Category Archives: Academics

Music Tuesday?

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Arcade Fire- Sprawl II

I wonder if midterms could be classified as more difficult than finals.. because you need to attend to co-curricular  activities, readings, and attending classes all at the same time. Where as in exams, everything seems to stop for you. I’m in the height of my midterms right now, although it seems as if they have been happening for 4 weeks now (they probably have been). I have to know everything about volcanoes for my ESOC 114 course by the end of today and I have the hardest midterm I’ve ever encountered for my FNSP theory class going down this Thursday at 11am.

That’s a snap shot of my academic life right meow for you.

The Dean proves to be cool once again

Today is your first day of work as the chair of your department at NYU. You are new to New York City and your institution. You hear a large rumbling above you. Today is 9/11. What do you do?

You never know when you will be called upon to be a leader. For Dean Gage Averill of Arts at UBC, his leadership abilities were challenged that day in New York City. I’m proud to say that he did well under pressure. When he didn’t know the staff, the students, or the campus, he knew what to do. He had to make the decisions of getting emergency housing for faculty, staff and students within hours of starting his new job. He had to make quick decisions about canceling classes for the day. He had to make the most difficult discussions with no experience at NYU at all. Can you imagine doing that on your first day of work?

I’ll never stop saying it, but our Dean is so cool. He even blogs.

I asked Dean Averill how do Arts students face the trend of others dismissing the value of our degree? His answer was that our degree recognizes that we are human and we are learning how to flourish in the modern world. We are learning how to command communication across cultures. True say Dean Averill, true say. I believe that we are building dynamic leaders in arts that can adapt and flourish in any environment after post-graduation.

What do you think the strengths of an Art student is? I see us as a dynamic and powerful group. The biggest, the loudest, and the ones who are faced with life’s biggest questions in the classroom on a daily basis. Everyday. I go to class to analyze colonial dispossession. Everyday, I question why the world is the way it is. Everyday, I am challenged to read some article that I often I can’t understand at all (it’s a daily struggle) but I’m pushed to expand my way of thinking. I see value in our degree. I understand why we study the human condition. I’m proud to be in Arts.

Totem Park = Time Spent With Friends

Sometimes, I wonder how anyone living in Totem Park ever has time to get work done. From the late night requests that come to my phone saying, “Magda’s?” and me saying, “obviously.” and living within several feet of your best friends makes it difficult to want to do anything but study.

Cue momma bakes. This is where she would tell me that time management is key. I’m still trying to learn this amazing skill that momma bakes speaks of. In fact, my entire year is going to be all about focus. If you were to judge to see how well I’m doing so far, well let’s not look at the past week. I’ve been spending a lot of my time with my friends. But that’s fine, school just began and it’s good to be able to see all my friends again. From now on, it’s all about school and maybe only a few less trips to Magda’s.

Shout out to momma bakes who just celebrated her birthday. She’s a wonderful woman who knows nothing about technology but everything about time management and wise spending. Happy birthday, mom.

Tales of first year with mama ebakes

Hello first years, it’s mama ebakes, your wise upper year student who blogs, with tales from her first year of university.

Here’s a good story about my first day of classes.

Things were going well. I had successfully found all of my classes throughout the day without any prep beforehand. Hebb was a little bit difficult of a building to track down, but I did it all on time and with big smiles. That was until my last class of the day, Poli Sci 101, came along.

I couldn’t find Poli Sci 101 and I only had the ten minutes in between French in Buchanan and Poli Sci somewhere in the Chemistry building to find it. I started to ask random students walking by if they knew where my class was. I chose to ask guys that were in flannel (trustworthy survival skills at work) or had nice orange haired beards. None of them could help me find my class and just giggled. I didn’t mind, they looked cool as always.

It was now a half hour into my class. All I wanted to do was learn about the Canadian government and I couldn’t even find the classroom to do so. I couldn’t argue with anyone about policy or Harper, at minimum to say it was very depressing. I stood on the corner of University and East Mall, across from the Bookstore, and called my mother back in Ontario weeping that I’d never learn about the Canadian Government and that I was a major fail. It was actually a very hilarious event now that I look back on it.

