Monthly Archives: October 2012

Meeting People vs. Making Friends

I’m assuming that by now everyone has heard of; I discovered it last week and went through the whole thing. Something that stuck out to me was a post about how people are “dying of loneliness”, and there was at least one other consisting of upper year students also saying how they’d only just found their place or still haven’t.

It made me think about how 1) it’s very common to not find your niche immediately as some people feel they should, and 2) how it’s very common for various organizations on campus to shove lots of ways to meet people down your throat and saying “Yes making friends is so easy here, you’ll have a group in no time.” Because seriously, meeting people and making friends with people are two very different things.

Some good ways of meeting people include:

  • Introducing yourself to the people you sit near in your classes.
  • Attending residence/AMS events.
  • Hanging around in common areas, if you’re in residence.
  • Joining an intramural team, or participating in other UBC REC events.
  • Joining a club.
  • Chatting up random people in line for Starbucks or at the bus stop.
  • Wearing a nerdy t-shirt. It’s amazing how many nerds who love the same stuff you can attract.

It’s true, the above list is slightly skewed towards on-campus students. It’s an unfortunate fact, but if you want to meet people as a commuter, you have to put in effort. It evens out in the end though, because here’s the thing about making friends: it takes effort. Except for a few exceptionally outgoing individuals who are certainly not me, meeting someone does not equal being friends with them.

Some good ways of making friends with people (a skill that I am always trying to improve upon):

  • Initiate conversation. I know you want them to start talking to you, that you want to feel like they like you, but realistically they’re probably sitting there thinking the same thing. And if you don’t speak up, no one will. And friendships generally aren’t born out of silence. (Not good at speaking to other humans? Start with, “Hey, how are you?” And ask questions. Ask them about their weekend, any exciting plans coming up, ask them about themselves, their preferences. Don’t give up, it takes practice.)
  • Arrange a time to meet up where you can have some solid get-to-know you time. The five minutes before class starts does not count. Go for coffee, have a movie marathon in your dorm room, explore downtown, see a concert you’re both interested in, a one-on-one study session. Or it could be a group thing, too.
  • Get their number and text them. Don’t be creepy or obsessive, but some casual banter can keep you on their radar and if you’re scared to ask them to hang out it can take some pressure off.
  • Do/say nice things. People like people who make them feel good. Again, don’t paint their name on the side of the clock tower, but compliments and remembering their birthday or saving them a seat can go a long way.
  • Meeting people and making friends go together best when you meet people in a place where you’re doing something you’re interested in; lots of the time they have the same mindset as you and you’ll have something to talk about and do together.

It kind of sounds like I’m giving dating advice here, but honestly, a good friendship takes nearly as much effort as a romantic relationship.  If you don’t go out looking, most of the time, it isn’t going to land in your lap. Lots of people I know have made friends through their classes, and I met most of my friends through residence and knitting club.  It’s not guaranteed that you’ll click with every person you make an effort to talk to, but if you never try, then you’ll never know.  Just keep trying, because your kindred spirit is out there, looking for you too.


Filed under Campus Life, Wellness

How to Not Cram the Night Before: Samantha’s Approach to Midterms

Time and time again I’ll be reading some poor student’s blog or twitter feed and what I see is basically this: “OMG my exam is tomorrow gotta study all night omg omg I’m so freaked out my brain is exploding!”

More or less, anyway.

Now, I am not a crammer.  I’ve never done it, and I very nearly always walk into my exams feeling confident and relatively anxiety-free, at least when I compare myself to those around me.  And, most importantly, my marks turn out just like I want to, as evidenced by the scholarships UBC keeps offering me.

What’s my secret? Easy: start studying a week before your test. (At least.)  That’s really all there is to it, besides figuring out how you study best.  What I do is do about an hour or so of reading for about three days starting a week before the test, so the material is all fresh in my mind. You can’t start memorizing if you can’t even remember what you’ve covered in the last month.  After those three days, you do some hard core studying in the next three days (preferably on a weekend). Condensing your notes, guessing and practicing answering questions you think will be on the test, testing yourself.  Then, the night before, you get to breathe. Relax. Read over the study notes you made, test yourself a little bit more. What you should find is that as you read over those notes, your brain goes, yes yes, I know this stuff already. And you know why? Digesting information over a longer period of time is going to make it stick way better than if you stuff it all in your head the night before when you’re all stressed out.  And, you’ve accomplished what the course is actually about: learning, as opposed to memorizing for one test and then promptly forgetting everything after it’s over.

If you have several midterms a week, it can be easy to focus on one subject and forget about the other tests, and just study for each test as they come. But, if you do an hour or half an hour of studying each day for each subject a week before the exam, you’ll know your stuff better, and have less work overall the night before each test.

