Eng 112 – Strategies for University Writing

You’ll learn:

  • critical reading of academic texts
  • how to write to communicate effectively

Class structure

  • mandatory regular attendance
  • participation in class activities and discussions.
  • In-class essays
  • Take-home essay(s)
  • 3-hour final examination at the end of the course where you’ll be asked to write essays

Lots of

  • Implementing “They Say I Say” into your writing style. You’ll find out what They Say I Say means every soon.
  • Pointing out what established academics have done wrong in their writing

How to get a good grade:

  • Actually do the assigned reading before class
  • Bring the book or print out the reading to bring to class so you can refer to it during discussion.
  • You can bring a digital version.
  • IMPORTANT: Speak in class!! 1) you get participation marks. 2) you force yourself to organize and vocalize your thoughts. 3) your professor will learn that you’re alive.
  • Your professor will often not write or present any notes but you should take notes on what is being discussed.
  • Take notes on good points that your classmates bring up.
  • Start working on your final paper early
  • Choose a final paper topic that you’re personally interested. Do not choose a topic solely because you think your professor will like it. If you find your own topic boring, you will write a boring paper and your professor will cry while drinking coffee trying to read your paper.
  • Go get at least two physical books when you’re conducting background research.
  • The UBC Libraries are great resources.
  • Spend time working on a good thesis.
  • Talk to your professor at office hours if you have questions

Suggested professor: Dr Lorcan Fox (he’s hilarious!)


First year classes for UBC Life Science majors

First year schedule at top,

Click “Continue Reading” for asnwers to Frequently asked questions about First year course scheduling below

You should choose your first year classes based on what majors you’re interested in. You only have to take certain classes if you’re interested in a particular major, e.g. two semesters of physics if you’re interested in the Physiology (CAPS) major. That said, most first years in the Faculty of Science have roughly the same schedule to meet the Lower Level requirements set by the Faculty of science.  I knew I was interested in a life science major such as Pharmacology, Microbiology, Biology, Physiology etc so I choose my first year classes so that I fulfilled the course requirements to apply for these majors. If you’re interested in more about choosing a major particularly a life science major, I intend to write a post on Choosing a Major in the future.

Click on the name of the course to read tips to do well in that specific course

First Year First term:

First Year Second Term


Frequently asked questions:

Should I take BIOL 112 or BIOL 121 first?

BIOL 112 in my personal opinion. Absolutely BIOL 112 if you’re claiming AP Bio credit and want to take a second year biology class term 2. If you’re not claiming bio credit, it doesn’t matter but I personally think the content of biol 112 (cell biology, metabolism etc) is a good foundation to build on for further studies in biology.

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I don’t want to but I’m going to anyway

8:30 AM meeting that involved making my brain think hard – wheels in my mind are still turning. Time to make big changes to this project

I don’t normally drink coffee but I’ve drank a Vanilla Frappucino in a bottle given to me by my Big (thanks SiSi!). Class reunion of my Mini School yesterday evening involving the horror movie Hush, catching up with how everyone’s first year of post-secondary has been, and realizing that all of us are the same at the core. Shouldn’t have stayed up late writing that blog post last night but it was an important message that needed to be told especially as we are all tying up projects and jobs before going back to school soon. Despite this coffee and sugar, I feel like running away from this desk. I’m not meant for the desk life but this is necessary.

I don’t want to edit stimuli and reprogram the experiment but I’m going to anyway. I’ll take this one step at a time. Let’s do this.

I feel guilty when I have fun sometimes

Have you ever felt guilty about having fun? Lately, I haven’t been able to have fun because after I’ve relaxing, I feel guilty!

The truth: It’s important to live life right now and not always wait for “someday” to start living. 

I’m trying to convince myself this all the time but I honestly don’t always convince myself. I like to look at the next step ahead and work towards getting there. I bet lots of you goal-driven busybees are like that too!  It’s good to be motivated to work, to create, to be out and about. Don’t reject the ambitious streak in you because it’s taking you places and it’s taking you where you want to go.

Just watch that you’re not telling yourself “someday”, “later”, or “down the road” too often. Why?

