Archive for the ‘UBC’ Category

What I Learned From Ultimate

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment

It all started in the summer of 2008 when my friends and I casually tossed the frisbee after our organic chem lectures.¬†To make a long story short (after all I did spend a lot of time learning about the wonders of Grignard additions and Claisen condensations), I enjoyed that activity so I signed up with my friend’s ultimate team when he invited me to join the following fall semester. Four years later, ultimate has become my favourite sport and I’ve learned a lot from playing it:


Being able to compete at a high level against other players is a huge confidence booster since I realized that my height isn’t that big of a detriment as I had initially thought. My biggest highlight is when I caught a callahan (ie intercept the disc in the opponent’s endzone) when my check was a 6’0 200+ lbs man. Also I’ve had to mark a 7′ player once during a game which was an interesting experience…What I lack in height I make up in speed and awareness so many times I can beat my check to any spot on the field to receive a pass from a teammate.


As mentioned earlier, I have good field awareness meaning I know where the other thirteen players on the field are and what they are doing. On offence, I have to look for open space then make a cut to that space without getting in my teammates’ way if they are making their own cuts. On defense (especially for zone), I have to keep an eye on the disc, shift my position accordingly to how the cup moves and intercept any passes thrown within ~15 ft of me. This has helped me outside of ultimate too since I’m generally aware of my surroundings. For example when I’m out with friends, I’m usually the one mentioning to the group if we are disrupting other people or causing them any inconveniences. More on that on a future entry…

Put the team first

The team’s interest collectively takes priority over one’s own personal interests. Our team had a game one weekend, but couldn’t field enough healthy people. Many guys were injured (minor though, nothing serious) and I was gimpy too from an injured knee. We didn’t cancel our game in time and therefore were expected to show up so my injured teammates and I still had to come and play ultimate. It was one of the strangest sights since our team was down one player and all three guys were limping around the field :P. Btw our team still ended up winning that game (and by a respectable margin) ūüėÄ

Women are the MVPs of every game

A co-ed game requires three males, three females and one more person of either gender. Due to this, whether games are played or not depends mostly if a team can field enough women since there are much more men than women playing the sport. I have played countless games where my female teammates had to play the entire game without subs or only one sub and they still play just as hard as the guys. This applies to most other teams too. I’ve also noticed that differences in skill levels among males don’t have as large an impact as differences in skill levels among females. Many times the team that wins an ultimate game is the one with the more-skilled women.

Categories: Personal, Sports, UBC

How to Save Money in College

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

I decided to write this after reading HackCollege’s article. It’s not going to cover how to make a budget or how to manage one’s finances, but simply go over the little things I do that helped me save money during my time at UBC.

1. Work. I spent my summer growing a lot of green plants in a lab while my associates were working with tobacco hehe.

Ok but seriously, apply for work-study jobs. Many are first-come first-serve or if they fit your schedule.

2. Don’t drink coffee. From my understanding, people drink coffee usually for the energy boost. I have a regular sleeping schedule. As such, I wake up feeling fine since my body is accustomed to being awake and asleep at specific times during the day. It also helps that I eat at regular intervals throughout the day and that food gives me more than enough energy to go through a day without passing out.

3. Borrow textbooks from the library and continually renew them. Previous editions of a textbook are just as good and usually there are many copies of those in the library NOT on reserve. After all the fact that RNA Polymerase initiates transcription when it binds to the promoter in DNA is the same regardless of whether I read that in the 1st, 5th or 9th edition of a textbook.

4. Stay healthy. I don’t know the exact cost of being sick (in terms of money, time, energy, etc…), but I imagine it can get expensive. Remember those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Although this is an incomplete oversimplification, all it takes to be healthy is a balanced diet (you don’t even need to eat organic) and sufficient exercise and sleep. I plan to blog about time management (and possibly health) in the near future…

5. Have a cheap cell phone plan. I have a prepaid plan ($0.25/min and $5/month for 250 outgoing texts) so it totals about $100-150 per year. I see my friends on a regular basis that I don’t need to constantly call/text them. Whatever I have to say to them can wait until I get home (and use skype) or when I see my friends in person. It’s amazing that I have friends who don’t complain if we go through a single day without communicating with one another.

