Monday, 29 September 2014

We ARE Problem Solvers: How University Students Can Address Poverty

Rubik’s cubes are a little like poverty: easy to find but not often sought, an icon of the ‘80’s (which saw the last major economic downturn prior to the 2000’s), and a challenge to solve (unless you’re Will Smith… at least as far as the cube is concerned). As university students we often study poverty, look at its effects and try to determine its root causes. We can see it when we search it out, and in some cases might have even experienced it ourselves. If you’ve sat through a sociology class, you’ve likely even engaged in a debate about how to best solve and prevent poverty only to realize just how complicated it the issue really is. As an individual, it can sometimes leave you feeling a little hopeless – but I’d like to suggest that it shouldn’t.

Yes, poverty is a complex issue and it won’t be solved by an individual. And unlike a Rubik’s Cube, you can’t cheat your way to a solution. However, through awareness of the issues, discussion of the issues, debate of the possible solutions, and intentional collective action we might be able to work our way through it. We have to be hopeful about being a part of the solution. We have to believe that we can work together to bring about change and we have to believe that our efforts can have an impact. We do after all attend a school that prides itself on “uplifting the whole people” through education and impact. 

So, how can we do that right now when we, one: likely don’t have as much time as we might like to dedicate to take action, and two: are probably lacking a hefty bank account to help fund existing efforts? I’ll admit that the answer isn’t as active as I’d like, but it is one that will have impact. We need to be aware. That’s it. We need to recognize what poverty is, where it exists, and what systems currently allow it to continue. We also need to recognize that action is possible and that even if we don’t have the time do something right now, there are others who do, and they should be supported in their efforts (even if that support simply comes from paying attention to them rather than paying them with cash). We also have to remember that poverty isn’t always visible, so if we can shed light on it, we can gain a better understanding of it. 

This fall the U of A will continue its long standing tradition of raising awareness about poverty by supporting The United Way. And in addition to the awareness events that it will be hosting (see our list below), the university and those of us who attend it will hopefully be able to have some frank conversations around poverty’s causes, effects, and possible solutions. Let’s donate our attention and our critical thought. Let’s be problem solvers.

United Way Campaign Events:

October 1 – The Loopy Lunch 
Proceeds from lunch sales will go to the United Way. Lunch will be provided by a series of food trucks located around the bus loop.

October 4 – The Turkey Trot (hosted by Recreational Services)

October 24 – Poverty Simulation 

November 5 – Chillin’ For Charity


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

How to Answer the Question “So, What Are Your Plans After Undergrad?”

I’m not a full-fledged scientist or anything, but after some acute observations, it seems that being in one’s final year of undergrad affects people in different ways. There are those who return for their last year all bright-eyed and whatnot, marveling at the new found beauty of the U of A campus, constantly exclaiming, “Oh golly gosh! I can’t believe I won’t be here next year.” Of course, the things they are floored by aren’t limited to the view here, but actually extend to the most minuscule of things, like “Oh, wow! Was that trash can always there? I mean, what a convenient location for a trash can! I’m going to miss the U of A and how people are just so considerate here.” Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit the 2014 Go Abroad Fair

Let’s face it, September can be overwhelming.  
And if you are anything like me, you look at all the opportunities and events being advertised on campus and you’re like “Whoa! Look at all these awesome events. There are so many! How do you choose!? On second thought, I think I’ll take a nap.” 

By all means, take that nap. You probably deserve it! 
And then, you should check out the 2014 Go Abroad Fair on Thursday, September 25 at Lister Conference Centre from 10:00am-4:00pm hosted by the Education Abroad Program

Buy why you ask? Let me tell you why.

5. Why wouldn’t you want to see the world while you are in university?

Photo credit:

Why stay in one place if you really don’t have to? Plus Edmonton’s winters are long and cold. Find out about places that have actual beaches and summers that last longer than 2 months.  

4. It’s easy and it’s FREE! 

Summer programs, internships, exchange, volunteer, research and work abroad information! Over 50 exhibitors with different opportunities, all in one place (on campus!). It’s almost never this easy. 

3. Because the future has gone global. 

Photo credit: Pinterest 

So you want a fancy new career after university, do you? Don’t get left behind without international experience.

2. So.Much.Free.Stuff. 

Photo Credit:

I love free. You love free. University students looooove free.

1. Because wanderlust is real. 

Going abroad was one of the single most rewarding experiences of my life. I learned more about myself in 6 months than I did in the last 6 years.   I have 7 different currencies scattered all over my house because…well, “just in case,” airports feel like home, and I keep in touch with friends and family in 3 different languages on 5 different continents!  Not a day goes by that I do not think of someone I met or something that happened to me while I was wandering the world. With a nostalgic sigh, I’ve come to terms with my self-diagnosed ailment. I’ve got a serious case of Wanderlust.  My bank account may never be full again, but my heart will always be overflowing with love. 
And all because I did the necessary research and I took those first steps.
Go to the Go Abroad Fair. You won’t regret it. 

