Blog

Good Eats

African college student listening to music and drinking a smoothie

Making food choices can feel difficult, considering the conflicting messages in the media, confusing information on food packages, or if you’re running short on time.

Here are four quick tips to help you nourish your body in a way that makes you feel good.

Honour your hunger

It sounds simple, but it can feel tricky. If you are busy or are used to ignoring your hunger cues you might not notice them until you are feeling hangry—where you’ll eat anything in sight. Honouring your hunger means catching those cues before you get to the over-hungry stage. A quick tip is to eat a meal or snack every 3-5 hours so that you can focus on the important things, like studying and connecting with friends.

Enjoy a variety of foods

Find foods that are enjoyable and satisfying to you—yes all foods! Some days you may want something hearty and comforting, and other days something fresh and light. Letting your body guide you in enjoying a variety of foods helps you nourish your body with a variety of nutrients. Not all foods are nutritionally equal and that’s ok! Food isn’t just fuel—it’s a celebration of culture, connection with others, comfort and more!

From mountain to tap

UBC’s tap water is safe, clean and ready to drink. Originating in our North Shore mountain watersheds, UBC’s tap water is provided by the Metro Vancouver water system and is regularly tested against Canadian guidelines for drinking water quality.

Try plant-based proteins

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Eating plant-based proteins—like beans, peas, lentils, tofu, nuts or seeds—can help our environment and your wallet.

Delicious plant-based meal options include falafel dishes, lentil curry, marinated tofu and vegetable stir fry, and bean-based veggie burgers.

All three residence dining halls offer lots of plant-based meal options. Explore with your taste buds and add plant-based dishes that you enjoy to your day.

Make an appointment with a residence dietitian

We are here to help! Meet our dietitians and ask a question, check out the nutrition blog or book an appointment.

Healthy Relationships and Respect

Healthy relationships can bring out the best in people, allowing them to experience personal growth and greater life satisfaction. This is true for intimate relationships, as well as friendships and relationships with family members.

Fostering healthy relationships

The first step to taking care of your relationships is to take an honest look at them.

A healthy relationship has at least five important qualities: safety, honesty, acceptance, respect and enjoyment.

Here are a few ideas to get you started, whether you’re beginning a new relationship or you want to improve an existing relationship.

Strive for meaningful relationships

Developing meaningful relationships can be challenging because it involves sharing our feelings as well as our needs and wants, which can make us feel vulnerable; however, being close with someone may involve sharing these things and taking that kind of emotional risk.

Communicate effectively

Communication is often listed as one of the most important elements of a healthy relationship. Own your opinions and reactions by using “I-statements” (i.e., “I feel sad because this wasn’t how I expected things to turn out.”). Take time to listen to what someone has to say. Reflect your understanding back to the other person by re-stating what you’ve heard in your own words.

Fight fairly

Most relationships will have some conflict. This is normal and means you disagree, not that you don’t like each other. Keep the conversation about behaviour, not about personalities. Stay in the present. Focus on the current conflict and avoid bringing up past difficulties.

Make time to discuss what’s important

If you or the other person is tired or busy, be sure to find a better time to talk about what’s bothering you.

When a relationship ends

It can be challenging, in a number of ways, when a relationship ends, regardless of the type of relationship or how it ended. Here are some important things you can do to take care of yourself:

  • Talk to friends, family and other trusted individuals.
  • Take care of your health (e.g., exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy food, take time for spiritual reflection).
  • Give yourself time to acknowledge the pain you are experiencing. The feelings you are experiencing are completely normal.
  • Recognize that grief is a common experience at the end of a relationship.
  • Permit yourself to grieve for the loss of the relationship.

Resources

If you find that things aren’t getting better, think about talking to a Counsellor in Residence. They can help you work through the emotions that you’re experiencing.

Other resources

Building an #InclusiveUBC

At UBC, we’re building an inclusive community that’s welcoming to people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Here’s some information to help 2SLGBTQIA+ students get connected at UBC—and for those who don’t identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ to learn more about how to show their support.

Find Your Community

Get Connected

Throughout the school year, there are regular opportunities for 2SLGBTQIA+ students to get connected and build community. Check with student clubs, UBC Events and the Equity and Inclusion Office regularly for upcoming opportunities.

