Category Archives: Summer 2010

Let’s get this Totem and Vanier thing straight.

Hey incoming first years,

If you are living in Totem Park or Place Vanier next year, this post is for you. In addition to being a Blog Squad member to help you get aquatinted with student life at UBC, I’m regularly on the UBC Prospective Undergraduate Students facebook page to answer your questions.

Lately, most of the posts are about students in residence trying to switch rooms from Totem to Vanier. Here’s the deal. Totem and Vanier are both old, smelly, and are filled with the same students in each residence. There aren’t many differences. There isn’t a big enough difference between Totem Park and Place Vanier that should make anyone have to switch rooms. I’m here to put romours or unanswered questions to rest.

Last year, I lived in Nootka House in Totem and I’m returning to be a Residence Advisor in Haida. I have both friends in Totem Park and Place Vanier. I’ve spent time in both cafeterias, both residences, and many different buildings between the two places. Here is my educated list of the differences between Totem Park and Place Vanier, the truth to rumors about who parties and who doesn’t, along with resources for you to read and/or watch, and the reason why I selected Totem Park as my number one choice when I was moving into residence in my first year.

1) The little differences between Totem Park and Place Vanier. (reminder, both residences are super old, generally have the same sized room (some small exceptions), given the same furniture, have the same bad paint jobs, and the same first year experience)

Between Totem and Vanier there are little differences but in the end I’d say both residences offer the same experience. Unlike other universities, and from my standpoint of both a resident in my first year and as a Residence Advisor, I’d say UBC does an excellent job of creating both residences to be equals. Here are the little differences you’ll find in Totem and Vanier.

Totem Park:
– 6 houses, 1,163 residents, with 2 houses currently being built as the newest and best on campus. That’s approximately 194 people per house. All houses have elevators (and a frequently used space for pranks)
– All houses have co-ed building and same sex floors except for Shuswap which has co-ed floors.
– Houses are in pairs with “links” to partner houses that include study rooms
– Totem houses are 6 floors each with ‘H’ shaped floors that include two hallways and all the things you’ll need like mud rooms and floor lounges
– Totem’s commons block is the most recently updated, including the cafeteria
– Totem’s late night store, Magda’s, has a grill that is open late for meal purchases after the cafeteria closes at 7:30pm on school nights and 7pm on weekends. The grill is open until 11pm and Magda’s until 11:30pm daily.
– Totem has a flag football league (TFL & WTFL)
– Close to the UBC Botanical Garden, Starbucks, the sports fields, UBC Thunderbird Arena, Old NW Marine Drive for running, Engineering, Science, LFS, and Forestry buildings, and is situated next to the water.

Place Vanier:
– 12 houses and 1,370 residents. That’s approximately 114 people per house.
– All houses are same-sex floors with co-ed houses, except for Kootenay and Ross as exclusively gals only and Mackenzie and Robson as guys only. Also, KU & Tec are the only houses to have co-ed floors (and the only buildings to have elevators! Thanks Mel)
– All the houses are smaller, with single hallways, less floors but in some cases dorm rooms in the basement level.
– Recently updated commons block and cafeteria but their late night store, Hubbards, does not offer a grill/meal option.
– Offers an ultimate frizbee leauge
– Has Tec and Korea house which are newer buildings from a few years ago where you pay an extra fee and it offers such things as per-room thermostats and sometimes an entire wall that is a window aka the fish bowl.
– Closer to Arts buildings, the Japanese gardens, the Museum of Anthropology, and situated on the water.

2) The truth to the rumours of who parties and who doesn’t

The differences between Vanier and Totem when it comes to who studies hard and who parties I would say is all gossip. Apparently, Vanier was more party than Totem last year and they had fire alarms pulled nightly where I didn’t have the same experience in Totem. I’d say it depends what characters are placed in what residence, but like I said both Totem and Vanier are the same deal and you’ll have friends at both residences.

