Monday, September 28, 2009

Life is good

(Cheese warning!) 
I had such a moment of appreciation when I was at the gym this morning between classes. I thought about how lucky I am to be able to go back to school again to fill my brain with new stuff (though it's a bit challenging), that residence life is much better than I expected. I've also been lucky to get great roommates! And the campus gym is an awesome facility, which is great, because I spend time in there almost daily. To be in great health and be financially, personally, and mentally ready to change career is pretty exciting. I do miss family and friends, and of course, eating out. And my old paycheque. 
Yesterday my roommate (not in engineering) asked me how I decided to just change into something totally different, and that she gets a little worried when she looks at all the courses she has to do and wonder if she can really do them. I feel a bit relieved that she said that, because I feel exactly the same. I admit, I'm not exactly brilliant at math and science - I mean, there is a reason I didn't choose to do sciences the first time around - but I'm confident in my capacity to learn new things. But it's all about baby steps, right? One thing at a time. Today my chemistry professor said that by the end of the year, we will have covered material including research resulting in 3 Nobel prizes. Pretty neat.
I think my dad said it best: "Nothing is hard once you know how to do it." It's just a matter of how much time you put in to get those connections firing in the brain with greater and greater ease.
On that note, I better work on some physics problems!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Challah = nonstop bread eating

Yesterday I made a loaf of challah for the first time from my trusted recipe source, And it turned out very tasty. Just a little sweet, moist, and tender. I've never actually eaten challah before, so I'm no expert on what it should be like, but it is damn tasty.
I halved the recipe, substituted 1/4 of the flour for whole wheat flour and threw in a few spoonfuls of vital wheat gluten. I feel too guilty making bread with 100% white, though I admit, that fraction of whole wheat flour by no means renders it "healthy." Also, instead of using 2 eggs and 1 yolk, I substituted about a teaspoon of butter for the extra yolk. It's a pretty insignificant amount, but butter makes everything better, right?
Anyways, I didn't braid it, having very little counter space here, but I did do the egg wash. Usually I consider that kind of thing frivolous and ignore it, but I have no regrets about this as it came out of the oven so pretty.
I've been basically stuffing my face with this bread at every opportunity: Some for breakfast, some while studying, some around lunchtime, some more while studying, a slice before the gym, a slice after the gym, and a slice while studying some more. Geez. I really ate a lot of bread today. I'm cutting myself off for the rest of the evening.
I'd offer a picture, but now there is less than a quarter of the original loaf left. My roommate sheepishly admitted to cutting off a slice this morning. I usually strongly encourage sharing, since more carbs for other people means less for me, and plus, it means other people like your baking, but this time I felt slightly begrudging about sharing.
Conclusion: studying with a kitchen nearby is bad news. Especially when there's a fresh loaf of bread sitting in there. But! Challah is good stuff.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More pictures of UNBC

It's really a beautiful campus. I have never seen so much green and so many trees on a university campus before. I love it - so far - my attitude may change in a few months when winter comes along.

Morning fog in the parking lot

Slightly less foggy with more cars

Part of that green sign says that snowboarding is not allowed. Just one indication that I'm not going to enjoy winter in Prince George.

Foggy path from the gym to the rest of campus.

Same spot, about an hour later. Oooooo.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Studying... Snacking... Sleeping

It's only been 2 weeks, and despite my best efforts to stay active, the result of sitting on my butt most of every day is making itself known to me: my jeans are definitely tighter. I fear that working out almost daily is not enough to combat the munchies + sitting in lectures 4 hours/day.
One problem, which I think should be the topic of someone's grad thesis, is the directly proportional relationship between studying and snacking. The more I study, the more I get the munchies. And it's not a matter of being hungry at all - I just desperately crave tastiness in my mouth. (This is a very slippery slope.) For example, last night I inhaled a bagel - didn't bother toasting it or anything. And between lectures, I feel a strong need to eat something. So I usually do - but I think I'm going to put an end to this starting tomorrow. 
Also, studying takes a lot out of me. I'm getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and I feel I could use even more. I figure my brain is requiring extra cataloguing and info-absorption time, and so far, I've been happy to oblige.

