Nerdiest, but most awesome day =)

Today I have had one of the most awesome days ever… and that is saying a lot seen as I have been having an absolutely fantastic summer.

Firstly I am attending the Women in Physics Conference (guy are welcome to attend too). The conference was established to help support women who are in Physics and encourage them (Physics has a very small percentage of females in all levels of education). I don’t know how I feel about having a conference geared primarily toward women, I do think that things should be equal… but so far things have been amazing!

Today I started my day off going to a couple of talks/ discussions at Irving K. Barber. They were really interesting, inspiring… and I actually understood quite a lot of what was going on! Then I skipped a couple of talks to head over to the robot competition that the 2nd year EngPhys students have in the summer. There was a huge audience, probably 200-300 people. It was really exciting to watch and the robots were really, really cool. It was especially interesting seen as almost every robot had different mechanisms for lifting and stacking blocks. Mech 2 competitions have nothing on this one =P A video overview is here:

As soon as I got to TRIUMF I took a look at the cloud chamber there once again. I have been working on making one this summer, and although my partner and I got an almost working one going. We got a little stuck when the ion trails were not forming.

Also they conducted TRIUMF tours while we were there. I have already been around TRIUMF once, but was really excited going again, and it was really cool to see for a second time around and look at all the details. Also, the beam was on, which meant that the electromagnets were turned on. You can stand above the electromagnets (that are under about 15 metres of concrete) and have a paper clip almost float in you hands! It is crazy seeing wires standing straight upright without being able to pop away. I wanted to take a picture… but my phone had run out of battery. =P Hopefully tomorrow my credit cards will still be intact after standing there for… quite a while.

Finally my day ended, I got home and have been playing around with a couple of my electronics projects with quite a bit of success! =)


From Arts to Engineering Physics! (Yes it is possible)

A couple of weeks ago they handed out engineering specialization placements… well it popped up on the SSC and I couple weeks later I got a letter from my new department.

In Engineering your specialization is a big deal, once you have your specialization, that’s it. You have to stick with it for the next 3 (or in my case 4) years. It is extremely difficult to transfer from program to program (unless you are changing between electrical and computer engineering) and most people have a pretty set idea of what type of engineering they want to go into.

In April we ranked our top 8 choices and were told that we would be notified of our placements by mid-june…. we didn’t hear anything.

Then we were notified that they were delaying the placements, but we would hear by June 25th at the latest…. we didn’t hear anything.

I didn’t get my placement until about June 30th, most likely because I was a transfer student.  My nerves were tingling like crazy for the whole three days while placements were going out. They messed up the process this year and quite a few people got had their placements change around a bit (but for the most part they were just bumped up into their first choice).

I chose Engineering Physics as my first choice. Engineering Physics has the highest entrance average out of all of the different specializations. It is also considered either the coolest or the nerdiest specialization depending on who you talk to. I chose it because it has a bit of everything, especially the physics which I really like. I also really want to go into research (or you know test it out see how I like it) which makes it seem like a good fit. Also it is definitely going to be a challenge, and for some sick reason I always choose to do things that will challenge me… I can’t explain it.

Also for anyone who is thinking about going into Engineering Physics in future years: From what I have heard the entrance average for this year was just around the 80% mark, aim for at least 85% to play it safe new first years! This average includes courses that “don’t really count” such as English and your elective. Although at some point during the year you might stop caring about your courses make sure that you don’t slack off! I made that mistake for Chemistry 123 and ended up with a low B which really brought my average down and scared me when I was waiting to hear about specializations. =P

Software Carpentry

This week I was extremely lucky to experience a workshop put on by software carpentry ( It was an intense two day workshop that exposes you to “useful” computing.

Back in January or February I was wandering around on the internet looking for information on bash and stumbled across their website which is a goldmine for information on how to use the unix shell, python basics and pretty much every fundamental topic in programming. After watching a couple of videos I saw that they were offering a free bootcamp at UBC and immediately signed up.

