Category Archives: Faculty

Five Rules for UBC

As I pack my bags to leave campus this week, I think about the past five years at UBC and what I’ve learned.

Inspired by Five Rules for Life, a website that collects different people’s five “rules” or guidelines on how to live a life, I decided to try and sum up my own guidelines for making the most out of your time at UBC.

Everyone’s journey is different and this is not meant to be any kind of exhaustive list or dictum, but these are the principles that I wish I’d known to follow when I first got here. Some of these are principles that worked for me; others are what I wish I’d done. I’d be happy to hear what you think of these guidelines below, and any suggestions for what you think would make for a satisfying, memorable time at UBC.

1) Whenever possible, study a subject that you love.
This is one of the most amazing experiences and privileges that a university education has to offer, so take advantage. Even if you aren’t able to pursue your preferred subject as your major, do your best to at least take an elective that you like — when you enjoy your studies, you are more likely to do better in class, struggle less with the material, and feel more confident about your abilities.

  • Not sure what your options are? Take a look at your faculty’s page on the UBC Calendar and find a full list of degrees conferred.
  • Don’t know what you can do with a specific degree after graduation? Speak to Career Services and check out suggestions for what you can do with your major.

2) Get involved. Find your niche.
UBC is a big campus and it’s easy to feel lost and alone amidst a sea of thousands. Combat the temptation to stick solely to your books (especially for commuter students) and find out about engagement opportunities. Try these out until you find a community of like-minded people you are comfortable around. If you don’t find your niche on the first ten tries, keep trying until you get there.

3) Try one or two new things every year.
Whether it’s taking a class in an unknown subject, a new volunteer opportunity or an original project, make a point of trying to push yourself beyond your comfort zone at least once or twice a year. University is a rare time when you’re at liberty to try different things with little risk of consequence, so make the most of it. Give yourself the chance to have mind-expanding, ‘woah’ moments.

  • A program for your radar in second year and above: Student Directed Seminars (not mentioned in the CSI list).
  • If you can afford it, seriously consider going abroad for a part of your degree, whether for an academic exchange, research, or international service learning. Visit Go Global for travel and funding options.

4) Work, study and play in moderation.
Get work experience before you graduate — this is what counts most when you’re looking for a job. At the same time, don’t burn yourself out: after working almost non-stop for the last five years while a full-time student, I wish I’d given myself more breaks. If I could do it again, I’d either work full-time during the summer and study full-time during school with no part-time work, or worked part-time while at school full-time and taken the entire summer off.

  • The UBC Learning Commons gives good guidance on questions like time management, effective study methods and presentation skills.
  • Find out about co-op opportunities in Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Forestry, Kinesiology and Science at the UBC Co-op website.

5) Be good to yourself.
Your time at UBC will not be all rainbows and sunshine. Hard times happen. When they do, don’t be afraid to reach out and get the support you need, and don’t beat yourself up for it. Fellow Blog Squad member Miriam once wrote a letter to first-years that I think sums up everything I want to say.

  • Do you have concerns about your physical or mental health? A list of resources you can access is available here.
  • AMS Speakeasy is a confidential peer support service where trained student volunteers will listen to your concerns about anything and will point you to both on- and off-campus resources as needed.

To all new and returning students, I really hope you enjoy your time here. I’ve had the great good fortune of being part of the UBC Blog Squad since its inception in 2007 until now. As the Blog Squad moves in new directions and as I move on to the next chapter of my life post-graduation, I hope these last comments function as a useful closure to this blog. It’s been grand.

For those of you wondering what’s next for me: I’m moving off campus this weekend and am wrapping up my contract with the UBC Arts Co-op Program, which ends the first week of September. After that, I’m going to travel Western Europe for a few weeks and may visit Asia again before I come back to Vancouver to hunt for a more long-term job.

And with that — goodbye, good luck and have fun!

Watch this space…

…for The Garden Statuary, Issue 1.2, coming out this Wednesday!

On April 2nd, you can find the new issue on The Garden Statuary website, the English undergraduate journal that publishes not only poetry, prose and English academic essays, but also artwork, photography, film and music.

Come join us at the Launch Party, too! There will be readings from our authors, music, free pizza and $2 libations, so bring photo ID, even if you aren’t planning on drinking. We’ll love to see you there!

