Keeping the Summer Spirit Alive

I really took advantage of my free time this summer. I volunteered at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival; I got really into hot yoga; and I mastered the art of smoothie making. Now that school is starting up again, I want to make sure that I keep this summer spirit alive by making it a point to try out new activities.

First on my list is rock climbing. BC has so many great outdoor climbing opportunities, but I’m not sure I’m ready to find myself dangling over a ravine just yet. Fortunately UBC REC offers a course on indoor rock climbing. Also, did you know there is a rock climbing wall behind the Norm in the SUB?  If you’re a Varsity Outdoor Club member, you can access it for free and climb away.

Another thing I want to try out is the UBC Pottery Club, located in Room 41 in the basement of the SUB. Making something with your hands is a great way to unwind after a long day of classes. Membership is $100 for students for the whole year (September 1 st – August 30th), which is a bit of a financial commitment, but think of all of the mugs and bowls and plates you can make! You’ll never have to buy a gift again.

Lastly, have you checked out that huge skeleton on Main Mall? It’s Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton and it is part of the new Beaty Biodiversity Museum.  I plan to take some time between classes to learn a little more about the whale and how it got there. If you’re really keen, they’re looking for volunteers who will act as ambassadors for the museum, a great way to become more involved with this exciting new project while building your resume at the same time.

What activities are you going to try out this year?

Top 5 Ways to Savour Summer

With the end of summer drawing closer and closer, it’s time to make the most of the time and sunshine we have left.

  1. Plan a short trip. When I think of vacations, I think of plane trips, exotic climates, and slightly suspicious new food. But taking a trip to somewhere close by can be just as exciting and much more reasonable for people who can’t take time off work or can’t afford the ridiculous taxes and fees on flights. Why not spend some time up at Harrison Hot Springs, or go camping on an island you have never seen?
  2. Go camping without the tent. Campsites can be a great place to spend the day. There are lakes, hiking trails, and picnic areas that you can take advantage of without having to pitch a tent.
  3. Climb a mountain. Whether you do the Grouse Grind or just wander around on the top, mountains can be loads of fun even without the snow. Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver offers the Theatre in the Sky, a refuge for endangered wildlife, and the hilarious Lumberjack Show.
  4. Try some new wheels. Cars are overrated; try getting around by bike or rollerblades. If you are really adventurous you could even attempt to ride a unicycle.
  5. Consult Google. Type in “Vancouver events,” “Vancouver Bungee Jumping,” or even “Vancouver Knitting Competition.” Find something new to do, and do it.

Come up with your own idea. What have you always wanted to do? Then comment and share it with us!

Moving in the Right Direction

I love this time of year. I’m well rested from summer, excited to get back in touch with my friends as they return to campus, and ready to move in to my new room. Some of you may be moving for the first time, or perhaps even moving from another continent, so I’ve asked some other UBC students for their top tips on how to prepare for moving and organization to start the year out right.

Nam and Keli just finished moving so they had lots of great advice for students moving off campus. First, they say, bring lots of boxes and packing tape because “you have way more stuff than you think you have.” They also recommend using garbage bags for transporting clothes and hiring a van to limit the number of trips you have to make.

Kim commutes from Burnaby every day so she isn’t moving this year but she recommends keeping organized whether you’re moving or not. When she’s preparing for the school year she makes sure to keep her study space organized with the items she uses frequently in the most accessible locations. Other things, like summer clothes that she doesn’t use during term time, she stores in boxes with clear labels.

Kevin’s lived in residence before and his biggest tip is to limit what you bring: “You don’t need as much as you think you do. If you’ve packed three boxes, leave two at home.” Dorm spaces are pretty small, so start off with the essentials. If you really need something else, you’ll likely be able to borrow it from a friend or have it shipped from home.

Check out the UBC housing website for more information on moving and living in residence.

Press Play!

August Healthy Minds Challenge

For this month’s challenge, show us how you’re making the most of the end of your summer, or how you are “pressing play.” 

Here’s an example from Jayne Drew, one of the Healthy Minds Project Assistants.

“When I was little the best part of my summer was coming to the PNE, especially this ride. I can’t wait to go there again this year. I’m getting together with some friends to go next weekend. If you’ve never been before, I really recommend it.”

Submit your photo and caption to by August 31st for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to the UBC Bookstore. Good luck!

Don’t Act Your Age

These days our lives are filled with so many responsibilities that prioritizing is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, taking time just to play is rarely at the top of our lists. Before school starts, take a day or two and play like you did when you were a kid. Taking care of you mental health like this will eventually lead to more success in all areas of your life.