I eventually found the class a few minutes after it ended. Turns out, I was looking for a classroom number that didn’t exist but I had the right building. I just had to double check my schedule (good one, Erica). I found the class as it was being let out and found this really cool prof in shiny silver Nike sneakers talking to students as they left. I tried not to show that I had been crying but when I approached the prof he just smiled and handed me the syllabus as he understood that I was a first year distraught with fear of failure. Turns out that Poli Sci 101 was my favorite class of first year and I had my highest mark (and first A) in Professor Baier’s class.

So first years, the lesson of this story is not to freak out and call your mother in Ontario and think that the world is going to end because you will fail out of UBC when you can’t find a classroom. And you can always, ALWAYS, trust big bearded men in flannel on campus. Remember those survival techniques. You will do fine.

Until next time,
mama ebakes loves you all. have a good rest of your first week.

Dean Gage “Whuddup” Averill

Move over Sauder’s Dean Dan, as sad as I am that we are without our beloved Dean Nancy Gallini as the Arts Faculty, I have to say that Dean Gage “Whuddup” Averill is pretty stellar. Yesterday, I was impressed with his Imagine Day address at the Chan centre. This man showed class and humour and I think him and Brain Sullivan (my favorite man, word to the students) should be best friends and go bowtie shopping.

Dean Gage “Whuddup” Averill, incase you are reading this because I know you sometimes frequent student blogs, I want you to know that I understand it’s not easy being the new guy in a big school, bringing me  to suggest B-Sullivan as a possible new friend for you.

So Dean Gage “Whuddup” Averill, you’re probably asking why B-Sullivan out of all the faculty and staff makes a good fit as a friend for you. Well, since it seems that Professor Alan Sens is already your pal from his funny and thoughtful introduction to your awesomeness yesterday, I thought that B-Sullivan has a lot to offer as he is one of the coolest guys on campus.

The way he sports those bowties and still understands the students after being at the university is something that resonates with me. If you have any say in the matter, please make sure B-Sullivan remains at UBC until after I graduate. Another request if you become bffs, I’m really curious to know how many bowties he actually owns and how he stores all of them. I wonder if it’s more intense than a Sex and the City shoe closet.

So when you do become bffs, and I’m sure that there is no way that two awesome and down to earth UBC champions could not be friends, please let me know how bowtie shopping goes. Dean Gage “Whuddup” Averill, I think you are a cool dude. I sat in that audience and from watching you I think that your speech brought down the academic-house.

PS, I really like the name “The Sipping Point” for the new Arts Cafe. Run with it.

Second Year, this is all a big deal yo.

Today I walked onto the stage on the Chan Centre and openly told new Arts students that I’m in love with chocolate milk but I’m lactose intolerant. I also mentioned my new brand of being a hipster librarian and that I’ve grown more than I could have ever imagined in only one year at UBC.

Only one year ago I was the person in those seats listening to phenomenal students tell me about the things we should be involved with. How much can happen in only one year this year? Before I graduate?

As much as I wanted to keep talking about my cool glasses and my longboard, I stressed that everyone in Arts should be proud of their purple. UBC is only a small part of our lives in the grand scheme of things and we need to take advantage of the time that we have here. That’s why we need to put all of our heart into our degrees. What we put into it is what we get out of it. Arts has heart.

I know that every single person inside the Chan has extreme amounts of potential. They’ve shown it just by choosing UBC. I know that in no time I’ll be cheering on the new class of Arts students at UBC (and all students at UBC for that matter) and blogging about them from here. No “from here” UBC branding intended.

The rules of second year

These are the rules for second year.

1) School (which means all assignments, readings and going above and beyond) must come first.

2) I’ve got goals for my grades, I’ll meet those goals.

3) Every professor must know my first and last name.

4) Boys (even if they are cute and may embody my dream boy) must not take a front seat in my life. This is a warning to all you boys, cute and amazing, that although I’d very much like to have your company, you distract me from my school work. Which isn’t cool.

5) Do not sleep less than eight hours a night and do not take weekends as an opportunity to snooze until the afternoon. Totem serves udon on saturdays for lunch, you know. Wouldn’t want to miss that.