  1. There will always excuses . You’ll _____ when you’re less busy with school during the break, but oh you want to spend time going out during your break, maybe after you graduate but your job keeps you busy, and oh you’re too busy with your kids.
  2. If you’re in for a lot of schooling e.g. medicine, it gets busier as you go along not easier. You think you’re too busy now. It gets busier in medical school, even busier residency, much busier when you’re an attending…
  3. Later may never come. During December of 1st year, one of my best friends was diagnosed with a tumour and the possibility of such a sweet young person dying young drastically changed my outlook on life. We’re young but we can die tomorrow. Cancers, diseases, accidents, and more can happen to any of us any time. This sounded dark but that’s the truth.
  4. You can’t rewind time. You can’t always make up for lost time in the future. Your grandpa’s birthday may seem low-priority if you only think about getting to your goal of becoming, say, an architect. But years later, you can’t go back in time if you think you should have spent more time with your grandfather.
  5. Are you taking care of your own health right now? 

You’ve been working hard and will continue to work hard. If you’re been working yourself to the bone, this is for you:

Right where you are in life, not just at some elusive point in the future, 

You deserve to be happy. 

You deserve to relax sometimes. 

Don’t feel guilty about taking an evening off to meet up with your old high school classmates. Focus on enjoying the company of your best friend the entire time you’re hanging out. Waiting for the perfect time to date is something I hear about often but there is no perfect time. As long as dating is something you want to do and feel ready to do, spending time building a relationship is not a waste of time.  Having hobbies outside of your career goal is totally fine. Painting, writing, cleaning your house if that’s what makes you happy, beading bracelets with your neighbor, –  things that don’t add value to your resume can still be valuable to you as a person. They may help you with your personal growth, or just nourish your soul.

So, say yes to new experiences. Say yes to broadening your social and professional network. Say yes to doing what you enjoy. Say yes to spending time with the people that are important to you. Say yes to  discovering more about the world and about the people around you and about yourself. Say yes to a morning hike, a music festival, a movie night, a volunteer opportunity because you’re genuinely interested and not to build your resume, to reconnecting with your cousin, to having a heart to heart with your mom, to writing a blog if that what you’ve always wanted to do.

You’ll be glad when you look back and see that you kept a balance in your life. You’l l be happy and achieved your coveted goal. And you’ll also be glad that you had an amazing time along the way.

As much you look forward to your next destination, enjoy the journey of life along the way.



Volunteering with VocalEye at Theatre Under the Stars

” What a perfect way to end our 6th season last night: clear skies, twinkling stars, a golden half-moon shining through the trees and a spectacular production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Theatre Under the Stars Vancouver! Kudos to the enormously talented cast, creative team and crew who filled the Malkin Bowl outdoor stage with magic! Big thanks go to Anika Vervecken for her delightful description; to Assistant Stage Manager, Jennifer, for giving VocalEye users a terrific backstage Touch Tour; to the wonderful staff and volunteers at TUTS for making us feel so welcome; to VocalEye Theatre Buddies Tal Jarus, Carol MacDonald and Shanna Yeung for all their kind assistance; and to all our fabulous patrons and guests for attending. Our next season starts next month. Stay tuned… it’s gonna be yuuuuge!”– Steph, the sweet and fun director of VocalEye

We watched Beauty and the Beast live at Theatre Under the Stars with audio description. Then we had a backstage tactile tour when we got to touch different costumes and props and the set. Always a pleasure to volunteer with the VocalEye patrons and team.

Click more to see pictures!
Continue reading “Volunteering with VocalEye at Theatre Under the Stars”

YVR Food Fest with Veena

Veena and I attended the YVR Food Fest August 6th at Olympic Village. We ate: veenandi3

  • Pulled Pork Sliders from The Flying Pig. The Flying Pig offered a taster menu meaning that the only dish they served was the Pulled Pork Sliders. These were juicy and just a hint spicy. I highly recommend.
  • The daily special grilled cheese sandwich from a food truck whose name I can’t remember. It was good but nothing too special. Would not recommend for the price that it was.
  • Mini Donut popsicle. Pricey but yummy and something neither of us had before

Photo credits to Veena for the two photos that I took from her Snapchat with her permission

yvrfoodfest1veenaand1minidonut popsicle

My play Canadian Beer premieres Monday!!

When I wrote this play, I dug deep inside my soul and found issues that I believe really needs to be talked about: racism and cultural identity. CanadianBeer1

This is what I wrote for the program:  “Many youth struggle with identity at some point in their lives and get stereotyped based on something superficial such as ethnicity. Through the lens of the current generation of youth, Canadian Beer discusses the awkwardness of shaping your own identity when you’re caught between cultures, and explores the complexity of prejudice. The main characters, Yusuke and Mina, face conflict, confess truths and learn more each other and themselves. Their feelings are relatable, and their bickering friendship realistic, funny and adorable. ” CanadianBeer_2

I hope that audience members can take away a message that discrimination, particularly racism, is complex and the way you interact with others is influenced by who you are and your own experiences. I hope that ‘Canadian Beer’ makes people think about racism and cultural identity in a new light.

