Coming back to starts

How amazing is it that email these days can store everything you’ve been saying and receiving for the past several years? Not only that, but being able to search and rediscover things you’d forgotten you’d even done.

The other day, I found the exact date of The Ticket that brought me away from Hong Kong and dropped me in Vancouver to begin a new life. This week marks the fourth year since that landing date. I’m a little in wonder of it all: of how my parents were willing to let me go so far away from them, of how lucky I am that I could, of the growing space between that frightened, eager eighteen-year-old girl I was then and the (only fractionally) less frightened, less eager person I am now.

Rereading my panicked emails to my friends and family about the items I ultimately forgot to pack, I remember all those questions racing through my head. Will I be able to make friends? Will I succeed at university? Will I be able to take care of myself? After all, the only thing I’m confident of making for breakfast is cereal…

But also the hopes: I hope I meet great people. I hope I have classes that change how I think in whole new ways. I hope I get to travel and see even more of the world. I hope I love it all.

I want to turn to myself from four years ago and say: you will, you will, you will.

You’ll meet some of the most amazing, admirable individuals you’ve come across in your short life, as long as you put yourself out there. You’ll find those classes that blow your world away, as long as you keep challenging yourself. You’ll have more opportunities to do what you dream of than you’ll know what to do with, so choose the ones that speak most to you (and don’t try to do them all, because that’s not possible).

You’ll find real friends after your heart, with patience, effort and a little bit of luck. You’ll succeed at university when you follow your interests, when you put in the time and effort, and when you ask questions and seek advice for when you don’t get things right. And you’ll totally learn how to fry an egg. Never mind if it doesn’t look pretty.

You probably won’t love it all — that’s a little too much to ask. Life has its way of throwing bits of grief your way when you least expect it, after all, and the imperfections are what throw the better bits into appreciative relief. But I promise you will love your UBC life if you give it the best chance possible by coming with an open heart and an open mind.

View from Gage

The very first view I got from Walter Gage where I stayed for ASSIST (now Jump Start)

UBC Jump Start starts this week. A longer, more intensive orientation than GALA for students coming from abroad (and this year, also for aboriginal students), this was where I first threw myself into UBC and met some of the most awe-inspiring individuals you’ll still see all over the place on campus (those that haven’t graduated this year, anyway). Here is where I met one of my very good friends to this day, where I met another to whom I just said goodbye, and where my world began to open up just that little bit more.

Even if you aren’t going to Jump Start, their blog is a good resource for those of you who want to get a head start on understanding the great, mad adventure that UBC can be.

(Maybe it’s all the reminiscing I’ve been doing with friends since first-year, or maybe it’s the short hair I haven’t had since 2007, but I keep thinking of all the things and resources I wish I’d known about earlier, or did find useful when someone told me. In light of that, I’ll be mentioning at least one per week for the next few months. Like how to take a bus! — I remember how stressed I was over this activity most Vancouverites take for granted.)

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