Weekends, the uni, what’ve been up to and things before you go. It’s a biggie!

hello again,

I know this post is straight after the last one but I’ve decided this list malarky might be the best way to share my conclusions from this year and hopefully help you prepare for yours.

Things to do at the weekends

The Chief – a huge granite block overlooking the town of Squamish about an hour from Vancouver, It’s about a 2 hour hike up and it’s well worth the view. It’s definitely worth the climb, the views are amazing and if you’re into rock climbing you could tackle the huge multi-pitch face. Definitely not for the faint hearted.

Tofino – A stunning coastal town on Vancouver island.  It’s a fair journey from Vancover but easily doable for the weekend and if you’re into surfing (or storm or whale watching) it’s definitely worth your while. Last time we went they were filming a movie in my flatmates grandmother’s place.  Owen Wilson and Jack Black were both kicking about but we didn’t see them, much to the detriment of my friends fantasies.

Whistler – I’ve said it before but get a whistler pass if you’re into anything snow related. It’s an amazing deal – cheaper than an annual Cairngorm pass. There is also a bus running from campus to whisler which makes a day on the slopes totally hassle free. There is also the UBC ski and board club who run trips to other Canadian resorts. From all reports they are some of the best trips going, but definitely go prepared for an aching liver on the bus back.

Victoria – This is the capital of British Columbia. It’s over on Vancouver island and is easily accessible on a ferry from either Tswassan (spelling questionable) or Horseshoe Bay (both about a hour bus from UBC). The ride is amazing on a clear day and there are Orca’s in the area so keep your eyes pealed. Victoria itself is really cute and incredibly British in its appearance, there are red double-decker busses and phone boxes – all very colonial.

Seattle – this is another weekend option. Things are so much cheaper so it’s a good option for Christmas shopping. You can get the bus from the Greyhound stations at Pacific Central and there are plenty of cheap hostels. Although I’ve never been the music museum is supposed to be a fun even if museums aren’t usually your thing.

all of you coming here must be pretty excited!! Therefore i’ve pulled together a few things about UBC

I know each person is different but some of these might be of use.

Things to know about UBC

1. Take full advantage of the gala intro sessions. They may seem like a pain at the time but the info they provide does pay off – well apart from the umbrella etiquette session, not exactly the most useful 20 mins of my life.

2. The library fines are not like Glasgow! It’s 2 dollars a book per day. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I had 16 books out for the mountain of papers (‘essays’) I developed, I renewed them 3 mins late and ended up with a horrifically large fine. Meugh!

3. The echo circle, in front of the flagpole (an obvious point of reference once you get here) there is a strange looking statue, concrete, kind of ugly, with a large metal dome in the middle. If you stand on the dome and shout you do look ridiculous but….you also get this really weird echo/microphone effect which nobody else can hear. I  have no idea how it works but it’s definitely worth a look.

4. Courses. This one is a biggy that I found confusing before I left. Basically, if you are in the arts faculty at least, then the set up is completely different. You take five courses, and there is tremendous choice. Although you have to fill out the course selection form before you go don’t worry, it’s not set in stone by any means and there is actually a lot of flexibility. The first week is virtually a shopping week for courses, you can try them out, see if they suit and only have to decide a few weeks into term – a definite bonus if you are as indecisive as I am. One thing I would say is that you should make sure you run them by your faculty contact at Glasgow.

If you’re in geography I’d advise doing the compulsory research class in the second term. I did it in the first term but the second term course has a far better structure and the work you produce seems far more worthwhile.

Also, if you’re stronger in essays than exams you can find courses that have no final exam. If it fits with your requirements it’s an easy way to boost your grade and limit the end of term stress.

5. A bike is a really good investment. I didn’t get one but in hindsight I really should have. Craigslist or the bike co-op in the Student Union Building are good places to start.

6. Sprouts, the café in the bottom floor of the Student Union Building (SUB) is also amazing. It’s really cheap and eco friendly. More amazingly, on the last Friday of every month they have a fee lunch starting at 11.30 – so tasty! Remember to bring your own Tupperware as they don’t provide plates or cutlery.

7, floor 6 of koerner – my friend Cat’s favorite study spot. It has an amazing view of the city, the mountains and the uni buildings including the Buchanan tower which was used in the movie Wolverine. There is also the law library (opposite Buchanan) which is good if you need to get your head down. Although beware, if your studying turns to napping you might be snapped and posted on the facegroup group, sleepers of ubc.

8. Clubs – These are an amazing way to break out of the exchange students circle. This year I’ve found the Surf club amazing. Although I joined a few (swing dancing was also amazing – honestly it’s more fun than it sounds), the surf club were super friendly and the trips were some of the best memories I have. The club is anti clique if that makes sense and really welcoming if you were a beginner. Basically, do it – they are incredible.