For more information about Education Abroad Opportunities and the Go Abroad Fair click here.

----About the Author

Howdy. I’m Jobey-- a fourth (+2) year BA student studying Spanish Language and Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, but if I had to choose, I would probably say Shakira because her hips don’t lie. And honesty is important to me. 

I have two obsessions that keep my heart perpetually pleased and my bank account endlessly empty: shoes and travel.  To date, I have visited 14 countries (studied in three!) and I own more shoes than I care to publicly admit. 

I am totally stoked to be a member of the 2014 YouAlberta Blogging team! I hope that my unique educational experiences will help me find and highlight all of the fascinating students we have on campus.  Be advised: If you’re out there and you’re awesome, I will find you. And we will talk!  :) 


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

10 Things To Do On Green and Gold Day

So, just in case you haven't heard.... This coming Friday (September 19) is Green and Gold Day! That's right, it's a day for you, and for your classmates, and your profs, and your friends, and why even for the other YouAlberta Bloggers and I to all show off our U of A pride by simply sporting a little green and maybe even a little gold. 

In addition to showing some love for the school though, here are 10 things that you can do to make the most of Green and Gold Day:

1) Wear Some Green and or Gold

This one might seem obvious... but that doesn't make it any less true. Make your Friday routine a little easier by pulling on your U of A hoodie. You can even wear a free t-shirt from a U of A event, or, just pull out your favourite green sweater. Erin has a few extra tips on pulling off the green and gold look here.

I'm also pretty certain that if you make your way to The Bookstore, you'll probably find the famous Bookstore Hoodie Sale in full swing, so if you're quick, you might be able to find your perfect size.

2) Eat Some Free Food

Image courtesy of

We're students, and we're also people... which means we are predisposed to enjoy free food. And thankfully, Green and Gold Day comes with some green and gold themed snacks. Popcorn and cotton candy... Mmmmmm.

3) Help Out  A Good Cause

Image courtesy of

Free food is fantastic, but so is a reasonably priced meal that will help support the community. Right by the free snacks, you should be able to find the United Way Fundraiser BBQ. So, grab a burger and help out those in need of a little extra help.

4) Get a Selfie with Guba and Patches

So, earlier this week, YouAlberta followed around Guba and Patches (and yes we caught Guba taking a selfie of his own)... and we noticed that a lot of people wanted photos with them. Like, every third person that they walked by either ran up to ask them for a photo. So, give in... you know you want to... get in there and get your selfie with them. 

5) Find Out What Kind of Bear YOU Are

Seriously. Take the quiz! Are you all about adventure? Are you the proud type? Are you scholarly? Or, are you the crowd favourite... Derpy Bear?

6) Catch Some Prizes

Image courtesy of

I have a very strong suspicion that if you find yourself in QUAD around the noon hour, you'll likely find yourself in a position to catch a prize. Maybe it'll be a ball. Maybe it'll be a t-shirt... who knows! The only way to find out is to head to QUAD.

7) Join the Tradition of the Tuck Shop Addiction

Have you heard of the Tuck shop? Better yet, have you heard of infamous (and oh so delicious) Tuck Shop Cinnamon Bun? If you haven't, you're going to. And if you have, I hope your salivating just a little right now.

Basically, the Tuck Shop Cinnamon Buns are the legends of campus. Way back when, there was a place called the Tuck Shop on campus (it was almost like the Dewey's of its day). They made cinnamon buns. People became so addicted to the buns that they still come back each year to enjoy them. Seriously. This is a thing. It's also a part of Alumni Weekend (which will also kick off on Friday), so you'll find the cinnamon buns in the Alumni tent out in QUAD. 

8) Look up... waaaaaaaay up.

If you can make it to QUAD at noon, look up to the top of CAB and smile! You'll be a part of the U of A's official Green and Gold Group photo. Afterwards you'll able to play your own version of "Where's Waldo" with your friends... but instead of Waldo, you'll be looking for you!

9) Capture the Day

Image courtesy of ONEcard on Twitter

In addition to Patches and Guba, see what other U of A icons you can sneak into a photo. Look for things like the giant ONEcard, try to spot the person with the most green and gold outfit (last year I'm pretty sure there was a giraffe... he won for the most "gold"), pose with one of the varsity teams, or get in with the band. 

