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Illustrations of various fictional characters
April 17, 2019
4 mins read

8 questions to ask yourself about your first year

You’ve come a long way on your journey through challenge mode. It’s time to see all the upgrades you’ve unlocked and the skill points you’ve secured—by taking on new avatars.

Hey, be proud and savour this moment. I know I will. Each of us has reached the end of our first year at UBC, and a lot has happened in these past 8 months. 

Take some time to reflect on how you’ve grown, what you may do differently, and what you'll take forward into your summer and the rest of your journey. Look back on the memories you’ve made (and see what you might have missed, so you can make sure to be there next time!).

These 8 questions are designed to help you reflect, whether it's to look back on your progress or to look forward to your goals. I saved my answers for your reference (and entertainment).

Ready? Let's get started.

1. You are Harry Potter. What's something you can do better now than when you first arrived?

Adulting, sort of.

Compared to Grade 12 me, I am now better at budgeting and keeping track of exactly where my money’s going. That means no more trips to the University Village.

2. You are Anne Shirley. When did this new environment start feeling like home?

A few weeks in.

When I first moved into residence, I hid beneath a veneer named insecurity. But, weeks later, my floormates and I bonded over American Vandal and Call Me by Your Name, amongst other shared interests.

Home, to me, was newly defined: floor movies (Annihilation, Watchmen, a few Tarantino films), shared dinners, care packages taped to my door. I’d found a pod, a squad, a family.

And in classes? I felt that I belonged. A friend from Calculus and I exchanged favourite novels; I surprised her with 2 whodunits from my Agatha Christie collection and she bought me Yu Hua’s To Live.

3. You are Luke Skywalker. What’s 1 huge thing you learned about yourself?

How creative I can be when inventing excuses—especially when I don’t want to do work.

Need to finish a lab report? Time to fetch the vacuum for some cathartic cleaning.

4. You are Megaman. What are 3 new powerful mindsets you’ve gained this year?

1. Treat others the way they (not you) want to be treated.

As the closing speaker at the 2019 SLC shared, when we want to help others, we shouldn’t set ourselves as the standard.

2. Use empathetic (rather than sympathetic) language.

Empathetic responses can be more helpful and comforting.

3. Speak honestly, but tactfully.

Speaking with tact helps you get the message across, but in a caring, candid way.

5. You are Grand Master Oogway. If you could tell any panda student some advice about first year at UBC, what would it be?

Add value to every day by getting out there more and inviting spontaneity.

My first-year experience would’ve been way duller had I not taken advantage of:

  • Campus opportunities where I got to know passionate, unique individuals at practice games hosted by UBC Quizbowl and at UBC Changemaking: Science & Tech for Change.
  • r/UBC, without which I'd never have known about or attended a screening of The Shining and a viewing (with telescopes!) of the super blood wolf moon.
  • Random encounters, like the time I walked down Lower Mall and heard someone walking towards me, playing and singing “Riptide.” I heartily joined in.

6. You are the Doctor from Doctor Who. If you had a time machine, what’s 1 embarrassing crisis you want removed from this past school year?

Not clog the toilet and flood the floor bathroom.


7. You are Garnet from Steven Universe. If you could divine the future, what 3 things do you see yourself doing differently (or more of) next year?

1. Be kinder to myself.

I’ve learned to avoid questioning my intellect, but sometimes I still feel inadequate. I’ll have to remember, always, to avoid comparing myself to others.

2. Be more connected to elections.

Because every vote matters!

3. Be a stronger choice-maker.

I often find myself languishing in choice paralysis in front of the vending machine. But I need to be more decisive, especially now, since I’ll soon be choosing my major?!

8. You are Beca from Pitch Perfect. If you could describe your year with 1 song, what would it be and why?

“Shelter” by Porter Robinson & Madeon.

I came across “Shelter” (this is the anime short version) in September in the Totem Park ballroom, played on the piano by a student I never saw again. Since then, I’ve learned that life experiences can redefine how we interpret a song and what specific part speaks most to us.

September: “Cause I left behind the home that you made me / But I will carry it along.”

I was moving away from home, from the life which I knew I’d never be able to fully assimilate back into once April hit. But home was wherever I made it.

Now: “And I know, I’m not alone, you’ll be watching over us.”

Along the way, I latched onto the idea that I wasn’t alone: I had floormates, classmates, and friends from this and previous years who’ve looked out for me (and I for them).

We’ve come far in our journey through our first year at UBC

This year, for many of us, transformed who we are and who we thought we’d be. Wherever you go, carry what you’ve learned this year into your next experience.

Remember, the game isn’t over yet. Save your progress, turn around, and see how many challenges you’ve stormed.

Here’s to the memories you’ve made this year!