9. The anthropology museum. It’s right on campus and free for UBC students, The exhibits change throughout the year but some of the first nations artifacts are permanent. Basically it’s well worth a look.

Ok, so enough of lists.

What i’ve been up to in the last few weeks

The last few weeks were full on. My mum came out to visit tho so I have a couple of weeks of escaping ‘homework’ and exploring the city and the surroundings.  She also brought Scottish cheese – once you get here the joy this brought will make perfect sense. Unfortunately the Canadian weather woman up high was clearly P.M.Sing and it poured for a large proportion of her trip but it was still amazing to see her.

All through the year there are geography beer gardens put on by the GSA (geography students association). Even if you’re not a geog major you’ll be more than welcome. Go see Sam, she’s in geog and I’m sure she’ll be there (she’s sitting opposite me blushing right now). Anyway the last few were fun, live bands, kegs stands, trivia, BBQ’s and sunshine. Mmmmmmm

Continuing the geography theme we also had Geo Gala (an annual formal dinner). It’s a perfect excuse to get glammed up and again you don’t have to be a geography major. I had a smile plastered across my face for the whole evening, I’m definitely going to miss the geography department here.

After that came the end of term party, a whole day event before exam leave. The liquor store lines were round the block – sad times. They hold block party (a kind of festival on campus) every year. Last year the Roots headlined and this year they had The Bare Naked Ladies. Unfortunately it rained this year so we ended up elsewhere but don’t let that put you off, from all accounts it’s worth it.

After that came leaving do’s and multiple birthdays. So fun but so sad at the same time. I’ve had an amazing year and I’m certainly going to miss the place and the people way too much to not come back. I’ve already looked into doing my masters over here – eugh I don’t want to leave!! – dam student debt : (

Argh, I can never remember what I’ve done when I come to write this but hopefully you get the jist that the end of term was fun.

Since finishing I’ve been staying in my flatmates place down in Kits. It’s lovely, in walking distance from the beach and Granville island.

Last week we went for a road trip to Vancouver Island to stay at a roommate’s place near Duncan. We hiked a bit, took a cider tour and generally got merry. After picking up the rest of 2660 Fairview (our flat) we headed up to Tofino and camped in a sweet spot in Bellapacifica Campground. Schmores, baked potatoes and campfire ‘weaners’ all round. The vibe in that place is so chilled, it literally sucks the exam stress out of you – me gusta!

You can rent surf gear pretty cheap from town (we got stuff from Long Beach Surf Shop which seemed to have the best deals at the time) and headed out for the day. 4 hours, one burnt nose and several waves later, 3 very pleased girls emerged from the water, headed to the campsite to change and then joined the others down in Ucluelet to watch the Canucks get unfortunately thrashed by Chicago – although I’m not usually a sports fan I’m getting sucked into the world of ice hockey – I blame you Brit ; )

Those 4 days were amazing fun, 80’s car, the odd Disney tune, my first bear sighting and constant sunshine = a love of Canada.

Since then I’ve been back in Van for a few days trying desperately to sort my life out and plan the next few weeks of travel. I’ve sorted getting stuff home (selling skis on craigs list and shipping the rest – about 100 quid per box) and got car rental sorted for a 10 day blast into the rockies with Cat (a Scottish girl on exchange from Aberdeen). We also climbed the chief yesterday (a serious must do). It’s apparently the second largest granite monolith in the world and it’s only about an hour’s drive from van. I think I’ve said this in one of the ‘to do ‘ lists. It’s in the ……………… provincial park which is easily accessible by car but I’m sure you could bus to Squamish and walk down the road back to it. The hike is really clearly marked and could be done by anyone in trainers despite the amusing tour groups in their hard soled boots, poles and gaiters. You start off through the woods and eventually – a few ladders and chain assisted sections later – emerge on the top of a truly huge cliff with an absolutely stunning view. One word of warning tho – keep an eye on your lunch, the chipmonks have no shame!!

Having clocked the word limit I think it’s definitely time for me to lay down the laptop and head to bed. Tomorrow = white rock (a cute seaside town and the home of Lizzy – yaye).

Before I go tho…………..

Tips for before you head out here.

Think wisely about what you bring with you. Rain boots aka wellies are an essential but all other things should be kept to a minimal. You will acquire stuff throughout the year and it makes packing up horrendous!

If you’re feeling nervous run with it. The nerves are understandable and just show you’re excited. Remember everyone else on exchange is in the same boat.

Next, remember to get insurance for your stuff. You are abroad and chances are your house insurance won’t cover it.

Finally, save and save hard. Exchange is more expensive than you anticipate. This by no means me trying to put you off or worry you, I’m just saying the more funds you have the more fun you can have. There are limitless places to go and things to see over here so all the cash you can earn will be worth the summer slog back home.


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