10) Share Your Day

If you're on social media, hashtag all of the green and gold that you find with #UAlberta. Let's see just how green and gold this place can really be. To get things started, here are a few shots of Fluffy. Look at her! So adorable... you know you want to share her!


Monday, 15 September 2014

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... AGP

After having one of the best summers of my life, it seems almost impossible to give up my adventurous, carefree lifestyle. And for what?!  Late night study sessions and early morning classes?! You all know what I'm talking about... Mid-September. No more beer gardens, no more bands, and you may actually have assigned readings that could appear on an exam. Heck, midterms are already around the corner. Summer is officially over and I find myself absolutely dreading all the things I’ll have to do, all the things I’ll have to give up, and all the things I’ll have to endure in the next 8 months.

But here’s the thing...have you noticed how many times I've said ‘I’? 

In between already longing for the summer months, the seemingly endless homework, and the uncertainty of being a 20-something, it is easy to lose sight of why we are actually in this rat race we call university. It’s just easy to get lost in ourselves. Especially in mid-September. 

But hey, we are only human. Sometimes we need a little reminder of where we’ve come from and why we’re here.  Sometimes we just need a little inspiration.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to look very far for that inspiration. His name is Andrew G.Parker, also known as A.G.P, and he is pure Edmonton and pure awesome. 

A.G.P is not just a successful University of Alberta Golden Bears alumnus (he has two degrees!). He is not just a professional basketball player and coach. He is not just a community activist rallying for Edmonton's youth. He is an inspiration to any university student striving to make a difference in this world. He understands the big picture on the most important level: the ground. He is the guy who reminds us that our daily grind is about more than just our individual needs. (NOTE: The “Daily Grind” is also more than just a coffee place on campus…)

When I grow up I want to be A.G.P 

I could say that I want to be A.G.P. because I think I shoot some pretty mean hoops (in my dreams), or because I want to add two degree abbreviations to my name, or because I simply like the idea of being known by my initials, but all of those reasons would be lies. I want to be like A.G.P. because of the approach he takes to life and the impact he has on local communities. 

For example, this summer, I was fortunate enough to attend a streetball tournament called Pride Of The Northside (POTNS), an outreach event on the Northside of the city that promotes the development of community through the game of basketball, hosted by Andrew Parker and the A.G.P squad. Within two short minutes of arriving at POTNS, Andrew greeted me like an old friend despite the fact that we had only been in contact via email and Facebook communication, he gave me a shout-out on the loudspeaker, and awarded a young boy a $25 iTunes card for turning in a cell phone he had found, because in Andrew’s words, “the world needs more honest men.” The boy was glowing with pride--Northside pride.   Basketballs were flying in every direction, kids were shouting and everyone was grinning from ear to ear.  Technically, this wasn’t my community, but I felt at home. 

As I watched the community interact with Andrew and Andrew interact with the community, I knew that there was something really special about this guy. Mayor Don Iveson, a guest at the event, congratulated A.G.P on his hard work and selfless dedication to the community. He credited Andrew as someone who makes Edmonton a better place each and every day. And after talking to Andrew myself, I could see why. 

Although he didn’t know it, during the course of our conversation, Andrew ended up giving me priceless advice on how to get that motivation back in my life--my September mojo if you will.--How to keep the big picture in my mind while staying completely on the ground. And he did it with these three simple, but powerful comments:   

Andrew on community:

"I would like the kids to remember me, not as a pro athlete, not as a coach, but as somebody who grew up here and who still loves being from here.

I just want to see people continue to help each other. That’s all I care about. Because I love my community, I love Edmonton and I’m never going to stop!"

His philosophy: 

"A.G.P- not just my name, but for what it stands for. It stands for Always Gaining Progress. That means every single day you wake up, you try and be a better person than you were the day before. Always Gaining Progress." 

Advice to Students: 

"Don’t forget who you are. I know when we go to school we amass a lot of knowledge, we gain a lot of experience, we mature a lot, but never forget where you come from. My parents came here as immigrants from Grenada and Jamaica and I went to M. E Lazerte school on the North side…. Once I graduated, it was one of the most empowering feelings. Never ever forget who you are and where you come from."  

These late night study sessions and early morning classes are not really for the grades nor are they for the future paychecks. I’m here for community. I’m here to find a place where I belong and where I can continue to help people.  Every day I wake up, I want to try to be a better person than I was the day before. This September and everyday September after that, I want to be A.G.P- Always Gaining Progress. 

so thank you Mr. Parker, for being a role model, an activist, and a community leader; thank you for inspiring Edmonton, from the North side to the south and from the prepubescent to the mature, . Because when you strive to be a better person, one by one or ten by ten, the community follows suit.