6) Readings may not be a lot of fun to do and research is never easy, but I have to build my bridges before I need them. I will be strictly enforcing this rule that requires me to complete not only all my readings, all the time, but that I must read them in advice, create notes, and then review the night before the lecture as if I knew I was going to be tested on my knowledge of the assigned readings. Makes sense? Oui?

7) I will make several drafts of my term papers, bring them to my professors, ask how to improve, and actually edit my work. I’ll make my papers golden and even bring it to my prof three times if that means I can do well in the course. I’m prepared to do as much extra work as possible.

8) I will not sit on FaceBook all night, or watch whatever TV show I’m into all night. Instead, I will use my time efficiently. This means enforcing strict work hours, lots of bubble gum from Magdas, and using my time wisely.

9) My friends are important to me. The ones that meow, rawr, or act normal. I will spend the out nights I have with them, I will show up to their house to burn the food I cook, and I will remain committed to being their number one fan.

10) I will create mail art to send to my friends across the country on a regular basis. I will bring joy to their mailbox, a smile to their face, and keep my friends close to my heart during times of great distances between us.

How to get involved at UBC

This was me in high school.
Take note on the mandatory white graduation dress and the school uniform.

This is me now, after one year at UBC. Yes there is a grounded flying saucer in the background.

In high school, I was student council President. I held leadership positions in my community. I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. I was an editor of my school’s yearbook and newspaper. I enjoyed listening to Taking Back Sunday and mostly anything from the “punk
or “emo” genre of music, but that phase eventually ended some point around grade 10. So to sum it up, I was a highly involved student who had an interesting music taste.

When the end of grade 12 came, I chose a university to attend that was on the other side of the country (UBC!). Moving forward, I no longer had any of my leadership positions. I no longer belonged to any clubs. I no longer had my mother’s car to drive. I had to start fresh.

I knew what I liked. I liked to be the voice for youth and for students. I liked to speak in front of large crowds. I likde to mentor others. I liked to plan events. I liked supporting charities. I liked being involved with student politics. I liked being filled with school spirit.

With that, I went on my search for opportunities that fit the things I liked. These are some of the things I joined, what I participated in and what I suggest new students to UBC look into as well.

VP Students Emerging Leaders Program
Through the program, I was connected with an upper year student and a small group of students who are in my faculty and new to UBC as well. I was able to volunteer for the Reading Week Learning Exchange in an elementary school for three days during this past reading week, attend the Student Leadership Conference that happens every January, and have meet and greets with Brian Sullivan and our faculty’s Dean. It gives students the chance to find new ways to be involved at UBC, connect with other students who are new as well, and to grow as a leader. Next year I’ll be a POD Leader (that lovely upper year student I talked about, who for me was Tarini!) and I’m stoked to be able to help more new to UBC students find their place in such an amazing community.

UBC Blog Squad
Keep checking back to find out how to apply this summer to become a blogger just like I am now! It’s been “the bomb” being able to share with the world my experiences as a UBC student. The best part is the comments I receive where people from places far far away tell me that I influenced their decision to come to UBC and I have made their world all the brighter.

Art History Student Association & Arts Undergraduate Society
It all started when I got an email blast from the Art History Visual Arts dept inviting me to the AHSA movie night in one of the lecture halls in the Lasserre building. I met the club, decided to join, which lead me to the position of being the AHSA rep to the AUS! Through the AUS, I sat on the Killam Teaching Prize Committee for the Faculty of Arts as the Undergraduate rep which gave me a chance to read profiles on amazing professors in my faculty and to get to know the school better. Being on the AHSA also lead me to meet the Art + Architecture + Planning  Librarian, Vanessa Kam, who gave me advice on how to research for my art history paper. In addition, I helped plan and attend career fairs for AHVA students, learn about my future professors, and network with upper year students in my program. All of these doors were open because of one little movie night I decided to attend.

UBC Rec’s Soccer League
I joined with a team from Totem Park and we might of never won a game but it was a lot of fun to wake up early every Sunday morning, walk over to the soccer fields, and play a game of soccer with mountains in the background. The best part about Vancouver is that the season started in January and it was warm enough to play in just a t-shirt.

