Thriving as an Introvert in First Year Residence

You’re finally moving out and into first year residence! You’re likely receiving your area placement of Totem Park, Place Vanier or Orchard Commons in the coming weeks. It’s an exciting time.

I remember when I was an incoming UBC student and I signed on to live in residence for the first time. Neither of my parents had ever lived in residence and since I was the oldest sibling, I really had no idea what to expect. I expected there to be a lot of partying that took place in residence, and as an introverted person that knowledge intimidated me because I often crave time alone when surrounded by large groups of people. The idea that I might be pressured to socialize 24/7 terrified me as I was worried that I would never have any time alone, not even to brush my teeth at the end of the day since I had heard there were shared floor bathrooms!

The first few weeks of living in Totem Park were incredibly exciting and lively, but I did feel very overwhelmed by the amount of activity. I’ve found that the first few weeks are usually like that for most people. I was excited by the change in environment but I did feel homesick at times. It took time for me to slowly feel more independent and settle into a rhythm. Eventually, I even attended some residence events and found myself having more fun than I expected to or had ever had in high school.


I got involved with my house council and we planned events that we wanted to see happen for our house. I found a quieter group of floor mates who liked to watch Netflix and eat candy on Friday nights instead of party. I started telling my friends that there were times where instead of seeing them I needed to ‘zen-flower’ and spend some time alone. Then, after seeing the power of the residence community to support people through their first year experience, I applied to become a Residence Advisor for the following year. Flash forward to my fifth year, and I’ve worked as a Residence Advisor for the past three years and I’m an incoming Residence Coordinator for the fall. When I think back to my pre-UBC self, I never expected to love living in residence as much as I do now. However, I also learned to recognize the importance of self-care and that it’s okay to say ‘no’ when you don’t want to do an activity with others, because just not wanting to do that activity is reason enough not to do it. This helped contribute to making my residence experience a great one.


On the other hand, if you are looking to meet new people but don’t know where to start, try attending programs in your area! Or talk to your Residence Advisor, as they’re your go-to person whenever you need advice on something. Try checking out a different house community or different floor. You are living in an area with thousands of other people who are all in the same boat as you and there’s absolutely a community out there for you, you just have to find it.


Post written by Paige Lougheed

Things to Remember for September

My first day back at UBC is always picturesque and peaceful. The last of summer sunshine illuminates our gorgeous campus and the skies stretch out in front of me, blue and cloudless. I sit in the gigantic lecture halls, chatting with friends, talking about all the events we want to check out. Fast forward a few weeks and I am racing across campus, feeling ill-prepared for my first midterm and probably caught in a miserable downpour without an umbrella. School always catches up with me so fast.

September brings about new opportunities and change. In order to make the most out of this fresh start, there are a few things I want to emphasize going into this year:

Try something new: The first month provides a fresh start and an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to take up a new sport/hobby by dropping into Free Week hosted by UBC Recreation. There are also tons of cool events on campus hosted by AMS to welcome new and returning students alike. Whether you want to catch a movie under the stars, go to an improv show or attend a pool party – AMS has got you covered.

Focus on what’s important: I am always startled reading the syllabi for my classes only to discover some of my midterms are in late September! Often, students get so caught up with campus events and hanging out with friends, they push aside school responsibilities until midterms are right around the corner and panic ensues. Start off your school year strong by knowing exactly when your midterms are and setting up a schedule to study for them.

Get involved: Joining a club or initiative at UBC can be a great way to make meaningful connections to your school and community while making new friends. There are tons of clubs at UBC so you are bound to find one (or more) that matches your passion or vision. Check out Clubs day to find one that resonates with you.

Take care of your wellbeing: As exciting as your first month is, it can be busy and for some, overwhelming. Don’t forget to pay attention to your overall wellbeing throughout this busy time. Your wellbeing is a combination of academic, financial, social, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. It’s important to take care of yourself in all aspects of wellness – not just one. You can learn more about these topics by looking at the Healthy Minds Blog archive. For example, we have suggestions on how to stock a healthy pantry or how to help manage stress. If you want to chat more about your wellness journey– come check out Wellness Center in Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.  

September is a joyous time filled with new experiences. Embracing the opportunities that this month brings can be the first step to making the most of your school year. We hope everybody gets off to a great start!

Post Written by Gavin Shinger

7 Ways to Thrive When you Move Back Home for the Summer

This article was written on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) – People of the River Grass. I am incredibly grateful and privileged to be able to live and learn on this land.

It’s finally summer time! Classes are done and you can finally take some mental distance from school for a while. For many students, this transition means moving back home, perhaps nearby or far away depending on where home is for you. However, moving back home can be a difficult transition to make for some if you’re accustomed to living on your own for most of the year. Recently, I moved back home to spend the summer with my family in Surrey, BC. I’m finding it difficult to move away from being independent and feeling sufficient to being back in my home environment. Sometimes, I feel ‘cut off’ from most of my friends in Vancouver or other parts of the world. I think these feelings are normal as summer can actually be quite a lonely time for many students. The transition is difficult partially because as students, we’re used to feeling independent and self-sufficient (most of the time). Moving back home can sometimes feel like a loss of independence. Additionally, any significant change in environment, even if only temporary, can cause stress. For students who have just graduated, you may be moving back home for the foreseeable future, and that can be a hard transition to make when you don’t know what your next step is right away. For international students, you may even be returning to a different part of the world which can lead to feelings of culture shock. The move can be especially challenging if you are coping with family conflict or a tense living environment.

However, summer does provide an opportunity to focus on wellness more since people generally have more free time. Here are some words of advice for keeping well during the summer:

  1. Getting out during the day and spend time at your local café or public libraries

    Libraries are free, accessible and quiet spaces to catch up on some reading or peruse the internet. Or, you can head on over to your local café and treat yourself to your favourite drink.

  2. Head on over to your local community centre

    Your local community centre will likely offer activities such as various recreational activities, art classes, and culture events.

  3. Call a friend

    Sometimes talking with friends can be a nice break from home and you can gain support from your social circles.

  4. Have activities that are just your own

    Having activities that are just your own can help create distance from you and your home environment. Combine this with goal setting and you’re well on your way to enhancing your self-growth!  For example, I recently signed up to run a half marathon by the end of June.

  5. Exercise

    Exercise has been proven to boost endorphins in the brain which can lead to feelings of relaxation and happiness (Brassington, Dale & King, 2014). Even going for a brisk walk for a change of scenery can boost your mood.

  6. Download ‘Meetup’ an app that allows you to join a community of people with similar interests as you

    Meetup is a great app for getting to know people who live in your community and can help you to keep busy. There are different meetups for activities such as hiking, cooking, practicing languages, learning how to improve public speaking skills, etc.  

  7. Know that change is temporary

    Eventually, you will be moving on to different things and you recognize this temporary change of environment and pace as being a small blip on the radar of your incredible life. However, if feelings of loneliness or sadness persist or become regular, please consider contacting UBC counselling services or the UBC Wellness Centre for support.

Have a great summer!

Post written by Paige Lougheed

UBC Counselling Services:

1874 East Mall, Vancouver, BC

Phone: (604) 822 3811

UBC Wellness Centre:

Irving K Barber Learning Centre

1961 East Mall, Room 183

Phone: (604) 822 8450



Hannah Dale, Linsay Brassington, Kristel King, (2014) “The impact of healthy lifestyle interventions on mental health and wellbeing: a systematic review”, Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 19 Issue: 1, pp. 1-26.

Graduation, Uncertainty, and Self-Compassion

Recently, a friend asked me, “So, what are your post-graduation plans?” I found myself holding my breath, scrambling to find words to explain the uncertainty I felt about my future. The words “I don’t know” felt too shameful. I was nearing the end of my undergraduate degree and I had a good understanding of my interests. Still, a series of ‘unsuccessful’ applications left me floundering in uncertainty.

As someone who thrives when I have purpose and direction, I found it incredibly unsettling to embrace the unknown. A few months from graduation, I didn’t know where I was soon going to be, what I would be doing, and where I would be living. I tied the setbacks I faced in my application process to my sense of self-worth. I was growing increasingly weary of my ability to succeed and became emotionally reserved. I felt guilty when I took time to play and relax, knowing that I didn’t even have my next few months figured out.

Slowly, I began to realize that my low self-worth was holding me back. I began to practice self-compassion instead–and it was liberating. Self-compassion is appreciating the value that you have, regardless of external circumstances and especially in moments of uncertainty and self-doubt. For me, it meant being as kind with myself as I am with others and disassociating my setbacks from my potential.

Curious about what it looks like in practice? Here are some useful tips to help you incorporate self-compassion into your daily life:

  • Take compliments at face value and embrace them. It can be easy to brush off praise by highlighting what isn’t right. In every genuine compliment, there is truth. In every achievement, there is value. So, embrace it because you’ve worked for it.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts when facing setbacks. Are these thoughts about yourself constructive or negative? How can you shift your perspective to cherish your value?
  • Take small moments out of your day for some self-appreciation. In times of uncertainty and self-doubt, try taking brief moments out of your day to appreciate something about yourself.

I’ve learned a lot during my struggles with graduation:

Compassion is freeing. When I practice compassion in moments of self-doubt, I learn to trust that I am capable of achieving my goals. Though excellence is commendable, it is equally important to value our humanness. When we have tried our absolute best, it is enough.

Compassion can boost our wellbeing. Research shows that practicing self-compassion in moments of setback can improve our motivation and engagement. When we give ourselves the same compassion that we often give to others, we can feel more capable and empowered.

It’s okay to be uncertain. Everyone’s journey through university and life is unique. It is okay to be uncertain, even when others appear to be so certain. Uncertainty can lead you to opportunities and experiences you may never have thought of before.

Compassion can go a long way in alleviating the stress of post-grad uncertainty. From the first year of university to the last, a high self-worth coupled with an abundance of self-compassion can improve our mental wellbeing. Especially when we face setbacks. So go on, fill your arms with self-love and embrace the unknown.

How do you face uncertainty?

Post written by: Alice Guo, Wellness Peer 

A Connection Too Often Forgotten

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

Starting your first year at university is a big deal. If you’re like me, this is probably the first time you have almost full control over how you spend every hour of every day. For me, first year came with the freedom to order a large pizza at 2 am after a late night out with friends, the freedom to forget about doing laundry until I was down to my very last pair of underwear, and the freedom to spend three hours scrolling through Tumblr without a parent nagging over my shoulder to ‘get back to my studies’.

While this new-found freedom was great for the first few months of my first year, I couldn’t help feel as though I could have been doing something more meaningful with my time. After all, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “with freedom comes responsibility”. It was time I partook in activities that didn’t involve the regret of consuming a large pizza (all to myself) or a hangover in the morning.

So, by my second semester, I had signed up for every club I was even slightly interested in, went to almost every event put on by my residence association, made significant friendships that have lasted to this day, and volunteered for a few key charity fundraisers. While my involvement in all of these activities added meaning to my new freedom, I was also unconsciously wearing myself out. I still didn’t feel comfortable, I was often sick, perpetually tired, and a little disappointed in the work I was producing.

I was so consumed by trying to do it all, making a ton of friends, and feeling more connected to the UBC community that I was ignoring another vital connection – the connection to myself.

University is a time to discover yourself. It’s a rare opportunity to explore what you value most, try new things, have the freedom to make mistakes and grow from them. What I’ve come to learn over the past four years as a UBC student is that in order to effectively contribute to an inclusive, caring, and respectful community, we must first offer ourselves that same respect.

For me, it took widely overstepping my comfort zone by taking on more things than could fit on my plate to realize I wasn’t honouring and respecting my boundaries or values. After becoming more aware of the dwindling pieces of my wellbeing and the consequences that arose from not taking care of myself, I knew a shift needed to occur. Here are some things I’ve learn about the importance of establishing a connection with myself:

  • Communication is crucial. As almost everyone will agree, communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. Normally this implies a relationship between two individuals, but who says it cannot apply to the relationship you have with yourself? Having these internal conversations will help put things into perspective, ensuring your actions are deliberate and honour your goals and values.
  • There’s no need to do it all. Taking a step back from activities or clubs, and working through which ones you feel add value to your life will benefit you in the long run. Once I established a personal connection, I was better positioned to realize that not all of the activities I was participating in were meaningful. Now that I’m only involved in a few key clubs and programs, I feel as though my impact on the community is much larger and more significant.
  • When I take care of myself it’s easier to care for others. When I take the time to eat well, move my body, get enough sleep, and care for myself I am better primed not only to succeed academically, but also to fulfill my role of being a respectful and caring member of the UBC community.

While it’s important to take advantage of being in a new environment and own the opportunities that are here for you, it’s also important to find a balance that works for you by checking in with yourself. With respect for yourself and your wellbeing, you’ll find a way to honour your boundaries and establish that connection. It’s okay to slowly dip your feet in, rather than diving head first into the deep end – if that’s what you are more comfortable with. Because in order to fulfill our role of being respectful and caring members of the UBC community, we must first allow ourselves that same respect. When you’re well, you’ll be better able to serve the overall wellbeing of your new community!

