Welcome, everybody to the first ever episode of Eating with Strangers. I’m your host Cathy, and tonight’s featured event is the Harvest Feastival, which was as delicious as its name is punny.
Held on the first day of Autumn, the Harvest Feastival hosted hundreds of hungry guests, including UBC President Santa Ono and his family. Purchasing a ticket grants access to a six course meal, as well as several artsy after-dinner activities. Although the portioning was confusing for salads and entrees (is this tiny bowl really supposed to serve all six of us?!?), the dishes were delicious and visually appealing nonetheless, using ingredients fresh from the UBC Farm. The desserts were marvelous, causing a ten minute delay in their entrance to my stomach as everyone fought to snap pics for Instagram.
However, the meal would have still been largely forgettable if not for the social aspect. For those of you who bother with reading my blog, you would know that I take great pride in being completely and utterly antisocial. Therefore, the prospect of sitting at a table and sharing food with four other people (I managed to coerce a friend into joining me), did not give me the greatest pleasure. However, I was surprised to find how easy it was to form bonds (and Facebook friendships) during the evening, although the fact that photographers assumed we were all bosom buddies doubtlessly helped (seriously, though, I probably have more photos with strangers than I do with friends at this point).
The highlight of the event, though, was visiting the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, which was free with the Feastival wristband. I like to pretend that I understand art, and that I am more cultured than I really am, so wandering around an art gallery while murmuring mildly appreciative noises is my idea of a good time. The exhibits were fascinating, and, because I don’t want to spoil anything, I’ll just leave it at that. It’s definitely worth a visit on a rainy afternoon (and Vancouver gets a lot of those).
Over the last weekend, first year BCom students conveyed at school in ludicrously named cliques to compete for the Sauder Cup. After only three days of real school, we were expected to be friendly and comfortable with each other, like reunited bosom friends. The fact that my orientation leader talked about how she met all of her baes at The Spark a few years ago only increased the pressure to walk away with a lifelong partner by the end of the event.
Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
Being not exactly the most outgoing person, I wasn’t exactly inclined to open my hearts to strangers. Yet, despite knowing my personal limitations, it was disappointing to not find anyone to whom I was immediately drawn while everyone else partnered up. While I was not exactly antagonized or isolated by anyone, and the group dynamic was typical of the chemistry between ten keen first years, the experience was lacklustre at best for most of the day.
Then came the mosh pit.
I hate mosh pits, and any other environment that requires me to touch other people (the photographer for my high school group photos had to coax my friends and I into putting our arms around each other). Needless to say, I did not have a good time and went home early.
On Monday, I was nervous. In my mind, everyone would be sitting with their bff’s from The Spark, leaving me to be the weird antisocial loner. However, the phenomenon I observed was completely different. Sure, people seemed to be more at ease with each other, but no one was desperately clinging to the one person they met during the weekend. As the week progressed, more and more friendships formed outside of the limits of the groups at The Spark, until all of the bullshit expectations crammed into the weekend were forgotten to be replaced by the slow process of creating real relationships. Although I was not amused by my lucklessness in finding a soulmate, I, after two weeks, am now somewhat confident that I will not have my face be eaten by my cats after I die.
When I was presented with the opportunity for a free AMS First Week Bag in return for blogging about my experiences, my reaction was, “HELL YEAH!” After all, from where else am I supposed to get a package of ten condoms for free? (I’m just kidding; the only thing going down on me are my grades.)
Aside: I will probably be receiving an email in the near future about keeping my posts PG-13.
Anyways, throughout the next week or so, I will be reporting on my experiences at Farmade, Yoga at the Nest, and the AMS Welcome Back Barbecue. Although I am typically apathetic to large gatherings, university, as every older student/faculty member/inspirational speaker has told me so far, is about stepping outside of comfort zones. Personally, I interpret this statement as the cliche rambling of someone speaking based on only their eventual success, but I suppose, “Life will suck until you grow a pair,” is not a quote that should be bellowed in a school auditorium.
Furthermore, I see these events as opportunities to explore possible interests. Farming and yoga are, unfortunately, not yet an integral part of my life. Gardening, for me right now, is pruning and watering my Venus Flytrap; and yoga is a gateway to the deeper recesses of my mind, which is a dark and scary place. Hopefully, in the coming week, I will experience enough to be able to make informed decisions about what possible interests I should continue to pursue.
With The Spark (Sauder orientation weekend), a new job at UBC Press, an endless list of First Week events, and new Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers videos being posted every day, my life is hectic AF. Let’s just hope that the start of my university life goes better than the Republican National Convention.
If you were to look up the antonym of ‘school spirit’ in a dictionary, a picture of my high school would be directly under the heading. I think it was the only school, in the history of formal education and perhaps humankind, to host a completely unsuccessful Sports Week. Seriously, we only had about twenty people come play Capture the Flag at lunch. Our spirit weeks had more saggy, pitiful posters than actual participation in the themed events, and Math Club attracted a larger crowd than Student Council.
At UBC, however, students actually put effort into displaying school pride. The most obvious form of this are the chants each faculty has. In fact, even as I am writing this, the Sauder rhymes refuse to leave the deep recesses of my brain, haunting me with every breath I take. We were yelling it so frequently outside the Chan Centre that someone in my Imagine Day group muttered, “This is why every other faculty hates us.”
Even more baffling and overwhelming was the pep rally, where I thought I was having a stroke since I could not decipher anything anyone was saying. Ear drums may have been important to survival at some point in human history, but I wouldn’t know; I’m not a Science student, after all.
In addition to the shouting and waving of phone flashlights and standing (which was a relief towards the end since my group was sitting on the floor. I literally hit rock bottom.), the whole hour felt like the fevered dream of a guy so drunk he had to fake his own mugging (#LochteGate). Playing the ‘Imperial March’ while welcoming faculty directors? Witnessing a cello mesh with an electric guitar? I would not have been surprised if kittens fell from the ceiling wearing Donald Trump masks.
All in all, though, this day made me realize how fortunate I am to go to such a diverse and welcoming university. Despite its foreignness, an overwhelming dose of school spirit is a welcome change.