6. Don’t be a brand whore. Enough said.

7. Meet lots of people. Of course the quality of your friendships is important, but you don’t have to be BFFs with everyone you meet.¬†The more people you know, the higher the chance that¬†someone will come to you and say¬†hey I know you’re looking for this item and it’s on sale at Store X right now so you should check it out! I don’t go through Groupon, SocialShopper etc… since I’m not interested in most of the deals. Usually I just check my Facebook newsfeed since I have friends who share the popular discounts/promotions.

8. Don’t eat out. Restaurants are expensive and it adds up if you eat out even only once a week. The cheaper and healthier (see #4) option is to buy ingredients from a supermarket and make a meal that will last you several days. The ability to cook is a sexy skill in¬†anybody. Also your body (and wallet) will thank you for making the effort to wake up one hour earlier to eat breakfast and pack a lunch for school.

9. Register for only the minimum number of courses you need for your degree.¬†UBC clearly states the required courses you need on its website so there should be no reason why one can’t plan ahead and take the right courses. I’ve listened to several students complain that some courses couldn’t be used for credits or they didn’t count their credits correctly and I noticed that the problem could have been avoided if they had set aside thirty minutes to see an adviser (they really are helpful) to double check the requirements and resolve any ambiguities. Don’t know what course to take? Again, meet lots of people (see #7).

10. Take good care of your things so you don’t have to spend money fixing or replacing them. That’s why I never do back-to-school shopping trips.¬†There are lots of things that look new and still function perfectly well, but have actually been around even before I was born. For example, the lamp in my house used the same lightbulb for over 20 years!

Categories: Bulletin, Life, Personal, UBC

Unlocking Doors with the Right Keys

May 18, 2012 Leave a comment

University education is important (although not necessary) for opening doors of opportunity once you graduate. To open those doors, you need a key. It doesn’t matter if the key is made of gold or copper. The only thing that matters is whether that key can unlock the door. There are many doors to open at UBC and each require a different key.

Let’s take a popular example…..UBC Med!! You can get rejected by the MD admissions committee even with an A+ average. In this case, over the past 4 years, you built yourself a golden key, but it doesn’t fit into the door you want to go through. How useful is that key now? Conversely it’s possible to get into UBC Med with only a B+ average. This key may be made of only copper, but at least it fit. Once you walk through those doors you will be (seen) on equal footing as everyone else who unlocked the same door.

The admissions committee already built a lock that you can see. The good thing is that you have full control on how you want to build your key. The reason why people with 95% averages still get rejected from med is that when they were building their key, they forgot the priority was making sure it can fit in the lock rather than it having to be made of gold. It’s more important to focus on doing the right thing, than to focus on doing things right.

In short…be a man, do the right thing!

Also congratulations to those who recently got accepted to UBC Med!

Categories: Philosophy, UBC

Beyond Kony – Social Media, Community, Slackivism and Tolerance

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Last Wednesday, I attended a discussion organized by the¬†UBC Community United Way Campaign¬†about the implications of the Kony campaign. The discussion was led by Dr. Chris Erickson, Victoria Capron and AJ Koehn. I was disappointed at the low attendance (do students not care about international issues?), but it was due to the lack of advertisement and there isn’t much hype around Kony now as there was last month. Funny enough I only happened to stumble upon this event by chance when I Facebook stalked a friend who couldn’t attend. I won’t talk about Kony in particular (there’s already enough discussion going around), but focus on the bigger issues that were discussed by the panel.

The panel mentioned social media is more effective at raising international issues rather than local ones. There’s a sense of distance and anonymity when you support an international¬†cause which makes one feel “secure”. Their reason was this: Let’s say the Kony issue actually¬†occurred locally¬†in Vancouver (instead of Uganda) so now the problem is “in your face”. This forces you to question the system you’re currently a part of and that’s very discomforting. Now then would you be more likely to share the KONY 2012 video? I’m not convinced by that statement because I interpret that to mean¬†it’s easier to support irrelevant (ie not related to you) causes than to draw attention to your own problems. There are probably people who think like that, but that would be an unfair generalization to use on everyone.

A problem brought up was how to get more people involved with local issues. It wasn’t much of a discussion, but more on how to get people to volunteer given from the panelists who have been involved with the community. The most important thing is to engage with other people so prospective volunteers want to seek you out. For example, you can go around and ask¬†what events do you want, what can we fundraise, so when the time comes you need volunteers, it’s easier to go to the same people you asked. You want them to think¬†I did that vs¬†I was told to do that.