TGS Launch Party
Wednesday, April 2nd (5-8 pm)
MASS, Buchanan D

Submit to The Garden Statuary!

Enjoy writing? Have an essay you’re proud of? Want to showcase your photos, art or music? We accept all these and more at The Garden Statuary, UBC’s English undergraduate journal. Deadline for submissions is February 17th — check out the website for more details on submission guidelines and/or to see what we do!

I, for one, really love seeing students’ creative and academic work and can’t wait to see what you’ve got!

In other news, my professor invited me to observe a symposium running today and tomorrow. The symposium is being hosted by SFU and is on the topic of “Can there be a World Humanities?” I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend, since it’s by invitation only and is completely in line with some of the questions I’ve been exploring academically.

It’s been really fascinating so far, not least to see what a scholarly conversation in a formal setting actually looks like. To my relief, I’m actually keeping up with most of the papers — only one out of six went over my head (and I know I’m not the only one who felt that way!). Lots of interesting thoughts I’m gleaning from here, and am looking forward to the more open discussion portion happening tomorrow.

(And lunch! Lunch was great!)

The Garden Statuary Issue 1.1

The Garden Statuary

is out and about! There are poems, photos, fiction, essays and even a YouTube clip that I’m sure you weren’t expecting to see, so go ahead — click the above header or go directly to our new website to discover what UBC’s undergraduate students are making and creating.

You can totally pass it off as expanding your intellectual horizons in the run-up to exams.

What I Learned This Week

Faculty-bashing. What is up with that?

The stereotypes we’ve all heard: Arts is a useless degree. Commerce students are all stuck-up and pretentious. Engineers can’t write to save their lives. I won’t go on. This strange, knee-jerk need to associate ‘different’ with ‘dumb’.

Even though difference is how someone makes the music that someone else enjoys while spending long hours in the office at night, designing a building that someone else is going to construct for someone else to dispense the medication that someone else prescribed thanks to the education they got from someone else who cared enough to share — do you see what I’m saying yet? There is value in what each of us does; measuring the lack of value of what I do by the value of what you do misses the point completely.

Not to mention that we all know individuals who regularly defy these artificial categories we try to box them in: Arts kids who like maths (le gasp), Science kids who express themselves artistically, Commerce kids who have souls (no, really).

To be fair, most people I know don’t throw these stereotypes around. But every once in a while, I’ll meet someone new who will say, ‘So, what are you majoring in?’ and when I tell them, they give me that look which says, ‘Why on earth would you want to do that? You foolish person destined for destitution and failure.’ Which in turn quickly wraps up our very short acquaintance.

Something’s not right about that.

Something else that isn’t right: I just realised that despite my whinging, I rarely ask someone else what they’re learning — really ask. Granted, when chatting with friends, most of us don’t want to talk seriously about school out of class time, but I am still mildly horrified at how I’ve been bumbling along for the last four years without taking the opportunity to discover a wealth of learning in the form of my peers. All of us are busy getting an education and I don’t know what other people’s educations mean.

So I really want to know: What is one of the most interesting things you learned this past week? Why do you find it interesting and/or important?

One of the things that has been bugging me over the last few months is my growing realisation that while I take First Nations Studies classes that unpack all kinds of issues that indigenous peoples face, and while I feel immensely angry and frustrated while in class or doing my readings, at the end of the day, I can leave the classroom and these problems behind me, and an indigenous person can’t. What is academic fodder for me is someone else’s lived reality.

This raises deeply problematic questions for me, such as, What does it mean, then, to stand in solidarity with someone else if I can walk away? What are the ethics of me learning ‘about’ other people through an academic institution? What do I do with what I’ve learned instead of simply compartmentalising it as learning that I don’t do anything else with?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, though they are what I think about.

(I want to talk about my First Nations classes all the time, but this, too, is problematic for me, because the more I learn, the more I feel the weight of my ignorance, which fuels my anxiety of misrepresenting something incredibly important. There is so much background knowledge to explain, I don’t know how to do it, and then there’s also the question of whether I should be the one talking about it to begin with, and whether this is the appropriate avenue. See: questions raised above.)

On another note, What I Learned in Class Today is a project I discovered last year that discusses the difficulty of talking about aboriginal issues in UBC classrooms. The video is twenty minutes long, but well worth the time, I think.