research definition

Fun Language-Learning Tools!

Looking for a summer project? Learn a new language! It’s amazing to think you’ll be able to form connections with people you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to communicate with… Here are some tools to get you started:

ielanguages (comprehensive vocab lists w/ flashcards & audio)

duolingo (there’s an app for this language-learning game and it’s SO fun!!)

kypros (specifically Greek vocab lists)

Good luck, don’t give up and have fun!! 🙂


Edit: Just discovered this awesome podcast — another awesome tool!!

coffee break (great for Spanish, French & German)

Source: pjmedia.com

Mural.ly: A Creative Platform for Visual People

Playlist: Cuban music station on Pandora (for those of you in Canada over the summer, I’m sure you can find a similar station on 8tracks or last.fm)

Creative Intelligence Mind Map

Sample Mind Map; Source: Google Images


Allow me to introduce you to your new best friend.

I’ve just discovered Mural.ly, a brilliant web-based platform that allows users to create mind maps and vision boards of all sorts and work on them solo or collaborate with others. I don’t know about you guys, but this is one of the most exciting moments of my life. That may sound hyperbolic, but I do love my mind maps — I wrote my university application essay on them and ended up going to a preeeeetty sweet school, soo…

In all seriousness, though, I added it for free as a Google Chrome application earlier tonight and have been fooling around on it non-stop since. Check out some of the demo murals on their website for ideas and go from there. A mural can be as simple as a sticky-note-filled cork board and as complex as a giant diagram you have to zoom in and out from to view the various components and finally the big picture.

So far I’ve made a bulletin board of what I have to do before I leave for NYC in two days (eep! Excited.) and started working on a giant map of my short- and long-term goals. I know once school starts again in the fall I’ll be aggregating my class notes into big, beautiful mind maps. What will you do with your own web-based creative space?

More exciting things to come,



Neekoo Philanthropic Society Grant 2013

Calling All Iranian Students!

I received this message and investigated the grant a bit, and it looks legit! Sorry it’s a bit last-minute (the deadline is in two days!!), but if you think you can complete and submit what is necessary by then, by all means go for it!

“Please post this on your website as your readers/students may find it very useful.

Deadline for Neekoo Grants: June 10, 2013

Neekoo Philanthropic Society proudly launched the Grant Program in the late summer of 2012 with the aim of providing financial support to young Iranian students as they pursue post secondary education in a field of their choice.

We are pleased to be able to provide financial assistance once more to deserving students who have aspiration of advancing their studies at a British Columbia accredited educational institution.

All grants are up to $4,000 to be awarded by end of June 2013

For more info, please visit: http://neekoo.org/programs/grant/ ”

If this applies to you and you apply for the grant, good luck!

Love, Nirel

research definition

Useful online research resources!

research definition

I am a dork.

There’s no denying it. But why would I want to? I embrace my inner dorkiness – in fact, I celebrate it.

That is precisely why I’m awake at 4:30am, doing way more research than is required for a genetics presentation I’ve been assigned. Because it’s fun!!

Don’t believe me? See for yourself – visit a few of the sites below and browse through a topic that peaks your interest. Check out JSTOR’s collection alone for a few ideas.

Pssst… Even if you can’t find anything interesting enough to read about for fun, these sites will at least be super useful when you need to do any of the following things (at least one of which you will inevitably do, being a university student):

  • (Research) paper
  • Presentation
  • Critical review
  • Other stuff

Some lovely resources for your researching pleasure (in no particular order):



Scientific American

Web of Knowledge

PNAS *cue immature giggles*

Wiley Online Library

Oxford Journals



Google Scholar

^ So long as you are a UBC student (and have a standard campus-wide login, or CWL), the links above will grant you FREE access to collections of thousands of journals, containing probably millions of really neat articles and research papers. Thank you, UBC Library!

*NOTE: If you are not a UBC student, do not be discouraged. You may still have access to many of these articles and papers, even if you don’t have access to all the journals that contain them.

Have fun exploring!



Freeeee Boooooooks!! (and some music)

Playlist: Gemini – Fire Inside

Martin Solveig – The Night Out

Swedish House Mafia – Greyhound 

(Yes, I’ve caught the electronic music bug that since I arrived here have noticed is super popular in Vancouver.)


Oh my gosh. If you’re currently taking an English or philosophy class in high school or university, check out these websites before you buy your required reading books. They allow you to download e-books for free that you can read on your computer, iPhone, iPad or e-reader. This has made me so happy.





Psst… It’s worth checking out all the links, as some of the sites only have classic books while others include contemporary ones as well. Also, these are only the first few sites that came up when I google-searched “free e-books” – so feel free to google key words yourself and see what you can find! (Just make sure the websites are legit so you don’t get a virus. The ones above are.)

Happy reading!



Upcoming Guest Lectures!

Hey guys!

