Dear dorm room,
It’s been more than a year since I last saw you, but every now and then I miss you. You were an island of familiarity in an ocean of uncertainties. You were walls I could hide behind when I needed to cry, and you were the place I could blast my music (at reasonable volumes, of course) and dance around and get pumped up. You were my study space, my dining room, my movie theatre and my Sunday sleep-in. You were cozy and warm when it rained and let the sun in when it showed its face.
I unfolded my personality all over your walls, and filled the drawers with little bits of memories – and soon I was bringing in momentos of new experiences, too. You were filled up with “me,” and you were my home base so that I could venture out and start building my own life.
I have to say, I have greatly enjoyed moving on to my own apartment, but I still think of you and smile. You were a place I could always come back to, and you were like a friend in a place where I knew no one.
I certainly wasn’t the first friend you ever knew, and I wasn’t the last, either. It’s good to know you’ll be there to be a little piece of home for excited and anxious first years in the future.
A former bewildered first year.
One thing you may not know about living in residence is that the convenience stores in the commons blocks sell the. Most. Delicious. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. You go in there at the end of a long day, think to yourself, Awww yeah, time for some fantastic ice cream. You eat maybe a quarter of it, maybe half, and then you put the rest of it into your floor freezer.
But as you go to sleep that night, you are bothered by thoughts of paranoia: What if someone breaks into my scrumptious half-pint of Ben and Jerry’s while I’m sleeping? To suffer such a loss is a hardship, indeed.
Well, friends, if this is you, here’s something that may help you out: the Ben and Jerry’s Pint Lock. Your nights of worry are over.
As it seems to be a question on everyone’s minds, I’m going to do a post on Totem vs. Vanier. First of all, I want to make it clear that I have only lived in Totem Park, so my knowledge on Place Vanier is limited.
So the first thing people seem to ask is this: do I get to pick which one I live in? No! You don’t get to pick. As it stands, you say you’re in first year and they put you in whichever ones works out the best for their system, taking into account your roommate preferences, etc. to a certain extent. You get to live with whatever they decide. (That said, I think there have been a few cases of people moving during the year, but you’re gonna need a better reason than “that one’s cooler” or “I don’t wanna walk as far.”)
Next inevitable question: Pros and cons? Again, let me reiterate: I have only lived in Totem. But here goes!
Pros of Totem Park:
- It’s smaller, which can be nice because then you have more of a chance to get to know people more.
- More of the buildings have elevators.
- həm’ləsəm’ and q’ələχən houses – very new and pretty, and the rooms have the shared bathrooms.
- Magda’s convenience store has a grill open past dining hall hours.
- Dining hall food serving area is nicer (in my opinion).
- Every floor has an RA, whereas many buildings in PV have one RA per two floors (Totem floors are a bit bigger).
- Close to the Botanical Gardens.
- Outdoor eating area.
Cons of Totem Park:
- Pretty far from pretty much everything, unless you’re in engineering or forestry. Seriously though, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s maaaaybe a fifteen minute walk to the bus loop, which isn’t even that bad. No freshman fifteen for Totemites!
- Dining area isn’t as pretty.
- The cooking in some cases isn’t as good as Vanier – not that I ate at Vanier a whole lot, but apparently to Totem, a veggie quesadilla means a cheese and two and a half inch long strips of green and red peppers. Seriously? (Mostly the cooking is about the same for the two dorms, though.)
- Commonsblock area isn’t as nice.
Pros of Place Vanier:
- It’s bigger, so if you like a bigger community that’s good.
- Pretty pretty dining area.
- More food stations than Totem (in reality though, pretty much the same amount of different types of food gets served.)
- Close to the Nitobe Memorial Garden, and pretty much the whole north campus, home to arts and science.
- Nice looking commonsblock.
- More study spaces, both for groups and for silent study.
Cons of Place Vanier:
- More stairs, less elevators. Have fun on move-in day!
- No hot food available after the dining hall closes.
- In some houses, one RA per two floors.
It seems to me that the things on this list are fairly small things. The bottom line is, the two dorms are more or less the same. Both have sports leagues (football and ultimate), both put on a musical, both have formal dinners, both have dances, both don’t allow parties (sorry), both have various committees such as global citizenship and environmental awareness, both have rec’n’rez events, both have awesome RA’s, both have much the same food, both have people to listen to you if you need it, both have a 24-hour front desk service, both have houses that will plan their own individual events, both have a big year-opener event (Colour Wars or Vanier Olympics), both have charity drives, both have nice grounds and bike locks, both are filled with people who will become your family for the year.
So if that massively run-on sentence didn’t sum it up for you: no, you can’t pick where you go, but you’re gonna have an awesome year regardless of where you end up!
In the months before moving in, you’re dying to see what your new room looks like. I know that feel. So, here’s a picture of a typical first-year dorm room:
This is a single room in Totem Park. Large singles, doubles, and rooms with connecting bathrooms will looks a little different.
Also, I made a video of a tour of my room last year after I moved in for my friends at home to see, so you can check that out as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWFeWKMsKpk.
(Please forgive my terrible vlogging skills in this video, it was my first one.)
Move-in day is fast approaching (it’s September 1st this year) and the question remains: what should you bring with you to your dorm room? How much space are you going to have, exactly? Well sit back friend, and let this ex-resident tell you a few things you might want to consider.
- Check the list that UBC made. Student Housing & Hospitality Services has already made a packing list for you, and it’s a pretty good place to start. You can find it here.
- Twin XL sheets. UBC dorms have extra-long beds, so make sure you bring the right size of sheets! If you bring just regular twin size sheets you’re gonna run into problems.
- Computer and security lock. I didn’t have any issues with theft, but having a security cable for your expensive new laptop is always a good idea.