One panelist argued slackivism is the new form of activism and that’s a good thing. The argument is when we¬†share¬†a video or¬†attend a Facebook event, we feel compelled to learn more about it and actually show up to the event. People against slackivism (anti-slackivists) are saying it’s good to have a lot of money and power since that’s the only way to exact meaningful changes. However the same system anti-slackivists challenge is built on money and power so that’s a direct contradiction.

I didn’t really understand that argument, but tried my best to restate the panel’s position on slackivism… I still maintain my stance (slackivism sucks) and here’s my rebuttal: Yes I agree when we share a video, we want to learn more about it. However it’s wrong to say that learning about an issue will always lead to one’s involvement. I also agree that when we¬†attend a Facebook event, we feel obligated to actually come¬†if the invite was personal. Of the thousands (or millions?) of people attending the KONY 2012 event, what percentage of them do you think will actually show up and “cover the city” with Kony posters? My theory is these events were mass sent to everyone and you probably received the same invites from several people. This means even if you click attend, you won’t feel the need to show up since there is no single person who is going to keep track of you. However if you receive a personal invite when only ten people have been invited and you click attend, you would be expected to show up.

I’m not sure how the panel came up with the idea anti-slackivists support having money and power. Buying a Kony kit¬†isn’t slackivism (whether or not the money is going to good use is a separate issue) since collective action is powerful for catalyzing change (why else would we live in a democracy). Furthermore having a lot of money and power is a good thing. The only problem is if you achieved that position unethically or abuse it once you got there.

Although unrelated to Kony, tolerance was discussed. For example, we have had problems with homelessness and child poverty for a long time in Vancouver, but the situation still remains the same. Does that mean we have become too accepting of the homeless community (ie homeless people are a normal part of Vancouver and we can live with that)? Has Vancouver become too tolerant then and is that a bad thing? Tyler recently brought up a good point regarding tolerance and homophobia: Many people will tell you I have nothing against gay people, they’re cool people. However how many would be comfortable identifying with the social norm? This seems to be a problem¬†it’s cool for other people to be gay, but it would be unacceptable for me to be gay. Can you consider that situation tolerance then?

Like the Occupy movement, Kony 2012 has been very successful at raising issues for people to discuss. How much conversation is enough and when do we need to move to action? Unless something changes, Kony 2012 will have the same results as the Occupy movement. The last issue the panel left us with was is it better to oversimplify facts to gain support instead of fully educating people? One criticism of the Kony 2012 video was the oversimplification of facts. If Invisible Children had been more transparent from the beginning, they wouldn’t have had as many supporters so can one justify their actions in that regard?

Categories: Global, Life, UBC

Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference 2012

April 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Daphne and I recently attended UBC’s Multidisicplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC). It was my first time at a research conference so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the quality of the presentations. However some of the students’ research were incomplete so there wasn’t any merit to presenting (one study reported results on data from only six test subjects). I also noticed there were flaws with methodology and data analysis with many presentations. Is this common among undergrad research?! ūüė¶

The opening keynote was given by Ashley Whillans. The talk centered around her research in money and happiness. She reported people were more happy spending money on other people than themselves. Whoever said money doesn’t buy happiness didn’t know how to spend it :P. Personally, it’s more important to base one’s own views of happiness (contentment is probably the more appropriate term) from his or her own experiences rather than simply follow a scientific (or religious) one.

Afterwards we went to see the first session of oral presentations. They ran simultaneously so we listened to only six out of thirty talks. One interesting one was the¬†Perceived threat of infectious disease and its implications for conformist attitudes and behaviour by Houman Rashidian (the paper is here). The basis was different threats can have different effects on social cognition and behaviour. It wasn’t explicitly stated, but I think it’s fear of the unknown¬†triggers conformity. My theory is if one is facing an unknown (ie obscure) threat then he or she would feel safer going along with a group instead of¬† standing out, hence conformity. Perhaps that helps explain why so many people unnecessarily went to get the H1N1 vaccine… One problem with this study (and other psychology studies at the conference) was 79% of the test subjects were women (women have a greater tendency to conform than men).

MURC provided us with lunch after while we got a chance to look at all the poster presentations. Arjun Nanda’s poster¬†detailed the benefits of yoga to treating bipolar disorder (BD). However most of the cited benefits apply to only the depressive phase of BD and the student told us yoga actually brings out the manic phase so I was confused about that. Anyways there is potential to studying the effects of various physical activities on patients with BD.

