Category Archives: Vancouver

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!

The end of an era

Missing this place with all of my being

Warning: the following will be incredibly sappy and emotional, and I might have to stop a couple times to prevent myself from openly crying in the airport.

It’s over. This morning I emptied my room, turned in my keys, and had my last breakfast in the dining hall (during which, funnily enough, “The Freshmen” by the Verve Pipe was playing on the radio. Weird.) My two Ontario boys and I piled our ridiculous amounts of luggage into the back of a cab and, after being attacked with bear hugs from our friends, headed off to YVR, where I’m now waiting to board my flight home.

There’s a Vanier-sized hole in my heart, and I’m this-close to bursting into tears thinking about all the things I’m going to miss over the summer. No more body slamming my friends’ doors when I want a study break. No more impromptu trips to the beach on sunny days. No more meeting for dinner at 6 o’clock sharp every night (plus ten minutes of waiting for Alison). No more sitting out on the field, showering with flip flops on, ham and swiss sandwiches from Stackables, or living just a few steps away from the most amazing people in the world. It’s ridiculous how much I’m going to miss that place.

Of course, there’s still so much to look forward to. This summer is going to be amazing, with concerts, beach-going, and not taking the bus everywhere for a change. I’m also super stoked to be an advisor in Totem Park next year (my friends are already plotting elaborate ways to prank my floor), although I have a feeling I’m always going to be a Vanier girl at heart. And I now have friends all over Ontario and the rest of the country to visit. It’s just, as Emilie kept saying, “the end of an era”. And what an awesome era it was.

So I guess this is goodbye for now, UBC. Thanks for an incredible, hilarious and unforgettable year. You stay beautiful for me, and I’ll see you in four months.

Edit: Shoutout to Logan for making my move out possible. Thanks for driving me around Kits in the Jetta to find boxes. I’ll think of you every time I find residual sand in my TOMS from Jericho.

Vancouver weather, I’m not impressed with you

Rain, rain, go away…
Currently sitting on the 6th floor of Koerner, taking a break from writing a hefty lab report on buffers in blood and listening to the Peak. Also thankful that the rain has taken a break for a little while.

Vancouver weather gods, did you just get dumped or something? This is starting to get a little ridiculous. It was snowing this morning, which is weird enough in Vancouver, but especially weird in March. Doesn’t help that all my friends from home are tweeting about how amazing it is outside (20 degrees and sunny? Seriously Ontario?!) Maybe I’ll start working on an anti-rain dance while I’m taking a break from chemistry. Might attract some weird stares in the library though…

Anyways, this song I discovered thanks to the Peak expresses my feelings perfectly about the weather, and is definitely going to be added to my “Rainy Day” playlist. (Cam Fact #403: I have a playlist for almost everything, from “Happy Morning” to “90’s Pop Jams” to “Best Songs to Sing in the Shower”) Enjoy, don’t let the rain get you down, and hopefully we’ll get some sunshine soon!

Whistler Wayfinding: A UBC Student’s Guide

Confession: One of my main motivations in coming to this university was its proximity to Whistler. No, I’m not ashamed of it. Now, after almost an entire ski season of making the winding, snowy, scenic commute up to Whistler, season pass in hand, I’ve decided to share some of my knowledge with you, lovely blog readers. So, without further rambling, here is the (un) official UBC student’s guide to getting to Whistler (might need to come up with a catchier name--never mind, I did. See blog post title).

Drive: Simple, right? If you’re lucky enough to have a car, I’m crazy jealous of you (wanna give me a ride up this weekend?). But, for those of you who are less fortunate, do not fret! There are other options for getting to the powder.

UBC/Vancouver Greyhound: If you live on campus, there’s a Greyhound that leaves every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from UBC at 6 am. This is how I usually get up to Whistler. It stops right across from Vanier on University Blvd (next to the Global Lounge) and then at the UBC Bus Loop, and drops you off right in Whistler Village. It’s the same deal coming back, with the bus leaving Whistler at 4 pm. Rates are available on the Greyhound website.

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The Real World: Vancouver

Picture it: the beginning of reading break. Everyone is looking forward to going home for a week of relaxation, partying and family time (oh, and maybe throw some studying in there somewhere). But not me. I watched as my friends packed their suitcases, made “home for reading break!” Facebook and Twitter updates, and set off to catch their planes, busses and ferries. One by one, the windows in KU started to darken, and the hallways slowly emptied as everyone left campus. T’was a sad time to be alone in residence. But, thankfully, as of last Saturday I had someone to keep me company. One of my absolute favourite people in the world, my friend Gabby, came all the way from the distant land of Brampton (which, unless you’re from the GTA, you have probably never heard of before) to come sleep on my floor in Vancouver. She even made her own Twitter hashtag, “#BCadventure”, that we dedicated to her visit. No joke. Search it.

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Dear Dallas Green…

Dear Dallas Green,

Seeing you last night was definitely worth sitting through the weird opening band that used two iPhones generating feedback as an instrument. (Seriously, though, where did you find these guys? Near the end of their set, in what can only be described as an act of desperation, the lead singer opened up his wallet and started throwing money into the crowd. Apparently hipsters wearing oversized cargo shorts also like to “make it rain”.)

You were looking especially dapper in your suit and tie, but I kind of wish you could’ve showed off your tats. From one southern Ontarian to another, your performance last night made us easterners proud, despite your usage of the term “just joshing your pickle” and your lack of hockey knowledge. Special thanks for serenading Erin over the phone during Body in a Box. It’s our favourite song of yours, and you kinda made both of our nights.

Anyways, I’ll let you get back to your busy life as a famous musician. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Vancouver, and that the unseasonably cold weather is making you feel more at home. Remember if you ever realize that things aren’t working out with Leah, and that you’d much rather be with a poor science student than a wealthy former VJ, you know where to find me.

Hugs and west coast love,

Marry me, Matt Berninger

Thanks to a Facebook status update and a fellow KU tiger with a spare ticket (thanks, Aaron!) I ended up going to see The National’s sold-out show at the Orpheum last night. The National, just an FYI, has been my favourite band since I was fourteen, and Matt Berninger’s husky baritone never fails to melt me into a science student-shaped puddle. They’re not really huge in Toronto, but there must be a lot of fans in Vancouver since four people on my floor ended up going to the show last night–all of us separately, weirdly enough.

The concert was incredible, from the high energy opening by Local Natives (who are awesome, by the way, I definitely recommend checking them out. Also, the keyboardist kind of looks like Jeremy McElroy from a distance…) to the amazing campfire-style singalong at the end of the show. The only downside was the crazy tall guy (I swear, he was either a half-giant or an NBA player) who was in front of me the whole time. It’s cool though, I managed to see the stage by awkwardly kneeling on my seat.

One of my favourite songs off their latest album, High Violet:

And the unplugged singalong to Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. This really doesn’t do it justice, I had chills the entire time:

In other news, I just printed off my paper on climate change and global health for tomorrow. I got to make myself sound smart by using words like “hydrological cycle intensification” and “anthropogenic greenhouse emissions”. So exciting and sciencey. Now to tackle a bit of studying before bed, most likely with The National on repeat.

Let it snow…

This is a day late, but here’s what the view from my window looked like yesterday morning:

As strange as it is to see snow in Vancouver, this made my inner Ontarian very, very happy. I also took it as a cue to begin my annual holiday music downloading spree. My iPod is about to get exponentially more Christmassy…