AMS Mini School- Pole Dancing 101
My friends and I from my floor in Totem Park signed up for this six week course on how to pole dance for beginners! It was for an hour every Thursday night in the Student Union Building for six weeks. The AMS Mini School offers discounts (with already low prices) if you join with friends and they offer many other courses like bar-tending, different forms of dance, photography and more.

Alright, here’s my degree story thus far.

What’s up my dears?

It’s coming. Starting in a few weeks, UBC opens up course registration. I kind of feel like it’s Christmas morning for me when July 13th hits and I’m able to register in the courses I want. I love course registration, is that weird?

I often check out the UBC Prospective Students facebook page and I see that some of you guys (who I like to call prospecteeves but now are new to UBC students) are kind of freaking out. Don’t fret, listen to my story of being a first year and learn that it’s all gonna be okay (and that selecting courses is AWESOME).

September: I’m in the Faculty of Arts geared towards a BFA in Visual Arts. Fresh out of a high school in Ontario. No AP or IB credits under my belt. I took almost only all visual arts courses in grade twelve. I’ve got five of my courses for first year picked as pre-req’s for my degree in visual arts. It’s rockin’.

October: The thoughts going through my head are like this, “I am not doing well in my studio course for visual arts, I never wanted to do a life sized portrait of myself anyways, now that I think about that it is kind of creepy, and I’m unsure if visual arts is for me anymore. Also at the same time, I’m really loving political science 101. I think I want a poli sci degree. All my extra circulars centre around poli sci and not visual arts, so why am I trying to get in to the visual arts program? Why not switch gears?”

December: I tell all the important people in my life that I think I might drop my visual arts intentions and go for poli sci. They tell me to give visual arts one more semester. I listen, and I continue on taking more studio courses.

February: It’s now second semester. My grades in visual arts picked up, I learned VISA 183 is WAY better than VISA 182 (my personal opinion) and that I’m glad I stuck it out.

April: It’s the end of the school year. I’m still conflicted because all of my time is spent working on The MOB for Free The Children/Me To We, I’ve been in many different political positions and I fell in love with many new subject areas. Is visual arts really for me? I don’t feel it. On top of Political Science 101 (which was all about Canadian politics) I fell in love with Women’s and Gender Studies 102 (which was all about feminism) and all of my english courses were centered around First Nations issues. If I love it all, how do I have it all?

May: I bring out the SSC. Bring it on. I figure out that if I continue with getting a BFA in Visual Arts that I would have no room for a minor unless I packed on an extra year which is not currently in my game plan. I also know that I will not be happy if I only do visual arts. I figure it out that somewhere around grade 10 my greatest passion became issues/politics and visual arts too a step back- I just never noticed.

I check out the Faculty of Arts advising website. I check out the different types of degrees. Women and Gender Studies.. would love that but doesn’t fit with the courses I want to take… Political Science involves tougher courses… freaked out by that… then I find First Nations Studies. WICKED IDEA.

I check out the department website. I get hands on experience in fourth year with an organization that also comes with credits. Love it. I get to have a degree that is based around an issues. Love that too. I can go on to something mastering in education or law. Love it more. Even better, I’ll major in it and minor in visual arts. By minoring in visual arts, I only have to focus on two mediums instead of four. There was only two I wanted to take to begin with which was photography and print media. Love that all the way to the moon.

Here are a few key things that new to UBC students might want to know. I’m not falling behind in my 4 year goal of receiving my degree by shifting my focus. In fact, many people shift their focus and find out they like something else. University is all about discovering what you like and who you are anyways. I’ve been told that I’m completely different (in a good way) than who I was when I left high school. University does that. It’s totally fine to enter the first two weeks and drop out of a class and take another one instead. It’s also okay to change faculties, a lot of my friends have already done it. It’s also rockin’ if you are open to new things. I never took a feminism in high school or a First Nations class. Now I’m going to try to major in First Nations after having all of my english courses in university focus on it. It’s something you just got to be open to.

Okay world. Come July 13th, Erica is going to register for courses gearing towards a degree in First Nations Studies and a minor in Visual Arts. That’s where I’m at. I’m liking my new decision, I feel good about it, and I encourage everyone to go after their wildest dreams.

