Parting Thoughts (Dreams Can Come True)

I have graduated.


Graduating felt so good that honestly, I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to attend their convocation. Okay, I can imagine a few, but the feelings of pride, happiness, accomplishment, and fulfillment was so overwhelming that two days ago I actually starting crying a little bit after I walked across the stage. Being recognized for all your hard work and shaking the hands of your favourite professors who are so proud of you is just so powerful.

As I sat in the Chan Centre on Wednesday, I thought about all the things that have happened in that hall. Hearing the Dean of Arts speak on Imagine Day and chanting our faculty cheers. My first orchestra rehearsal in which I was so scared I missed pretty much all of my entrances. Playing an opera in second year. Playing my very last orchestra concert, Mahler’s second symphony, receiving two standing ovations. Convocation. And later in the evening, playing a solo in the Baccalaureate Concert.

It has been such a wild ride here at UBC. If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll know that there have been bad times, including homesickness, disappointment, injury, and anxiety. But so many of the things I wanted from UBC came to me. I wanted to go abroad; at first I thought I wouldn’t be able to but was given the opportunity to go to Belgium for two weeks with the UBC Laptop Orchestra. I wanted to make the lifelong friends that everyone talks about making in college. It took me about six months but I found the friends that have been like family the last four years and who I am sure I will stay friends with for a very long time. I’ve always sort of imagined in the back of my head what it would be like to be a valedictorian, and although I wasn’t one, I was asked by the director of the School of Music to give a short speech at the music reception after the graduation ceremony. And since the first time I saw a picture of the Chan Centre, I wanted to play a solo on that stage. And I did on Wednesday night.

I would like to end this final post with a message to incoming students, or anyone who is a few years along and maybe feeling a bit lost:

Your time at UBC will be many things. It will be hard, it will be fun, it will be challenging, rewarding, lonely, and full of friends. There will be lows, yes, but there will also be such amazing highs! UBC really is a place where you can make your dreams come true, as corny as that sounds, if you know what you want and go for it. You might be homesick, or lonely, or be struggling with your schoolwork; you might even decide that UBC is not for you at all. Whatever your situation is, UBC has resources to help you and things always get better. There is so much opportunity for growth here; enjoy it while you can because it will be over before you know it.

When I arrived at UBC four years ago, I didn’t know a soul in the city and I was homesick and so scared I could barely eat. At my Imagine Day rally, President Toope said that he hoped UBC would become our home, or at least our second home. I thought, “That is NEVER going to happen.” Well, it did. It did, and now it’s time to say goodbye.

So long, UBC. It’s been rad.


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I’ll Miss You, Vancouver

I will be moving back to Winnipeg at the beginning of June. The thought fills me with many feelings, some good, some bad. So I thought, why not make a list? So here it is: Things I’ll miss about Vancouver, things I won’t, and things I’m looking forward to back home.

Things I’ll Miss About Vancouver:

  • The warm, green winters. Not sure how I’m going to deal when next March Winnipeg is still under snow.
  • The huge amount of small businesses and variety of independently owned restaurants and shops.
  • The cherry blossoms. And rhododendrons. And magnolias.
  • The transit system. People like to complain, but we generally get a lot of bus service for a reasonable price! Winnipeg’s transit system isn’t nearly so nice.
  • The mountains and the ocean.
  • The lack of potholes on the roads.
  • How active everyone seems here.
  • Seeing the skiing trails lit up against the night sky.
  • BURGOO! And Dentry’s. And Grounds for Coffee. (Those cinnamon buns!!)
  • My friends. Although; my friends are all actually moving away from Vancouver this year as well, so it’s not like staying would fix this problem.
  • How well dressed everyone is here!
  • How walkable the city is.
  • How much cheaper the produce is.
  • No mosquitos!

Things I definitely will NOT miss:

  • The rain. I hate rain. So much.
  • How much it costs to live here.
  • The fact that everything I want to go to is so far away. Seriously! It takes so long to go anywhere!
  • Getting passed by the bus.
  • That wet, wet cold.