I know this is a little short-notice, but here’s a list of the upcoming guest lectures/lecture series/film screenings/discussion sessions that I know of at UBC. Most of them are free or of low cost. Come check one out if it fits in your schedule and you think you might find the topic interesting!


Big Mouth Speaker Series

When: TODAY! (Wednesday, January 16 2013)

Where: Buchanan Penthouse – Buchanan B, 1866 Main Mall, UBC

Time: 5:30p – 7:30p + reception

Cost: Free.

Brief description: A Speaker Series about Art and Education
Big Mouth is an evening dedicated to redefining the relationship between the arts and education. Seven speakers from various creative industries will give seven short speeches, sharing their life experiences, perspectives and passions with a crowd of UBC students.
Big Mouth emerges out of a distinct need to shift a specific paradigm in this crucial time for Arts students in Canada. Our goal is to disrupt the stereotypes and doubts surrounding turning an arts education into a career, and to inspire and convince students of real possibilities to direct an arts education into a career and a lifestyle.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/458103884226614/?fref=ts


“Miss Representation” – Film Screening & Panel Discussion

When: Thursday, January 172013

Where: Room: HA 098 of Sauder School of Business – University of British Columbia 2053 Main Mall Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2

Time: 6p doors open, 6:30 film starts (90 mins), panel discussion to follow

Cost: Students/staff: $5.00
Sauder alumni: $8.00
General public: $15.00

Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to The Minerva Foundation for BC Women.

Brief description: Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.

Website: https://secure3.sauder.ubc.ca/events/miss_representation/


Mel Chen, Visiting Scholar, GRSJ Institute

When: Monday, January 21 2013

Where: UBC Liu Institute for Global Issues – 6476 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver V6T 1Z2

Cost: Unsure.

Brief description: Associate Professor, Gender & Women’s Studies at U.C. Berkeley, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (2012, Duke University Press). “Toxicity Incorporated: Toxic Assets, Privileged Bodies, and the Affects of Toxic Management”

Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/421895057880658/?ref=22


Helpful websites for this sort of thing:

The Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice


Sauder School of Business News & Events



More to come soon! Busy working on my RA application that’s due today. (:




Intellectual Curiosity

Playlist: The Black Keys – El Camino, Attack & Release, Brothers; The Head and the Heart

Sam Harris and me!

“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”

-Frank Herbert (1920-1986)


FOR THOSE OF YOU whose thirst for knowledge is not quite satisfied with the classes you’re already enrolled in, allow me to introduce to you some more opportunities to learn (right here at UBC!).

Exhibit A:

Last week, I attended my first UBC Philosophy Students’ Association meeting. While I am not an intended philosophy major (and neither were the majority of the other students at the meeting), I very much enjoy reading about and discussing various philosophical topics (ie. epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, free will, existentialism, etc.). We talked about chapter two of Daniel C. Dennett’s book, Freedom Evolves, last meeting – which was really interesting, despite not having had the chance to read the chapter prior to the meeting.

If you’re interested at all in philosophy, drop in on a meeting! Upcoming ones include:

-Tues. 10/30 from 5-7pm in the Henry Angus building (AKA Sauder School of Business), room 235

-Thurs. 11/01 from 4-7pm in Buchanan D229

You can join their mailing list here and be up-to-date on when & where the meetings will take place.

Exhibit B:

This past Friday night – the weekend before Halloween, while many of my floor mates were getting ready to go to a frat party – I headed to Irving K. Barber to attend a lecture on the psychology of good and evil by Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani (who is actually a prof. at UBC!). A few of the beautiful things about this lecture were that:

                 1. The lecture was totally optional, so the people who were there wanted to be there. This made for a more interested and engaged audience – which worked out super well because Dr. Jhangiani created a very comfortable environment free of time constraints and embracing of question-asking and answering throughout the lecture (as well as during a designated Q&A period at the end).

                2. I am a total BRAIN DORK who basically oozes with excitement over psych. lectures – especially those that overlap with elements of philosophy (in this case morality). I took extensive notes, of course. (:

                3. The event was put on by the Vancouver Centre for Inquiry (CFI), which hosts lectures like this one every month!! “Like” their facebook page and stay updated.

                4. It was by donation!! So I contributed $2 – the equivalent of a cup of tea at Blenz – to participate in this extraordinary event!

Exhibit C:

Just yesterday, I had planned on going to another lecture I’d reserved a seat for online. I went to work out at the Birdcoop (our on-campus gym, for those of you who are not familiar with it) and finished with just enough time to arrive at Sauder and step into the elevator just as the door began to close. Once I did, I turned around and realized that Sam Harristhe person giving the lecture – was standing right beside me! I introduced myself to him and the woman I believed to be his publicist and expressed to them both my excitement to attend his talk. This guy has given a legit TED talk before, so he must be good – right?

Anyway, I walked to the main entrance of the lecture hall as Mr. Harris and his publicist (?) walked through a separate entrance – only to find that my seat had been given up since I’d arrived later than five minutes prior to the start of the lecture. Not only that, but a manager of the event had decided to cap off the attendance and wouldn’t let me, or the other elevator passengers, in.

