The Last Year of University | 5 Things I Learned

In third year, my degree really started coming into form and less about the basics.

So for the third day, I thought I’d list 5 things I learned in university. (Though I did learn more–at least I certainly hope so.)

1. Life is a network of interactions.

This is the basis of my degree. These interactions could be metabolic pathways, protein folding, or a signal/receptor. When these things get messed with, you get disease.

And that’s my degree in 3 sentences.

2. Comedy is funny because it’s true.

I got to take a literature course based on comedy in the 18th century. In it, we studied that comedic literature is funny in part because it can talk about truths we don’t usually talk about. Often this means sex and poop, but this can also mean political issues and even ridiculous social habits.

3. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

I’m not joking, this became my life in second year. Specifically, I learned how sugar (glucose) is converted into energy using pathways that occur in, surprise, surprise, the mitochondria.

4. Graphic novels are literature.

My first literature class in university was an Intro to Literature, and in it I read two graphic novels: an interpretation of Beowulf, and the first volume of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

I don’t usually read graphic novels, typically opting for the anime than the manga, the movie to the DC or Marvel comic.

But I can still appreciate the mode of storytelling that is the graphic novel. I’ll probably give them a try again at some point.

5. Why DNA sequencing is important.

Biology has gotten really exciting with the ability to sequence DNA. You might have heard of the Human Genome Project, where the entirety of the Human Genome was sequenced with the hope of fully understanding how the human body works.

This wasn’t the case, since we don’t all have the same DNA.

So it’s super important to sequence DNA and understand variations between people, be it harmless ones for the colour of your eye, or the dangerous ones that lead to Parkinson’s or cancer.


The Last Year of University | 5 Regrets

Second day, second list, second year.


Second year was an unprecedented rollercoaster, that resulted in a lot of my friends transferring out to other programs. It only makes sense that the second list in my reflection of university be like second year.

That is, kind of hard and depressing.

1. My major.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I study and I’m excited to apply it to biomedical research. I love doing biomedical research, and knowing the work I do can help people who are sick.

But if I could go back and do it again, I don’t know that I would have picked biochemistry.

I think I would have still majored in science, but taken a degree that would have allowed me to pursue my original plan: a Dual Major in Science and English Literature. I might have picked Biology, or Microbiology, or maybe even Computer Science.

2. Not participating in clubs.

Living a 1.5 – 2 hour transit commute away from campus really put a cramp in extracurriculars. I was hesitant to stay late on campus because I knew whenever what I was doing ended, I would face a long commute home, only to eat and take a shower before falling asleep because I needed to wake up at 5 am the next morning.

I regret not joining any club, and risking my sleep on some socialization. I attended some Nerdfighter gatherings and some Women in Science events, but other than that I didn’t really do much.

3. Not taking advantage of student discounts.

In particular, access to the universities facilities such as the gym, museums, and most importantly, show tickets.

UBC has lots of student productions and other concerts at the various theatres, and after attending my first opera at a student discount last term, I really knew I was missing out.

4. Not getting an Arts minor.

I spent all of my electives on Arts classes: mythology and literature specifically. I really enjoyed the ones I chose, but because of the course levels and the minor requirements, I had the net number of credits necessary for an Arts minor, but not enough upper level credits.

Le sigh.

5. Not studying abroad.

I opted to taking Co-op instead of studying abroad, since I knew both would extend my degree a little too long.

That being said, it would have been cool to study or work in another country.

This isn’t necessarily the worst thing on this list, because I can still travel.

The Last Year of University | 5 Memories

University was full of memories, and its sort of impossible to pick just 5 of them to talk about. So instead, I’m going to talk about the first 5 memories that pop into my head from the past 5 years.

1. Game of Thrones House Battle

This is probably one of the first things that came to mind because it was just a few terms ago, and it was stupidly fun. As I’ve mentioned before, I took a prose fiction class last term, and it was designed around A Song of Ice and Fire. Part of this class was weekly trivia quizzes to make sure students were actually reading the books instead of just watching the HBO series. We were divided into groups (I was in House Martell, Unbowed, Unbent Unbroken) and there was a complicated system of kings and vassals based on cumulative points. The end of the semester was a trivia battle between the houses, with prizes for the strongest House and the best of each House.

I won a Martell hat.

2. My First Interview

Co-op was probably the best experience I had in universe, but it wasn’t easy finding my first job. I was panicking because I couldn’t even get an interview and I was required to do a practice interview with my coordinator before a specific date, because he would be out of the country. That date was coming up soon, so I emailed him, but he reassured me I would be fine to wait until I got an interview.