Things I’m looking forward to back home:

  • Prairie sunsets.
  • Prairie autumns. I haven’t been home in the fall in FOUR YEARS and I am so excited for this September! Fall on the prairies is the best.
  • Snowy Christmas season.
  • Reconnecting with old friends.
  • Having my boyfriend in the same city.
  • Not paying rent and saving money by living with my parents.
  • Having a tub-shower (in my apartment they are separate and I don’t like it).
  • Having actual natural light in my bedroom (again, my room here is very dark).
  • Some of my favourite Winnipeg haunts.
  • Being able to take gigs because I’ll have access to a vehicle.

I’m sure there’s more that I can’t think of at the moment, but I think you get the picture; leaving a city and moving back to another is a mixed bag of emotions.

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My final graduation recital was last Monday, and my goodness did it feel great. I think I played really well and really musically, I know I made mistakes but I’ll have to wait until I get the audio recording to decide how noticeable they were. My immediate family flew out to see the recital, plus a couple aunts and my boyfriend. My closest friends from the past four years were there, some of my boyfriend’s family, classmates and coworkers from the School of Music, and even some people I didn’t know were there too. I got enough applause that I received a second bow, and I was given a big bouquet of flowers and a friend brought me fancy chocolates.

I felt totally supported and very proud of what I have accomplished since I arrived at UBC. When I played that last chord I knew that I was done, I was free, I was an educated woman! I mean, I have loved my time at UBC but knowing that was the very last thing I would do as part of my degree felt very momentous and liberating. Thinking back to those last moments of applause puts a smile on my face even as I write this. It’s just – this is what I was striving for for years, you know? This is what I’ve been hoping for since I applied to UBC. I guess this is what it feels like when a dream comes true.

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Healthy Eating Strategies from Someone Who Does Not Enjoy and is Not Particularly Good At Cooking

As my time at UBC is quickly drawing to a close, I thought I would try to impart as much of my wisdom as possible before I’m gone.

Over the last three years I have successfully cooked for myself, without dying! And without eating KD and ramen every night. Now, as the title suggests, I am not great at cooking. And I don’t really like it THAT much (I’m more of a baker), so as you can imagine I didn’t eat super healthy every single day. Especially at the start. But I think I’m sort of starting to get the hang of it, so here are my suggestions for when you are attempting to eat healthy on your own:

  • When you first start cooking after you move out, if you’re like me and never cooked at home, it can be very daunting. At the beginning, focus on just getting yourself fed without breaking the bank without stressing out about if it’s healthy or not.
  • Make a list of all the meals you can already make. At the beginning, this might just be quesadillas and pasta with sauce and maybe a few other things, but if you have a list, when you’re stuck on what to make you can reference that.
  • Try new recipes. If you aren’t sure if you’ll like it, MAKE A HALF RECIPE! So many times I’ve had to eat some disgusting casserole for a week and then chided myself for making the whole recipe. Don’t be me.
  • When you are looking for new recipes, look for ones that feature vegetables. Or at least include a vegetable side dish or salad in with your meal.
  • When you’ve made a recipe a few times, are good at making it, and know you like it, add them to your list of meals you know how to make. There’s been plenty of times I didn’t know what to make in a week and went to my recipe binder for ideas! And once you’ve got some healthy recipes in there, it can make picking a healthy meal to cook a lot less overwhelming.
  • Obviously, unprocessed foods > processed foods. But, frozen meals are fast and easy so in my opinion, if you eat them now and again, it’s not a huge deal. Plus, if you pair say, a frozen pot pie with steamed frozen peas and cooked rice, that’s not really so terrible, right? Not all frozen foods are created equal, so look for ones with less sodium and try to pair partial meals with unprocessed veggies.
  • Most people who eat a western diet tend not to get enough fruits and veggies. (I don’t have source on hand for this but in my experience this tends to be true.) If you’re having trouble implementing more veggies into your diet, start with small goals: for example, make sure you eat something green (eg. spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, brussels sprouts) every single day.
  • Make your snacks healthy. Fruits like apples and bananas make great snacks, and if you cut up carrot sticks at the beginning of the week you’ll have healthy snacks for days! (For the record, the Canada Food Guide recommends at least one dark green and one orange vegetable per day!)
  • If there are days where you eat cookies and chips and pizza and beer, don’t freak out. Guilt is not productive. Just as long as that isn’t your habit every single day, you’ll be okay.

