First year UBC student Rachel outside of Orchard Commons
UBC student Rachel Souza

Vantage Student Check In: Rachel Souza on Confidence, Friendships and Burgers

It takes a lot to say goodbye to the comfort zone of the small city of Limeira, Brazil, but for Rachel Souza, the decision came easy. After experiencing life in Quebec during a high school exchange, Rachel knew Canada was the place she wanted to pursue university.  One semester into the Vantage One program, she’s fallen in love with UBC’s campus, found the confidence to speak up, connected with her professors and created a supportive community of friends. Read on to find out what she’s up to!

Q: What motivated you to choose UBC’s Vantage One program?

A: I’ve been learning English for 6 years, but I’ve never studied academic English or written critical essays. If I went to a regular class, I would not be able to catch up. So, Vantage was a good choice for me and I feel that I’ve gained the skills that I want.

Q: What has been the most unique part of the Vantage One program for you?

A: The most helpful part of the Vantage One Program has been the small class sizes! I’m not a very shy person, but I still would not have been able to answer as many questions as I do now if I was in a bigger class. My English is not very good, so sometimes I make grammatical mistakes when I ask questions! I find that it is a lot easier for people to understand me in a smaller group.

The small classes also really helped me to connect with professors. The professors and teaching assistants actually know my name, and it is really easy to talk to professors during their office hours and in class. I know this will be very helpful when going into my second year, since I’ve gained a lot of confidence through talking to people in these situations.

Q: Where is your favorite study spot?

A: I really like the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, but it can get really crowded and be difficult to get a spot. It is quiet though, and I do like studying there when I have exams.

Q: If you had to eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: Beef burgers! I’ve tried some burger restaurants here in Vancouver and I especially like The Point Grill on campus.

Q: When you were little, who was your hero and why?

A: When I was a kid, I was inspired by people who broke the rules and did whatever they thought was right – like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Gandhi inspired me because he started a revolution without any violence at all, which I find very impressive. These are the people that everyone looks up to because they challenge everything and fight for their beliefs.

Q: What is something interesting about you that your close friends wouldn’t even know?

A: I did a high school exchange in Quebec for one year! It was the first time I came to Canada, and it is also the reason why I chose to return. The curriculum there was in French, and I can speak French fluently. As an immigrant, I also speak Spanish amd Portuguese and I can understand Italian.

Q: If you had to choose between a year in Europe with a $2,000/month stipend or 10 minutes on the moon, which would you choose?

A: Europe. Space seems scary and lonely to me! While I like to see the moon from here, I wouldn't go there.

Q: What’s your biggest goal for this semester?

A: I want to get my average grade over 80% by the end of this year, and I hope I can do better by the end of next year. I’m already seeing progress in my critical essays!

Q: What do you think prospective Vantage students should know?

A: I think Vantage is really good, and it is easy to make friends - especially when you live in residence. I also think everyone should come to Jump Start – that’s where I made most of my friends outside of Vantage College. Everyone from the Jump Start was so open and friendly! I love UBC, the campus is incredibly beautiful and everything is so organized. I also appreciate their connection with the First Nation’s people here.