Valie always had a broad set of passions, and didn’t want to narrow down her choices.
A creative writer interested in animal biology, music, acting, languages, and more, Valie didn’t want to commit to a specialization too early. When she discovered that UBC’s course schedule offered her a way to combine all of her interests, she realized it was the right university for her. Now heading into her fourth year, she’s excited to have taken classes across multiple faculties, run a show at the UBC campus radio station, competed as a synchronized swimmer, and become a member of a German singing group.
Where are you from, and what was your path to UBC?
Born in the UK, raised in the Seychelles and Namibia, and having ended my last two years of high school in Ottawa, my path to UBC was a little confusing. In Grade 11 I wasn’t sure of where I wanted to go for university – although I was very keen on McGill until I found out that they didn’t offer the program I was interested in – but I knew that I wanted to study some very different things and knew that it would be possible to do all of them at UBC. In addition, it is a beautiful location and as soon as I set my mind to it, the idea of UBC just got better and better!
One of the questions you had before arriving at UBC was whether you were going to be able to study everything that you wanted. How have you found that experience?
I have taken an extremely wide variety of courses at UBC! They include German; French; Biology; Chemistry; Creative Writing for fiction, radio, screen and lyricism; as well as all the acting classes UBC offers to the non-Bachelor of Fine Arts acting students. I have taken classes in Arts, Science, Land and Food Systems, Fine Arts, and I took a Forestry course once too.
Why is it important to you to be able to study a breadth of different things?
The interesting thing I like to point out is that the quote “Jack of all trades, master of none” has a second part, which goes “but ofttimes better than a master of one”. That is something that I live by: being involved in lots of different things so that I can combine some or all of them towards a larger goal. In addition, when I applied to university I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and so I decided to study things at UBC that I enjoy to make sure that no matter what profession I end up in, I will like what I do.
I decided to study things at UBC that I enjoy to make sure that no matter what profession I end up in, I will like what I do.
What do you hope to study in the future of your degree?
The next couple of years will definitely be a lot more focused on my major and minor. I am specializing in lyricism, screenplay, podcasting, and playwriting in terms of my Creative Writing major – all genres that I enjoy immensely. For my minor in Applied Animal Biology I am hoping to focus on animal behaviour as it is something that I find very interesting and I want to learn more about.
As well as your academic diversity, you have a broad range of interests. One of those is volunteering for UBC’s CiTR radio station – what do you do there?
I do a couple of things. I host my own show called La Bonne Heure on which I play and talk about music in English and French. I also get the opportunity to interview Canadian and international bands for my show – something I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to do. I am also a part of the station’s music collective called Word on the Street, in which a group of students get together to discuss music, concerts, artists, and more. It’s always very fun to hear everyone’s opinions about different musical news and topics. I have also written for Discorder, CiTR’s magazine, a couple of times. Going to CiTR events – whether Shindig or the Fundrive Finale – is also something my friends and I always look forward to: there’s always a great crowd, art, and music!
You take part in a German singing group. Can you talk a bit more about what that entails, and how you got involved with the club?
It’s exactly what it sounds like: we meet up once a week for an hour and sing German folk songs. One of the German Professors at UBC (Florian Gassner) plays the guitar and translates the lyrics for us to follow along. It’s great because not only are we practicing our German and singing skills, but it is also a lovely group of people with lots of different abilities and backgrounds in the language and in music.
You are also on the synchronized swimming team. Why did you want to get involved with the sport at UBC?
I used to swim competitively before coming to Canada and wanted to continue on with an aquatic sport. On Imagine Day, as I was signing up for way too many clubs, I stopped by the synchronized swimming booth and asked them where the “normal” swimming booth was. They immediately started giving me reasons as to why I should try synchronized swimming instead. I was convinced, went to a practice, loved it, and have been on the novice team ever since.
Do you find it easy to juggle so many extra-curriculars with your classes?
It can sometimes be overwhelming. I think it is something that takes time to learn how to balance, but I am definitely learning to focus and prioritize my time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your UBC experience?
Being in a new place with lots of new people can be daunting at first, but always remember that there are so many people at UBC who are here to help you through anything! If you feel lost on your way to finding a classroom, ask another student for directions; if you live in residence and feel homesick, speak to your Residence Advisor; if you’re a collegia student and are unsure how to get involved on campus, talk to your collegia advisor; if you’re confused in class, ask your Teaching Assistant or prof for help; if you’re having physical health issues, head on over to the student health services, and if you’re struggling with your mental health, go check out some of the counselling options on campus. Find people who share the same passions, hobbies and ideas as you, and learn something new from people who are different than you. There are so many opportunities here to make the most of, so try to do just that!