The two things I would like to stress the most is keep a list of your favourite recipes for reference, and incorporating fruits and/or vegetables into all of your meals and snacks. At its most basic, eating healthy comes down to eating more fresh ingredients, less processed food, and drinking more water, although even figuring out how to do that can be overwhelming! Hopefully these tidbits of advice will help you get organized and get you on your way to eating a little bit better. Let me know in comments if you have any more tips!


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Mahler 2

Mahler’s second symphony, “Resurrection” is one of the most epic and moving pieces ever written for orchestra. It is an hour and a half long, is very complex and difficult to play, and requires a huge orchestra and choir. The UBC Symphony Orchestra and Choirs played it, twice, this past Friday and Saturday and I was lucky enough to be seated on stage playing the second harp part.

It is difficult for me to articulate how wonderful it was to be able to play Mahler 2; the music is so beautiful and interesting and the harps can actually be heard and when the choir sang, I got shivers, every time.

It’s not a piece that is performed often, even by professional orchestras, so the fact that we did it here at UBC is not only a milestone for the school, but a privilege that I have been able to play it as part of my university career.

Saturday night was a little bit emotional for me; for all I know, it could be the last time I play in an orchestra; it will probably be the last time I play with my friend Vivian, who has been my harpist friend since first year when we both entered the program; and what a symphony to be the last I would play at UBC! What a symphony to accompany my graduation.

I am sentimental now that I am leaving UBC, and although there is a little sadness, I am once again filled with the awe that I felt when I first toured UBC and first began taking classes. I actually went here. It was mine. It still is, for a little longer. I am a student at one of the best universities in the world. I have been awarded amazing opportunities such as travelling to Belgium and playing Mahler. I have also formed meaningful and lasting relationships with my professors and peers that I am sure will last going forward. I have also grown tremendously, academically, musically, and personally.


Tuum est.


It is mine.

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Making the Most of Your Residence Meal Plan

I realize that the timing of this post won’t be great for most (all?) current students, but with any luck it’ll be useful to incoming rezzies in the fall. The reason I am making this post today is: with only two weeks of classes left in my entire undergraduate degree, I still have money left on my UBC card. Yes, all the way back from first year residence.

So. How did I do it? First of all, let me just say that I don’t eat as much as, say, a varsity athlete. So this obviously isn’t going to work for people who eat more than I do. But, this is how I did it:

  1. I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch in the cafeteria. At least not on weekdays. I kept milk in the communal fridge (at least until the last month when it kept getting stolen) and kept cereal, fruit, and sandwich supplies in my room which I would use to pack lunches to eat at school. Most of this I also bought from Shoppers or that supermarket in University Village, because we all know the convenience stores really charge for the convenience. (This also leaves you Flex dollars to work with later.) The bottom line here is, anything the cafeteria sells is overpriced, and anything you make/buy yourself will be cheaper. It also gets you out the door faster in the morning.
  2. I didn’t always buy unnecessary things. I’m talking name-brand ice creams, ice creams and desserts in general. I mean yeah, I got the occasional dessert, but paying $5 for a Reese’s ice cream bar? I don’t think so.
  3. I didn’t eat at Flex locations very often. I packed my own lunches, and in the evening I was too lazy to walk anywhere from Totem, so I didn’t get takeout much. I still don’t. A lot of places that take the UBC card are just as expensive or more so than the cafeteria, so this saves Flex dollars.

That’s basically it. I understand that everyone has different eating habits, and not everyone is as thrifty as me, so not everyone will be able to pull this off. But meal plan dollars don’t expire, so in later years if you’re forced to eat dinner on campus or you forgot to pack a lunch one day, it’s pretty nice to pop into Pacific Spirit Place and grab some Subway or get yourself a treat from Triple O’s without paying out of your pocket.


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Let’s ignore the fact that I haven’t blogged in four months and get on with it.

Yesterday, I participated in the Vancouver Women’s Musical Society scholarship competition. I’ve been working diligently on my three competition pieces since January, and yesterday was the big day. Leading up to it, I’d been practicing performing in front of my teacher and peers, recording myself, and doing plenty of visualization. I went into the competition with the attitude that I’d never done any festivals or competitions the whole time I’d been at UBC, so why not? It’d be a good experience whether I win or not.

