• Rosaline Leung

#MyFirstYear in UBC Arts

Hi there! ✨ I’m Rosa, and I finished my first year at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Arts (at the gorgeous Vancouver campus!) this past spring, where I’m planning to major in Political Science. Although I spent my first and only year so far attending Zoom university, it’s undoubtedly been an interesting and enjoyable experience. So without further ado, here’s a quick peek into/summary of #MyFirstYear in the University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts! 👀


The Coordinated Arts Program

In high school, I took the IB programme to (hopefully) improve my chances of getting into UBC. I’d always looked forward to going to this university as it was so close by and had a great reputation, but when I actually got in, I found myself sort of lost. Unlike some of my peers who were very confident and sure about what they wanted to study, I was in the group of students who weren't so sure. So when a friend of mine who’d taken the Coordinated Arts Program recommended it to me, I decided to give it a shot, and I don’t regret that decision one bit!


👉 TL;DR, the Coordinated Arts Program (or CAP for short) is composed of several streams such as Media Studies or Law & Society (the stream I chose!), each of which has a set timetable with a few introductory courses from a wide range of disciplines (three each term). Within your chosen stream, you’ll take these three courses with the same group of students. CAP has a lot of advantages:

  • You get the chance to study a lot of interesting subjects within your stream.

  • Because the teachers work together to build the curriculum, course content is often interconnected (which is really cool) and you get access to CAP-only events like CAPCON!

  • Taking the same courses with a group of other students mean you build close friendships & connections 💖.


Additionally, you still have room for two other electives outside of the three CAP courses if you’d want to take a full course load. I’d definitely recommend taking CAP for any incoming students who might be unsure about their major and want to make the most of their first-year!


Here’s the courses that I took in my first year with CAP/in the Faculty of Arts:

Term 1

  • 📝 ASTU 100 (Arts Studies - States of Injustice): This is the CAP equivalent of introductory WRDS or ENGL! Speaking with other students who took those courses, if you’re interested in the topics that ASTU and CAP covers, I think you’ll enjoy this course more. You’ll learn the fundamentals of research, proposal & essay-writing, as well as analysis while looking into relevant issues.

  • 🏺 HIST 104 (State Intervention and the History of International Law): I never considered myself to be big on history, so I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it HIST 104! Being able to look at the histories and connections between many different aspects, events, and concepts internationally definitely intrigued me.

  • 🌎 ANTH 100A (Introduction to Cultural Anthropology): Anthropology is certainly an interesting subject, but I felt that this course was almost too introductory--nevertheless I’m sure diving deeper into specific parts of the anthropology program will be intriguing!

  • 🖊️ CRWR 209 (Introduction to Writing Fiction): Unfortunately, I found that having deadlines and scores on creative work hindered my ability to write but I learned a lot about writing fiction, and would definitely recommend this to any writers or students looking for a fun elective!

  • 📒 ENGL 200 (Principles of Literary Studies): Probably my favourite course & elective this term (or maybe even year)! It might just be me being an English nerd, but being able to analyze a variety of literature in depth was very enjoyable. (Side note: the reason why I can take a 200-level English course is because I did well enough in IB English to earn the credit.)


Term 2

  • 📝 ASTU 100 (Arts Studies - States of Injustice): The same course as last term!

  • ⚖️ POLI 101 (Government of Canada): Some of my friends found it a bit dry but as someone interested in majoring in Political Science I felt that it’s a solid foundation for future POLI classes.

  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 GRSJ 101 (Introduction to Social Justice): This course is for anyone interested in social justice and activism--or actually, for anyone! I really enjoyed the topics we covered and I genuinely wish more people were educated in this topic/we learned about this stuff in high school. Would highly recommend!

  • 🗣️ ENGL 229 (Topics in the Study of Language and/or Rhetoric – Spoken Discourse): Compared to ENGL 200, this elective dives more into linguistics than literary analysis; nevertheless I enjoyed being able to look at spoken language for a change.

  • 🧠 PSYC 102 (Introduction to Psychology): I was recommended this elective to me by a friend and I enjoyed every bit of it! The professor was amazing and the course content was very interesting.


What I wish I knew going into my first year at UBC

Although I’d say that my first year at UBC went pretty smoothly, there were definitely a few things that I wish I knew before diving into my first year! Here are a few:

  1. Making friends can be daunting, but go for it. Being online made things different but there are still a ton of ways to connect with other students 💪! Be sure to participate in Imagine Day and Jumpstart, and make the most of Instagram pages, the r/UBC Reddit, Discord servers, and Facebook groups.

  2. Clubs, clubs, clubs: keep an eye out for clubs day & org hirings! Clubs often hire at the end of the school year/when summer starts, and at the start of the school year. While joining clubs is something I’d definitely recommend (be sure to attend clubs day!) I think volunteering with a club is also a very worthwhile experience. I’ve joined the UBC Esports Association, Jazz Club, and Arts Undergraduate Society, all of which were fun and a great way to meet other like-minded people.

A virtual secret santa team social that the UBC Esports Association held this past winter 🎁!
  1. Make use of the various resources & support services UBC offers. UBC provides great academic advising and mental health services--make the most of them!

  2. Keep yourself organized 📅! Different professors and clubs use different tools/platforms, so make sure you have your own that you can use to keep track of all of those; the university workload can be quite a shift compared to that of high school so it’s important to stay on top of things. My personal favourites are Google Calendar and Notion; with these I’m able to schedule my time, take notes, and even handle personal things like my finances.


My master schedule/task list for the spring 2021 term! Notion is really useful for helping to visualize my tasks.

In conclusion 🌞

All in all, despite the fact that I spent my first year at UBC on Canvas and Zoom, I genuinely enjoyed it. For those of you who might be nervous or unsure, have no fear--there’s a lot to look forward to, and all of LEAP, UBC, and your fellow classmates will be there to support you. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message on LinkedIn, and for the UBC class of 2025, see you on campus 💙!


Rosaline Leung

  • Political Science @ University of British Columbia Vancouver

  • Public Relations Advisor @ LEAP Canada


About the Author

Rosaline joined LEAP Canada as a Public Relations Coordinator (then Public Relations Director, and now Public Relations Advisor) back in August 2020 with nothing to do during quarantine besides writing and playing video games. Now, she balances those hobbies with her studies and volunteering while working towards her YA-protagonist goal of helping other people & leaving her mark on the world. Passionate and dedicated to her passions, Rosaline hopes that she’ll be able to help incoming post-secondary students pursue their passions too.


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