Vantage Student Check-in: Tracey Xu on Science, Student Clubs and Beating Stress

Having grown up in Canton, China, moving to Vancouver to pursue a science degree at UBC was a huge change for Vantage student, Tracey Xu. Now as she nears the end of her time in the Vantage One program, she has settled into UBC life, made friends, joined the Science Undergraduate Society, and has been accepted as a Vantage Peer Mentor next year. Here she shares her tips on beating stress, making friends and her thoughts on moving into second year.

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

Vantage is really cool because it involves small class sizes for your coursework, as well as teaching critical English classes. As an international student from China, it has helped me a lot in learning how to write properly for university.

What have been the major benefits of doing this pathway program?

The classes are small so the professors know your name and you get extra support compared to most UBC classes. The small, consistent classes also mean you're with the same people so it's really easy to make friends.

As an international student, what has been the biggest challenge you've faced here?

Learning English. People don't speak English in Canton, but here everyone speaks English which was not familiar. Gradually I have adapted to that.

There's also so many different cultures, so everyone has different tastes and mindsets. I remember at Jump Start just discussing food with my new friends and we all had such different tastes and opinions.

What has been the biggest surprise at Vantage?

It's been a bit more stressful than I expected. There's lots of deadlines, due dates and exams to prepare for. It's important to have good time management.

How do you deal with feeling stressed or lonely?

It's quite easy to find friends at Vantage, so when I feel sad or lonely I share that with my friends and that helps.

I also like to go to the beach and watch sunset, or hang out at the new UBC swimming pool.

UBC also has lots of activities and events that you can join to have fun and find friends. I think everyone should join a student club to help meet people.

What have you gained from being part of the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS)?

SUS is a really cool group for all UBC science students. It hosts activities like Science Week, which is a great way to make friends with people who have similar interests. It's really fun and all science students can attend.

I'm a counsellor on SUS, so my job is to attend bi-weekly meetings, vote on decisions, help answer student questions and plan student activities. I've learned how to communicate better with people and how to manage my time.

How do you feel about going into second year?

I'm a little nervous and excited. I won't be familiar with the big classes, there will be different classmates and new professors who won't know who I am. But I'm also looking forward to joining the whole university, meeting new people and being more independent.

Do you know what science major you will choose?

I've always loved science but I'm not sure what I will specialise in yet. There are lots of interesting majors, but I think I'll probably choose chemistry. I've always been very influenced by Marie Curie, my favourite female scientist.

Where is your favourite place to study on campus?

I study everywhere but I really like the library. It's a peaceful place and there are also good spaces in the learning centre for group work.

Where is your favourite place to eat on campus?

The Open Kitchen downstairs. It's so convenient and the Philippine Chicken Adobo from the Global Bowl Kitchen is really good.

In all of Vancouver, where is your favourite place to visit?

UBC is the most beautiful place with the beach, the gardens, and the museums. I really enjoy the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and listening to students play music in Barnett Hall.

I also love Stanley Park; you can hire a bike and cycle around. It's a great place for some peace and quiet and to be alone with your thoughts. The Vancouver Aquarium is also there and the sea otters are really funny.

What advice would you give to somebody interested in joining Vantage One?

I would suggest reading more books and getting more information about Vancouver before arriving so you know what to expect and can adapt to your new life more easily.

Once they arrive, I suggest joining clubs and activities to meet people ‰ÛÓ like there‰Ûªs lots of fun wellness activities like yoga. You don't even need to join a group, just show up.