What to pack before coming to UBC – if you’ve heard about Whistler…

A year and a half is a long time.

In August 2009, I arrived in Vancouver with my sister, eager to start my research adventures at UBC. My sister flew out here to help me settle down and carry the luggages that contained essential items to last me for the upcoming two years. Belonging to a highly non-athletic individual, my luggages did not contain anything that looked like sports-wears or equipments. The sportiest item I brought out to Vancouver were a pair of yoga pants. These were purchased for occasional stretching at home and much more frequent rolling-around-the-house type activities.

Some people choose to come to UBC because of its outdoor beauty. I certainly didn’t pay much heed to the outdoors section of Vancouver tourism handbooks, and I have my reasons.

Being a landed immigrant who lived in the snowy Ontario for about a decade, moving to Vancouver didn’t relate to ‘more outdoors’. In the geographically small country Korea, where I am originally from, the weather throughout the country is pretty much the same. From one tip of the country to the other, you normally see about a couple degrees of temperature differences, and maybe a bit more rain or wind over here compared to over there.¬†Obviously, Canada is a bit larger than Korea – only about a hundred times bigger (100,210 km^2 [Korea] vs. 9,984,670 km^2 [Canada]). So you would expect more climate variances across the country, right? Well, I expected it, but didn’t realize the climate differences between Ontario and British Columbia even after my first visit to UBC in December of 2008. Why? Because on it started snowing the moment I landed in Vancouver, and what I saw in Vancouver weather was quite similar to what I was used to from Waterloo, Ontario. So I thought Vancouver is just another snowy city in Canada – typical, cold with slushy roads in the Spring too cold for me to go out and enjoy the outdoors.

Quite fortunately, I was wrong.

Vancouver is nature-loving, outdoor-lover friendly sporty city. In the summer, you have a handful of beaches to choose from (feel free to be picky about where you get your rays of UV), more than a handful of places to go hiking, not to mention a long list of places to bike to and from. Winter is never boring either. If you enjoy snow sports, you can hop on a bus heading North to Whistler and get your fill of snowy slopes. This is something that I am beginning to realize only a year and a half after my arrival in Vancouver.

After a lot of convincing from my labmates, I decided to go skiing to Whistler. Convincing was necessary because I am the kind of individual who has attachment issue with my laptop. Activities that does not involve my laptop scares me a little. And ski is no sport to be enjoying with a laptop on your hands.

Anyway, I figured that if I am going to graduate from a school in Vancouver, I might as well make sure that I go to places that make living in Vancouver much more epic. Whistler was an obvious choice due to rumours and other word-of-mouth obviousness.

So yesterday was my first time going to Whistler, and my first time skiing in about a decade. What I got out of it was epic-ness, aching of muscles to satisfy my need to exercise, and an immediate wiping-out of work related thoughts from my brain – in a good way, of course. The cellphone pictures here totally don’t do the justice of what Whistler view can offer you. It was too snowy for the camera to capture the snow-covered trees all over the place, and too white and bright for the camera to not resist white-balancing the picture and make it look rather grim. But trust me. It’s beautiful up there.

With about 130+tax, you can hop on a bus leaving the Vanier Place residence on campus, or the UBC North Bus Loop heading to Whistler, rent all the gears you need, go up the slopes on the lifts, and get a ride back to UBC on the same day. At first, I thought it’s pretty expensive. It still is. But the following epic-ness is worth it.

Obviously, my yoga pants weren’t going to be too appropriate for skiing. So I had to borrow my friends’ and labmate’s ski-wears, all of whom are male and are not as small as me. I will spare you the joy of laughing at my funny outfit for the day, and will also spare you the stories of how I got so many blisters from my skiing experience yesterday – which are healing very nicely, thank you.

But the point I’m trying to get across to you is this: For those of you who are planning to attend UBC, I think you should consider the things that you might end up loving – like skiing, or swimming. Because you might end up with one pair of yoga pants in your luggage, and wish that you had your ski jacket/pants/equipments with you for the next two/four+ years of your stay in Vancouver.

To make up for my lack of photographing skills, here’s the kind of picture of Whistler that I was trying to take:

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