First Impressions at UBC

When I was first considering the University of British Columbia for post-secondary school, I was attracted to its description as a “city within a city”. Great, I thought, this will be just like home. After all, I come from a city that’s on the smallish side. Campus couldn’t be that much bigger if it can fit inside Vancouver, right?

 

Needless to say I was more than a little shocked to arrive at a campus that is almost double the size of my home city (which now, frankly, I would be more inclined to label a “town”). Not only that, I learned that the class of 2020 is bigger than the population of my city by about two thousand - the first year class alone! 

I was thoroughly expecting to be swallowed up in the masses of people, fulfilling the destiny that all small colleges warn against — becoming just another face in the crowd, forever known as simply one more student number.

I wasn’t completely on my own, however. My best friend moved into the same residence as I did, and together we teamed up with some people from a nearby residence to explore the grounds. As we strolled along Main Mall, we pointed out our classes, laughed at the hopelessly graffitied Engineering ‘E’, argued over the precise location of the “true” UBC Loop, and got turned around by several unadvised shortcuts. By the end of the day I was confident I could find my way around campus all on my own. It couldn’t be that hard, right?

It wasn’t long before an innocent map-less trip to the discount textbook store turned into an expedition rivalled only by early pioneering explorers (or so my feet told me). My lonely trek took me all the way to the southern tip of campus, around the baseball field, and almost off University grounds before I admitted defeat and let Google Maps do my navigating for me. I saw far more of campus than I’d planned to and got back to my room exhausted. 

                                                                  Pro tip: never take the scenic route when you’ve been in a place less than four days.

Those first few days taught me that UBC is an enormous and confusing place, yet the more time I spend here the smaller it seems to get. It turns out I’m not nearly as alone as I felt that first day. As I begin to recognize the faces in my classes, discover the popular shortcuts, and even reconnect with old friends, I feel more and more like I belong. It’s an altogether different sense of community than at home; here we are a community not because we know each other but because we all share in the same University experiences. The relationships I build here will be based on more crazy adventures than I can imagine. Bring it on, UBC!

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