3) Resources to look at about Totem Park and Place Vanier

Totem Park page- UBC Student Housing

Place Vanier page- UBC Student Housing

4) Why did I choose Totem going into first year?

I prefer Totem myself because I like large floors and I like the late night food option. I enjoy being a little farther away from the hustle and bustle of classes and I love the football league. I also feel like Totem has a cool spirit and pride, along with great events. Both residences will offer events and activities and will be similar across the board. This is because the Residence Advisors maintain the same community feel in both residences, both the PVRA and TPRA offer events and things to do, and both residences are managed by the same fine UBC staffers.

One last thing to encourage you to avoid the pain of trying to switch residences, click here to see Totem Park listed as number 7 for the top 10 Canadian University residences on

With love,

Erica, your UBC Housing fairy godmother

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.

Music Monday

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Who makes your money / Spoon

A purchase on my VISA that I do not regret: Eat, Pray, Love. That book that is being turned into a movie with Julia Roberts. Even though it’s about a woman in her thirties and her messy life (swearing included) as she travels to three countries, I identify with it a lot. Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert for sharing your story so publicly.


There’s a few things you should know about me.

I can’t cook for myself. I enjoy putting my hair into a side braid. All I eat is Lipton chicken noodle soup. I think a barista at my local Starbucks is pretty cute. I make paper cranes for people that matter to me. I’m really not looking forward to fulfilling my two science requirements for my Arts degree. I like to sleep in as much as possible in the mornings. And I’ve made some big decisions for my future.

Change is not easy. I’m set in who I am. It isn’t much easier to be proactive and create change for myself instead of waiting for change to happen. The scariest thing is that you are making a risk. Last week, I took a risk.

I’ve got a number one priority in my life. It’s school. Even if I don’t want to make my school work my top priority, it is a commitment I made to myself and others a long time ago that I’d rock my academics. Last year, I continued the same trend that I’ve had going since high school. It’s that I say “yes” to everything and I put my service and leadership commitments first. My mother (the legendary momma bakes) says that I need to learn how to say “no.” It’s true, especially if I want to keep my commitment to my grades, somethings gotta give.

So, last week, I finally said “no” to something. I’m 18 and it’s taken me this long. I realized that I cannot have everything that I want and if school comes first for me then I actually need to free up some time to study. With that in mind, I turned down a leadership opportunity for the first time in my life. How does it feel? Sometimes I remember that I’m doing the right thing, and other days I try to convince myself that I can do it all and still get the grades I want. Saying “no” is not easy, I really don’t like it, whoever made up the word should take it back, but I hope this risk pays off. I’ve got a goal for second year and it’s hitting a certain average that I have in my head. As second year approaches, and I’ve made those hard choices that I’m going to stick to, I know that now it’s game time.

Only Two More Months Until Residence Move In!

For some reason, I like taking supa tough photos at work on Photobooth

We’ve hit July. Only two months until we begin a new academic year at UBC. It’s crazy to think I’ve already finished more than half my summer. Will I be ready to give up summer and go back to term papers and textbooks?

I don’t think I’m ready for writing and studying, but I am ready to be back in Totem Park. Lately, I’ve been missing Totem like it’s home and Niagara Falls never existed (sorry Mom). I miss my little cube of a room. I actually LIKE having a small cube. I made it my own space.

Every morning I woke up to the view of the Dene court yard and Kwak/Salish from my bed

Here’s how I rocked a little cube, which is something almost all first year students are presented with. It doesn’t matter if you are in Totem or Vanier next year, you’ll be presented with your dorm room when you move in and it’s your mission to make it feel like your own.

First off, I made friends with two girls on my floor who helped me take apart my bed frame only to put it back together so it was as high off the ground as possible. UBC leaves you instructions when you move in so you know how to adjust the height of your bed frame. This proved for ample room under the bed for things like the dresser that comes with your room, a fridge if you get one, and other things like big pieces of luggage from moving around the world to UBC Campus.