Yesterday, I felt really good about my performance. I wasn’t nervous like the day before, where my hands had literally been shaking during studio class. I felt the first two pieces went exactly how I wanted them, and the third while it had a few slips was still pretty great. So, I mean, yeah, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t even get an honourable mention. But just a little. With these things, everyone does so well that basically everyone deserves to win, but everyone can’t. It doesn’t mean I’m a poor harpist or that I actually played badly yesterday just because I didn’t get the prize.

It was still a good experience, albeit an expensive one… I could have used that prize money to cover the application and taxi costs :P But I digress. I tried! And I showed that I can compete with the rest of them.

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The Grown-Up Life: Getting My Bank Fees Waived

So earlier this week I did a thing that made me feel pretty grown up, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Last weekend, I put the finishing touches on my website for when I graduate (See? So grown up!) and I needed to buy a domain name. I decided on Side note – if you click on that link it will help me rank higher on Google searches :)

So anyway, I tried to purchase the domain, and the transaction failed. I got a message saying that I was refunded. I decided to try again, to see if it was a one-time thing. Still failed. I decided to wait until Monday, when finally it worked.

Fast forward to Thursday, when I get an email from PayPal saying there were insufficient funds in my bank account. My heart stops. What? I log into online banking to see that those two first failed charges were processed and the refunds didn’t come in time, so I was looking at two NSF charges of $45 each. Yikes! My PayPal has always automatically paid with my credit card, not my chequing account, so I was shocked and upset that this happened.

Cue an hour of being really upset and feeling really, really dumb. “Isn’t there any way to fix this?” I cried. So naturally, I Googled it. Turns out if you just phone your bank and ask, they’ll waive a fee for you. I did just that and got one of my $45 charges removed. They could only remove one, they said, and maybe if I was a pushier person I could have gotten the other one removed too, but I was just happy that I got anything at all.

I’m still out $45 dollars, but that’s a lot better than $90! And I felt pretty smart that I figured out how to do that, so my ego was soothed too. The main lesson I’ve learned here, though, is that I should always double check my payment method when using PayPal!

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Yep, I’ve got it bad. I feel lazy and unmotivated and I used to think I had the dreaded “senioritis” in second and third year, but boy, was I wrong. I just feel so done with everything to do with school. I haven’t even been writing on my blog!

After three years, I guess at this point I’m feeling tired. Tired of feeling restricted by expectations and course requirements, tired of feeling judged. I’m tired of the mentality of trying to play music in order to get good marks, or to impress someone. I’m looking forward to getting out of school where I can get back to basics: making music to share and connect with others.

I think in a way I feel like UBC no longer belongs to me. I feel like I belong at UBC, but UBC is a place for growing. I have grown, and now I am ready to fly the nest. UBC belongs to all the new faces just getting started, who will get to enjoy all the new buildings and not just the construction detours (I’m not bitter, I swear).

I’m excited to graduate. (Let’s ignore the fact that I’ll be leaving all my friends here, for a moment.) Earlier this summer I was scared thinking about what I would do for money directly after graduation, but at this point, even a mundane job not relating to my degree sounds like a nice change of pace.

For the time being, I’ll try to still get all my assignments and practicing done despite my lethargy and hold on for just a few months more.

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First Week

Ah yes, another first week has come and gone. For me, it is the last first week I will ever experience. But there’s plenty of time to be nostalgic later.


I remember during my very first week in my first year (three years ago, already…) I was so nervous I could barely eat a thing. I was scared about my classes, being on my own for the first time, and not having any friends. I felt like everyone else around me in my dorm and in my classes wasn’t feeling the same way, like they all had everything figured out already and were 100% enjoying every minute, not missing their parents, not worried about a thing. I don’t think they were. Some people might have had everything figured out, but I think most of us were just faking it.

Now that I’m a seasoned fourth-year student, first week is a breeze! Mostly it’s just a time to catch up with friends for me now. But to anyone entering their first year: remember to breathe, and it though there will be tough times, there will also be awesome times. EXTREMELY awesome times.

And to everyone else, welcome back!

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