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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Best Places to Relax at UBC

Cover photo: Vancouver Public Library (Nitobe Memorial Garden)

Having a break in my class schedule, in between all the lectures and labs, is always something I look forward to throughout the day. I love having some down time to eat my lunch, chat with my friends or just listen to some music. Finding a quiet place to do so can sometimes be a challenge but taking time out of our busy schedule is critical for our wellbeing. It can give us the energy to get us through the rest of our day. Here are some of my favourite relaxing spots on campus that give me the opportunity to re-charge my batteries:

Love being outside? A walk can be a great way to relax and get some exercise in. The Nitobe Memorial Garden and UBC Botanical Gardens are gorgeous to take a stroll in and UBC students get in free! 

If you’re short on time, taking a quick detour to see The Rose Garden always reminds me how lucky I am to attend school on such a beautiful campus.

Looking for peace and quiet? When I need time to myself, I always headto Koerner Library. The 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th floor are all silent study spaces.

You’ll see students getting some serious studying done, watching TV, reading or catching up on some Z’s, all in blissful silence! You can also head to the main floor of the Life Sciences Building which has lots of seating, and natural light to keep your mood up.

Room with a view? The lounging area above the UBC bookstore! There is comfortable seating and the glass walls give you a great view of a central part of campus that is always pulsing with activity. Alternatively, you can also grab a seat in The Forestry Science Center Student lounge. With it’s dark wood columns resembling towering tree trunks and lush greenery, the building is a beautiful example of how the outside can be brought in. Bonus: It’s next to Tim Hortons!

Although UBC campus and one’s school year can get very busy, it’s important to take time out of our days in order to re-energize. Next time you have a break, kick back and enjoy the beauty our campus has to offer.

 

Post written by Gavin Shinger

Yoga: What is it, Why, and Where?

Now that summer is officially here, you might be looking to start a new activity. If you are looking for another way to be active or increase your overall wellbeing, try out yoga! Yoga is a sequence of postures designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones, linking the movement of your body to the rhythm of your breath. There are lots of great health benefits, including building strength, boosting your immune system, improving your balance, and much more. Not only will you notice physical changes with regular practice, but you will notice that yoga will allow you to build mental strength. Through my own yoga journey, I have learned how to cultivate a healthy relationship with my body through self-care and positive affirmation. Doing yoga allows me to destress and take some time to focus on myself, especially during the busy school year. If you want to learn more about how to get started, give one (or all) of these options a try!

Free Yoga Youtube Videos

I started doing yoga by watching Yoga with Adriene’s (www.youtube.com/yogawithadriene) videos. Her videos are great for all levels, as they range from easy flows to more challenging classes. Here you will learn the basics of many poses and find classes specific to your own needs, all from the comfort of your own home!

Free Outdoor Yoga

Mat Collective, (http://www.matcollective.com) a local environmentally friendly yoga organization, offers free classes all year round in their Main Street studio.

During the summer, the classes move outside and are offered every day of the week. They offer 15+ weekly classes at both the Main Street (95 E 32nd Ave) and Kitsilano Beach location (1015 Maple Street). I love doing yoga right by the beach where you can hear the sounds of the waves and enjoy the fresh air. All levels are welcome to join in on these yoga classes in the beautiful outdoors. 

Free Yoga Studios

There are also several studios in Vancouver that offer free or by donation classes:

UBC Recreation

If you want to do yoga on a more regular basis, get an unlimited yoga pass at the UBC Rec Centre. (http://www.recreation.ubc.ca/mind-body/)  Take part in a number of different classes ranging from gentle, restorative yoga to strengthening core yoga. You can get the student summer pass or you can drop in for $10 a class.