Friday, September 11, 2009

UNBC campus

The beautiful campus (see pictures below) is on a gigantic hill on the edge of Prince George. I'm not kidding about the giganticness of this hill. Google Maps tells me it should take about 40 minutes to walk to the bottom, and then at least another 10 minutes to get to the nearest strip mall or other useful place. That makes it essentially NOT walking distance to anywhere. 
Luckily, it is fairly well serviced by 4 main bus routes - however, the buses stop running around 9pm, so no nightlife for us students, unless you're willing to pay for a taxi.
Pretty buildings on campus around dusk
The edge of campus, looking off the hill towards the mountains.

Healthcare in Prince George

It has come to my attention that for non-PG students, healthcare here stinks.
There are 2 options:
  • Campus clinic. The doctor is in 2 half-days per week.
  • The only walk-in-clinic in PG. I was told to avoid going here by a PG resident because you might end up waiting 6 hours or longer, and there's a good chance you may get hypothermia while doing so.
Okay, there's a third option - if you are dying, you can go to the ER at the hospital. This is usually not the case for most of us.
And that's it. Period.
I called a slew of doctor's offices to see if I could book an appointment outside of those options. Half of them were closed down (weird), and the other half are not accepting new patients. So then, I called the hospital to get a list of doctors accepting new patients, and guess what? The list is empty.
If you're a family medicine doctor, can you move to Prince George, please?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Environmental engineering 1st year fall courses

My 1st year engineering courses at UNBC this semester:
  • Introductory Physics I: Mechanics
  • General Chemistry 
  • General Chemistry Lab (apparently this is a separate course -  it's possible to take Chemistry sans lab)
  • Calculus
  • Introduction to Engineering Seminar
  • Geomorphology
I'm amazed at the resources available to students to help us be successful here. For example, you can get free tutoring at the Teaching and Learning Centre. They also try to get more senior students to sit in on first year math and science classes so they can set up separate help sessions later. Wow. Having not done math and science since, oh, high school, this makes me feel a lot better about things.
The one class I feel anxious about now is geomorphology. I thought this was going to be my fun, easy, non-number-crunching class. As it turns out, there are 9 labs, all of which must be handed in twice: once for a quality/completion check, and the second time after they post the answers and you mark up your own lab yourself. I see this is a good idea because I almost never look at assignments once I get them back, so I don't learn from my mistakes... but... I have 5 other classes to do here! Geez! I thought this one would require the least amount of work.
Sometimes, when a wave of cynicsm comes over me, I think they do this on purpose because a class about geology/geography would be just too enjoyable (and maybe easy) otherwise.
But anyways. Now that a wave of optimism has hit, I've decided to embrace this class and do my best to get the most out of it. Right? Right.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I learned a new word today.

Shawty: term of endearment originating from Atlanta, formerly meaning "Shorty", but now referring to any male or female friend or associate: "Wassup Shawty!" Also can be used as a 3rd person pronoun: "That shawty over there is hot."

UNBC Day 3

The boxes have been packed, moved, and unpacked, the room mates have been introduced, and the tearful goodbyes have been given. Now what?
Blog for a while, I guess. Not much else to do other than eat.
Here are some (terrible phone) pictures of what our place in residence looks like:
Little hall into my room

 View outside my window backing onto the forest. This is very nice and very quiet.
Living room. No TV yet.

Kitchen. Microwave coming soon!

2 sinks

 The shower and toilet have their own entrances. This is a great idea.
Before I have more time to ponder/wallow in my temporary loneliness, I'm going to go to the gym.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

5 more days to UNBC

I am moving myself and all my swag to residence in 5 days to start a new career for the next few years: life as an engineering student.

It's funny how this seemed like such a wonderful remote idea 6 months ago when I decided to apply. It's still a good idea now, of course - just scarier now that it's being realized. You can't go too wrong with more education. There are much worse things to do other than not work.

The thought of leaving all friends and family to go somewhere where I know nobody? 
Then: "No big deal - it's only temporary." 
Now: "Oh dear." 
But hey, with the Internets, you're never alone, right? We've always got msn messenger.

Also, if I think of this in terms of being a new adventure, I feel a lot better. UNBC, here I come!

And don't worry, everyone! I won't turn into one of those engineers. I promise.