What was I to do?!! I thought quickly and told someone I’d met on the elevator to come with me…[I had an idea]. We went down the hallway that Mr. Harris and his publicist (?) had gone down – and we saw her! I told her the situation we were in and she helped us sneak into the auditorium!! The lecture was incredibly interesting, and I was SO glad I’d had the opportunity to go! Needless to say, I took plenty of notes. (:

Afterward, I ran into them again and was able to snap a photo with Sam Harris! (See photo above). And later I e-mailed back and forth with him regarding an analogy I’d made for something he’d brought up in the lecture – it was SO COOL.

Oh! As for the content of the lecture, Harris is a neuroscientist, modern philosopher and author who talked about his belief that free will is merely an illusion. Interesting, huh??

Alsoooo….It was FREE. And he supposedly normally charges hundreds of dollars per ticket to attend his lectures!

THOSE ARE JUST a few examples of the thought-provoking events I attended and participated in – in the past WEEK. If you have a passion or topic you’d like to delve further into, check to see if there is a club or upcoming lecture at UBC that covers or relates to it! If not, start your own club or find a way to organize an event. It’s possible! This is an institution of higher learning, after all.




Classes? Are we supposed to go to those..?

Playlist while writing this: Skrillex – Bangarang; Kaiser Chiefs – Off with Their Heads, The Future is Medieval & Yours Truly, Angry Mob



Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted – just been acclimating to school life, which has taken some effort but has also been really fun. Tonight, I’ll fill you in on my classes!


Nirel’s Year 1, Term 1 Courses: 

I can’t speak for the other faculties, but I am SO HAPPY to be in the Faculty of Arts! One thing it entails (usually) is a heck of a lot of freedom to choose your courses for first year! Sooo… I took advantage of that opportunity and signed up for classes I either already have some interest in or think I might find interesting. They are as follows:

            SOCI 100C – Intro to Sociology

I love psychology – and in fact think I’m going to major in it and minor in linguistics – so I thought it would be neat to, rather than delve into the mind of just one individual, explore a social science that looks more at how humans interact with each other and society as a whole (which is pretty much the essence of sociology, at least based on what I’ve learned so far). I proved myself right – I really do like sociology! I also think it’ll come in handy to have some sociology exposure in my back pocket when I eventually do zone in on psych. Also, my professors (since it is a jointly-taught class) and TA (teacher’s assistant) really seem to have a vested interest in the subject, which is always nice!

           LING 100 – Intro to Language and Linguistics

Linguistics is something that, after taking several years of Spanish class prior to coming to university, I thought I might like. After all, I do know three languages (English, Hebrew and Spanish) and am taking up a fourth this year (French) – so I might as well learn a bit about the actual study of language, yeah? Yes! After one class, I found it fascinating and now I am seriously considering majoring in it! Side note: this course is NOT only for those who speak more than one language or intend on learning another language. It is more of a general survey-style course to introduce students to the world of human communication. Also, my prof. and TA are both AWESOME! We have yet to have a boring lecture or unproductive tutorial.

*TIP! My LING lecture has about 270 students in it – so I sit in the front so I can ask questions, hear the prof. better, not be distracted by students talking in the back and feel as though the class is smaller. Trust me, it works! Also, my prof. knows me already from seeing my face up front. (: **Don’t think all classes are this big, though – my Spanish class has fewer than 25 students. Also, tutorials & discussion groups definitely help develop a smaller-scale classroom setting in which students can more easily feel comfortable asking questions and participating in the conversation.

           SPAN 206 – Conversational Spanish I

¡Me encanta el español! (Translation: I love Spanish!) I took Spanish courses throughout high school and at a local college when I did a dual-enrollment program my final year of high school, so, wanting to maintain constant practice, I signed up for this class during registration. I’m so glad I did! My prof. is super enthusiastic, which makes the class so fun and exciting! Also, the other students seem to be at a comparable level of experience & ability as I am, which is really cool because we can all communicate with one-another in Spanish and easily help each-other out if we need it.

           FREN 101 – Beginners’ French

Think a linguistics class and one foreign language class is enough for one term? NOPE! “Must…learn…more…languages…” (says Nirel, the language zombie). For realz though, I’ve been itching to learn French for SO LONG! It just sounds so beautiful. (: Aaaand, I really do enjoy French music – ie. Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf, etc… So, yeah. I pretty much had to start learning it. Again, I am grateful to have a really great prof. for this course! She is super sweet and helpful.

*TIP! I’m only taking four classes first term – as opposed to the usual 5 for Arts students – to ease into the university workload. I’m so glad I did this because I feel it really has allowed me to socialize and do things outside of school without feeling overwhelmed by my classes.


My next post will most likely be about some of the cool places I’ve been around the city of Vancouver – so stay tuned!


Adventure on! (: