Reading week is wonderful, and everyone’s taking at least a little bit of time off to do something fun. Some people went home for the week, others are going exploring to find someplace new, there’s skiing, hiking, going out for dinner, enjoying a Netflix marathon (go watch How To Get Away With Murder), and pretty much doing whatever your heart desires (delaying thinking about midterms).
Dare you to go explore Victoria, if you haven’t been yet! Or if you have, go again. It’s gorgeous. I want to mention some places out there that are my personal favourites, with a couple must-sees recommended from those at UVic.
First of all, getting there from UBC: I usually take the 480, transfer to the 620, and then take the ferry. With a student bus pass, and a $16 or so fee to walk onto the Tsawwassen ferry to Swartz Bay, this’d be one of the cheaper (hooray for that student budget...) adventures to another city you’ll take.
It’s a pretty easy hike, around half and hour should you choose to take the forest trails with a couple of switchbacks. You can drive to the top as well. If you hike up, chances are you’ll see a few trees covered almost entirely in lichen; they definitely reminded me of truffula trees from Dr. Suess’s book ‘The Lorax’, with their fuzzy look (but not their colour...) Anyways, from the top you can gaze over all of Victoria and out over the water, all in all a glorious reward for the walk (watch out for fog, it can come up quickly, and definitely did when I was up there).
Interactivity Board Game Café
This café downtown was absolutely wonderful, very quaint and cosy! I hadn’t seen anything like it. Upon entering, you feel as though you’re in a little kid’s paradise, as the walls are lined with board games of every kind. For $5, you can claim a table, and play any board game(s) for as long as you please, while refreshments you order simply go on your tab. I played an Ender’s Game battle board game, had a cookie dough milkshake, and found myself in heaven. This café would be my recommendation for visiting any friend/family member/lovely individual you want to catch up with, and it definitely stirs up competitive spirit in the best possible way.
While I can’t say I’m recommending these ones from personal experience, I’m sure UVic students’ feedback on this one is flawless.
Karaoke Thursdays at Felicita’s Campus Pub – If you’re around the beautiful UVic campus on a Thursday night, staying with a friend there, or just bored, these nights have a reputation for hilarity. This student night is similar to our Pit Wednesdays, so grab a friend or a drink or both and enjoy.
Other recommendations include the Sticky Wicket Pub, (just ‘Sticky’ for short), for a few casual drinks with friends, as well as Sugar, a nightclub. Sugar’s having an event called ‘Rave of Thrones’ later this year, in April – a festivity with Hodor (Kristian Nairn, as the DJ for the evening) and a solid pun for the title, so of course I couldn’t resist putting a note in here about it.
I stayed with family, but rooming with a friend would also be ideal, I’m sure. If you go to Victoria and stay in a hotel/location you loved, I’d be stoked to see a comment from you on this post.
I absolutely believe in aliens.
Of course, you’re welcome to contradict me, but I look at it in terms of probability. Word is that our observable universe is currently about 13.8 billion light years, and that’s just the sphere that we can see. If one light year equates to 9,461,000,000,000 km, saying our universe is big is a massive (bigger-than-our-universe kind of huge) understatement. If a sphere that big doesn’t contain at least SOME kind of life, I’d be baffled.
My lovely friend is an exuberant speaker, loud, emphatic and hilarious. Getting her talking aliens is always entertaining, she truly believes that they’ve been to Earth and have been instrumental in most of mankind’s great accomplishments. The pyramids? Aliens. The Renaissance? Aliens. Stonehenge? Aliens. Personally, I don’t know if I can give extraterrestrial life that much credit, but this story from my friend surprised me with its complete conviction.
Now you’ve heard something like this stuff before, I’m sure. But the part that really got me was listening to a friend of mine tell me about her experience with aliens.
Take it or leave it, but I still believe.
For someone who describes themselves casually as, “..theoretical statistical physicist by training and a complexologist by nature,” “just call me Rik” Dr. Hendrik Blok was remarkably modest and affable in interview, and definitely didn’t need any icebreakers to clear the tension; there was none to begin with.
