBC’s science program is known around the world as one of the best, and usually “best” is synonymous with “hardest”. But after making it through my first year in science, while it definitely wasn’t an easy road, I’m confident that I’ll be able to succeed in my subsequent years. One of my favourite things about this school is that you’re more than a number. There are resources available all around you; it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.

If you’re an incoming first-year science student and are worried about surviving, first: take a deep breath. You can do this. You were smart enough to get into UBC, and you’re definitely smart enough to stay in. Next, be sure to check out the new Academics section of my blog that is dedicated to reviews of all the courses I’ve taken so far.

BIOL 112: Unicellular Life

CHEM 121: Structural Chemistry with Application to Chemistry of the Elements

MATH 102: Differential Calculus with Application to Life Sciences

PSYC 101: Introduction to Biological and Cognitive Psychology

SCIE 113: First-Year Seminar in Science