My play will be part of Eternal Theatre Collective’s very first new play festival. Square 1 will be taking place August 15th and 16th, 2016 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island! Square 1 includes four international debut productions by youth playwrights and will boast a cast, crew, design and creative time entirely made up of people between the ages of 13 and 25. Come and check out the immeasurable talents of the Lower Mainland’s youth theatre community!


Medical Volunteer at Pemberton Music Festival

Team Camp South

I learned an incredible amount at Pemberton Music festival thanks to the many learning opportunities that arose and those who kindly were willing to teach such as Martin.  (Thanks Martin!!!).

I  practiced and/or learned how to:

  • stay calm when someone runs in yelling that someone is dying while you get a call that someone is bleeding severely but oh you already have a semi conscious patient here in the tent. You’ll be jittery at beginning but as your shift goes on, you’ll surprise yourself by being calmer that you knew you could be.
  • Try to help someone else who is terrified get more comfortable- this is a skill that is not as easy as you may think it is!
  • deal with nasty attitudes . Terrible truth you need to know: a patient or a patient’s friend, surprisingly most likely another female, will tell you that you’re not qualified to serve as medical volunteer but the male staff next to you looks more qualified. You will answer politely with a smiling face and internally rationalize that this could be a tactic to get the cute male staff to help them.
  • Listen to a request carefully even it sounds wacky at first. The details help you realize something critical
  • Do a little something extra so that they’ll have a better festival experience e.g. add extra tape for their blisters so it’ll stay when they go back to dancing away
  • Help people who need help but insist that they are okay. That’s a strategy to this.
  • Work together with a team of health professionals that gave differing opinions on how to treat the same things and have differing attitudes towards communicating with patients. Take what you think is good from others but it’s okay to do what you think is best when it’s the right time to do so.
  • Talk to a variety of people from patients to security guards
  • Struggle with self-doubt towards your own knowledge and skills. It’s not always sunshine anGatord smiles. It gets hard and it gets scary in some cases.

I liked what I was doing so much that I volunteered over at Main Medical once my shift at Camp Central was over.

I got to meet new faces,  re-connect with volunteers that I’ve met at previous volunteer gigs, chat with people while eating the delicious food at staff catering, and listen to great music. I got introduced to the Chainsmokers whose songs I now like so much.

Blind sports: Goalball

Goalball2I enjoyed volunteering with the Vancouver Goalball on multiple occasions recently and I want to share goalball with you! I highly recommend checking out this sport if you’ve never heard of it or seen it.  The athletes are fun to be around, and they’ll even blindfold you and let you try if you want to 🙂

What is goalball?


  • Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for blind and visuallyGoalball impaired athletes. How cool is that a sport that was specifically created for people with disabilities, rather an adaptation of an existing sport
  • All athletes wear eyeshades so that everyone’s vision is completely blocked
  • The ball has bells inside it and players use the sound of the bell to track it position and movement.
  • Goalball athletes throw the ball that across the court into the opponents goal, and use their bodies to block the ball from going in their own net.

How was goalball invented?

  • It was created as a means of assisting the rehabilitation of visually impairedAmanda_Goalball WWII veterans.

What is something unique about goalball?

  • Goalball spectators must be silent so players can hear the bells in the ball. However, during breaks and when a a goal is scored, you cheer to your heart’s content.

Is goalball a Paralympic sport?

  • Yes! Tune in a Rio 2016 Paralympic goalball game this September and cheer on our national team! Goalball has been an official Paralympic sport since 1980.

Where can I see goalball up close in the Vancouver area?

  • Vancouver Goalball Club, which includes Canadian National Goalball team members that are going to the Paralympics (amazing!!), practices here in Vancouver.
  • You can send me an email at and I’ll get you in touch with them
  • Our club Vision Health Volunteers is courting the idea of asking VGC to do a demo on UBC Campus so if you’re interested and send me an email, this will be more likely to happen.

I’m interested in volunteering. What can I do?

  • Be a goal judge, ball retriever, game timers, high-ball judge,  help set-up and take down the court for the Vancouver Goalball Club. Practices are usually in the evening.

Thank you to John Tee for getting me interested in goalball!  John plays for the Canadian National Goalball team. I befriended John volunteering at an outdoors camp for children that are blind and visually impaired and ever since he’s introduced me to different blind sports.

Supplemental information source: and the Vancouver Goalball club website

Brendan_GoalballJohn_Goalball John_Goalball2

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