Hot Yoga

If you want to go further in your yoga practice, try out hot yoga! Hot yoga studios are heated with far infrared radiant panels to provide a detoxifying and therapeutic practice. Hot yoga will allow you to tone your body, release muscle tension, and help flush toxins from your skin. I started attending hot yoga classes at the start of summer and found that I have progressed in strength and flexibility. I leave class feeling relaxed, energized, and motivated for the rest of my day. Many studios offer a discounted first month or monthly passes for students. Be prepared to sweat and feel refreshed!

Check out these hot yoga studios in Vancouver:

The Hot Box Yoga Studio at UBC http://www.thehotboxyoga.com

Oxygen Yoga and Fitness in Kitsilano, Olympic Village, Oakridge, Yaletown http://oxygentraining.ca

One Hour Hot Yoga in Downtown http://www.onehourhotyoga.ca

YYoga in Kitsilano, Yaletown, Downtown, South Granville https://www.yyoga.ca

Hot Yoga 101 in City Square Mall http://hotyoga101.ca

I welcome you to challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. I encourage you to tap into your inner strength and find peace within yourself through your own yoga journey.

Namaste,

Lauren

 

Photos taken by Caid Dow (www.madebycaid.com)

Post Written by Lauren Lee

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

 

References

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.

Summer Plans

A well-planned summer can be the best-spent summer:

With exams coming to a halt, Summer 2017 has finally arrived! Have you spent some time to plan out how you want to spend your summer? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind so you can plan your summer break and make the most of it.

 1) Planning your summers:

As much as summer is meant for relaxing, some structure and planning is important too. One of the the little things that give me joy is to make lists. Google Calendar has recently become my best friend along with my journal. Having this visual guide really helps solidify my future plans so I can be on track with all the goals I’ve set. Summer days can really fly by, so planning ahead can help boost your productivity.

 2) Have fun in the sun; stay safe too!

Get your dose of vitamin D but remember to stay sun-safe and apply sunscreen. Read our blogpost Fun in the Sun for more details on ways to stay safe under those UV rays.

 3) Learn A Skill or Two:

As mentioned earlier, a productive summer to me means a fine balance of relaxing and learning. Summer is the perfect time to gain a new skill or two.

  • Sign up for classes! Learn something you’ve always wanted but never had the time to. Not only are new skillsets cool to boast, but they can help you stand out from the crowd for potential job searches.

Employers are always looking for candidates who can bring an extra skill or two to the table.

  • For example, take the time to learn softwares like Adobe Photoshop, Indesign, Microsoft Excel, or hone in on your public speaking and cooking skills.

Do something out of your comfort zone. As a matter of fact, start your own blog—heck, why not?! There are various organizations and websites around Vancouver that offer one-month courses that you can enrol in to enhance your skills.

  • EdX and Brainstation are several examples of organisations that offer short courses such as web development, robotics, and user interface design.

 4) Keep your eyes peeled for potential exchange opportunities:

Ever dream of studying in Paris, Tokyo, or maybe London? UBC offers many great learning and research opportunities abroad such as exchanges and global seminars.

Around this time, UBC Go Global is accepting Round 2 applications for their exchange programs in Term 2, or Split Year (going away away for a full academic year starting in Term 2).

  • Our fellow Wellness Peer and Healthy Minds Blogger, Kleo is headed to Warsaw, Poland to learn about the psychology of Genocide this summer.
  • I’m also excited to be heading to Hong Kong and Kaiping to learn about the history of Chinese migration.

These international learning opportunities can really help students gain well-rounded learning experiences.

 5) Travel and Explore BC:

Nothing spells summer more than travelling and expanding your horizons. For those who are staying in BC over the summer, you don’t even have to go far to witness new sights. British Columbia has so much to offer!

  • Go bicycling in Stanley Park–a must-do in Vancouver.
  • Or camping in BC’s beautiful Pacific Northwest forests.
  • Plan a road trip to Pemberton, Whistler, Okanagan or Squamish.
  • Lynn Canyon’s swimming holes in North Vancouver is another must-go during Vancouver’s warmest season. (Checkout this instagram @hellobc and get inspired!)

