This entry has been a long time coming.
It makes me kind of sad that I don’t have a single photo from my high school graduation ceremony. You know those ones, where everyone is dressed in oversized, red-rimmed black gowns with somewhat forceful grins on their faces? And then there is some blurry shot of a figure walking across a dark stage? Nope, not me. In fact, I didn’t even attend this fabled important rite of passage. At the time, I was on a plane to Beijing, with the plan of coming back to Vancouver ASAP and spending as much time as possible during the the summer working to pay for a $40 000 per year tuition.
So I guess I should start my story at the beginning.
UBC was not my first choice university. For a brief time in junior year, the basement of Koerner became my second home as I toiled over a thesis paper. During the last few years of high school, I had the “fortune” of riding the 480 bus, where I vowed to never become one of the tired-looking university students spending two hours on commuting every day. UBC was too familiar, too local, too easy to get in (I know, I’m sorry). The “been there, done that” feeling was overwhelming. In April 2008, I promptly submitted both my Statement of Intent to Register and housing deposit to a fine university on the west coast of the United States. Sunny California was calling my name and I prepared to bid farewell to rainy Vancouver.
Three months later, after I had gotten my dorm room number and planned cost-effective ways of getting to Cali by train, I threw it all away. Multiple banks turned down my loan applications. My parents shook their heads soberly: they simply couldn’t afford it. That day in August when I gave up the US school and decided to attend UBC instead, I cried – both out of frustration and relief. On one hand, I finally have a definite future, one involving one of best-regarded universities in this country where I knew what to expect in terms of academics, involvement, and expenses. On the other hand, why should I be restricted in my education by finances? Why should I be bereft of the opportunity I earned by merit, when other people had trust funds, RESPs, rich relatives, and parents with savings? What was so fundamentally wrong with me that private universities with financial aid turned me down? It is with these unanswered, unanswerable questions that I came to UBC.
I won’t lie. Despite all the wonderful things that were going on in my life, the best way to describe the first few months of my university career would be “mundane and trivial”. School was neither intellectually-stimulating nor particularly challenging. Some of my profs cared, some didn’t. I still worked two to three jobs, was dead tired half the time, and yearned to sleep in on Sunday morning.
Some where along the way, things changed. UBC took its hold on me. I lived and breathed Sauder and started to love every single moment of my time here. I met a supportive group of friends, peers, staff members, faculty etc. They say university is where you meet your best friends for life, and it’s absolutely true. In addition, I had – and still have – numerous opportunities to observe how things work behind the scenes in this great institution. I appreciate and vividly remember every single elusive moment that left a happy impression on me. Four years of post-secondary eduction in the grand scheme of things is a mere instant. I intend to treasure my time at UBC, no matter how brief or intermittent.
I love UBC. I love it for the humbleness with which it presents itself to the world. I love it for the opportunities it gives to people like me to blog at our hearts’ desire. I love it for its glorious achievements on the world stage of academia. I love it in all its imperfections and idiosyncracies.
Ten years down the road, no matter where I am, I will always remember how UBC as an institution and as a collective of talented minds young and old changed my outlooks on life forever.