Got Spirit? Connect to Something Greater

Post written by Bronwyn Graham, Mental Health and Wellbeing Assistant

When I started at UBC four years ago, stepping foot on campus for the first time was a surreal experience. I distinctly remember swelling up with excitement and wonder as I looked around and listened to other students tell me about all of the opportunities and services UBC has to offer. To me—a girl from a small town in southern Ontario—UBC seemed to have it all. There were so many new things to see, events to attend, new people to meet. I quickly got wrapped up in the rush and excitement of diving head first into this new experience known as “university”. I must have attended almost every basketball game, gone to all the events organized by my residence hall, participated in a few key fundraisers, and joined more clubs than I could actually take part in. I was wholly embracing my new life as a UBC student.

Four years later and here I am – just a few months away from completing my undergraduate degree. And over the years, I’ve come to realize there’s much more to life than UBC and being a student. Although sometimes it may not feel like it, life extends far beyond the perimeter of UBC’s campus. In retrospect, I realize I got swept up in the excitement of university life, losing sight of the “bigger picture” and who I am in the context of the world around me. My first year at UBC was amazing, but I couldn’t help but feel as though something more meaningful was missing – a different kind of ‘spirit’:

What are my goals, my purpose, and do my actions align with my values?

Having these internal conversations led me to realize that my university experience could have a purpose beyond academics. In short, I was practicing spirituality without even realizing it.

Spirituality is as important to your health as exercise, sleep, and good eating habits. While most people associate spirituality with mono- and poly-theistic religions, it’s important to note that spirituality extends far beyond those distinctions: Spirituality is whatever you want it to be!

For those of you who may be curious about different forms of spirituality, UBC has many resources available to help foster your spiritual growth.

UBC Chaplains

Curious about a specific faith? Or perhaps you just want to talk to someone in the religious community on campus? The Multi-faith Chaplains Association at UBC is a great place to start! Religions and philosophical traditions include:

  • Buddhist
  • Islam
  • Jewish
  • Christian
  • Bahá’í
Healthy Minds Blog

Studies suggest that students who are spiritual or otherwise more comfortable with themselves as a whole perform better in their studies. For how to keep a healthy mind, check out the spirituality section on the Healthy Minds Blog.

Student-Run Organizations

Maybe you’re more into clubs and talking with your peers about beliefs and spirituality. There’s a page for that! The AMS has a listing of all student-run spiritual organization on campus, along with dozens of others. They’re a great way to get involved with the surrounding community through volunteer work.

UBC Yoga Club

Looking to exercise and work your spiritual muscles? Check out the UBC Yoga Club for a listing of classes.


Many of these resources can help you explore your spiritual side, discover more about yourself, and get in touch with your values beyond academics. No matter how you come to understand spirituality, it’s always valuable to make a connection to the world around you.

Roommates: make the most out of living with a stranger!

Are you living with roommates this September? As scary as living with someone new for the first time can be, it is also an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and if you play your cards right maybe even make a life-long friend.

In my first year at UBC I lived with three strangers, and unfortunately didn’t take the opportunity to really get to know any of them. It’s not like we fought or didn’t get along, but we barely spoke to each other. I did my studying in the library, hung out with friends at their places instead of mine, and went straight to my bedroom when I came home.

As ‘functional’ as this relationship was (the kitchen was always clean, garbages got taken out, and no one ever brought over loud guests) I missed out on the best part of having a roommate: friendship.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.50.43 PM
My three roommates this year who became some of my closest friends.

Continue reading “Roommates: make the most out of living with a stranger!”

What can I do on

UBC has a very impressive website. It’s full of tools, resources, and interesting articles related to almost every aspect of University life. The only problem is that with so much important content, it can be overwhelming to browse through everything. Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.15.34 AMis the section of the website dedicated to- you guessed it- students, so I definitely recommend spending a few minutes looking around for yourself, but just in case you don’t have time I thought I would share some of the resources that I use most often: Continue reading “What can I do on”

Life’s Unexpected Moments

There are times we face waves of unexpected moments (Photo credits: Cordelia Mejin)

Winter has gone, spring has come and summer is on its way. Cherry blossoms have bloomed and fallen to the ground. They are not here forever, and- to put it bluntly- neither are we, which makes it all the more important for us to make our lives count while we can.

“I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow” – Casting Crowns

Continue reading “Life’s Unexpected Moments”

My Gap Year Journey

Sunset in Venice, Italy.

Three years ago today, I was a second year undergraduate just finishing up my final round of assignments and term papers for the semester. Reading break had come and gone and it was like a breath of much-needed fresh air… but it was over much too soon. I had been having troubles figuring out what I wanted to do with my time at UBC, and my sense of purpose was slowly slipping away. It was starting to take a huge toll on my grades, and I felt exhausted, unmotivated, powerless, and overwhelmed. I had developed bad eating habits and I didn’t have time to do the things that I actually enjoyed. I was, in essence, going through academic burnout.

At the time, the thought of taking a year off would have been unthinkable to me. I had huge dreams and goals, and wasn’t going to let some negative feelings set me back an entire year. I didn’t want to feel like a failure. I didn’t want to be thought of as the college dropout, no matter how silly that might seem. I told myself to power through, even though I knew (and my body knew) that I really, really needed a break. Continue reading “My Gap Year Journey”

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Have you faced uncertainty in your life? At some point in most of our lives, uncertainty is inevitable whether we like it or not. With summer fast approaching, “What are your summer plans?” is a normal question to come up in conversation. Some of us already made concrete summer plans whereas many- myself included- are still in the process of planning summer activities, be it working in a part-time job, going on a vacation, taking summer courses or just having fun. Not knowing what to do in the summer and being uncertain of what we’re going to do can be frustrating at times.

My Mama said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump Continue reading “The Certainty of Uncertainty”

Staying Golden


Deep breath, stay golden

At this time of the year one day it feels like summer and the next there is slush falling from the sky. We are overwhelmed with an onslaught of midterms, papers due seemingly every day, and most of us barely have time to think coherent thoughts. Those who are graduating also have to puzzle through disheartening rejection letters from postgraduate institutions and the sad fact that their undergraduate lives are coming to an end. We’ve got the not-so-hopeful med school hopefuls, the maybe-next-time law applicants, and maybe the sorry-try-again dentist wannabes. On top of all the responsibilities we have to school, work, friends, and family, we now have to find out what our ‘plan B’ passions are.

Well, I’m one of those ‘just shy of an interview’ kids and this is how, despite all the rain, tears and exasperation, I’ve managed to “stay golden”.

Continue reading “Staying Golden”

The Courage to be Authentic

Can you pinpoint a moment in your life that changed the way you relate to and interact with people to this day?

When I was in elementary school, I lost a friendship close to my heart, and attributed this friendship loss to my weaknesses. Since that day, I have found it rather difficult to be completely me when I am around my friends. There were times when I was afraid of losing my friends if they see who I truly am – with my imperfections and weaknesses.

Photos used with permission from Flickr commons

I was aware that this struggle was hindering me from bringing my friendships to deeper levels. That said, I am very close to my family and boyfriend because with them I feel the freedom to be myself – they know my weaknesses yet still accept me. But, I greatly desired to feel this sense of freedom with my friends too.

Continue reading “The Courage to be Authentic”

Healthy Elements Wellness Fair

Next Friday, the Wellness CentreSUSUBC SCI Team, and UBC REC are joining together to put on our annual Science wellness event.

This year the theme is Healthy Elements, and we are inviting you to join us in exploring all eight elements of a healthy lifestyle. Each of these elements will be represented by a different campus group with a booth offering resources and information on its importance, as well as advice on how to incorporate it into your busy life. Oh, and did I mention there will be pancakes, parfaits and popcorn?

: Friday, February 7th from 10 am- 12:30 pm
Where: Outside AND inside of Abdul Ladha
Cost: Absolutely FREE
Why: Because what better way to kick-start your weekend than breakfast and a wellness fair?

Stop by for a fresh smoothie courtesy of UBC REC’s bike blender, then head inside for a full breakfast of pancakes and parfaits, as well as an exciting, interactive wellness fair! You can even enter your name in a draw to win cool prizes including free registration for UBC REC events, or a Magic Bullet!

Although the fair is geared towards Science students everyone is invited, so grab a friend and drop by during your break or even between classes.

My Decisions at UBC

As I begin the last term of my Bachelor of Arts degree, I find myself reminiscent of all the things UBC has to offer.
Comparing myself to who I was when I first started university, I feel like I have learned and grown a lot, both through my academics and my involvements on and off campus.

Here are some decisions that I think really helped to shape my journey at UBC: Continue reading “My Decisions at UBC”

What Empathy Means to Me

Empathy was a word that I never fully understood growing up. I was always told to be empathetic to others, or show empathy for my actions. I knew it meant being nice and caring but I never looked into it much farther… until recently. After learning the depth of its meaning, I realized how important it really was and how it was something I could improve on.

Empathy encompasses a variety of emotional states:

  • Placing yourself in another’s shoes and viewing their perspective
  • Understanding the emotions, thoughts and feelings of others
  • Caring for others and going out of your way to help them
  • Making less distinct the differences between yourself and another Continue reading “What Empathy Means to Me”