It was a few years ago this week. Okay it was long ago this week. Let’s just say it was the year 19
this week when I entered the hallowed halls of post-secondary learning.
There was no UNBC to attend. University choices in British Columbia were limited to UBC, SFU, or UVic. My choice was UBC.
Like most students, my first experiences were tense ones. I landed at the airport in Vancouver with all my worldly possessions in two bags. Some clothes, toiletries, and a portable typewriter. Laptops weren’t quite the rage then. I stepped off the plane, only to be paged to go to the flight desk. Not knowing where the flight desk was, or why I would be paged since I didn’t know anyone in Vancouver, I quickly found the nearest exit and hailed a cab. (I found out later that some of my buddies from my hometown found out when I was arriving and had come to pick me up … to save me the cab fare.)
“Take me to UBC,” I sternly told the cab driver, mustering up all the maturity that my just-turned-18 vocal chords could manage, not wanting to sound like a rube from the country (which I was).
All was going fine until, suddenly, we left the city. We were driving through a forest.
Primed with stories about city cabbies taking country folks for long rides with the meter running, I calmly tried not to panic or show that I had no idea where we were, all the while watching the meter and then recounting how much change I had in my pocket.
No one had told me that UBC is surrounded by 1,000 acres of forest known as the Endowment Lands. The cabbie had driven me straight to UBC.
Next up was registration week. It’s probably different now, but back then registration week was one’s first initiation into university life and it was a doozy. Being in Vancouver, it rained all week.
Registration, back then, entailed going to several different buildings on campus to try and get the courses you wanted. They drummed into us to get our schedules done ahead of time. That was just a clever ploy in order to dash our spirits. Inevitably, if you had chosen to take English 100 at 9 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when you got to the building to register, all those classes were full. And, for some crazy reason, you had built the rest of your classes around the English class, since it was mandatory and you had to take it.
The only English class that was left was Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, at 4:30 p.m. right when you had scheduled something easy, like Theatre 100, which meant dropping Theatre and taking Physics 100 or something drastic like that.
Anyway, you get the picture. Registration week consisted of trudging around in the rain from building to building hoping you could get at least one of the courses you had planned on while faithfully preparing ahead of time during the summer months.
Oh, did I mention that at each course you usually had to stand in line for an hour or so to find out the course was full? Just an added bonus.
At any rate, I, along with thousands of other first-year students, survived registration week. The second big task to accomplish, and one that was necessary after registration week, was to get a phony ID so we could get into the student pub.
Good luck to all those heading off to post secondary learning this week. Hopefully your first days are better than mine. It’ll be tough, but stick with it, it’s worth it.