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… 

DO MORE! Pt. 2 (A Rough Start)

the short story

2017 gets a rough start. But, one out of five ain’t bad, right?

Right?the long storySo a few weeks ago, I set up some resolutions for myself for 2017, and here’s the first update of them as they evolve. To recap, they were:

  1. Read 2 1/2 books a month to satisfy by Goodreads goal of 30 books in 2017.
  2. Try going to a gym.
  3. Write 400 NEW words each week.
  4. Write a new post every week.
  5. Pick a song to cover, and practice once a week.

And how did I do? Well…

I read ~4 1/2 books in January. Two of them were audiobooks: Ready Player One and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. In hardcopy, I read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, I’m almost done Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, and I’m halfway through The Bad Beginning of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events.

I did not go to the gym. Most of my time in January was consumed with schoolwork, and I blame myself for not making time for exercise. To be fair though, I had to work harder on certain days to make room for trips to the local mountains for snowshoeing, which was a solid workout of hiking in snow for several hours. I even tried skiing with my roommates as instructors and by the end of the day, I made it down a green run without falling, so I consider that a win. (And a sufficient replacement, in my opinion, I am incredibly sore right now.)

This isn’t sustainable, in terms of the time dedicated to go to the mountains and the money spent renting gear, but I definitely enjoyed the sports. For February, I need to find a more sustainable way of exercise.

And now we’re getting to the sad part of this post.

I wrote a whopping 150 words of my story since I wrote the initial post a few weeks ago, and I am disappointed in myself. I was in sort of a writer’s block this month, but I do have some world building floating around in my head, and I need to get that down on paper.

I wrote one other post last month, meaning I only wrote one post in two weeks. I’m about 50% of the way there though, so not too bad. Like the story-writing goal, I have ideas in my head about what to blog, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

And the most disappointing of all, I didn’t even touch musicI listened to plenty, but I didn’t touch an instrument this month. The closest I got was singing to Adele with my roommates.

So for February, what’s the plan? Mostly, it’s the same, with a slight modification to (2):

  1. Read 2 1/2 books a month to satisfy by Goodreads goal of 30 books in 2017.
  2. Find a sustainable form of exercise and perform regularly
    1. Try a gym
  3. Write 400 NEW words each week.
  4. Write a new post every week.
  5. Pick a song to cover, and practice once a week. 

Funnily enough, I found that while snowshoeing, (less so with skiing due to a fear of falling) I was able to get out of my head, and it was great for my mental health, which wasn’t so great this month. I’m not diagnosed with anxiety or depression, but I know I can overthink things and it fills my head until it affects my decisions and physical health. But snowshoeing definitely got me out of my head more than meditation (I’ve tried meditation–all I got was a ton of ideas swirling in my head).

Hopefully I can keep up with them for February. Wish me luck!

Did you make resolutions for 2017? How are they going?