My First Year Experience.

Yo. What up. This is a story, about a little freshman girl, who somehow managed to wind up at the University of British Columbia. Not sure HOW…but it happened folks. A fair bit of thought was put into this post, so here it goes:

Pretty much I was a university noob at the beginning of September — one of my biggest fears was getting to class late/getting lost on campus. Hear me out, the UBC-Van campus is HUGE in the eyes of a little university noob(yes, I just said ‘noob’). Reassuringly though, IDID NOT end up getting to any of my classes late/get lost. SUCCESS. Besides, if you can read maps, that will do you wonders – trust me. It was basically a fresh start for me, going to UBC; going into UBC I knew my roommate, and a couple other randoms(one in first year, a couple in second year, and a few fourth years — I actually didn’t know any third years). University really is a completely different “world” compared to high school – the environment is completely different – and you’re just not the same “you” from high school — it’s a place for change.

A little background: in elementary school I was a pretty shy kid. I talked when I was told to speak, but ever so quietly. I was shy to answer questions in class, and rarely put up my hand in class – not to brag or anything, but basically 99.9% of the time, I knew all the answers to the questions teachers asked, anyway.  I would say I was kind of a “dorky”/”geeky” kid in elementary school..I liked Math, Science, English, Social Studies, etc. I enjoyed reading books, and learning random pieces of knowledge. It was all a breeze. But overall my point is I just wasn’t much of a “talker”, unless it was to my friends, and I kept to myself.

High school- Fresh start. I didn’t go to the high school that my friends from elementary went to; there was one girl in my class that I knew from elementary school. That was it. I would say my confidence started sparking up, I was “comfortable” – my friends and teachers wanted me to shut up half the time, but hey, that’s who I was. :D But at the same time, I did have my “shy” moments every now and then. Academically, I did well – and I started figuring out what I disliked, and what I liked. Dislike: Math. <– this was the death of me(still is)…but ironically enough, my Math 12 mark did WONDERS for my UBC admission average.

University- HELLO. Honestly, what did I have to lose? I was me, and free to be me. I wasn’t holding back from anything, and nothing made me hold back.

Lecutre sizes – MOST first year Science classes have lectures with 200+ students yeah so what? They really aren’t as intimidating as some people make it sound. Sometimes it felt like I was “just a number” — but that was my choice, and it was fine. You just have to do your thing, and do what you need to do to do well in that course. I find smaller lectures and discussions more intimidating – but if you’re willing to speak up and not just sit there, you’ll probably make friends more easily.

Making friends – It really isn’t that difficult. You’ll run into MANY different types of people, it’s surely simple to “click” with someone. First few days of class — be bold, and go sit with people, MAKE FRIENDS! They’re just like you, they don’t know many people either – you have nothing to lose. Although, I’m not going to lie, some people DO prefer to just sit by themselves to focus in class(early morning classes — people don’t even want to be there in the first place, let alone socialize…haha.), and may not really mingle much – and well, you have to respect that and just not think much of it – it’s most likely nothing personal. I had a couple friends in all of my classes – but the majority of my “close” friends, I didn’t share a class with(we may have been taking the same COURSES…but we weren’t in the same class with each other).

If you live in residence – go meet your neighbours! You’re all new, nobody knows anyone – make the best of it. I remember moving into residence, I got there before my roommate(and friend) moved in — and there were girls walking down the hallways…looking into the rooms with open doors to meet each other. You need to be OPEN and people will just find YOU!Plus there are many icebreaker events held by your Residence Advisors made to make you meet people – so don’t be SHY. Then there are always parties where people just so happen to meet “everyone” …drunk – must be fun. Hopefully the first people you meet, you’ll remember. And you can’t forget IMAGINE DAY – orientation for all first years. I thoroughly enjoyed Imagine Day and all the school spirit that came with that. You could probably ask a bunch of kids and they may say that it was “stupid” — but it really depends what you make of it. Make friends with your fellow muggies – and don’t have the attitude of “I’m too cool for this,” — honey, that ain’t gonn’ get you nowhere. My MUG group people were pretty awesome, and most of them are my friends to this day. :)