And so we present:
Rik Blok on
Calvin and Hobbes,
being a complexologist (reductionism just isn’t enough),
and of course,
on his research and involvement with Integrated Sciences.
Rik: (laughs) Uhm, what do I love most? I guess I love how Calvin is like kinda precocious and crazy and stuff and Hobbes is so calm. And he sees the craziness in Calvin and can reflect on it in a really nice way; and totally spins things around and takes it out of the context of a comic strip and sees it kind of in a bigger picture.
When asked if Rik ever related Calvin and Hobbes to his research:
Rik: … I think that Hobbes kind of provides that scientific perspective in a sense, like he’ll look at something that Calvin is building and be able to see it from a very different perspective and that gives it a different meaning.
Different perspectives are essential in effective scientific research and feedback, and one unusual perspective we didn’t know much about was complexology.. so of course we had to ask.
A brief, further clarification of complexology and it’s relevance to himself, according to Rik:
“It’s just a matter of what you’re idealizing and what details you’re throwing away; instead of throwing away the details of the connections, now you’re throwing away all the details of the internal workings of those parts… for my PhD, I looked at the stock market and why it behaves the way it does and in that case, it seems… that it is the interactions between the pieces that makes so much difference.”
Upon learning that Rik’s PhD was involved with the stock market, and that he’s been very focused on math, physics and computer science, we asked him to do a some predicting for us on some research he’d mentioned on his site:
We were surprised to find a lot of biology-based research here, despite his previously mentioned interests, and
Sarah: ...we were surprised about all [the] statistical physics with all the biology. So we were wondering, which one of these predictions you think would be… the most likely to turn out?
“I don’t think it was a matter of choosing Integrated Sciences, it was more of a matter of falling into it, you know? It’s not like I said “This is what I want to do with my life,” but it’s more like “Now I’m doing this thing; I really like this thing!” I don’t know if there’s a lesson there, because maybe, a lot of what happens in our lives isn’t stuff that we planned, it’s just stuff that happens to us. And it’s just a matter of recognizing whether it’s a good thing or we need to move on.”
Kathleen: Right so, you talked a lot about how for Integrated Sciences, you kind of fell into that opportunity. If the Integrated Sciences program was around when you were still an undergraduate, which courses would you combine/integrate?
Rik: I probably would have done an Integrated Sciences degree, and I would have been interested in physics, computers, and math. And physics and math go together in a pretty straight-forward way, but I think computers could kind of bring a new perspective in. Now it’s pretty common to use computers in simulations and stuff in physics, but I guess, twenty something years ago, when I was an undergrad, it wasn’t so common, and it was a little bit of an unusual thing to do. I had one teacher [Dr. Birger Bergersen] who I did a kind of computer simulation project with us as an undergrad and that kind of opened things up for me because he became my masters and PhD supervisor. And I think yeah, to bring that computer angle in, that’s what I would have done.
Sarah: “...we were also wondering how do you think it’s [Integrated Sciences has] changed and where do you think it’ll go?
Sarah: Do you think you’ll be able to keep accommodating more integrated sciences students, or do you think there’ll be a cap?
Rik: We’re kinda at our maximum with our current capacity and the way we’re running - but it’s the structure that’s pretty flexible… basically we just need more teachers and more advisors - with that we could grow… without bounds.
Kathleen: Okay, so I was looking at - I’m not in this program, I’m only in first year -
Rik: Mhm, but you’re planning to take it?
Kathleen: Yeah, I’m interested!
(nods of approval all around, Kathleen has finally infiltrated the IntSci program and is becoming one of them, one of them, one of them)
Kathleen: I was looking at the Integrated Sciences program website and there were in the Frequently Asked Questions, what is the difference between going into Integrated Sciences and getting a double major? One of the responses I found pretty interesting was:
“The difference between a Double Major and an Integrated Science degree as I see it can best be described by using an analogy to colours. For example, if we say that a Microbiology degree is blue and that a Chemistry degree is yellow, then a Double Major student would have both colours on their palette, but they would be divided one from the other and would be used separately. An Integrated Science degree on the other hand would combine elements of both the blue and the yellow degrees, focusing not only on the separate elements but also on the interactions between those elements and as a result a new field (or at least a new focus) of study is created; green in this analogy.”
Why do you think it’s so important for students to have the option to blend colours compared to just having two different colours on their palette?
Rik: So I think there’s two things.
Upon asking if he is involved with or teaches ISCI classes off of UBC Campus, in Iceland and more...
Rik: “Not the Iceland trip, but I do teach the Pemberton retreat. So that’s ISCI 320. And that’s a blast.”
Kathleen: What is that one about?
Julia Amerongen Madisson was a student of Rik’s on this retreat; she extended a project from the class to develop work examining the spread of culture and what makes an idea catchy. Julia took her scientific knowledge and applied it to examining graffiti on desks in the Koerner library and how they evolved/have evolved over time.
Advice for potential Integrated Sciences students, and interested researchers:
Rik: I think it would be pursue your passion. It’s a pretty simple message, so here’s an opportunity to basically study almost anything… you have a chance to create your own degree. So here’s four years of your life like do it - make the most of it, and make it into something memorable for yourself.
And so, finally,
Kathleen: One more thing - what is the most rewarding part of being in this program for you?
Just to give you guys a headsup, this past Monday, Sarah and I met up (for the first time!) and had a chat with A-Professor-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (for now). It was eye-opening, it was inspiring, and it went admittedly a bit over my head, especially when we were discussing his research. (Almost as if there would be a gaping knowledge gap between what undergraduate students could grasp and the academic works created for a PhD; nevertheless, extremely interesting and we all tried, with rather entertaining results - you'll see!). Most of all, it was a blast and we're grateful for the opportunity to learn so much about the program and about both a lecturer and mentor in it!
Coming soon to a phone or computer screen near you, The Interview: A Blog Collab and Not The James Franco and Seth Rogen Movie That Caused North Korea To Declare War On the United States, But They Will Probably Be Released Around the Same Time, With the Latter Doing Significantly Better in the Box Office.
Here's a sneak peek, and coincidentally, a hint to our interviewee's identity: our first, icebreaker question-
We noticed the first thing we see when we click to your home page is a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. What do you love most about them, how did they inspire you as a kid, as an adult, and how do they compare to other comics for you?
Unwinding is something we all do differently, and those with a busy schedule will agree that time off is something golden and to be cherished. ISCI’s all about making connections in science, so I connected my knowledge of well studied psychological benefits and applied it to…. slacking. Just kidding – but you can use knowledge to cognitively re-frame (or think of) taking time off as being productive, which it is! Yes, “you do you”! What did you do over the weekend? Stress release!
Short bursts of stress = healthy. Prolonged stress = detrimental
Bottom line: use preventative measures on stress, like (1) being prepared for challenges and (2) feeling socially connected, and remember to break up prolonged stressful times with (3) exercise and (4) relaxation.
SCI Team’s ‘Get Into Volunteering' Event
Volunteering can be doubly beneficial; a feel-good event for both the receiving individual(s) and for the volunteer. Furthermore, I want to become a physiotherapist, and like many other programs, it requires involvement in the community. This event last week featured multiple booths offering volunteering opportunities, some of which that include “Right to Play” and “Learning Buddies Network”. In addition, they also had a guest speaker give advice on what to do to get involved. Events like this might not seem like direct stress relief, but feeling prepared to meet future goals (applications, being well-studied for finals, etc, can definitely minimize stress). SCI Team hosts numerous events throughout the year, so to get involved/attend events check out:
SOCIAL ASPECT (2) + EXERCISE (3): (Not to be confused with avoidance coping, for all of you out there in psychology)
The Calendar’s “Digital Zoo” Dance Party
If I had one word for my music taste, it would be eclectic. My iPod is the jack-of-all-trades, good for a bit of everything. So the insistent techno/electronic beats were a bit redundant for me, but it did mesh with the “digital” theme. However, I loved seeing so many fellow students I knew, and it was definitely a way to connect, celebrate and let out some energy.
But how do I know about these events? UBC Calendar of course! Check them out if you want to "shake it off, shake it off".
EXERCISE (3) + RELAXATION (4):
Time to get a little (a lot) sweaty. In the Vancouver, the city that brought you lululemon, you’ll find yoga studios are almost as easy to spot as sushi vendors. Recently, I’ve tried one nearby UBC in Wesbook village, called ‘Hot Box Yoga’. They’re newly started and offering a promotion; like them on Facebook and they’ll give you a free session, so of course I had to go stretch it out.
The session I attended was called ‘Detox’, run by Alyx Kottmeier. Armed with towel, mat, and gigantic water bottle, my first thought was ‘unusual’ – mirrorless, upbeat music infused studio. Turns out, unusual was the definitely the theme; the instructor balanced maintained poses with quick transitions, creating a session that had an interval-training feel. We balanced in poses that should be reserved for figure skaters...
I felt like Julia Lipnitskaya, I felt like I deserved a medal after surviving that one! (kidding, don't worry, what we did was fun.) Alyx instructed us to help hold our neighbour’s leg in the air while doing this pose:
I came precariously close to tumbling everyone (domino effect!) while my friend struggled not to be grin at my less-than-stellar bending skills) but even with that said, I enjoyed my sweat session and left feeling spectacularly refreshed.
In summary: never feel guilty about finding time for yourself. For whatever amidst work or school aspirations you’re putting copious amounts of time and dedication into, remember that a touch of time off will keep you laughing.
On that rather cheesy note, good luck with your finals, you can ace ‘em!
'THE HAIRSTYLE, I SWEAR I MEAN THE HAIRSTYLE!' (said Nicki Minaj, never)
Anonymous UBC Confessions contributor, I commend you. I've been seeing this everywhere, and the first couple of times I thought, 'well, unique is interesting, I guess.'
Then I saw it again... and again a week later, until now I've been seeing it almost every day during my wanders on campus. So I figured, what are the opinions on this one? Is this going to be as big as the parade of Hunter boots around campus for the sheer functionality of it? I mean, if you can avoid getting your hair cut for months on end, as you commit to a hip new look, that's a win-win situation, right? (Haircut costs made up in elastics lost all over the place, don't say I didn't warn you.)
I was walking with a wonderfully sassy friend of mine and spotted one of these fabulous looks, and interrupted the flow of conversation to ask, with perfect subtlety and absolute discretion, with a nod in his direction,
"So, what do you think of man buns?"
WELL, I got about a million and a half sidelong glances from everyone in earshot for that one (GUYS I SWEAR IT WAS IN CONTEXT, PLEASE BELIEVE ME, I CAN'T HELP MY LOUD VOICE). Gold star for me, my life is actually a game of how many times I can be on
My friend never did answer me on that one, she was too busy laughing. Really though, these man buns are all over the place, even Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is rejecting that fantastical flow..
for something much more fun (hair in the eyes, please, he's above that).
The man bun, or the mun, or whatever you feel like calling it, may have shown up a while ago (and been somewhat pioneered by Hollywood in general) but I'm thanking all of you lovely UBC students who rock this one everywhere. I'm not taking credit for the compliment, but I'm definitely a fan.
Let's face it, in the midst of the study insanity called midterms, we all take a second to dream. Maybe we go for a quick daydream in the midst of a lecture, or a bit of musing about plans for the weekends ahead (hello Halloween), or go for an adventure through Atlantis while deep in REM sleep.
But controlling our dreams?
Yes. We've all heard the pep talks, with hard work and determination you can achieve anything you dream of!
Except... what if you want to be a shape-shifter for a day? What if your dream is to be Beyoncé? What do you do when you want to live in a world entirely made out of candy?
Simple. You lucid dream.
I take it back. It's not that simple. But wow, it seems like the ultimate technique for relaxing, for adventure, or for anything your brain could possibly conjure up.
Cloud 9 = lucid dreaming in my life
So what did I do? I decided to try to accomplish it. Various tips for learning to lucid dream (amongst others) recommend writing your dreams down immediately upon waking, checking for wakefulness in everyday life, and planning out what you'd do in your first lucid dream.
Writing down dreams (check: turns out my subconscious really wanted UBC to be a gigantic playground, go figure)
Checking for wakefulness (check: hey you, behind me in the Starbucks line, don't you roll your eyes at me for pinching my arm after picking up my chai tea latte, I'm not hinting that this latte is too good to be true, this is an EXPERIMENT)
Planning it out (check: Candyland. Obviously. Sweet tooth central here.
Did it work? Not for me, yet. But I've come close. I unfortunately woke myself up a few moments after realizing I was dreaming, but we'll see what the future has in store..
Knowing that it can happen definitely helps my determination; research at Frankfurt University, conducted and articulated by Ursula Voss et al. in 'Lucid Dreaming; A State of Consciousness with Features of Both Waking and Non-Lucid Dreaming' (you can find this through the UBC library) has shown that through 'pre-sleep autosuggestion', which simplified is reminding yourself to think about lucid dreaming, initiated lucid dreaming in 3 of the participating subjects. The lucid state was indicated by a predetermined and subsequently measured eye signal from the subject asleep, and during lucid dreaming it was found that brain electrical activity resembled frequencies seen in both awake and non-lucid dreaming states. So basically, lucid dreaming is real, and a unique mental state!
If you've read this and have had a lucid dream (quite the low probability, I know), I'd absolutely love to hear from you! Write about your dream, or any tips you happen to have for me here in the comments for this blog and I'll definitely write you right back!
If you still want to know more, check out http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/
Rather worth a Saturday morning, this conference is run by SCI Team and SPAC (science peer academic coaches) who, along with some professors too, run workshops giving study tips tailored to individual subjects, including math, chemistry, physics, and bio. Here's a rundown on what you missed:
Intro: Even before the keynote speech began, the coaches were surprisingly approachable - in that they went around approaching you and asking about hey how are you, who are you, what are you doing here (all in friendly, non-aggressively interrogative tones - it was a conference, not a kidnapping). The point may have been to present a welcome environment so that our shells of quiet habit could be pried open easier but I think I ended up knowing one of the coaches more than they knew me (in retrospect, when somebody asks "what made you come here today?", asking "why are you a coach?" is a little cheeky- sorry!).
Chemistry: The professor presenting seemed very intent upon helping us study successfully and to avoid the mistakes she made; at some point, she emphasized, she was a student too, and it was very comforting to know somebody could empathize with what we were going through and it was possible to survive without undergoing grotesque evolutionary adaptations.
I attended Biology, Active Learning, and Exam Preparation so The major tips discussed and emphasized were:
1. Don't read, reread, re-re-read through everything. That doesn't suffice as studying anymore. Not recommended, unnecessary, ineffective in terms of the enormous amounts of time required and the little retention acquired that can actually be translated into points on the midterm/final exam/in case of the apocalypse.
2. Instead, the practice questions are where it's at. Online, in your ChIRP, the practice midterms. Practice and repeat. Even if your answer is correct when you check, pause for a moment and be honest: was that leprechaun luck or do you actually know what you’re doing? Also, try extrapolating as to what other similar questions could be asked, and visit your professor during office hours to check if they would really be tested.
3. Most importantly, LEARNING OBJECTIVES. Probably be the mantra chanted during their hallowed meetings in the halls of a musty, underground, wall-to-wall carpeted study sanctuary if SPAC were to be some sort of cult (which disclaimer: they aren't), this was the recurring theme of the subject workshops. Required by UBC mandate to be created for every course, professors did outline these with much thought and this is why these concepts you must understand are often the central ideas being tested. Designed to be not too vague to be confusing and not too definite to limit the teaching or the students from exploring the topic, being aware of them could help save time in prioritizing what you really need to know, which always boils down to what are the exam questions fishing for, what will earn you the most points, etc. This is starting to sound like a gameplan, which is probably the basic reasoning behind the study plan they explained we should make.
