Category Archives: Commuter Tunes

UBC Commuter Tips (+ Final Commuter Tunes!)

After twelve weeks of making the trip from suburbia to downtown Toronto and back, I finally appreciate how difficult it is to be a commuter student at UBC.

For my first couple of weeks, I was so exhausted from the commute that by the time I got home I just curled up in my bed and dozed off halfway through an episode of Parks & Recreation. While I’m now able to go to work and back without transforming into a complete sloth, the commute is still long, draining, and more than a little boring at times. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to make it more bearable.

Here are some commuting tips that I’ve figured out over the summer, with a few UBC specific tips thrown in:

1. Get everything ready the night before. Commuter students don’t get to roll out of bed and walk across the street to class. When you’re living off campus, you sometimes need to wake up brutally early in order to make it to class on time—especially if it’s one of the dreaded 8 am sections. This can be super challenging if you’re not a morning person (like me). So how did I manage to catch my 7 am train every morning? Simple: I would prepare everything the night before. I would set out my clothes, make my lunch, pack my bag, and put my Starbucks French roast in the coffee maker so that when my alarm went off in the morning, I wouldn’t need to put any thought into getting ready.

2. Charge your electronics. Along the same lines, make sure that you charge your phone/iPod/Kindle/iPad/whatever other pieces of technology you might have the night before your commute. There’s nothing worse than wanting to cozy up to Fifty Shades of Grey only to realize that your eReader’s battery is as dead as Julius Caesar (not that I read Fifty Shades or anything…).

3. Bring snacks. Warning: food on campus can be kind of expensive. Even if you only shell out a few dollars here and there, it can add up. My favourite commuter snacks were granola bars, grapes, homemade trail mix, and red pepper and hummus. Plus, you’re forced to eat healthy foods for lunch this way! (Although I recommend you indulge in a Blue Chip cookie every once in a while)

4. Get yo’ text on. You can find out when the next few busses are coming by texting the stop number to 33333. I wish the TTC offered this service. It would’ve saved me many minutes of wondering whether I have time for a Starbucks run before the next bus arrives.

5. Remember your U-Pass. I was notorious among my group of friends for misplacing my U-Pass on a regular basis. Keep it in a designated pocket in your wallet/backpack/satchel/whatever and leave it there. And don’t forget your student card, too!

6. Buy good headphones. The purpose of noise-cancelling headphones on your commute is twofold: a) to block out everyone around you and b) to keep your music in your ears and no one else’s. While I realize that not everyone can afford Beats by Dre, you can get a good quality pair for $20-$30, and they’re definitely worth it. I personally use SkullCandy Inkd ear buds, and love them! They come in lots of pretty colours and get the job done. And please don’t use the white Apple headphones. That is, unless you want everyone on the 99 B-Line knowing that you’re jamming out to One Direction (I’m revealing way too many of my guilty pleasures in this post).

7. Be courteous on the bus. Give up your seat for that Betty White look-a-like. Don’t reserve a spot for your gym bag. Text your friends (or mom!) instead of calling them. It’s just good manners, and you’ll earn karma points. Win-win.

8. Switch up your commute. Take a different route or method of transportation every once in a while. This can make the commute seem a little less monotonous and give you a nice change of scenery. And if you live close enough, why not try biking to school? You can fit in a little morning exercise as well.

9. Stay the night! There’s a commuter hostel in Gage where commuter students can stay for $30 a night. This means that if you’re studying late during exam time, you don’t necessarily have to bus all the way back to Surrey.

10. Get involved on campus! Don’t use the fact that you’re not on campus 24/7 as an excuse. I can 100% guarantee that you’ll have a better university experience if you get involved. Whether this is through a REC intramural league, peer tutoring, or a fraternity/sorority is completely up to you, but make sure you do something! If you only come to UBC campus for your classes and then hop back on the bus, you’re definitely missing out.

To celebrate the fact that I’m one step closer to Vancouver (and no more commutes!), here’s a song that reminds me of my favourite city in the world: The Only Place by Best Coast . Just replace “LA” with “Vancouver” and the Kings jersey with a Canucks jersey (and in case you were wondering, yes, the band’s name was the inspiration for my blog title). Enjoy!


It’s official: my multiple end-of-summer countdowns have begun. 8 days until I’m finished work. 15 days until Osheaga. 27 days until I go back to Vancouver (aka the ‘couv? A friend from work and I are trying to turn this into a thing. Make it happen). And just a little over a month until I move into TPark and head off to Kelowna for advisor training. Whoa.