Homesickness (if you live on res) – YEAH. I had that, it was mainly around the middle of first term until the end of the year- haha. When my roommate went back home on weekends…I would get waves of homesickness. Really, you just need to occupy yourself with things- studying, mingling with other people, geez, go on Facebook if you have to, do whatever you need, to get your mind off of it. The main thing I did was distract myself by talking to friends or even call my parents(luckily I lived “local” enough). Also, my “international” friends helped a lot…I thought about how their parents weren’t just a “phone call” away — and that actually really helped. Surround yourself with people! :)  

Stress+Exams- Don’t WORRY about it. Everyone’s dealing with the same thing — except those rare species of super genius kids that get smashed every night(slight exaggeration) before an exam and still manage to ACE it. No hate, but HOW!?! “Yeah I was partying with my friends in Totem and getting high(am I allowed to say that here?) and feeding raccoons[before the night of a midterm]” — my friend actually said that to me, true story. The more you stress — the less confidence you have about the exam – seriously. When I see people freaking out — it makes ME want to freak out…so zone everyone else out when you’re studying/cramming last minute. So RELAX, and it’ll be fine. If you fail a midterm, don’t fret — your best friend(s) may have failed it too! (totally not the attitude you should have). In reality, people DO fail midterms, and it’s NOT the end of the world(although it may feel that way at first), take it as a ‘wake up call’ to do better on the next midterm/final. Change your study methods if you have to. I know not everyone can study well with a group of people, I for one can only study with SELECT people – to some that may sound bizarre. Sometimes I feel like I offended people when I refused to study with them when they asked, but really, it was nothing personal…I just CANNOT study around certain people at certain times for certain courses. In saying that — it can be SUPER beneficial to study with people, but it varies person to person. Take the first half of first term in first year to figure out what study methods work best for you. 

So overall, probably(for sure) the best 8 months of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING. Sure there were ups and downs, but the ups outweigh the downs without a doubt. Surround yourself with good people and they’ll help you every step of the way. I learned a lot in first year, a lot about the world around me, and a lot about myself. You’ll have regrets, make memories, forget nights, try different things, make friends, make enemies, maybe meet a special someone, learn that your favourite subject in high school is your most hated one in university,  pull all nighters, get crazy, go wild, find the real you, gain a little weight?, perhaps discover that basket weaving is your new passion, you may fail a midterm here and there, or heck even a course — but it’s okay..and best of all- you will have the time of your life…..’cuz that’s what first year is all about. 

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10 thoughts on “My First Year Experience.

  1. Hellooo.. Firstly, I love your blog (super helpful). Secondly, I am starting at ubc in term 2 and I’m going to arrive a week late so I’m very worried that I won’t be able to catch up with my lectures and will stay behind for the entire term. Is that true or I shouldn’t worry?

    • Haha helloo and thank you thank you!
      No need to be worried at all! let’s be honest here, people learn an entire course within 24 hours of their final exam and have managed to do ‘okay’ 😛 plus there are actually people that skip the first week of classes just because they know they can afford to lose the first week and enjoy a little extended vacation. The first two days of classes (Monday and Tuesday) – unless you have a 3 hour, once a week class…will just be intro classes where the profs go over the syllabus, so you really wouldn’t miss much. If you are registered in any smaller classes – like less than 45-50 people(look on the SSC and see how people have registered for the course)….just email the prof if you know who the prof is and let them know that you’re new and will be attending a week late and ask if there are any things that you should know beforehand.
      Overall I wouldn’t be worried of falling behind, it’ll be fairly easy to catch up since it’s just the first week. All the best and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

      • Thank you for taking so much pressure off of my worrying self hahaha and, in advance, sorry for bombarding you with these questions :
        1. How cold/warm will it be at night in the dorm? Should I bring light PJs and a light blanket or like really heavy stuff and be ready to freeze?
        2.Do I need to apply for my UBC card online so its ready once I arrive?
        3.Should I order my books online or can I just walk into the uni bookstore and get them off the shelf once I’m there?
        4. Should I get my graphing or simple calculator?