There was a second session of oral presentations following lunch. This time Daphne and I decided to stay in the same room the entire time although we quickly regretted that after. I seriously think I have ADD since I can’t sit in the same seat for long periods of time and I have a short attention span… I was looking forward to hearing about¬†The effects of pre-exam writing exercises on student exam anxiety by Stephanie Ryn since it was a study on education, but was very disappointed with how it turned out. She reported students believed participating in expressive writing (write about one’s feelings) and brain dump (write the concepts one think will be tested) exercises right before an exam helped them achieve a higher grade and there were no differences in anxiety levels among students participating in both exercises. However this study measured only perception and not if those exercises actually improved exam performance. Also apparently there was no control since she didn’t report the relative anxiety levels for students who didn’t do the pre-exam exercises.

There was a chance to network with everyone else afterwards. One attendee came up to us and asked if we were one of the presenters at the conference. We said no although I realized five seconds after she walked away I should have said yes and pretend to be a presenter. Unfortunately my Mafia instincts didn’t kick in at that time ūüė¶

Natalie Sopinka gave the closing keynote. This was a bit different from the opening keynote, but I found it inspiring for people who wanted to get into research. She talked about her journey through research and gave her winning three-minute thesis speech.


Overall I enjoyed my day very much. MURC should have kept the Learning how to network workshop they had last year since it’s important to know how to connect with professors. I also liked that all the sessions started on time (one of my biggest pet peeves is events not following on schedule). That made it easy for us to go to different rooms to listen to various presentations since they were in sync with each other. Also guys need to participate in more psyc studies since most of them (at least at UBC) are biased towards using women test subjects. Other than that, I wish I had more to say, but I don’t ūüėõ (lesson learned: don’t wait a week after an event to blog about it or you might forget some parts).

Categories: Research, UBC

Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference

March 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Just to let you guys know that this year’s Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC) will be held next Saturday March 24 in Irving K.B. Learning Center (on UBC campus). I recommend any student interested in a career in research to attend this conference. You’ll get to network and see what your fellow undergrads have been up to. You’ll have to register here.

Categories: Bulletin, Research, UBC

UBC Exam Scheduling

February 7, 2012 4 comments

A few candidates running for the UBC AMS elections lobbied to have administration release the exam schedule earlier, specifically before the course add/drop deadline. They cited the need to better plan family affairs and student control of their schedule. While there’s no harm in releasing the schedule earlier, it shouldn’t be released before the course add/drop deadline.

Have you considered why UBC releases the schedule relatively late? In comparison, SFU students know their exam schedule when they register for courses so there must be some reason for this big difference right?

It’d be great if someone can confirm/refute this, but I think UBC releases the exam schedule relatively late because it uses an algorithm to determine the most favourable exam schedule for the greatest number of students (by favourable I mean no exam hardships, clashes etc…). Students should be signing up for courses that they want to take as opposed to taking courses that fit a convenient exam schedule. Some important dates to take note of…

  • UBC course add/drop deadline: January 16
  • UBC exam schedule released: February 3
  • UBC exam period: April 11 to April 25

Hypothetical situation 1:¬†Let’s say students knew before registering, that Bioc 302 and Fren 112 exams were at the same time on the same day, but (for some random reason) 100 students wanted to take both courses. Since the schedule was released early, UBC is going to have to process 100 separate applications of exam conflict forms. However if UBC had known in advance that many students were going to take both courses, it could have scheduled the exams to avoid this conflict because student timetables are finalized after¬†the add/drop deadline.

Hypothetical situation 2:¬†Let’s say you had to make early travel/family/surgery arrangements so on Jan 10 you book plane tickets for April 20 since you know that’s the last day of your exams. However two days later, you realize that you had to take a prerequisite (say Psyc 100) and that exam is on April 24. Now you go shit, even though I waited until the exam schedule is released before booking travel plans, I didn’t realize my timetable would change.

Even if the schedule is released earlier, students can’t make travel plans until after Jan 16 when they know their timetable is 100% finalized. Although there is a greater control of travel plans if the exam schedule is released earlier, students will lose a lot of freedom (or perceive a loss of freedom)¬†when registering for courses. There are very few things (if at all anything) that should compromise what a student wants to study at UBC. The final exam schedule is not one of them.

Categories: Education, UBC