Category Archives: Ontario

Things I Love About Winter Break

Term 1: mission accomplished. The last Scantron bubble has been filled out, the last exam has been handed in, and the last late night study sessions have been completed. Aside from waiting for those dreaded marks going up on the SSC (I’m personally terrified for BIOL 200), there’s nothing to do now but kick back at home and relish in the joys of winter break:

Snow! T-dot has gotten a little sprinkling of snow, but weirdly enough, it’s nothing compared to the snowstorm that hit Vancity on Wednesday. The city got a ton of snow overnight leading to the typical snow-induced widespread panic (the last day of exams were even cancelled. Welcome to Vancouver). Here’s hoping for a White Christmas in the land where good things grow, though!

Not setting an alarm. Gone are the days of my iPhone blaring at 6:45 am, signaling the start of yet another arduous day in the library. Now I can get all the Z’s my tired little body desires. And it’s awesome.

Having a kitchen. Being at home means that I’m able to bake to my heart’s content. Today I made peppermint bark, red velvet shortbread, chocolate-filled snowballs, and peppermint white chocolate chip cookies… I might have gotten a little carried away.

Seeing old friends. I actually haven’t done any of this just yet since all my friends are painfully busy with work or severely ill with the flu (get well soon, Gabby!) but hopefully catch-up Starbucks dates are in my near future. Speaking of catching up…

Catching up on TV shows. There’s no time to keep up with my ridiculous amount of shows during the school year. Now I have ample time to kick back, relax, and finally find out who is Gossip Girl.

Planning for the future. Projects for the break: working on my IntSci application, figuring out summer plans, applying for exchange next year (fingers crossed for Copenhagen!), and planning the SLC Recognition Reception. Speaking of which, have you registered yet?

Hope everyone is having a lovely relaxing break – enjoy every minute, because you’ll sadly be back to school before you know it.

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).


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.

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. 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

Back in the land of milk bags and negative temperatures

Sam and I looking festive with the Swarovski crystal Christmas tree in the Toronto Eaton Centre

So far, my time in Ontario has consisted of catching up on all my TV shows, baking Christmas cookies, going out for dinner with my best friends, sleeping in, and spending way too much time in overcrowded malls. Oh, and watching the Leafs lose spectacularly to the Canucks on Saturday. It’s okay boys, I still love you, even if you haven’t won against Vancouver since 2003…

In other news, term 1 marks were released today. By an academic miracle, I somehow managed to get a decent mark in calculus. Thanks for having my back, math gods. Still waiting on a couple marks to come through, but for now I think I can confidently say that I made it through first term without completely failing at school and life. Go me.

See you soon, Vancouver

Currently sitting in my room with a packed suitcase next to me. This is weird.

I just got back from Wreck Beach, where I said goodbye to the Pacific for the next three weeks (and got my workout for the day. I always seem to forget just how many stairs there really are). I also ate my last Chef’s soup and ham and Swiss sandwich of 2011 this afternoon. I seriously have no idea how I’m going to survive the Christmas break without Stackables.

Even more importantly, though, I said goodbye to my floormates, all of whom still have exams to write. Note: being the first one of your friends to be done with exams is awesome, but it’ll cause them to resent you. A lot. However, they took a little bit of time off from hating me for being so happy to say goodbye (some of them multiple times, and Nic even wrote me a super sweet goodbye message on my door). I’m gonna miss you, KU floor two.

Anyways, I did it. I made it through my first term of university. It definitely wasn’t easy, and I don’t think I quite got the marks that I wanted, but I’m still so proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished so far. Goal for next term: do better in math, which will mostly be accomplished by going to class on a regular basis. (I already have a solution for this, though: my friend and I have made a bet to see who will attend more 9 AM calculus classes. As comfy as my memory foam mattress topper is in the morning, I’m still pretty confident he’s going down.)

But now that the semester is over, I’m looking so forward to the holidays. In case you couldn’t tell by my room, I’m kind of a Christmas junkie. I live for giving (and receiving) presents, decorating the tree, going tobogganing, warming up by the fire, singing carols and drinking eggnog. I can’t wait to spend Christmas in Toronto, to go skating in Nathan Phillips Square, to see the giant Swarovski crystal Christmas tree in the Eaton Centre, and to spend time with my mom and my sister. Most of all, I can’t wait to relax and have a little time off from the insanity that is university life. I’ve never had a winter break where I haven’t had some sort of schoolwork to do, and it’s going to be a welcome change. (I don’t know how successful I’ll be at relaxing, though. I was so bored earlier today that I seriously considered reading my psychology textbook for fun…)

On that note, I’ve gotta run–I have a plane to catch. I hope everyone’s remaining exams go well and that you all have an amazing break! As for you, UBC, please don’t go changing on me. I love you just the way you are.