When I walked into Hugh Dempster two days ago I was surprised. I thought that the bootcamp was going to be in one of the large lecture halls, but it was in a classroom! Not only that, but it was a classroom full of graduate students and faculty members, not a single undergraduate in sight! Feeling slightly awkward I sat down in the back of the room and attended one of the coolest workshops I have ever been to in my life!

The workshop was very interactive with everyone typing away at their computers, trying things out. It went by at a really fast pace which was nice because it kept things interesting.  Greg Wilson was an awesome instructor. I thought he was pretty hilarious and he had so many cool things to talk about!  I was looking his bio up on the internet after the first day and found out that I have actually read one of the books that he edited, crazy!

We started off with learning about the shell, then did a little bit of python which I was familiar with, second day we learnt about databases e.t.c. but I missed most of it because I had a math midterm =P, then we went on to sort of higher level concepts like abstraction, testing and debugging. It does not sound like all that much, but you get blown away by the sheer amount of new commands, processes, and ideas that you are learning!

Anyways, it was an awesome workshop! I encourage you to check out their website or go to one of their workshops! I was really lucky in that I signed up right when the registration opened, apparently it was full within two days! It was only advertised to departments, but I just happened to stumble upon it at exactly the right time. Now I have some tools that are handy and ideas that I will carry with me into the future … it was a really inspiring two days! In addition to all the “free knowledge” that I was receiving, I got to meet people who are doing research in all sorts of different fields and hear about the technologies they use and the things they do. =)

So, if you are interested in learning useful information that can help you with your research or studies check out their lectures section:


Marine Drive: First Impressions

I am so lucky. Sometimes I cannot believe my luck! So far I am in love with my new residence. The best part is the view: From my window I can see all the cargo ships, cruise ships and ferries going in and out of Vancouver. This morning I even saw a sea plane. Up here with the hawks and the seagulls I have a birds eye view of everything going on below (including the construction, while it is noisy, it is really interesting to watch). I can  from my living room I can see Bowen Island, the mountains up to Squamish, Mount Baker, and I think I can see Vancouver Island too on a clear day. It is amazing.

Besides the view I also have really great roommates .

I have also started to enjoy cooking for myself. Last night I made my first proper meal (i.e. something other than cereal, yoghurt or salad). I still don’t have much in the way of seasonings and basics kitchen needs (actually all I have is an onion, butter and curry powder…) so making salmon required a little creativity.

I had a large bag of individually packaged salmon filets from costco (really worth it) and decided to make salmon I cut up half an onion, and draped the slices over the salmon, added some butter and sealed all of it in tinfoil. In the oven for 15 minutes, it was delicious!

I also had some rather stale, tasteless pita bread that I had bought and decided to make pita chips! I spread butter on those too, added chopped up onion and put them in the oven for 10 minutes. They were delicious too.

I ate my food at our dining room table looking out at a beautful sunset!


Anyway I’ll be off to my Math class now!

I got a residence offer!

Literally the day after I finally stopped procrastinating, poured all of my clothes, textbooks, papers and electronics out of my suitcases onto my floor and started putting away all my bits and pieces I got an email from UBC housing saying:

“UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services is offering you a room in residence.

Marine Drive

Offer date: May 4th
Expiry date: May 5th

I don’t know how it happened, last time I checked I was 590 on the waitlist for housing. Marine Drive was my dream place to live in and although I didn’t really want to take it in May the only other choice was to hope that I would get offered Winter term housing with the possibility of living at home for the rest of the year if I didn’t get housing. I really, really love living on campus. Although it is a little isolated from Vancouver I love being able to wake up and walk (or bike) to class. For five years I took the bus almost every single day, by now I am a little sick of it. Although Housing does not tell you what building or what floor you will be living on I took a gamble. A room on campus was much better than no room, and if I liked it I could stay there for as many years as I wanted to, so I pressed accept.

That day I recieved my room assignment and I picked up my keys yesterday. I haven’t moved in, but I took a look at the flat (I am living with 3 other people) and am so excited to live there! It is beautiful, my bedroom and the living room have one of the most beautiful views of Vancouver. I can wake up and look right out at the ocean, the mountains and all of UBC. One of my new flatmates said that we get beautiful sunsets, so I can’t wait to experience my first one of those. The room itself is pretty much the same as I had in q’elexen, a little smaller, no bike rack, but I get a living room and a kitchen so that’s pretty nice!

