Coffee, Co-op and History papers: My 5 years at UBC | Guest post by Lauren Riva

It’s such a strange feeling to be graduating. Here I am, one week away from my graduation ceremony, and the reality hasn’t really sunk in. As I sit at my computer, I no longer have to resist the urge to check my grades on the SSC – they are all finally posted – and there are no more last minute discussions or homework assignments on Connect. This morning, I made coffee in my coffee pot and slowly deliberated over breakfast choices, rather than rushing off to secure the best table in Irving K. Barber library.

Even though I was pretty sure it would happen eventually, it still feels like a bit of a surprise that my UBC journey is ending. After five years as a student in the Faculty of Arts, I will soon be a graduate of UBC’s International Relations program.  The last five years have been an incredible journey, full of unexpected adventures, challenges and caffeine.


As a UBC Arts Co-op student, my work terms allowed me to explore the Lower Mainland’s the non-profit sector, UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science and Aboriginal litigation with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).  I published a book and a magazine article, and checked historical facts for a lawsuit. I learned how to face paint, about the intricacies of 3D printing and social media, and the complexities of Canada’s legacy with the Residential Schools.  My Work Learn position expanded my knowledge of UBC communication channels and media, while university became more affordable. As a Go Global participant, I lived in Paris for 8 months, and studied at the renowned Sciences Po. While the language and demanding course load made me pretty familiar with the university’s tiny library – I gave 10 presentations in one term! – I also spent a fair amount of time in the sampling the pastries, running through the parks and on Ryan Air flights. I made friends from all over the world who share my love for global politics, travel and pain au chocolat.


I took advantage of the wide variety of courses available to IR majors; I discovered the great works of literature of Eastern Europe, the accomplishments of the US presidents and how currency manipulation works. I wrote papers on a range of topics from Peter the Great, the global mining industry, cinematic representations of the Vietnam War to the role of testosterone in economic decisions. My time at Sciences Po significantly improved my French language skills; yet the people I have met over the last five years have helped me pick up random phrases in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin, Slovenian, Swedish and Tagalog. I was also a MUG leader, a Go Global and Bike Kitchen volunteer; I mingled with the Pre-Law, Arts Co-op, Political Science and International Relations students associations.

Sciences Po Exchange student picnic 2012


While my degree has taken me around the world, I’ve also learned a lot about Vancouver. Hailing from Qualicum Beach, BC – a town with 1 traffic light, and many people’s grandparents – I have come a long way in terms of new experiences. I became a yogi, a swimmer, and a ballerina; I’ve completed the Sun Run, the Grouse Grind and the Chief. I discovered sushi, quinoa, and how navigate public transit – as well as this city’s beautiful bikes lanes.


In addition to all the newfound knowledge, I have been incredibly lucky to have met so many wonderful people in the last five years. The friends that I have made at UBC – many of whom I met in first year, at Totem Park – are from a variety of faculties, with different skills, experiences and goals. It’s hard to come up with a favourite memory from my time at UBC, but it’s easy to say that all of my UBC memories would be much less memorable without the people that I shared them with, and met along the way!