When I was young, the PNE was my favorite place to go at the end of the summer. This year, it runs from now until September 6th, so take advantage of this opportunity to unwind and take a one-day mini-vacation at the Pacific Nation Exhibition. Continue reading “Don’t Act Your Age”

Future Planning: Start Now

Most summers I get as far as flipping through the first chapter of What Colour is Your Parachute? until the allure of sun wins me over. Now, as I face the last few weeks of summer before my final year of university, I’ve finally realised that this is the perfect time to think about my future. Without the worries that coursework often brings, I can really focus my energy on researching some potential career paths.

Here are some great places to start, even when the sun beckons.

Research. What excites you? What kind of workplace would you like to work in? Would you like to work in an office at all?  Be honest with yourself about these questions. If you’re passionate about dolphins but want to live in the Prairies, you might need to reflect on which is more important to you, or be a little creative about how you could live and work to meet both of those goals. Continue reading “Future Planning: Start Now”

Friendships – Top 4 Tips

If we go by what we see in movies, true friendships last forever. Even if you do something horrible, apologizing will magically bring your friend back for a tearful hug with optimistic music playing softly in the background. Unfortunately, this is about as realistic as Alice in Wonderland.

The fact is friendships take work. Maintaining Relationships through Communication presents research done on friendships and picks out the top 4 strategies for keeping your friends:

Number one is, in my opinion, blatantly obvious. Time together is vital for friendships to last, especially for young adults. So, spend some time with your closest buddies during these last weeks of summer break. Why not get a group together and go to Science World After Dark? It’s basically Science World minus kids plus beer, wine, and comedy. What could be better? Continue reading “Friendships – Top 4 Tips”

Best Sport of All: Swimming

Guest Blogger: Devin Chen, UBC Graduate 2010

I love swimming. I swim 3+ times a week, all year long. I enjoy every moment I am in the pool and it also makes me enjoy every moment out of the pool. As I was swimming yesterday in the UBC Aquatic Centre’s blue, cool, and huge outdoor pool, I really felt so lucky that I am able to use and enjoy this awesome venue.

Here are a few reasons why I love swimming…

1. It’s SUMMER! I love summer – the sun, the heat, and the long days!  Swimming and summer, not only do they start with the same letter, they also closely associate with each other! The outdoor pool, the sun, drink by pool side (cool orange juice! yumm….) Continue reading “Best Sport of All: Swimming”

Music That Moves You

I don’t think it’s revolutionary to say that music moves us. A chorus, a handclap, or just a note can make my foot tap and my head bob, but even more it can move my mood. If I need a little energizing in the morning I can turn to Shad or The Love Language and I am sure to head out the door with a bounce in my step. If I’m missing home or feeling a little down because of the weather or anything else, Cat Power usually has a song or a cover to comfort me. And when I need to focus on studying or on a task at work,  I turn to music without words.

Check out some of the awesome research being done about music and health at MIT, including their TED talk about “extending musical expression to everyone,”  and read about music for inspiring, relaxing, and energizing here.

Do you make music? Share links to your songs or your favourite songs below.

Simple, Seasonal Salads

My friend sent me a link to an “awesome article full of amazing salads” the other week and I must admit I let it sit in my inbox for some time before checking it out. I love trying out new recipes, but salads? They always remind me of some dreary combination of lettuce or spinach, croutons, and ranch. I talked to her earlier this week, though, and she asked me if I’d tried the peach tomato one and my interest was piqued. No lettuce or complicated dressing? I’m in. I tried the fruit one that night and it was simple and delicious.

So here’s the article: 101 Simple Salads for the Season and here are my favourites so far.

#7 Grate carrots, toast some sunflower seeds, and toss with blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft.

#21 Dice cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first) and toss with cubes of avocado, a little mirin (or honey, but then it’s not vegan), rice vinegar and soy sauce. (You could mix in a little lump crab meat, really not vegan, even rice, and call it a California roll salad.)

I definitely plan on trying out more and keeping the list around for quick meals during the school year. Try making one of the salads or share one of your own in the comment section below!

Caffeine: Canada’s Favorite Drug

Working as a Healthy Minds Project Assistant I’m constantly challenging others to make positive changes for their mental health. To avoid feeling like a total hypocrite, I decided to take some of my own advice and make one healthy change in my life. For the last month I have completely cut out caffeine (well, except for a bit of chocolate… but pretty  much no caffeine.)

It wasn’t actually that hard. Decaffeinated drinks are just as tasty, and I couldn’t believe how much better it made me feel. I actually think I have more energy now that I’m not relying on Starbucks to wake me up every day.

Now let’s see how my next goal goes.

New Goal: get at least a bit of exercise every day.

For more information and caffeine, and its effects on physical and mental health, check out these sites:

Coffee Bean Mean?

Health Canada – Caffeine

Recycle, Revive, Recreate

Remember in kindergarten when you’d come home from school nearly every day with a necklace or painting or mug that you made with your own little hands? Well, I was home a few weeks ago and I saw some of those childhood crafts and realised that it’s been ages since I’ve made something with my adult hands. Instead of buying something new this week or spending a lot of money on supplies, I looked around my house and decided to make a collage for my work notebook. I found some old wrapping paper, a few fliers, a magazine, some glue, tape, and scissors and within a few hours my drab notebook was transformed into a bright, summery creation. I don’t know if it’s just the act of creating or returning to that childhood spirit, but I felt revitalized afterward. I can’t wait to start my next craft.

Need some ideas for what to make of your own?

  • Get creative with your photos: check out some cool ideas from
  • Decorate an empty can or jar and use it for holding toothbrushes, pencils, or pens.
  • Remake an old t-shirt into a bag, a laptop case, or anything else you can think of.

What have you created recently?

Recipes for a Healthy Mind


July Healthy Minds Challenge

For this month’s challenge, submit your favourite recipe or a picture of you making it and you’ll win a copy of the UBC Wellness Centre’s A+ Eating Guide!

Here’s an example from Sarah Eden, one of the Healthy Minds Project Assistants.


“Risotto is a great thing to make when you have an odd assortment of things in your fridge because you can basically throw anything in it and it’s still delicious! I made this one recently when I had an onion and some mushrooms that I needed to use. I chopped them up and added them to a pan with a little olive oil and garlic. Then I added the risotto rice and stirred in a cup of warm broth at a time, adding another cup whenever the risotto seemed “thirsty”. I find it really relaxing to make and my friends love eating it!”

Send your submission to by July 26th, 2010. Good luck!

The Truth About Dieting

There is no doubt that there is serious stigma attached to being “fat.” Very often, a person with higher than average body weight is falsely assumed to be lazy, unsuccessful, out of control, and morally deficient. However, having an eating disorder is also stigmatized; people with anorexia, bulimia, or another eating disorder are also falsely assumed to be out of control and morally deficient. It is no wonder, then, that nobody wants to say they have disordered eating. We cling to the idea that if we are not seriously under or overweight, that we do not have a problem, but this is false. Disordered eating is so much more than just clinical categories like anorexia or bulimia and is far more common than we may think.

The truth is, that anytime eating, or thinking about food, interferes with your life and happiness and keeps you from moving forward, this is disordered eating, and this is a serious and dangerous problem. At any moment in time, 70% of women (and 35% of men) are dieting. In our modern world, dieting may just seem like a fact of life rather than a mental health problem, but it reveals many worrying issues around self-esteem and body-image. Continue reading “The Truth About Dieting”

Watch Your Waste

Have you heard of the Zero Waste Challenge? My friend sent me a link to it last week and I finally checked it out today. It’s an effort led by Metro Vancouver to encourage people across the city to  “re-use or recycle 70% of our garbage, keeping it out of the landfill or waste-to-energy facility”. I thought I was doing pretty well by using a stainless steel water bottle and by foregoing paper or plastic carrier bags in favour of cloth bags from home. After reading the challenge and watching the videos, however, I realized that there is a lot more I can do to reduce my waste.

There are dozens of great tips on the website, but here are the ones that struck me as particularly beneficial, practical, and simple to implement.

1) Reduce food waste

Do you find yourself throwing away your bananas or peppers when they get a little soft? Stop! Transform your bruised fruits and veggies into delicious smoothies, soups, or sauces.

Another great tip is to plan your meals in advance. Even better, make something that you can transform into a meal for later in the week. For example, make over last night’s baked chicken into a wrap for tomorrow’s lunch by shredding the chicken, adding some cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado, and wrapping it all in a whole wheat tortilla. Continue reading “Watch Your Waste”

Be Kind, Unwind

In a few days I’ll be done with my first round of summer courses and I’m exhausted. I know that finishing six credits in six weeks will allow me to lighten my course load for the winter term, but right now it just feels like I’ve done nothing but attend lectures, study, and write papers for the last month and a half. I’m more than ready for this upcoming weekend of rest and I plan to make the most of it, before my next set of courses starts.