Here is a look out of my window:

I feel like the luckiest person in the world! So back to packing and unpacking all of my stuff =P It seems like the process will never end!

Residence Year One: Totem Park

I was really lucky to live in Totem Park this term. I applied for first year housing pretty late (I think it was in March or something) and was offered a place in q’elexen one of the two newest residences at UBC. It was absolutely amazing living there. My floormates were all really nice and my RA (residence advisor) was amazing. The whole building was really clean and was kept up really well during the year. Despite Totem’s reputation for being a rowdy place, our floor was pretty quiet, and you were more likely to find people studying in the floor lounge than partying on any given night.

If you are moving into either q’elexen (pronounced Kullahun) or humelsum (I don’t know how to spell this one properly), the two brand new sister houses you are probably curious to what a room looks like, how much storage you will have e.t.c. These rooms are much bigger than the ones in the older Totem residences (and a lot nicer), but most of the residneces have the same furniture. Here we go:

So here is my room from the entrance, the bed’s height is adjustable which is nice because you can keep things underneath it if you wish. My room was nice and bright with adequate storage (however I did bring that little chest of drawer with me). I also brough the mirror on the left at the dollar store in the village for $10. Not the best mirror but useful for days when my roommate was in the bathroom and I needed to get ready.

This is a view of my room from the window, I bought the door hanger at the UBC bookstore and was very happy with it (you don’t want to be hanging up your wet jacket or lab coat with all of your nice clothes).

Storage, yes that is a bike hanging up on the right. All rooms in q’elexen have a bike hook. I would really recommend bringing a bike to residence or buying one here as they are very handy for going to and from back to back classes, getting home from the library late at night and getting groceries. Also bought the hanging organizer from IKEA, years ago (I am sure they still sell them now). At the beginning of the year in residence, there is an IKEA trip, so you can buy room decorations, extra hangers, baskets e.t.c there if you need to.

Dest area, wow, it looks pretty messy. Enough space to store most of your textbooks. I brought two desk lamps because the provided lights were kindof dim and I fell sleepy without enough light. Also brought a printer/scanner which was very handy, they are extremely cheap ($30-$50) and a far better option than going to the library everytime you need to print something.

A view of the chest of drawers. Make sure that most of your clothing can fit into 3 big drawers!

The end! You can find more information about Totem Park at the UBC housing website. If you have any questions about what you need to pack/ what will fit into a residence room you are welcome to ask me.

Term Reflection

I am finally finished my first year at UBC, sorry for my lack of posts in the past few months, as you can see I was quite busy with this schedule:

While not unmanageable I would have really appreciated a lunch break somewhere in there.  My average dropped by about 3% which is not too horrible but a little strange because I did far better on all of my midterms compared to last term, apparently I didn’t do so well on quite a few of my finals. Most of my midterms were in the high 80’s, 90’s and
even high 90’s, so I think I felt pretty comfortable going into the finals and did not stress
all that much about them. I think it is better to do alright on the midterms and then
amazingly on the finals.

My math final was horrible. I was about to leave Totem to bike to it when suddenly I realized that I could not find my bike/room keys. Anywhere! There were 20 minutes to go and I was still in my room looking through bags, through my laundry, drawers, you name it. They were gone! With 15 minutes to go I finally gave up and started to run to the exam. I ran all the way from Totem Park to the SSC… wearing flats.

By the time I got there I was completely stressed out. I sat myself down, looked at the paper and freaked out. I’ve never panicked on an exam like that before. I had studied a good three days straight just for math and looking at the paper I suddenly lost all the common sense I had. I was making tiny mistakes, questions that were relatively straightforward looked like gibberish… It was not fun. Half-way through the exam I started making some progress and returned to my normal brain function, but I kept thinking “Oh my god, I have wasted half this time, oh my god, I am not going to pass this exam, oh my god my average is going to drop like crazy, oh my god, I am not going to get into the program of my choice”…It was not very helpful. I was pretty disappointed with my Math final, I am usually pretty good at Math so I don’t think my final mark really reflected my capabilities, but, you know, it was a learning experience….

The Chemistry final was the strangest. I am not very fond of chemistry, although I really like the labs.  It is just so vague, where in real life am I going to be mixing up a solution containing some random ingredients that I will never find in my house? Ok, maybe some parts like the organic chemistry molecules aren’t that vague, but for the most part I have very little interest in chemistry.
While I was studying for the exam I was making guesses about all the answers and getting almost every single one right, without any idea as to why. It was both reassuring and alarming. I obviously didn’t know what I was doing conciously, but my subconcsious seemed to have figured things out. On the final my random guessing technique did not do so well. The questions were more in depth (a ton of drawing the reaction mechanism questions) and I ended up with my first B at UBC.

The rest of my exams went ok and all in all I think it was a good term at UBC.

Time Management

Hello! I promised that I would post about time management and here are a few of my personal tips on managing your time. Most of my life I have been the sort of person who loves to pack as much into a day as possible. Although every now and then I end up staying up way too late to finish an assignment i.e. up to 4:00 in the morning last night finishing a chem pre-lab last night, most of the time things run pretty smoothly. The things that I am going to talk about are easy to implement. So here we go!

1.Write things out! If you are the type of person who likes to procrastinate, I would recommend this. I keep a homework diary and when I get home after a long day I usually look at my upcoming week’s schedule, write out all the things that need to be done that night and paste it right above my desk. This helps me stay focussed on what I need to do immediately (and it is right in front of my eyes while I am doing work)

2. Prioritize: After writing everything that needs to be done out I number things 1, 2, 3 e.t.c. I decide on the tasks priorities mainly by what is necessary to do immediately, but also look and see if there are any things that I could do together i.e. If I have to go and buy some groceries, maybe I can get my bus pass at the same time e.t.c You have to be a bit of a lazy thinker and try to find the best way to spend your time wisely.
3.Get milk
3.Buy contact lenses
1.Study for Chem
4.Do physics assignment
5.Look at summer jobs
2.Clean room

3. Break Tasks Down: I find this to be really useful, especially once you get to university and suddenly you find that your Math homework takes 8 hours to do instead of less than one hour. Start things early, and do them in smaller time segments. Generally I find it easier if I break things into chunks that are feasible and cross them off as I go.(Like doing the online part of my physics homework one night and the written part a couple days later).If there is a project that I find especially daunting and that I really do not want to start I force myself to break it into really tiny pieces i.e. For Math homework:
Get paper, get textbook, figure out which questions I need to do, write them out, figure out what needs to be read, read 1 page, read another page e.t.c. Soon enough you get onto a roll and things get easier.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff: I find this helpful as I tend to be a little bit of a perfectionist. But it is important to realize that sometimes you will not be able to get 100% on that assignment, sometimes you will not be able to study for a quiz for as long as you would like, sometimes you will just have to wing things, but that is ok. You are human, you cannot be perfect all the time.

5. Be realistic: Maybe you want to organize a big birthday party for your friend or you want to join a new club, but realistically it will never happen. Avoid disappointment by keeping your plans realistic. Focusing on certain things will invariably cause other things to fall by the wayside. So figure out how important certain things are to you and don’t promise yourself otherwise.

6.Get help: When you are struggling with the things you need to get done, look at the people around you. Chances are that you have helped them out before and they in return will help you too, if you ask. Asking for help can be kind of scary, but if it is not something that causes them to go too far out of their way, most people are happy to lend a hand. =)

p.s. If you have any good ideas on how to manage your time effectively, please share <3

Wow, the middle of reading week… Has it really been almost a month since I last posted? Well I am officially feeling rejuvenated after surviving the first part of Term 2. I honestly think that reading break came at just the right time. In high school I always felt drained in February, with the rain just pounding down without relenting. But high school there is no reading break, just a Spring Break which comes far too late to be of any help.