- Printer. If you can get one cheap, having a printer is going to be mega-useful for you. Print at your leisure, for cheaper, and without the hassle of figuring out the library system and copy-cards. (That said, if you do have to use the library, the librarians can help you!)
- Ethernet cord! Without it you won’t have internet. Some people also like to bring wireless routers so they don’t have to be plugged in all the time, and you can take your laptop into your floor lounge.
- Photos and posters. When you first arrive, your room is bare. This’ll make it feel more yours and keep the homesickness at bay.
- Clothes. Obviously. Just make sure you don’t bring, like, an entire department store with you. Your room has quite a lot of storage space, but just don’t over do it. You can leave most of your summer stuff at home, but do bring a few pieces of warm weather clothing – September can be very warm. And bring a swimsuit – you get free entry to the pool!
- Rain gear. Rain boots are a must – walking around the huge campus with soggy feet is not fun. I managed to get through the year without a proper rain jacket, but make sure you at least have something that’s water-resistant. Umbrellas are good at times, but if you get one make sure it’s sturdy, because it can get veeeery windy. I recommend the brand Totes.
- A good pair of walking shoes. Going to school at UBC means you are going to be walking. A lot. Like seriously, it is a HUGE campus! Get a good, comfy pair of shoes to walk in, and try to break them in before you get here. (Lesson learned the hard way on my part.)
- Bathrobe. Some people are brave enough to dash to the bathroom in a towel, but I’m sure not. A bathrobe keeps you comfy and cozy.
- Shower flip-flops. The bathrooms are typically pretty clean, but no one likes that just-showered-in feel on their feet. A shower tote is also good so you can carry all you soaps and shampoos to the bathroom easily.
- Drying rack. Let’s face it, the dryers in some residences aren’t the best. A drying rack will save you some money (and energy, too!).
- Advil and Tums. No one feels good all the time, and when you’re in res, your mom isn’t there to look after you. Having Advil and Tums on hand will be so much better than having to run to shoppers when you feel crappy.
What not to bring:
- Microwave. You’re not allowed to have one in your room, and there’s a shared one on your floor anyway.
- Mini-fridge. I personally would recommend against it; you have a shared fridge on your floor anyway, they take up a lot of space, and they cost money. I definitely lived happily without one. That said, if you still want one, you can buy or rent one on move-in day.
- Pets. Again, not allowed, sorry.
Got more questions? Leave them in comments and I’ll get back to you.
As the year progresses, I become increasingly aware that in Rez, there is never a dull moment. At least, you can choose to have it that way.
Over the last several weeks there have been many events, including House Weeks (where your house plans a whole bunch of events for its residents, and you get to decorate the caf with your house colours and mascots and such), and a Name That Tune competition (pretty self-explanatory).
Just this Thursday before Reading Week, Rec’n’Rez put on a competition in Totem Park called Totem’s Best Dance Crew. Continue reading
Around campus, in the dorms, on the buses – all people are talking about are the results of the residence lottery.
It is well known that here at UBC, first year students are guaranteed a place in residence – it’s a nice, secure feeling, as a freshman coming in. However, once first year is over, it’s gamble everyone from 2nd year students up have to take part in if they want to live on campus. The lottery is about as fair as they can make it, but the majority of people I’ve talked to or heard talking didn’t get in. I didn’t.
It’s fine, I’m not panicking (unlike some of my friends). There will be plenty of places off campus I can look into closer to fall, and I’m not too high up on the wait list for year round housing. Honestly, I’d rather not live in year round housing, because it’s a lot more expensive than many off campus sites, but if everything else falls through, there’s a chance I could be in Thunderbird or Marine next year. I have an idea of where I want to live off campus, but I won’t know if it’s possible until late May or early June.
Either way, I’m not about to freak out and get upset. My friends and I (probably) won’t spilt up just because we aren’t living together. (Who knows, it could actually be better for our relationships.) I won’t die if I have to take a long-ish commute. Getting to know new people won’t be so bad.
If anyone else is in the same position as me, I mean, I’m not experienced in this situation, but I feel safe in saying that everything will be all right. :)
Last November, a province-wide competition took place between university residences in which they were encouraged to reduce their energy consumption. A few days ago, I took part in a focus group hosted by the research team from UBC that created the competition. What the discussion reminded me was that reducing your energy consumption isn’t something you should only do because of a competition, it’s something you should continue to incorporate into your everyday habits. Here are some tips for those living in residence that you can do easily every day to reduce your carbon footprint: Continue reading
Those of you who follow my blog know that I have a tendency to get homesick – I still do, and I’ll admit it. Don’t get me wrong; I love UBC. I love the atmosphere, my professors, what I’m learning, all the opportunities that are opening up to me. But up til now, I was missing the people. I miss having a huge group of friends who know me super well and seeing them every day and getting hugs all the time (I’m a huggy person but I’m too shy to ask for them here and the only hugs I’ve gotten out here are from drunk people, go figure.)
However, a few weeks back, some people on the fourth floor of my building decided to create a knitting club, and being a knitter myself, I decided to join with a friend from my floor. I went, and had the most fun I think I’ve had since I got here. These people are hilarious! I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. These people actually pay attention to me and I like being around them. Every Monday I look forward to knitting club and the way it uplifts me.
So I suppose that what I’m trying to say by this is that, it’s true, you will find a niche where you fit in. Even if you’re shy. Even if you’re lonely. It may not happen right away. But you do have to look for it; sitting in your room with the door closed won’t get you there. Join a group you’re genuinely interested in, not something you think you should be interested in. Try it out, and if you don’t like the way it feels, you don’t have to stay. And when you do find your place, well then, you’re set. :)
Edit: (Sept. 2012) there is now an official AMS Knitting and Sewing Club. Visit the website at http://knittingsewingatubc.blogspot.ca.