Continue reading “Be Kind, Unwind”

Stretch Your Dollars (While You Stretch Your Body)

I’ve been meaning to start doing yoga for quite a while now. Everyone is always talking about how wonderful it is, and I have to admit that the people you see walking into yoga studios with mats over their shoulders and water bottles in their hands certainly look like they’re benefiting from it.

Unfortunately, I am a student, and financial concerns tend to interfere with anything I want to do. Luckily, a coworker in the CSI mentioned special classes offered by many of the local yoga studios that are perfect for those without a lot of disposable income, or who just want to try it out without making an expensive commitment. Continue reading “Stretch Your Dollars (While You Stretch Your Body)”

Money, Money, Money

Wouldn’t it be excellent if a complete stranger recognized what a dedicated student and overall amazing person you are, and handed over hundreds or thousands of dollars? Well, this is more common than you think; they are called scholarships, and the deadline for many of the ones that require applications is coming up on May 31st.

Many students don’t think about scholarships as much after first year, but there are countless opportunities out there for undergraduate students of any year. Here is a quick summary of the ones with deadlines coming up soon:

Affiliation Scholarships: These are scholarships for students who are affiliated with certain organizations. If you or your parents are part of a union, check to see if that union offers a scholarship. There are also scholarships for other types of affiliations, like if a relative has served in the Canadian Armed Forces or fought in WWII. The application process is quick and easy; no essays required, but get it in soon because applications are due May 31st. Application

Summer Scholarships: Yes, there are scholarships open to students taking summer classes too. If you are taking at least 9 credits this summer, you may be eligible for a summer scholarship. Applications are due June 1st. Application

Scholarships for Women in Part-Time Study: If you are a woman taking 79% or less of a full course load this winter, check to see if you are eligible for one of these scholarships. The application is due May 31st. Application

Other Scholarships: For a list of scholarships offered by UBC, check out the Awards Search. For external scholarships, and can match you to the scholarships you are eligible for. For more information, or to find out about bursaries and scholarships for international or disabled students, visit the Awards, Fees & Finances page on the UBC website.

Take some of the stress out of paying tuition this year by taking a bit of time to fill out some applications. It will definitely be worth it.

Preparing for Exam Season

Exams officially start today. As odd as it is, sometimes I’m almost relieved that it’s exam time. The pace is different from the hustle and bustle of assignments, papers, and presentations and I like being able to sit at home, lull around and study at my own pace.

If you haven’t started your studying or are just about to start, here are a few of the things I’ve done throughout my undergrad student life to prepare for exams:

  1. 1. Make a studying schedule. I usually write out the remaining days until my exams and schedule in my study time.
  2. 2. Study in 2-4 hour blocks. Realistically, I’m not going to study straight from 8am until 12am, and neither should you. Study in chunks of time that will give you enough time to absorb the information, but not too long so that you lose focus on what you’re (re)learning.
  3. Schedule breaks. Pencil in breaks for meals, resting, exercising, spending time with family and friends, and even some time for fun. If you don’t take study breaks, your mind can start wandering and then it wouldn’t matter that you spent the whole day reading your notes (or rather, the same line in your notes).
  4. Remember to eat, sleep and exercise right during this time. All these factors affect how well we do on our exams. Remember to make time for these activities and hopefully you’ll be re-energized and refueled to do the very best that you can.

As I’m studying for the last couple of exams of my undergraduate degree, I’m wishing you all success! Aim high and always try your best.

Want to see what others are saying about exams? Check out this month’s edition of Student Health 101.

Finding Motivation

The countdown is on as exams draw closer and closer. This is a very stressful time for most of us, but we need to remember to stay focused throughout this exams ordeal to stay afloat and survive yet another year of school. Sometimes all it takes is a little motivation.

Several years ago when I first started university, I was lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I didn’t know what I was interested in. I fared well enough, but I couldn’t have cared less about what I was doing. And that was what bothered me most – that there was no purpose to my schooling at the time. So, I decided to figure out what I wanted to do. I checked out the UBC Faculties and Schools website to see what programs are available at UBC. I spent 10 minutes here and there perusing the website, and finally, I found something for me: the dietetics program (under Food Nutrition and Health). That was it! Dietetics was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a dietitian. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Dietetics became my goal, and what all that hard work is ultimately for. Everything will be worth it because I get to do what I want and am interested in doing. No matter how bad things are, how busy and stressed I am, knowing what I am striving towards is what motivates me.

Maybe you don’t realize it, but having a goal to work towards makes you so much more motivated to do well. Give yourself that purpose to do well with your studies. Care about it. Give yourself a reason to be motivated.

So tell me, what’s your motivation?