A bonus for using this method: now you have great study notes for when finals come around! Not to mention, you’ll remember more of the material from your midterm when it comes time to write that final exam.

I hope this helps you through your time of midterms!

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UBC Bands: British Favourites

I meant to post this a few days ago, but the UBC Bands are putting on a concert tonight, at 8 pm in the Chan Centre. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble (the one I’m playing in) played a preview concert yesterday at noon, which went pretty well! Finally I was able to play my part without being overly nervous :P

Anyway, if anyone ends up seeing this before it’s too late, try to come to the concert! It’s gonna be a good one.

Works by Holst, Hesketh, Grainger, Sparke.

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When You Get Injured

Those who have followed my blog since the beginning will remember that about this time last year I managed to get myself a case of tendinitis. Since then, I got a little better then plateaued, saw another physiotherapist who told me the problem was in my shoulders (would have been nice to know that eight months earlier!), saw a massage therapist, thought I was finally better, got worse again, saw ANOTHER massage therapist who gave me more exercises for my shoulders, and at this point my shoulders are feeling pretty darn good but my hands are feeling about the same as they were in January. That is to say, sore and easily tired.

Clearly, I am no expert in preventing injury, and all of this is based on my own experience.  My best advice would be to talk to your teacher as soon as you enter university (or preferably, before then) to make sure your technique is ergonomically correct and your posture is good. Posture is key, as my too-rounded shoulders have shown me.  And when you get into university, don’t go from playing a half hour every day (just admit it, you didn’t practice all that much) to four hours every day. Your body can’t keep up! And then it will break down. And breaking down is not a fun road.

If you start to hurt, pay attention to it. When my arms first started aching, I brushed it off as muscles forming. Two weeks later when my hands were throbbing even when I was away from the harp, I wished I had paid attention.

So, let’s say you do get injured. It happens to an overwhelming amount of people, so take heart in this: you are not alone. You are not the only one suffering this. And secondly: do not panic. Your career in music is not over, you will manage this. Plenty of people who have gotten injured and then gotten better and returned to playing.  Read a book on musicians’ injuries such as Playing (Less) Hurt by Janet Horvath: it’s a great resource and place to start, and it can be found in the Music Library.

Following not panicking, tell your teacher.  It’s important to get them on your side; not only will they have valuable input on how to get better, they’re usually very understanding and won’t pile tons of crazy repertory on you that’s going to wreck your body even more.

In fact, the first thing you should do is take some time off. Some people say you should totally stop playing until your injury is better, but most often the problem is muscles tat weren’t strong enough to handle the load, so if you just let your muscles get weaker and weaker, you’re going to have the same problem when you start playing again. What I did was take two weeks off playing entirely, and then begin playing in very small quantities: five minutes the first couple days, then two sessions of five minutes for a few days, then three sessions… Then I’d start at one session of ten minutes, and build up those sessions. By March I was able to play for an hour at a time, even though I was only doing one hour per day, maybe two now and then.

However, I did not get to that point by myself: I went to see a therapist.  I saw a physiotherapist, and he gave me exercises to do for my hands, as well as massage the sore muscles, and give them other therapies like using warm wax and electricity stuff. (I don’t really know what it was.) It definitely helped, but starting around March, going in for physio didn’t seem to help anymore. When I felt no improvement by June, I went to see my second physiotherapist – who told me the problem was in my shoulders, and upon seeing him I felt immediate improvement in my hands. So, get help, but make sure you get two opinions. Sometimes things can be overlooked, or some therapists may have more experience with musicians than others.

My final word of advice: Be patient.  I’ve been injured for nearly a year now, and although I’m starting to plateau in progress again, I am confident I will fully recover. I’ve certainly come a long way from where I was last year.  And keep in mind, many injuries take a long time to heal – my harp teacher was out for two years with tendinitis, but is now playing in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as usual. I find that doctors and therapists tend to say things like, “You’re young, you’ll be fine in no time,” but the truth is that most of these injuries aren’t a simple quick fix (unless you can catch it way before it gets bad).

Just stay optimistic. Take it one day at a time. You aren’t the only one that has to go through this, and you will get better.


Note: I just want to reinforce again that I am not an expert in this field, and this post is solely based on my experience. If you are injured, go see a professional.

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Filed under School of Music, Wellness

Harp Covers

This is just a little project I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. I’ve been arranging popular music for the harp, and then recording it and putting it on YouTube. (So far I seem to be on a bit of a Zelda kick…)

My YouTube channel is here, and here’s my latest video:


(How do I have time for this? I don’t know! Probably by not practicing enough for band rehearsals…)

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