As I write this, I am sitting in my bed full of tonsillitis – so what better time to reflect on my first 2 months at UBC.
The weather has so far been kind to us – we have had the most beautiful autumn, (or “fall”), with the maple trees turning slowly from green, to a beautiful trio of a crimson red, burnt orange and soft yellow. What a comparison to the brown leaves of the Scottish and English trees! I am told that we are lucky to have such a sunny fall; it is the best one they have had in years. A ‘normal’ autumn for Vancouver is constant rain from October through to December, with the occasional spurt of sun. From this logic, it seems as though I have wasted this unusual season by studying for midterms! My advice to any future students would be to choose what matters most to you. Choose your final goal carefully; would you prefer a few marks more in a midterm (worth around 20% of your final grade) or an experience that could potentially shape the rest of your year?
The weather has not all been wasted on me however. Since being here I have been on a few real adventures. I’ll talk about the first one here – the Grouse Grind. The Grind is an intensely steep trail (it is 1.8 miles long with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet), with a mixture of man-made steps (of which there are 2,830), and uneven tree roots and mud. It takes you from the North Vancouver plateau right up to the Grouse Mountain peak. The plateau took 2 hours to get to from UBC, although this was mostly due to poor planning and bad luck with public transport – it is approximately a 50-minute drive.
The hike was intense but hugely rewarding. At the top there are a number of shops and cafes (serving poutine of course), and best of all perhaps is a bear sanctuary. The sanctuary is the home to two orphaned grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola, both of whom were found abandoned and close to death in BC. They have been raised in the sanctuary and seem to be as tame as bears come – you are able to stand pretty much nose to nose with them if they choose to come near you, and they are not in the slightest bit bothered by noisy and nosy tourists. The whole experience seemed other-worldly and coming back to the bustling city seemed strange after our excursion into the clouds.