When I started my journey at UBC, I was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number and diversity of events, clubs, and ways to get involved on campus. It was challenging to join a community of 60,000+ people and I didn’t quite know where I fit in as a first-year student. However, it doesn’t have to be that way for you!
One of the most important communities to get connected with right away is your academic community. We’re all here to study and get a degree, so having a supportive community made up of people learning (or teaching) in your subject area can make all the difference!
Here are the two most important tips I can give you about connecting with your academic community:
Be proactive and make some study buddies
I can’t stress enough the importance of making a few friends in class: having your own study buddy or study group is vital!
Most first-year classes are held in huge lecture halls with hundreds of people. It might be tempting to wait for someone to say hi to you first in class - but I’d encourage you to be proactive and make the first move! (Trust me, your seatmates will appreciate it as they’re likely waiting for someone else to make the first move too.)
Having a few familiar faces in class will make your lectures feel less daunting. Plus, your study buddies will be there for you when you miss a class and need notes, or when you’re stuck on an assignment or prepping for a midterm (or even when you just need to vent about how rough your workload is).
Connect with your professors and TAs
One of the biggest differences between university and high school is the level of personal connection that you will have with your teacher/professor.
In university, being one student in a class of hundreds can be incredibly intimidating, especially when it may feel like you don’t have personal support from an instructor. However, there’s an easy way to fix this: get to know your prof or TA!
Repeat after me: Go to office hours. Send emails. Ask questions.
Attending office hours is especially smart because you get one-on-one support, which is super helpful when you’re struggling with a concept that can’t be cleared up by simply looking back at your lecture slides.
Your instructors want you to do well, and most are very happy to get to know their students and answer any questions related to the course material. Having that kind of personalized support is vital to succeeding in your studies.
Joining a new community doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. Connecting with your fellow students as well as your profs and TAs is a great way to feel a sense of belonging in a campus as large as this one.
UBC’s community is friendly, inviting, and inclusive, and if you put in the effort, you’ll find your place. As the UBC motto so aptly puts it: Tuum Est. It’s up to you.