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UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 8 | Aug 9, 2007

Entering University Can be Exciting and Stressful

UBC Reports asked first-year student Michael Singh to share his questions about crossing the country to enter UBC -- and we asked current fourth-year student Lisa Wagner to respond.

How Will I Adjust from a Small City to a Big Campus?

By first-year student, Michael Singh
Hometown: Charlottetown, PEI

Imagine a place where “downtown” and “the country” are a mere 10-minute drive apart. A place where it’s nearly impossible to make a trip to the grocery store without seeing at least one person you know. Welcome to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

You might be asking yourself why I chose to give up this style of life to come to a campus with a population the size of my home city; talk about getting tossed out of your comfort zone.

Much of my inspiration to attend UBC comes from the fact that my father also went there. Having first-hand descriptions of the calibre of programs, beauty of the area and opportunities available was more than enough to cement my decision. Being a snowboarder, and B.C. being as renowned as it is for incredible skiing and snowboarding, I also thought this would be a great chance to get some serious riding done. The chance to truly test and grow my independence while living in residence at Place Vanier is also something that excites me.

Although a lot of high school students go into university concerned about things being too hard compared to high school, I’m happy to say that I don’t share this view. In fact, I’m incredibly excited to start new work and dive into my courses. But university isn’t just about academics. Getting involved in clubs and sports teams, meeting new people from around the world, and exploring the campus and city are also things that make me thrilled to start the new school year.

In spite of my confidence, there are several questions I hope to find the answers to over the course of my studies. Chief amongst these is finding a balance between work and play. With so much independence it seems that becoming distracted would be quite easy. Another question I am pondering is how to make the jump from being fed notes in high school to taking notes during lectures.

A final aspect of the university experience I am a little hazy about is that of actually getting around campus. Coming from such a small place, the idea of getting around such a massive campus is rather daunting. I’m not exactly sure how the transit system works in B.C. and UBC in particular.

Moving to a new place is never easy. There are always thoughts like, “I won’t know anybody,” or “what if I don’t like the location,” but in the end the success you experience is completely dependent upon how much effort you put in.

Tap into Campus Resources to Make the Most of Your Education

By fourth-year political science student Lisa Wagner
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

Coming to UBC was, in a way, one of the most impulsive decisions I’ve ever made. Originally, I decided that I would take a year off to work and travel before going back to school. Then, UBC won my heart over after I attended a college fair in support of a friend. I applied, was accepted, and registered in the Arts One program. Next, I applied to residence, and all of a sudden I was on my way to Vancouver -- my first time ever living away from my hometown of Calgary, Alberta. Like Michael, I had no idea what to expect upon my arrival -- though I did at least have the experience of already living in a big city.

Looking back, I can hardly recognize myself: then I was a timid first-year student who felt like she had no idea how to study, how to make friends, or even how to make her own bed. I had similar apprehensions to many first-year students coming to UBC. What if I didn’t get along with my roommate? How different was university from high school, anyway? UBC is huge -- would I be lost in a sea of numbers never to emerge as a real person with a university degree?

Well, UBC is large, and can be overwhelming at first, but it also offers its students a wide variety of resources and opportunities which make it less so. Moving into residence at Totem Park definitely gave me a chance to test my own boundaries and learn a few things about myself, and I’m sure a similar experience awaits Michael at Place Vanier.

While Totem provided me with an abundance of people and activities that could distract me from my studies, it also encouraged academic success by allowing residents to network with people in similar classes through a program called iStudy, and attend programs helping students to adjust to university learning (such as note-taking workshops), and by providing designated study areas. On campus, there are tons of resources available: free tutoring, academic advising, and some of the best libraries of any university.

UBC also promotes academic excellence in other ways -- by encouraging students to take a break and have fun every now and again! UBC Rec organizes events like Day of the Longboat and Storm the Wall, which have become classics around campus, and also manages the intramural leagues for competitive and non-competitive sports lovers. There are also student-run clubs for just about any interest you could possibly imagine, from the Coin and Stamp Club to the Organ Donation Club to the Ski and Board Club (especially useful for those like Michael who are unfamiliar with the local sites). These all help students connect with others who have similar interests around campus.

And of course, living in residence offers a mountain of fun activities such as floor dinners, dances, trivia nights, and mock casinos, all the while fostering strong relationships between students. It is easy (and quick, once you learn the shortcuts) to get anywhere you need to be on campus by walking or biking, and there’s good bus service around the university and off campus. Vancouver transit has exceptional service to UBC, and all UBC students receive a bus pass, known as the U-Pass, with their student fees.

Your biggest concern might be finding your way around Vancouver once you’ve left the safety of campus, but visiting the Translink website www.translink.bc.ca can really help with your trip planning!

The university experience is most definitely what you make of it, and keeping the fabulous resources UBC has to offer in mind, I want to encourage Michael and all other new students this year to take advantage of every opportunity possible to not only get the most of their education but also to have the time of their lives along the way -- I know I have.

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Last reviewed 10-Aug-2007

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