Something that I’ve always wanted to do is explore BC’s natural hot springs–especially Key Holes Hot Springs. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many amazing locations there are to visit.

Now get planning! The Wellness Peers wish you a great summer!

 

Post written by Jenny X.

Exams and Play

Memorizing copious amounts of information, researching for a ten-page term paper, and still managing to balance a social life and play is much easier said than done. Every year when December and April roll around, I am tempted to retreat into my hermit hole and temporarily bid adieu to the rest of the world. However, not only did that particular approach leave me slightly resentful and bitter, it also prevented me from getting the academic results I was striving for.

One of the first steps I took to change how I experience exam season was to sit down and figure out what types of activities energize me, whether physically, mentally, or both. This certainly wasn’t easy. After a few semesters of trial-and-error tactics, I came to realize that I am far more productive when I am genuinely enjoying myself, or if I know there is something that I can look forward to in the next few hours. Ideally, reviewing notes for even the most monotonous exam would feel like play to me, but this is not always possible. Instead, I have learned to incorporate various activities into my study times to help change up my routine and give me a much-needed mental and physical break.

Here are a few of the activities I find myself returning to time and again during exams (or other periods of stress) when I need a charge of energy:

Movement Moments (like walking a dog)

As an avid follower of dog Instagram accounts like @tofu_corgi and @dobaninu, I am part of the unfortunate group of dog lovers who do not actually own a dog. What do I do instead? Tag along with my friends when they take their dogs out of course!

There’s a reason why so many people ask about campus puppy visits during April:

Dogs always need to be walked. If I know a close friend in my neighborhood who owns a fluffy little pooch, I know I can always count on them to be up for a trek outdoors, even during exam season. Dog walking allows you to stretch your legs, find a bit of rejuvenation, and play with a little animal that’s probably excited to see you. The positive energy can be such a refreshing change from the tense apprehension that affects campus during exam time.

Find a Friend (you could share music playlists)

It can feel almost impossible to meet up with friends during exam season. But the camaraderie and support of family and friends are still as important at this busy time. My closest group of friends have a designated ‘study house’ where we meet up and work on assignments together.

If face-to-face interactions are difficult to arrange, we resort to useful websites such as Plug.dj. This way, we can share our music playlists with each other when studying, which reminds us that we are all in this together, while at the same time introducing me to new tracks for my study playlist. Try to establish a general set of rules (no lyrics, no death metal, etc.) before sharing music to avoid any potential DJ battles!

Cafe Crawl (remember to find cafes with electrical outlets and wifi)

I am the type of person who enjoys having separate spaces (when possible), for sleep, study, and play. When I’m in my bedroom, I have a tendency to start yawning, no matter how many cups of coffee I’ve already consumed that day. Therefore, if I cannot secure an alternative location to study in the house, I often relocate to a local cafe (as long as there are outlets at every corner and WiFi to spare). While packing up my bag, hopping on the nearest bus, and purchasing a deliciously crafted latte all cut into potential study time, I’ve noticed that getting some fresh air and walking around between subjects does wonders to restore my concentration.

Sometimes I have to stay indoors all day. When that happens, I still try to move around every time I feel my limbs growing stiff or my shoulders sore. Alternatives I have found to sitting in front of a laptop include printing out my notes and walking around the room, reciting facts and information from the top of my head. The steady pace of my footsteps keeps my mind focused and contributes to my step counts for the day!

Despite all of my efforts, final season may never become my favorite time of the year. But when I stay aware of all my actions and study style during these few weeks, I can do a lot to relieve stress.

For more self-help resources or professional support, visit UBC’s Stress Less for Exam Success page. Also, feel free to drop by the Wellness Center or the UBC Learning Commons at IKBLC to chat with a student peer about how they study and incorporate play into exams. We are always happy to chat with you and help connect you with more resources.

Happy studying!

Photo taken by and post written by Kleo Fang