I got an interview a few hours later. For the next business day.

Luckily, it was a Friday, so I had the weekend to prepare. But I still hadn’t done practice, so I rushed to my coordinator’s office in a renewed panic.

In the end, I didn’t get the job, but I’ll ever forget it.

3. Second Year Organic Chemistry Midterm

“This is the kind of exam you go out drinking after, right?”

That’s what my friend asked me when we stepped out of our midterm, which no one finished and everyone was traumatized by. Organic Chemistry is by far the hardest class I had to take in university, and the culmination of its difficulty was this exam. This was also the midterm that convinced a lot of my classmates to transfer out of biochem.

Just last term I had a final in the same room as the organic chemistry midterm, and the first thing someone asked me when we saw the room was, “Anyone else have a traumatic flashback?”

4. Wandering Around Campus

I’m cheating on this one, because it’s actually a series of memories.

I was fortunate to go to a school with a beautiful campus that made wandering aimlessly between classes fun. I wandered around museums of anthropology, geology, and biodiversity. There was a Japanese garden, a Haida village, and a beach. And walking around was one of the easiest things to kill time between classes.

Bonus points for learning how to dodge the numerous construction sites on campus.

5. Study Groups

Another cheat, but doing study groups holds so many memories because of what we talked about.

Which was basically just hanging out. Since we’d devolve into conversations about TV shows or rants about professors or teleportation.

And that’s it for now. Tomorrow is less nostalgic and a little more…regretful. Till then!

The Last Year of University | High Fives

How ironic is it that my last post was titled “Why I Am Still On The Internet”…and then I didn’t post for 3 months. 

Truth is, I wasn’t really inspired to blog. Life has been too busy. In the past few months, it has been busy with my last term of my undergraduate degree. 

But as I near convocation, I think it’s time to stop, take a step back, and reflect on the past five years. 

So for the next five days leading up to convocation, I’ll be posting five Top 5 lists about my university experience. 

These past 5 years have contained so much. And now there’s only 5 days left… 

Why I Am Still On The Internet

I haven’t been blogging in a while, and there’s a few good reasons for it.

I don’t have much to blog about. I traditionally blogged about books, and I haven’t been reading much (this is going to change soon). More recently, I’ve been blogging more about my personal life, and that is mostly just school–which isn’t particularly exciting, mostly stressful.

But more recently, I’ve started to lose a little faith in the internet. In a strange turn of events, my activity on Facebook has increased dramatically. Mind you, most of my feed is posts from the pages I follow, which are Hamilton, Nerdfighter, and Vancouver related.

Most of these are pretty good posts that I can scroll through aimlessly, but every once in a while there are posts that make me lose my faith in humanity. They might be confession posts about awful things that people have done, or people enraged about something they saw or was victim to. But either way, they remind me that there is a lot of hate in the world right now. There is a lot of hate and fear and refusing to see from other people’s perspective.

The simple solution is simply to disengage from these media. And I’m making efforts to do that.

But I’m not going to give up on the Internet entirely.

I so often forget that the Internet is a space, that, while not physical, is made up of different regions. That I can choose what media I am exposed to and in what places I find myself in.

And there are media that I really enjoy on the Internet. I like watching TEDTalks and watch vlogbrothers. I like listening to podcasts and communicating with family and friends on other sides of the world through the Internet.

And I can hear the protests about the echo chamber and how the echo chamber of the internet is why the world is so full of anger and othering. But I was recently in a situation where I wouldn’t have known what to say if I wasn’t on the internet.

My friend from the US recently got in a fight with her friend because she is moving to Canada, and her friend who is remaining in the US called her a coward.

I myself have mixed feelings about what should be done and the appropriate circumstances for fleeing, but that’s not what she needed to hear at the moment. So, instead, I took an idea I learned from CGPgrey. This is what I told her:

I think everyone is struggling right now to separate the people they know from the political opinions they have. We forget that we aren’t our opinions, there’s more to a person than that. But right now, with all this political turmoil, it’s hard to look beyond the politics.

For those who are curious, here’s the CGPgrey video I thought of (it’s at 1:10):

While my message to my friend and CGPgrey’s message are different, what I learned about opinions and self and how that lends itself to being an open-minded person really helped me and helped my friend.

And though it is sort of circular, this seems to be the only way to stay on the Internet and keep my sanity: I approach it with the open-mindedness I’ve learned and stay in media that either nurture it or allows for some critical approach rather than shutting down all other opinions and viewpoints.

Also, to cut down my time on the internet to make time for reading. (I need to finish my re-reading of Shades of Magic series before A Conjuring of Light comes out.)