Peace, love & west-coast trees,


I Play Tourist in Vancouver.. 7 Months After My Arrival.

Vancouver Aquarium

I listened to at least three episodes of This American Life as I sat at the front of a Canada Line train, riding it back and forth, waiting for my friend to arrive from Victoria on a delayed ferry. I went to the Oakridge mall, sometime during the second episode, and watched families buying chocolate for Easter and window shopped my heart out.

This was the halfway point in one of the most exciting days of this past weekend. Earlier, I went to the Vancouver Aquarium for the first time with two of my friends from my residence floor. Did I mention that at that point, I hadn’t even seen Stanley Park yet? I pictured Stanley Park to look like one of Ontario’s Provincial Parks but it far succeeded those little expectations that I had set for it.

Stanley Park seemed like an adventure. A world to explore. With many features gently built in by mankind, like bridges, streams, walkways and little food outlets, my heart fell in love with this place. What made it even better was the aquarium.

The Vancouver Aquarium is epic. The 1pm dolphin show. Sea otters wrestling each other. Planet Eart 4-D Experience. It was awesome. Above, is a photo of Maegan and I dressing up in costumes we found in the children’s area. Yes, we probably didn’t belong there, but we were way too hyped after the 4-D Theatre. (It included bubbles. Twice.)

Prime example of what it looks like to be from the future, or to be in attendance at a 4-D theatre.

It was hard to pull ourselves away from the aquarium on one of the nicest days Vancouver has seen in a while but we eventually did it. We ended up downtown. The day concluded with sushi at a great japanese place on Granville called Shuraku. I keep going back to this place time and time again. Yam tempura rolls, all the way. The entire staff yells thank you to you when you leave, how awesome is that? Also, did you know H&M has included organic and recycled materials in their newest line? We went there too, in the H&M in Pacific Centre, and it’s actually wonderful. I recommend you take a look, and if you get me anything for my birthday (which is more than half a year away) I’d love a white tunic dress.

After that, I ended up on the Canada Line, where my story began. My friend eventually made it to dry land, and that weekend I got to play tourist even more. They were shocked that I still haven’t seen Stanley Park or the aquarium and I’ve been here since September. We decided it was only right I spent some more time on Granville Island. We bought Longans from the Granville Island Public Market, which are basically like lychees that come on branches and in a tough brown shell with a pit in the centre, and ate them by the water. Being in the sun and playing silly games like who could bounce the pit and hit the target the most was just what I needed out of a 4 day weekend.

We ate at the Sandbar, a great restaurant because they have a dining room that is like a covered patio a few floors above the boardwalks on the island. Each chair comes with a cozy blanket to wrap around yourself if you are cold. My hostess was also very informed about the world of Lomography and had a great conversation with me when she noticed that I had placed my fisheye camera on the table. I’m impressed by her. I approve even more. Eat there.

I played tourist even more. This time, I was showing my friend from Victoria some of the hidden gems of Vancouver. If you are a prospective student who wants some culture, eat at East Is East. There’s a location on Main Street and Broadway (which is close to campus). We went to the Main Street location, and man their drinks are amazing. Mango lassies, fruit smoothies, and Indian Shakes. They have the best Naan, live music, and unique dining experience. You sit on little wooden stools that each have their own personality and you eat at an even more extraordinary table that is low to the ground.

The entire place is covered in carpets, embellished pillows, and has the kindest staff. When you are unsure of what to order, they bring you a sample of what you would like to try. Also, they bring you complimentary spicy chai tea at the beginning of your meal. This will always be one of my favorite places in Vancouver to go to. I’ll snag a photo of the restaurant the next time I’m there, just for you guys.

Now, it’s Tuesday. My 4 day weekend is over and the aquarium asked for me to return 3-D glasses, so I couldn’t even keep those. Now I have exams, term papers, final visual arts assignments and one more French test. What I’d like to do is post some images of my art onto my blog once I start receiving most of them back from my professors. Also, you should go visit the INITIALS art show in Koerner Gallery! I have a piece that is being shown there, I know you want to go!