Category Archives: Day Zero

I love to see you smile

One of my friends recently commented on how I don’t really talk very much about myself anymore. ‘But I blog!’ I defended. ‘About my life! As a UBC student!’

Not really, my friend countered. Apparently, I talk about all the events that are going on around campus and I mention random things that I enjoy in Things I Love Thursday, but I don’t really talk about my life as a student.

Like how yesterday, I stood with some Speakeasy volunteers outside Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and handed out free hot chocolate. (Two heaping spoonfuls of chocolate mix are recommended, though you can have more if you want!) It was the perfect day for hot chocolate — sunny, dry and cold, especially after standing there for two hours. We didn’t have a sign with us advertising the freebie, so we had to call out to passers-by instead — and how people’s faces lit up at the chime of ‘Free!’ It’s the most beautiful sound in the college world.

The sound must also have resonated throughout IKBLC: every now and then, small groups of exhausted students emerged from the bowels of the library beast with a hopeful ‘I heard there’s free hot chocolate?’

Yes, it’s free. No, there aren’t any strings attached or even a survey to fill. We can give you a spiel if you have the time to hear it,* but we’re really giving this out as a form of stress relief and self-care during exam time.

It’s fascinating how suspicious some people can be, but it’s even more lovely to see smiles magically appearing on stressed-out faces. I also gave a couple of free hugs to students, including one poor soul who came up for just the hug and not the chocolate. Aww!

Honestly, the experience really made my day, because one of the things I miss most about being a volunteer is being on shift at the desk, smiling at strangers and being helpful. I got to talk to a number of interesting individuals, including a few exchange students from South Africa and New Zealand (where we commented on each other’s accents).

Then I went back to the office and did a whole bunch of behind-the-scenes work that will just never make it to this blog because, seriously, there is only so much potential to wax lyrical on writing meeting minutes.

And my friend wonders why I don’t talk about my life as a student.

Thank you to everyone who came by and chatted, and good luck with all your exams! Don’t forget to take care of yourselves!

*The spiel:

Speakeasy is a peer support service run by students for students. We’re located in the north side of the SUB. We offer one-on-one, confidential sessions by drop-in; no appointment necessary. Volunteers are trained to tackle issues ranging across the board: exam stress, relationships, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc. We also offer referrals to groups both on and off campus who can provide further support. Operating hours during exams are currently Mondays–Fridays, 10–5.

Celebrating Halloween

It’s that time of year again when gravestones pop out of the grass in people’s front lawns, bats are suspended across porches, cobwebs dangle precariously around doors and great yellow CAUTION signs are taped across front entrances. Some particularly enthusiastic houses have even acquired a coffin or two!

For people who’ve grown up with Halloween and take these preparations for granted, my giddiness must seem bizaare charming. Of course, when you consider that Halloween was almost non-existent when I grew up in Hong Kong, it’s a lot more understandable. The one and only time I went trick-or-treating, I took the lift up and down our block of flats to knock at each door, but only a few opened up and even fewer gave me candy (not being prepared for this very North American tradition in the middle of Asia). I think I ended up with two handfuls.

But here!

I once saw a tiny Asian girl clutching her pumpkin bag with a very intense expression on her face as she moved her rapid little legs as fast they would carry her over to the next door of magic candy-giving goodness. You could tell how serious this mission was to her, and I thought, ‘That would be me if I were five.’

Being too old for trick-or-treating (sigh), I’ve been looking for various other ways of having fun. A couple that I’m planning on doing this year are:

Visit the Dunbar Haunted House

One of the Marine Drive Residence Advisors told me about the Dunbar Haunted House, a famous haunted house that spends three months setting up for Halloween and is run by over a hundred volunteers. They raised over $67 000 for charity last year. Wait times can apparently go up to an hour and a half but I want to take a look anyway.

Go Trick-or-Eating!

Trick-or-Eat is possibly my favourite Halloween cause. Join a team (or make one with your friends), dress up in your costume of choice and go door-to-door asking for non-perishable food items on Halloween! All food donations go to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. I participated with Trick-or-Eat in 2009 and really enjoyed it — people are wonderfully generous with food at this time of year (and a few also gave me candy, so I guess I got my trick-or-treating experience after all!).

(UBC students can just look under Locations/Vancouver/University of British Columbia to join, but you don’t have to be a current student to do this — I’m going with a bunch of my brother’s friends, all of whom are alumni.)

Have you got any other suggestions for Halloween that I might like to check out? Let me know in a comment!

Oh yes, my best friend from home just reminded me that it’s Diwali today. Happy Diwali!

Things I Love Thursday

This is a week for the love of the purely domestic. As it turns out, the simplest things are also some of the happiest:

♥ The smell and feel of clean, warm laundry.

♥ The pleasant surprise when I go to clean the lint out of a dryer before I use it to find that the previous user has already done it!

♥ My vegetable peeler from Daiso. You don’t remember how useful these things are until you live with just a knife for a whole year. (Admittedly, I got a little overexcited while peeling my potatoes and probably wasted as much as usual. But no more.)

♥ Other highly useful items purchased from Daiso and IKEA lately: my can opener, dish towels, bath rug, new lamp, cutlery, mugs, plates and bowls. I have enough dishes for four whole people, not just one!

♥ My brother’s fantastic friend who brought 煎饼果子 to the Thanksgiving potluck on Saturday. A Tianjin specialty with no translation that I know of, I never thought I’d eat it anywhere outside of, well, Tianjin.

♥ People who ask for second helpings of something I cooked/baked. Actually, I also quite liked my mac and cheese and wish I’d kept a couple of banana chocolate chip muffins.

♥ People who feed me. Thanks for the delicious turkey dinner on Sunday, Dan!

♥ Heartfelt thanks also go out to my friends who willingly crammed themselves made themselves cosy in my studio just so I could cross off #41 on my Day Zero list. Your food and company were both delectable.

Have a happy weekend!

53. Kayak

Thanks to a particularly awesome Groupon purchase, Little-Friend-Ber and I went ocean kayaking for two hours at Ecomarine’s Jericho location yesterday, all for a total of about $4 per person. (Regular price is $49 for a double kayak for two hours.)

Yeah, we’re good.

Also, I want to know why I didn’t do this earlier. This is only the second time I’ve been kayaking, but I loved it that first trial nine years ago and I love it now.

It was an utterly beautiful day, the breathtaking kind where the sky is clear except for the bank of clouds to the west, with plenty of sunshine, a cooling breeze and an intensely blue ocean. We saw several cormorants, seagulls and an eagle, and talked to each other about starfish slash sea stars. The beach we tumbled onto after our two hours were up was deliciously hot and dry and warmed us up in no time.

At the end of the afternoon, I introduced LFB to the ever-delightful Café Salade de Fruits before they go on holiday from now until the end of Labour Day weekend. Mmm, mussels and vegetarian lasagna!

Perfect days shine like golden beacons for the rest of the year. Thank you for coming out and making it one for me, friend. ♥

And the Day Zero list goes tick tick as I scratch another item off.

(Also, if anyone catches the 1920s English children’s story reference, we should discuss our reading tastes.)

45. Go dancing


Free dance lessons and performances are back at Robson Square after a three year hiatus. Next Friday is the last session of the summer — if you’re interested, take a look at the DanceSport BC page for more information.

(P.S. Bag checks are available at the rink at $2 per item if you have valuables you’re afraid of losing and have no one you can sic them onto.)