Sooo anyways, so far I love reading break. Before reading break I had two hellish weeks with 5 midterms, 2 Physics 108 assignments, 2 Physics pre-reading quizzes, a large Computer Science assignment, 2 CompSci pre-reading quizzes, 1 CPSC pre-lab, 2 Physics 170 assignments, 1 APSC 160 pre-lab, 2 Math assignments, 2 Math quizzes, 2 Chemistry quizzes, and the wonderful Vitamin C lab write-up and a Chem pre-lab…. Oh, and lectures… But I am not complaining. I survived, although on the last 2 nights of school of had 3 hours and 4 hours of sleep respectively. Stupid chemistry write-up, it stole so much time from me! I got so caught up in analyzing my data and comparing it with results from other experiments and making it all look nice when I should have been doing my pre-lab…

After all of that wonderful excitement I was incredibly happy to have some time off! The first day off I slept until 4:00 in the afternoon. The second day I went home, read a book and sat on the back massage chair until my back was bruised. The book was “Surely, You Must Be Joking Mr. Feynmann”, stolen from my boyfriend =P I would recommend it for some interesting non-scientific but interesting banter, ( Vancouver was also mentioned in the book). And on the third day I sat and watched movies all day…laaaazyyy (but nice too).

By the time my hibernation period was up I was all set to go running around to appointments and tours, I even went to the Aquarium! I got to see TRIUMF (more on that later) and managed to meet up with friends and even go shopping woohoo. Now after 3 days of rest I am all ready to start  on all the homework that I have due in the next couple of days… well not really, but… you know =P Hope everyone else is starting to feeling well rested too! Will post about TRIUMF, time management and Totem Park in the next few days!

Beat the Winter Blues

“January sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me” Pilot

To anyone who is now about to start midterms and is feeling the cold wet spell of January completely draining their soul, this post is for you!!! Vancouver in this last stretch of Winter sucks. My friends and I have reached a general consensus that any Vancouverite is affected by various degrees of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) with the amount of rainy, cold and grey weather we get . So here are some (not clinically proven) ways to get that smile back on your face and a swing back into your step.

Listen to the January song by Pilot: Sing along with a friend out of tune

YouTube Preview Image

Read Hyperbole and a Half: This post is especially relevant to January, but get carried away and read the entire blog if you like. You will laugh out loud… whether you like it or not.

 Eat citrus fruits! The oranges in are amazing right now, so are grapefruits and, if you are feeling especially …. try a tangelo. Basically they taste like a tangerine just more aromatic.

Drink some tea. I am slowly converting our entire floor into drinking tea. It is calming and warms you up from the inside out and is the best social

Go for a run or walk, probably if you are like me, you have found yourself hit with assignments and due dates and have spent most nights up until ungodly hours. If you feel like you can’t run, walk. If you feel like you can’t go for a long run, just do a short run. Anything is better than nothing, stick with that mentality!

Do something new. Go out of your way to stop somewhere that you have never been to for lunch. Take some time to enjoy what there is around you. I would recommend going to the Pendulum restaurant on campus. There food is healthy and their pancakes look delicious!!! The atmosphere in there will lift your spirits far beyond anything you could have imagined exists in the SUB.

 Go out and hang out with people. Sitting in your room alone is …. lonely. Each floor in residence has a floor lounge for a reason… if it is not is use you could study there, other people will join you soon after. Or go to one of the study rooms in the commons blocks. Or if you are not on campus go to the library, a coffee shop, you name it. Somewhere where other people are around!

 Listen to happy music:

Finally: Grab a friend, or a whole bunch and watch hilariously stupid youtube videos, here are some of the cutest videos ever! Just for Laughs/ AFV videos are work too! Knut the baby polar bear. Baby pandas!!! Falling around. Cotton ball puppy! Funny dogs. Turtle attacks fluffy cat. Enough said! Shaving cream song, (kindof gross but funny… you won’t stop listening) The Duck Song Schnappi the little crocodile (German- I think you can find it in English but it isn’t as cute) Pingloo Papa Pinguin (French) Hippo singing “The Lion Sleeps tonight”

=) Aight that it is it! Have a good day! Smile and be happy =)

p.s. What are your best ways to beat the winter blues?