Student Clubs & Groups

  • The Pride Collective at UBC—An AMS student resource group that offers educational and social services related to sexual orientation and gender diversity at UBC.
  • Residence Pride Collectives—Communities of 2SLGBTQIA+ residents at Place Vanier, Totem Park and Orchard Commons who want to connect with each other.
  • Gears and Queers—A club that supports and provides a safe space for 2SLGBTQIA+ engineering students.

Stay Connected

Stay connected to equity and inclusion opportunities on campus! Sign up for the Inclusive UBC newsletter or connect with UBC’s Equity and Inclusion Office on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

Access Resources

Learn about the services, help and resources available to the UBC community.

Gender-Inclusive Washrooms

Gender-inclusive washrooms and change rooms are located all over UBC. Look for the sign below or find their locations on the gender-inclusive bathroom map.

Have concerns?

If you feel that you have experienced human rights-based discrimination or if you have a harassment concern, book an appointment with the Human Rights Advisor at the Equity & Inclusion Office.

Show Your Support

If you don’t identify as a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, here’s what you can do to educate yourself, be an ally and help build a more #inclusiveUBC.

What can you do?

Respect people’s identity

Be mindful of people’s comfort with how public they are about their identity—and how it can affect their safety. Don’t out someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

You know what they say about assuming …

Never assume someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Respectfully ask people what pronouns they use regardless of their name or appearance.

Use gender-inclusive language

Use language like “everyone” and “folks” rather than “guys” or “ladies.”

Speak up!

Let people know when you find transphobic and homophobic comments and jokes hurtful and offensive.

Educate yourself

Seek out resources and learn about issues that impact 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

Use the Correct Pronouns

People do not always use pronouns that you may expect. It’s important to use someone’s correct pronoun to support their wellbeing and to validate their identity. Here are some of the commonly used pronouns.

Subjective Objective Possessive Reflexive
She Her Hers Herself
He Him His Himself
They Them Theirs Themselves
Ze Hir/Zir Hir/Zir Hirself/Zirself
Develop Allyship Skills

Do you know what to do if you misgender a friend? Want to learn strategies for engaging in respectful interactions related to names, pronouns and inclusive language? Are you seeking more information about patterns of normativity?

Take the Positive Space: Foundations course—a free and self-guided online course and resource hub for promoting and practicing inclusivity towards sexual and gender diversity.

Healthy Stress Management

Female runner tying her shoes preparing for a jog

Stress is a normal part of life. Like the subjects you’ll study, the stress you experience—about exams, presentations, papers, friends, and relationships, to name just a few—is training you for greater challenges in life and your career. Good news! There are lots of great ways to manage your stress response. Think of these strategies as life hacks for building resilience and learning how to adapt to life’s daily challenges.

In the moment

Figure out what the problem really is

Think through the situation that’s causing you stress. What’s bugging you the most? What is the real problem?

Consider the solutions

Even a difficult solution is still a solution. Solving the problem, even when it’s difficult or when it takes a lot of time is always the best coping strategy. Ask people for help. After all, that’s how people have solved problems for centuries!

Acknowledge what you can’t change

If there isn’t a solution and you can’t change the situation, you may need to acknowledge that and move on. Consider that door closed and get started looking for another one that you may be able to open.

Be realistic

Try to put things in perspective. Not every stressor is the end of the world. If this situation was happening to a friend, would you see the situation differently? What advice would you give them?

Acknowledge your feelings

It’s OK to feel angry or upset once in a while. You don’t have to bottle up your feelings. Admitting that something is really bugging you can often make you feel a lot better. Then, move from feeling to thinking. Move from experiencing the problem to solving it.

Daily habits

Build healthy relationships

Anytime you’re experiencing stress, talking to friends and family can make a big difference. Developing healthy relationships with people you can count on is an important part of preparing to deal with stress.

Reflect on your relationship with substances

Using substances might make you feel less stress in the short term, but they may not be long-term solutions. If substances are your main response for stress, reflect on why. Talk with the Student Recovery Community, or a mental health or medical professional about what less or safer use might look like.

Eat a healthy diet

A well-balanced diet makes you mentally and physically stronger. It gives your body the fuel you need to succeed. For resources, guidance and support, visit  UBC Nutrition.

Get active

One of the best ways to relax and de-stress is to get active. Exercise is good for the brain and body. Research shows that for the biggest impact, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day is key. But even just walking to class, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a walk with a friend instead of going for coffee or drinks can make a big difference.

Remember: Exercise isn’t about losing or maintaining weight. It’s about keeping the body, heart, lungs, and brain strong—for today and tomorrow!

Sleep

A good night’s sleep is necessary for optimal mental and physical health. How much sleep is ideal for most people? 7 to 9 hours! But you’ll know how much is right for you. Keep in mind that all-night/binge study sessions aren’t a very effective study method. You’re better off getting a good night’s sleep and reviewing key points in the morning.

Manage your time

Learn how to schedule assignments and other daily responsibilities. It will help you be more productive and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. When you know that you have time to do everything you need to do, it makes your day easier to manage.

Having trouble sleeping?

Here are some tips:

  • Avoid screens (phone, tablet, TV, laptop) for at least an hour before bed
  • Go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day
  • Create a consistent routine to prepare yourself for sleep

Learn more

Content adapted from Transitions, a resource guide for university students, and the first evidence-based publication of its kind, developed by Dr. Stan Kutcher.

Everyday Stress

Student studying for exam

Stress is a normal part of life. Like the subjects you’ll study, the stress you experience—about exams, presentations, papers, friends and relationships, to name just a few—is training you for greater challenges in life and your career.

What is stress?

When people talk about stress, what they really mean is the stress response. The stress response is the way your brain and body let you know that you have a challenge or problem that needs to be addressed. It’s the signal that causes us to adapt and become more resilient.

Why should I use the term Stress Response?

The word stress has taken on a negative connotation that leads to unhelpful ways of thinking about and managing our stress response. Using clear language to describe our experiences helps us learn how to use the stress response to promote, instead of reduce, our health and mental health.

What about anxiety?

We often substitute the word anxiety when we mean the stress response. But anxiety is not the same thing as the stress response.

The myth of evil stress

Until recently, most people believed that the stress response was bad for you, that stress should be avoided whenever possible. We’ve been bombarded by media and product marketing that has made us believe that we should avoid or decrease the stress response. Just think about how many products or services are advertised as essential for stress relief.

As it turns out, most daily stress that we experience is actually good for us. And avoiding it could even be harmful.

While daily stressors typically don’t harm us, historic and ongoing stressors, such as trauma or systemic discrimination, can have a significant and detrimental impact in our lives.

Why everyday stress is good for us

Everyday stress actually makes us stronger. Like exercise works our muscles and prepares them for greater physical exertion, managing everyday stress by using healthy coping strategies helps us become emotionally and psychologically stronger. It makes us more resilient to life’s challenges.

In other words, when you experience a stressful situation and successfully cope with it, you’re getting an emotional and psychological workout. The next time a similar stressor comes along, you’re better equipped to handle it. And it probably won’t feel as stressful the next time around.

Avoiding stress

The key is not necessarily reducing the amount of stress you experience, but learning how best to deal with the stress that comes along with being alive.

But isn’t it easier to avoid stress? Or get someone else to make the stressful thing or situation go away? Maybe in the short term, but it will catch up with you.

If you avoid stress or expect someone else to resolve the problem for you, you don’t learn the skills you need to take on life’s daily challenges. Over time, this can lead to feeling helpless and constantly stressed out. You’ve traded developing long-term resilience for short-term relief. Does that sound like a good trade?

Have you become a stress avoider? Do you feel overwhelmed or helpless when you experience stress? Even if you’ve developed these habits and responses to stress, you can reverse them and develop health-promoting ways to manage your stress. You can turn stress from your enemy into your friend.

The myth of exam anxiety

Most people don’t have exam anxiety. Instead, they’re experiencing the normal stress response to writing an exam. Experiencing the stress response about exams is the signal that you need to develop solutions in order to succeed at that task. How are you going to prepare to do the best that you can do? What skills do you need to develop to help yourself take on this challenge?

Learn more

Content adapted from Transitions, a resource guide for university students, and the first evidence-based publication of its kind, developed by Dr. Stan Kutcher.

Climate Action and Sustainability

Working together to create change—at UBC and beyond.

Three students walking together.

UBC is an agent of change for sustainability, urgent climate action and a more just society. As one of the world’s leading universities on sustainability, we’re responding to the unprecedented challenges of a changing planet by harnessing our individual, collective and institutional powers to accelerate action.

Visit UBC Sustainability to learn more about all the ways that UBC is taking action through teaching and applied learning, research, campus initiatives—such as green buildings, energy management, food, transportation and more—and how you can get involved.

Plus, check out UBC’s Climate Action Plan (CAP 2030) and Climate Emergency Response.

As a member of the UBC community, you are also a significant part of this change. Here are some tips for contributing to climate action and sustainability at UBC and beyond.

What You Can Do

Individual actions

Living in residence is a great way to contribute to sustainability at UBC. By not commuting, you’re already making a big contribution toward emissions reductions.

Here are a few additional ways you can help UBC reduce emissions and reach our collective climate action goals.

Reduce your waste

  • Sort It Out—At UBC, we separate most of our waste into four streams: food scraps, containers, paper and garbage.
  • Choose to Reuse—Help reduce the amount of disposable foodware in landfills and the environment by using reusable mugs, water bottles, food containers and cutlery.

Eat sustainably

  • Enjoy climate-friendly food—Use UBC’s new climate-friendly food labelling system, currently being piloted in residence dining, to help you make informed choices about what you’re eating.
  • Keep it plant-based—at least sometimes! Take part in Meatless Mondays or try limiting meat to just one meal per day. There are lots of great plant-based options on the menu.

Reduce energy use

It takes a lot of energy to provide hot water to our campus buildings. Each year UBC residences use 520 million litres of water. And half of that water is used for showers!

  • Take the 5-minute shower pledge.
  • Use cold water when doing your laundry.
  • Wear warmer layers instead of turning up the heat.

Take responsibility for your belongings

  • Purchase used things instead of new—and buy items that last. Did you know UBC has its own thrift store located in the UBC Life Building?
  • Take care of your belongings—by maintaining, repairing and mending them when possible.
  • Gift, donate or recycle your old stuff—instead of throwing it away.
Caring for yourself is caring for the planet

Connecting with nature is not only great for your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, it reminds us why our climate and sustainability efforts matter in the first place. Luckily, engaging with nature is easy at UBC!

  • Take regular movement breaks outside—rain or shine!
  • Grow a houseplant—or seven.
  • Explore one of the easily-accessible wooded areas on our beautiful campus.
  • Visit one of UBC’s awesome attractions including Nitobe Memorial Garden, Rose Garden, UBC Farm, UBC Botanical Garden and the Greenheart TreeWalk (just to name a few).
  • Get active in Pacific Spirit Park, with its rich network of trails, right next to campus.
  • Visit one of the spectacular nearby beaches, from Wreck Beach to Kits Beach.
  • Go on a treasure hunt to spot specific plants, trees or birds—like UBC’s biggest tree, a 400-year old Douglas fir, Bald Eagles, Banana Slugs, Sword Ferns and more.

Collective actions

There are lots of great ways you can extend your impact at UBC through community and collective involvement, like joining a residence committee, getting involved in a campus-wide initiative, taking a course and more!

Community

Study, research and leadership

Consent (for parents and guardians)

Group of young students together

Adapted with permission from an article by Saleema Noon, Sexual Health Educator

Parental consent for a field trip. Informed consent to participate in a study. We throw the word consent around without thinking about it too much, but what about sexual consent? What is it and what do we need to teach our kids about it?

A while back, I set out to do some research before writing an article about sexual consent when I came across an article on scarleteen.com (an amazing sexual health website for teens and people in their 20s). The article, Driver’s Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent, gives the most comprehensive discussion of sexual consent I have ever come across (not shocking, Scarleteen explains everything so much better than I ever could!).

According to Scarleteen, sexual consent is: “An active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sex of any kind with someone else, and a shared responsibility for everyone engaging in, or who wants to engage in, any kind of sexual interaction with someone. When there is a question or invitation about sex of any kind, when consent is mutually given or affirmed, the answer on everyone’s part is an enthusiastic yes.”

So what exactly does that mean?

Well, “willingly and freely choosing” means that both partners are making sexual decisions in a safe, respectful environment in which they have equal power. They don’t feel pressured or manipulated, and are comfortable with the consequences of their decision.

“An enthusiastic yes” reflects a strong desire that a person wants to act on. They are not indifferent or uncertain. There are many ways to express a ”yes,” but the safest and clearest way to do it is with words. Consent is best when it’s a verbal, enthusiastic “YES!”.

But sexual consent is not just a one-time thing. It is fluid, it can be revoked, it is not one size fits all.

Jaclyn Friedman, co-editor of Yes Means Yes, explains that well when she says:

“Sexual consent isn’t like a light switch, which can be either “on” or “off.” It’s not like there’s this one thing called “sex” you can consent to anyhow. “Sex” is an evolving series of actions and interactions. You have to have the enthusiastic consent of your partner for all of them. And even if you have your partner’s consent for a particular activity, you have to be prepared for it to change. Consent isn’t a question. It’s a state.

“If, instead of lovers, the two of you were synchronized swimmers, consent would be the water. It’s not enough to jump in, get wet and climb out—if you want to swim, you have to be in the water continually. And if you want to have sex, you have to be continually in a state of enthusiastic consent with your partner.”

So what does all of this mean for us as adults and as parents? Scarleteen does a great job of highlighting the must-have information for people of all ages about this very complex concept. Now that’s sexy!

The essential rules of the consensual road

Consent is about everyone involved in a sexual or possibly sexual interaction. Not just one gender, not just young people, not just whoever didn’t initiate sex to begin with, not just the person whose body part someone else’s body part may be touching or going into. For sex to be fully consensual, everyone needs to seek consent, everyone needs to be affirming it, and everyone needs to accept and respect each other’s answers, nixing sex or stepping back, pronto, if and when someone expresses a stop.

Consent can ALWAYS be withdrawn. Consent to any kind of sex is not a binding contract nor does consent obligate anyone to follow through. It is also one-time-only: because someone consented to sex Tuesday does not mean they were giving consent for sex on Thursday.

Nothing makes consent automatic or unnecessary. Being someone’s spouse or romantic partner doesn’t give anyone consent by default. Someone loving you or saying they love you doesn’t mean they have your sexual consent or you have theirs. No one kind of sex means consent to another, or that anyone is “owed” any sex. For instance, someone who engages in oral sex is not asking for or consenting to intercourse; someone who says yes to kissing is not saying yes to any other kind of touching. Because someone has had any kind of sex in the past does not mean they will have sex or consent to sex again with that same person or anyone else nor that they are obligated in any way to do so.

In some situations, full, informed and free consent cannot truly be given or shared. Those include: being drunk or wasted, being asleep, being unable to really understand what one is saying yes to, including possible risks and outcomes; being under severe duress, like when seriously upset, ill, grieving or scared, or being unable to understand another person’s words or other means of communication. Consider things like these to be a red light to even asking about sex: sex should usually be off the table entirely in these situations. Legally, when someone is under the age of legal consent, with someone of an age where sex is not lawful, and in most of the above situations, sex is a crime.

Nonconsent means STOP. If someone is NOT consenting to something or says no with their words and/or actions, the other person MUST stop trying to do that thing AND must not try to convince that person to do that thing in any way. If they do not stop, or exert emotional or other pressure and that person gives up and gives in, they are sexually assaulting that person. Sex is not sex if everyone is not consenting. If anyone is not consenting or not asking for consent, then what is happening is or may be rape, sexual abuse or assault.

A lack of no does not mean yes.

Learn more

Videos Saleema recommends

UBC resources

Sex and sexual health information and resources, including information about consent.

KonMari your residence room

Whether it’s the middle of term or a week before you move out, keep your space fresh and organized with these decluttering tips!

Man working at desk

By Amanda Keating, 3rd year Arts student

During my time living in residence at UBC, it’s safe to say that I have collected a lot of stuff.

In first-year, I flew in from the US with just three suitcases. Flash-forward to third-year: let’s just say that three suitcases were barely enough to fit my vast collection of UBC sweatshirts. It’s totally natural to collect more things as you move through residence, but how much is too much? As I entered my third year, this was the dilemma I faced.

Let me paint you a picture of what my room looked like.

Clothes I hadn’t worn in months filled my closet, textbooks from first-year haunted my bookshelf, and there was a growing cache of who-knows-what under my bed.

Maybe you’re in the same boat?

Whether you’re moving out of residence or just want to tidy things up, figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of can be tough. That old hoodie from high school can have a lot of memories attached to it. That copy of War & Peace on your bookshelf… It’s your next great read, right?!

Like me, maybe you’re not sure where to start. I had no idea what to do with the accumulation of stuff that was taking over my space. Then, after watching her Netflix series, I turned to Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method—like millions of other North Americans!— and my room is now much happier (and tidier) because of it. Here’s how the process works and how it worked for me!

What is the KonMari Method?

According to Marie Kondo, the KonMari Method is not a “set of rules on how to sort, organize, and put things away. It is a guide to acquiring the right mindset for creating order and becoming a tidy person.”

A common misunderstanding is that the KonMari Method is actually just about minimalism—about living with less. Although minimalism and KonMari have many similarities, the KonMari Method is more about living with those things you truly cherish. The result might be the same, but not necessarily!

When I decided to declutter my room, I actually used a combination of the Konmari Method and minimalism. Turned out, I only had a few items that truly sparked joy, which made it easier to get rid of my unnecessary items. You might have lots of items that spark joy, and that’s okay too!

The 5 Steps to Decluttering Your Space

Woman holding pile of knit blankets

Even though I used some aspects of minimalism, for simplicity, let’s just stick to the KonMari Method, with its 5 essential steps to decluttering. Use these steps to help you figure out what to keep, throw away, or donate—or, if you’re moving out, what you want to put into storage or take with you.

Also, if it’s your first time using this method, I’d recommend setting aside an entire day to tidy up. Or split your tidying over a couple of days.

1. Discard by category first.

The first step is to discard your items—by category. Marie Kondo recommends using this order:

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Kimono (a.k.a., miscellaneous 😜)
  • Mementos

2. Break your categories into subcategories, if needed.

If you have a lot of one type of item, like clothes or books, you can break these down into smaller subcategories. For clothes, the obvious choice is shirts, pants, shoes, etc. But you could also break that category down by season or colour. The choice is yours!

3. Keep only the things that spark joy.

This is the phrase that put Marie Kondo on the world’s stage. Here’s how it works:

  • Pick up each item individually.
  • Really feel it.
  • Then, ask yourself: does this item spark joy?

Do you have an emotional connection to the item? Yeah? OK, that one’s a keeper. Not so much? Looks like it’s time to let it go. This is the time to decide which items hold meaning for you, or serve a purpose in your life, and which items are, honestly, just stuff. Ask yourself: do you really need those books from last term—or are they better off on someone else’s shelf?

4. After you’ve finished discarding, it’s time to organize your room.

Choose where you’re going to store the things you’re keeping, whether it be in your drawers, closet, or under your bed. Just remember to store the same types of items in the same place. Looking for some storage options? IKEA has tons of cost-effective and residence-friendly options to help you optimize your space.

5. Do it all in one go.

While you can do the process over a couple of days, if you need to, Marie Kondo recommends decluttering your space in one single-day session, rather than little-by-little. It might seem like an overwhelming thing to do, but trust me, it will take way less time than you think. And doing so will help change your entire mindset when it comes to maintaining an organized space.

Girl sitting in chair reading a book

And that’s it! Once you’ve finished decluttering your space with the KonMari Method, you should have 3 piles:

  1. Stuff you’re going to donate.
  2. Stuff you’re putting in storage.
  3. Stuff you’re going to recycle or throw away.

You could also add a fourth pile for items you want to sell on the UBC Buy & Sell Facebook group, Craigslist, or a marketplace app.

The takeaway

If you decide to declutter in the middle of the school year like I did, your room will be a much happier, less distracting, and better functioning space—whether you need to chill out after a long day of classes, hunker down for a late-night study session, or quickly pack a bag for a weekend away.

If you decide to declutter while getting ready to move out, letting go of the things that don’t spark joy will make moving into your next place that much easier.

For me, using the KonMari Method to declutter my room helped me completely transform my space. My drawers are less cluttered and my closet is free of all those unworn sweatshirts. After an arduous study session at IKB, it now feels so comforting to step into a tidy, organized room, which contains items that I know spark joy.

Ultimately, it’s up to you what, and how much, you choose to get rid of when you KonMari your room. Maybe your space is in dire need of a deep decluttering. Maybe it just needs a minor clean-up. Figure out what’s best for you, and get to it. Happy decluttering!

Study Break Ideas To Help You Rock Your Exams

How can you make the most of your study break? It’s easier than you think.

By Amanda Keating, 3rd year Arts student

It’s happened to the best of us. You’re in the middle of a study session and you decide to take a well-deserved break. You pull out your phone and open TikTok. You tell yourself “Just for ten minutes…”

Two hours later, you’re lost in the endless abyss that is your For You page. Your textbook remains untouched and your eyes droop shut with exhaustion.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me and an innocent study break has quickly escalated into doing nothing—for hours… I condemned my procrastination. I swore to myself I would never do it again. But those were empty promises.

Until I started to ask some questions. What is the actual purpose of a study break? We’re all told that study breaks are good for us. But why are they good for us?

Turns out routine study breaks have many benefits including increased productivity, motivation, and creativity. The catch? You need to take the right kind of study break. Despite how tempting it may sound, “accidentally” binging five episodes of Love Island or aimlessly scrolling through TikTok does not count.

When to take study breaks

Human attention spans aren’t particularly long, and research indicates that the human brain is actually wired for distraction. So how can you combat your own programming and avoid the pitfalls of an unproductive study break? As with many things in life, it’s all about timing.

The sweet spot for productive focus is estimated to be somewhere between 50 and 90 minutes, with the ideal study break length being between 15 and 20 minutes—but you can take longer for meals, of course. 🙂

These days, during study sessions, I typically use the Pomodoro Technique. But feel free to experiment and see what tools, techniques, and time increments work for you. Whatever you choose, the timer on your phone will soon become your best friend.

How to spend your study breaks

So, now we know an effective study break is just 15–20 minutes. What are you going to do with that time?

Importantly, you want to decide ahead of time what to do during your study breaks; otherwise, the moment you touch your phone you know you’re going to slide into that TikTok vortex I warned you about earlier.

With that in mind, here are six effective study break ideas—to help you feel rejuvenated and ready to focus when you return to that textbook, essay, or project.

Remember, set a timer for both your study sessions and your study breaks, so you don’t forget to get back to work!

1. Have a meal or healthy snack

It’s easy to get in the zone while studying and completely forget to eat. If you’re in first year residence, take a walk down to your residence dining room or market and grab something to eat. There are lots of healthy takeaway options! If you’re in upper-year residence or living off-campus, use your study break to make yourself a quick snack or meal. Consider prepping food ahead of time so it’s ready to go!

Need some ideas? UBC Food Services offers some delicious, easy recipes to try out! And don’t miss all the great cooking tips and tricks on @ubcfoodie!

2. Take a walk

Seriously, leave your study space! Although taking a walk in Vancouver’s rainy weather isn’t always ideal, it can be really beneficial to change your environment and move your body during your study break. So grab your umbrella and head outside to give your brain a rest and switch gears for a few minutes, so you can return to your study space refreshed and ready to go!

3. Meditate

This one might sound a bit out there, but hear me out! Taking 15-20 minutes to slow your breathing, quiet your racing mind, and refocus your attention can be super helpful. So if you’re still with me, make sure you sit somewhere that isn’t your desk, and let a podcast or YouTube video guide you through the meditation.

Meditation not your thing? Try some simple breathing exercises! They have similar effects as meditation, and there are many videos on YouTube to help guide you through.

4. Tidy up your room (or study space)

You might have heard the phrase “clear space, clear mind.” It has some truth to it, don’t you think? Take a moment to look around your room. Is it messy? A little bit cluttered? Use your study break to tidy it up! Clear the laundry from the floor, throw your trash away, and make the bed you “forgot” to make in the morning.

5. Visit your friends

Be careful with this one. You go to visit your friend, and what was supposed to be a quick stop-by turns into a two hour hangout. Despite that risk, social interaction can help break you out of your internal monologue and allow you to focus on something other than studying. Plus, tons of research supports the mental health benefits of social interaction. Just make sure you don’t lose track of time!

6. Take a power nap

No, not a three-hour, extended sleep; just a short and sweet power nap. In fact, you only need about 20 minutes to feel the benefits. Just avoid napping for more than 30 minutes, since that can leave you feeling groggy.

Of course, how you spend your study breaks is up to you! The most important things are to set a timer to keep it short and to choose an activity that helps you relax and reset your mind—so you can get back to focused, attentive studying after your well-deserved break. You got this!

Getting around UBC: An intro to transit on campus

Turns out, you don’t have to walk everywhere.

By Michaela Dunn, 3rd year Arts student

It’s a warm, windy day in early September. The air smells of hot pavement. I’m in first year, it’s my first week at UBC, and I’m in the middle of my first mission to stock up on snacks for my room. I hobble down East Mall for the fourth time, in flip-flops, a blue Student Housing lanyard dangling around my neck. I notice a blue and grey bus drive by. 