All the amazing things happening in the last month of my summer make me want to have a dance party. Here’s a summery, smiley, sunshiney song to take care of that very desire. Enjoy the second half of your summer, folks. September will be here (in all its glory!) before you know it.

PS – Another thing that makes me want to dance is my class schedule for next year. Not only do I love all my classes, but I don’t have a single class before noon during first term. My memory foam mattress pad and I are about to spend some serious quality time together.

Officially stoked to live in Totem

So…which house is Vanier?

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.

TPark dreamin’ and the return of Commuter Tunes

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.

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Just one of those days

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go your way? Where a perpetual raincloud of klutziness and bad luck sits over your head and you feel like you’re the universe’s very own personal joke? Of course you have. Well, I hope that you didn’t have one of those days today. But even if you did, I’m about to make you feel better about it. Prepare to laugh at my misfortune, because today pretty much secured my position as the stupidest summer student in the lab. The events of the day:
  • Slept through my alarm and made a mad dash to the train station on my bike. Made me a little nostalgic for rushing to my 9 am lectures. There were no mountain views to calm my nerves, though.
  • Got my morning Grande dark roast. Proceeded to spill it all over my white shirt.
  • Arrived at work, coffe stains and all. Set up my samples on a gel. (Non-molecular biology savvy kids, this lets you see if cells are expressing certain gene sequences.) Ran the gel in the wrong direction. Note to self: DNA is negatively charged.
  • Made another gel. Loaded my samples. Ran it in the right direction. But I forgot to add the dye, so I didn’t get any bands.
  • Started making more samples. Put it in the PCR machine but forgot to close the lid properly. All my samples evaporated.
  • Admitted defeat and went to put my samples back in the -80 degree freezer. Accidentally knocked a box to the floor. Tiny, tiny tubes flew every which way and I had to scramble to pick them up before they melted. Also got some pretty severe freezer burn.
  • And on the way home, I stepped in gum.

Sigh. Well, at least I didn’t set the lab on fire, like another summer student apparently did last week (ethanol and Bunsen burners are usually a bad combination, just a FYI).  Also, I discovered this website today while running my first gel, which eased the pain a little. I even had a good laugh at all the posts making fun of the undergrads.

If you had a day as disastrous as mine, or if you just want to have your own personal dance party, please enjoy this song/video that is full of neon and sparkles and general awesomeness. Tomorrow will be better!

Translink’s got nothin’ on the TTC + Commuter Tunes #4

Nobody likes taking public transit. If I were to go up to anyone waiting at the UBC bus loop and say, “Hey, congratulations, here are the keys to your brand new BMW!”, it’s highly unlikely that any of them would reply: “Oh no thanks, I’d rather take the bus.” Vancouverites (especially UBC students) love to hate on Translink, complaining about the horrible service, inconvenient routes, and how the entire system shuts down if there’s so much as a snowflake on the ground.

But the Toronto public transit takes sucking to a whole new level. I don’t think I’ve taken the subway once in the past week without some sort of massive delay, forcing me to sprint to the hospital and sweat all over my lab coat. Not the ideal situation. Also, on Friday, Union Station (which pretty much every train, bus and subway in the city passes through) decided to do its Titanic impression and completely flood with water in the middle of the day. This shut down half of the subway system and caused absolute pandemonium for 9-to-5 commuters such as myself. Yeah, the dry, robot-driven Skytrain is looking preeeeetty good right about now. Oh well, at least we got some good memes out of it, right?

Two weird UBC-Toronto connections that happened to me this week:

1) The hospital I work at had a summer student meet-and-greet on Thursday where I got to talk to some of the students from other labs. As luck would have it, the first girl I started talking to just finished her first year at UBC. She was in Science One and lived in Totem, which explains why I’d never seen her before. We bonded over our mutual hatred for BIOL 140.

2) That same day on the way home, I overheard a girl on the subway bragging about how awesome her school is to her friends. As soon as I heard the phrases, “There’s a beach on campus” and “This one time, I saw Shia Labeouf”, I knew.

Also, here’s today’s song (bet you thought I forgot, didn’t you): Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Yet another gem discovered thanks to the Peak, which I can now stream on the go thanks to their nifty mobile app. Oh, iPhone, how would I ever survive my commute without you?

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.