Next, I rotated my bed. Instead of having my bed against one wall that was facing my desk and dresser on the other, I moved my bed against the wall where my window was. I got this suggestion from an upper year student when I moved into residence. I put my desk next to my bed to make a ‘L’ shape in my room. My dresser was tucked under my bed along with all those big items. I still had room to access my closet and mirror. It made my room feel less like a dorm room and more like a bedroom with a ‘home’ vibe. It also proved for more space for things like visual art parties.

Meet Mychal, the guy wearing the Nootka shirt on my floor. He’s the Nootka House President next year. We had a visual arts party during first semester when I took this photo. You can see where I put my bed and to the right where the chair is peeking out is where I put my desk.

In addition to your cube, you are given a dorm chair that most likely is wooden with black seats that has been used many times over the years. I dressed it up and made it comfy. I kept a big green pillow from Ikea against the back rest and I folded up a plaid blanket from home on the seat. It made those long nights of studying feel a lot better.

I recently went to Ikea and bought my new bed sheets and pillows for next year. Meet the newest pillow (below) to take home on my chair next year. Is it weird that I get really excited with picking out bed sheet colours, pillows and lamps for my room? I’ve got two months until move in and I’ve already bought almost everything I need including Volcom posters from

Start dreaming of what you want your dorm room to look like next year. I was in love with my first year dorm room and I want you to feel the same way. Just don’t make the same mistakes I did with being messy which included accidently smashing a glass lamp. Broken glass is not a good thing.

Join the MOB


Where were you on Canada Day? I was on Toronto Island with the Toronto MOB for their end of the year social. A group of us came together for the day for a walk on the beach, lunch on the island, a bon fire and a great time with a guy named Craig who started our fire for us. Craig also eventually climbed a tree, jumped up and down like a monkey making monkey noises, and fell out of that tree. He’s also a pretty cool 20-something who makes nuclear reactors for the government.

I mention the MOB a lot in this blog. It is my life. I was the West-Coast MOB-Lead last year and current intern at the office. It’s definitely the coolest thing ever, no over exaggerating.

So what is the MOB? This Prezi explains it well, so does our annual report, but besides us being the coolest thing since the invention of the Easy-Bake Oven, we are a grassroots movement across Canada of upper high school to university aged youth determined to make a mark on the social issues of our generation. We support Free The Children, participate in all their campaigns, and directly sponsor villages in Ecuador, India and Haiti. At the end of each MOB year, we travel to those villages to participate in the community development work ourselves. Right now, (Mob)ilizers are in Ecuador and India doing that very thing.

We also support the philosophy of Me to We through socially conscious living. We have our own campaigns as a MOB, our own events and flash mobs and we volunteer at WE Day. We mobilize the masses to become a part of the movement with us. We reach out and bring in.

If you want to be a part of the MOB, please apply to join before July 26th. There are 26 MOB-Cities across Canada, including one in Vancouver which is lead by UBC students (woot woot). You can find the link here, or you can visit the website and have a look around and see if it’s for you. It’s a great way to get involved if you are a first year going to UBC and are looking for something to be engaged in. It brings together youth who are in upper high school or university from across the city. Check it out!

The Toronto MOB on Toronto Island!

JP and Gaby, one of our two Toronto MOB-Leads, eating some toasted marshmallows

Shane, one of the Toronto (Mob)ilizers

Toronto MOB gathered around the bonfire

Vicotria and Gaby, Toronto MOB-Lead, hugging it out

Guess where I’m blogging now
UBC Blog Squad

Me to We

Click here to follow the socially conscious blog posts that will now be appearing by the wicked-awesome intern who looks dangerous at summits.

While you are at it, you have to visit this. It’s called and it’s whatever is higher than wicked on the impressive adjective vocabulary scale.

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By the way, this was totally filmed in my house and I had no idea.