4. During the exam itself? Be Calm. Probably one of my favourite songs by fun. Aim and Ignite is the ultimate pop album and their 5th anniversary recently passed- was going to link you guys to where they were offering their digital album for free download but their deal ended so here's a listening link instead.
If Kelly's okay with it, I'd write a post raving about what I listen to, but my taste is so blatantly mainstream early 2000s it's embarrassing that I have zero shame.
5. In true buzzfeed quiz style, experiment to find and #haveityourway. Group vs independent, note styles to summarize and to review vs to connect and reinforce, this conference was excellent in that you could take away many techniques, supported by examples and personal advice and experience, to try out.
Sometimes, when things get abstract, you think "I know, I know, I need to manage my time effectively, that's so obvious, of course I need to stay focused and eat healthy and not procrastinate and excel and succeed, ain't nobody got time to listen to these fancy words for 'be a nerd', let's get STARTED already." And I'm sure you're the ultimate sassmaster and nobody can compare and you got this, but the most important part of knowing things you have to do is the follow through. And the follow through is the most difficult until you understand where to start for it to work.
As midterms approach, or have already hit for some of us, nerves can be running high. What better to control those pre-exam butterflies with a little (or a lot) of sweet deliciousness? Whether you like just a taste of chocolate every now and then, or if it's a staple food in your diet, UBC can accommodate. Elf's four main food groups might be candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup; but with this guide, I'm recommending a fifth: chocolate.
NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE, CHOCOLATE WILL BE THERE.
Seriously, there are a million (or so) Starbucks on campus, and you're a rare person if you say no to their double chocolate chip frappuccino. Alright, I might be biased, but you're walking on main mall, or headed to the SUB? Chocolate. University village/marketplace? Even more chocolate. Headed home through Wesbrook? You get the idea.
Tim Horton's. Definitely a Canadian classic. A mocha, (or for a little extra sweetness, ask for a half hot chocolate half french vanilla), is always wonderful on a rainy day. Tim Horton's also takes UBCcard.
Blue Chip Cookies. Hello heaven. Almost anything on this menu is wonderful, but hazelnut hot chocolate? YES. Pair that with the Marbelous cookie, a delightful mix of white and dark chocolate, and you'll have enough cocoa for days. For all of you with food money on your UBCcard, Blue Chip'll definitely accept it.
Pearl Fever Tea House. This one's honestly my favourite, if you've never had an Oreo bubble tea (make sure you get pearls with it) you definitely need to get yourself there. Another fairly unusual, scrumptious creation is their Ferrero Rocher bubble tea. The only downside here is that they don't take UBCcard.
Menchies. Besides their usual array of chocolate goodness, they also occasionally have nutella frozen yogurt!
In addition, don't forget about the upcoming events with ISSA, Meet Your Mentor on Tuesday Oct. 7th, from 4:00 - 6:30pm, and another event that those of us with a sweet tooth will love, a pie eating contest on Friday, Oct. 10th, from 12:00 - 2:30pm (see Events page for details).
Alright chocoholics, I hope I've mentioned at least one new concoction to try!
RECOMMENDED READS: CATEGORIES "MENTOR SPOTLIGHTS" AND "ALUMNUS INTERVIEWS"
About Me: My major is Integrated Sciences; I'm integrating physiology and psychology, and completing a minor in kinesiology. The movie 'The Imitation Game' blew my mind, and every piece done by the artist Alex Cherry is spectacular. Also, if you look up the definition of a bookworm, you'll find me.
Integrating Physiology and Neuroscience!
I like hanging out at Tower Beach but you can usually find me studying at Ponderosa even though I don't live there.