Onlookers—mostly upper-year students—sneak perplexed (or sympathetic?) glances as they watch me stumble, my shoulders slumping with the weight of four over-filled Save-On-Foods’ grocery bags grasped in each hand, their plastic handles losing structural integrity with each step. A second bus passes by.

Now, you may be wondering: how on earth did I find myself in this situation? Who in their right mind would lug heavy groceries for two kilometres, on foot, from Wesbrook Village to Totem Park Residence twice in two hours? Not to mention the return trips.

The funny thing is, I’m from Toronto, Ontario, where transit is very much a thing. The concept of buses was not foreign to me. First year me, however, was painfully  unaware that transportation on campus existed—and it’s okay if you don’t know about it either! 

Transit on campus

During my first year (after I figured out they existed…) I depended on the trusty 68 and 70 bus routes. These two powerhouses were the backbone of the transit system on campus. With the launch of Translink’s Rapidbus service in January 2020, and the R4 bus, the campus transit landscape got something of a refresh.

Let me bring you up to speed:

  • The 70 is no more. 🚌😵
  • The 68 has a longer route, running via the west side of campus between the UBC Bus Exchange and Wesbrook Village.
  • For trips along Wesbrook Mall, take the 49—or the R4!

Now that those changes are out of the way, let’s get into what makes the 68 so helpful—nay, necessary—for taking care of business during your UBC years.

The 68

The 68 is a community shuttle bus that operates just like any other Translink bus. Simply tap your Compass Card (aka, your U-Pass) and enjoy the ride.

Take the 68 from Totem Park to that class at Buchanan. Take it for that early-morning swim at the Aquatic Centre. Heading for an adventure in Pacific Spirit Park, but want to save your energy for the actual run? The 68 will take you (most of the way) there too.

Where else does it go?

The 68 can also drop you off near ALL. THE. ATTRACTIONS. Suddenly, an excursion to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) or the Botanical Garden doesn’t seem quite as daunting.

And, hey, if in January you don’t want to compromise your snazzy Friday night outfit with your rain boots, umbrella and parka, the 68 will embrace you in a warm hug, give you a pat on the back, and drop you off right near your campus destination.

Here are some other key places you can visit:

  • Wesbrook Village
  • UBC Farm 
  • The Point
  • Koerner’s
  • The Student Rec Centre/the ARC
  • …and more!

How late does it run?

In case you find yourself studying on the other end of campus after dark, most nights the 68 runs every 20 minutes until between midnight and 1 am—just one of the ways to stay safe on campus after dark.

So remember, as long as you don’t forget to reload your U-Pass each month, the 68 is at your service—along with the 49 and the R4!

Accessibility Shuttle

If you have a temporary or permanent condition that affects your mobility, the 68 isn’t your only option for getting around. Cue the UBC Accessibility Shuttle, a free shared ride service, available by reservation, that can transport you to and from main pedestrian areas on campus. 

What about cycling? 

Yeah, I know, I said this post was about transit…but there’s another great option for getting around campus—besides your hoverboard. You might have seen those turquoise and black bicycles around campus. Or maybe not? Anyway, for those days where you’d rather cruise across campus and take a break from the usual 68 route, check out HOPR, UBC’s bike share program.

Getting Off-Campus

Now that you’re well-versed in transportation options on campus, you’re ready to leave the nest. Luckily, you can get almost anywhere via the UBC Bus Exchange. Some key routes include:

  • The famous 99 B-line, which runs east-west on Broadway
  • The 44, which will get you downtown or connect you to the SeaBus for a North Shore adventure
  • The R4, which heads east on 41st Avenue and connects with the SkyTrain just a couple of stops away from Metrotown mall

All you have to do is tap your card, find a seat (if you can), and wait for the adventure to begin. Plan your journey online or, if you’re old-school, take a gander at the transit map. Check out this UBC Life blog post for a breakdown of bus routes, neighbourhoods and key destinations.

So when the day comes and you need to hit up Save-on-Foods for some supplies, get to the opposite end of campus without getting drenched, or go on a weekend excursion, don’t be first-week me. Save a little time (and frustration) by taking a ride on the 68 (or any one of UBC’s many transportation options). Your chariot awaits!