    • No need to apologize! I’d be more than happy to help you out! 🙂
      1. which residence will you be living in? most residences have thermostats/heaters that you can adjust, and if you can’t adjust the heat, it’ll just be around room temperature. It usually doesn’t get uncomfortably cold inside the residences, but definitely bring blankets and whatever else you want, better to be too warm than too cold?
      2. it’s up to you if you want to apply for the card online or in person, whichever you find is convenient. if you apply online, you have to take your own picture, which means you can choose if you like it or not. there most likely isn’t a rush for you to have your card the instant you arrive on campus.
      3. the bookstore will be crowded in the first couple weeks of the term, but there isn’t a need for you to purchase the books online as some courses don’t really “require” a textbook even if it says you need it, but you’ll find that information out when you go to your classes…also check out the UBC textbook sale/exchange groups on Facebook to buy them from students that have already taken the course! –> plus the bookstore doesn’t sell books for “cheap” 😛
      4.what faculty are you in? for most courses that require calculators, you’ll be told to buy a specific scientific calculator from the bookstore for about ~$8-12, this calculator will be a standard and you will not be allowed to bring in any other calculators during your exams. but in saying that, if you want to use a calculator for homework outside of class, graphing calculators are always helpful – just don’t expect to be allowed to use that during exams.

  2. Pingback: That Time of Year | .ravishingrambles.

  3. That is true, I would only have to wait a couple of months. Is there any other nightlife/parties that I could enjoy before my birthday? I am so confused, I read a bit about frat parties and residence parties, but I have no idea what they are or anything about them?! We don’t really get them in the UK. Thank you so much for replying!

    • you’ll probably be 19 before quite a few of the other first years, so really it’s not that horrid haha.
      I’m not really sure if there are sororities/fraternities(Greek life) in England but it’s a pretty “weighted”(ish) portion of the university/college culture in North America (more so in America than Canada). Frats are social organizations made up of guys, basically like a “brotherhood” – and UBC has I think 9 different frats – basically they host parties(some are themed parties(toga,back to school, halloween, etc) and some are for certain fundraisers that are part of the frat’s philanthropy). As long as you have a UBC student/university ID you can go to them. And residence parties are just parties that are held in student dorms(residence) by students. In residence you’re allowed to have alcohol, but you’re not allowed to carry around open alcohol outside of the rooms/the residence lounge area.

  4. Hello! I was just wondering if you could help… I’m finding it hard to find informal accounts on UBC! I’m 18 years old and from London and have just applied to UBC. I would really love to go (partially as I am half Canadian) but want to know what the nightlife is genuinely like over there. I go clubbing quite a bit in London and generally socialize a lot and am worried I wont be able to get that at UBC! I know the drinking age is 19 but how does it work on campus, with people being 18? I can’t imagine going from being allowed in any club in London to not legally being able to have a glass of wine ! Anyway, I know that shouldn’t be my main priority, but its the only question I can’t ask the admissions staff!.. Thanks xxx

    • Hey! All the best with your application! Sadly, the legal age is indeed 19, and there are no places on campus where you can legally purchase/consume alcohol if you are underage. Most first years are 17/18 coming into UBC, but of course there are some that are 19+. I’m sure if you’re into the party scene you’ll have no problem finding friends that are legal and they can buy alcohol for you. 😀 But yeaah, kinda sucks if you come from that kind of nightlife scene and can’t really get into that right when you come to UBC. There are some pubs off campus that are lenient and don’t check for IDs – but if they happen to check and you’re underage, well then, you’ll get booted out haha. But you’ll be turning 19 next year?(since you said you’re 18 now) – so you won’t have to wait THAT long to “legally” have some fun? 😀
      if you have any other questions, feel free to ask! 🙂

    • Chapter books:– The classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories (not the Disney version books) and A.A. Milne poems.– The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame.– Ch718otte&#l2ra;s Web.Picture books:– Dr. Seuss books.– Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney.– Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey.– Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen.This is just the short list of our favorites.

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