About the Author

Howdy. I’m Jobey-- a fourth (+2) year BA student studying Spanish Language and Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, but if I had to choose, I would probably say Shakira because her hips don’t lie. And honesty is important to me. 

I have two obsessions that keep my heart perpetually pleased and my bank account endlessly empty: shoes and travel.  To date, I have visited 14 countries (studied in three!) and I own more shoes than I care to publicly admit. 

I am totally stoked to be a member of the 2014 YouAlberta Blogging team! I hope that my unique educational experiences will help me find and highlight all of the fascinating students we have on campus.  Be advised: If you’re out there and you’re awesome, I will find you. And we will talk!  :) 


Friday, 12 September 2014

YA's 9 Random Questions with... William Lau

William Lau 
(SU President 2014 - 2015)


1) How do you take your coffee?

"Double double. Well balanced."

2) What makes you smile?

"Seeing other people happy."

3) What makes you frown?

"I think something that makes me frown is when I see someone do something intentionally to hurt others." 

4) If you could describe yourself as a food, what food would you be?

"Hmmm… what food would I be? Maybe like…. hot pot. Do you know what hot pot is? [Interviewer: Sort of.] So it’s usually like a really communal way of eating where there’s this boiling pot of soup base or water and everyone just takes their foods raw and dips it in and cooks together and eats together. And I think that would describe me because I like being around other people. I like bringing people together. And, at the end of a meal like that, it’s really warm, it’s really cozy."

"And at the end, the soup or the broth itself is really rich because it’s been dipped! By everyone!"

5) So, what would your super power be?

"To control time."

6) What stresses you out?

"Public speaking."

7) What relaxes you?

"Uh, besides massages? Perhaps classical music."

8) Who inspires you?

"People that really love what they do. No matter how much or how little money they make or how much or how little time they spend on it – people who really enjoy life and who’ve found what they love and are able to do so."

9) Describe your U of A experience in just three words.

"Do great things."


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

10 Things to Expect on Your Commute to Campus

So, let's be honest, the U of A is a commuter campus. Most of us take the bus, drive, or ride the LRT to get here. Some do walk, but even they are likely to ride transit or something at some point during their time here. So here are 10 things that you should expect to encounter if you commute to campus.

1.    If you don't want to pay for parking, and want to park in Garneau, then just remember that there's also a bunch of other students who don't want to pay for parking, who are also going to park in Garneau.

Parking Problems GIF

2.    If you do pay for parking, some will consider it a big deal. 

Spit Take

3.    Escalators are either working or under preventative maintenance – mostly the latter.

Broken LRT Escalator
Source: Overheard at the University of Alberta

4.    If the escalators are working, the following is more important than whatever you're studying:

Escalator Etiquette
source: photo-dictionary

5.    The Metro Newspaper.

Reading on the Train
Image courtesy of

6.    What arrives and leaves at the same time? The bus you're on and the train you're trying to catch.

Noooooooooooooo Michael Scott
source: Elite Daily

7.    People can be a little edgy on the LRT.

LRT Attack
source: youtube

8.    People also like to initiate a lot of awkward eye contact on public transportation. 

Awkward Eye Contact - Michael Cera
Source: gifbay

9.    Sometimes they'll smile, and sometimes you'll smile back.

Smiling Bunnies

10.  Just remember: even in the winter, when it's usually dark, and everyone's writing mid-terms and strung out on coffee – a morning smile goes a long way. You're kinda' all in this together. 

Awesome High Five - Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler

----About the Author

Hey readers! My name is Shadi and I'm currently doing a double major in Mathematics and Economics - an amalgamation of the two most enjoyable fields fathomable.  

Now - pull up an ear and listen reader: there lives a thriving ecosystem of academia addicts and campus-culture aficionados throughout the U of A, and I'm hoping to get these stories to you. I'm hoping we can on some level create more pride in our university through what really matters: the students. Me? Yes - you! You matter. I want people to hear of what academic triumphs students are achieving, and what new initiatives leaders across campus are championing. Also, from time to time, I’ll try to make you smile with “humor”. I'm looking forward to the semester and being a part of this team, as well as learning more about what's happening across our campus!


Monday, 8 September 2014

12 Helpful Tips for New Grad Students

Dear First Year Grad Student,

First of all, CONGRATS and welcome to the next step of your life! I’m writing to help you with the transition from the mostly course-based undergraduate experience to a more independent graduate student experience. I should mention, my experience is with a thesis-based program and a course-based Masters is likely a different path but with similarities and hopefully you course-based students will still find a bit of this useful. 

The inspiration for this letter comes from a lab mate of mine who wanted to take extra courses to satisfy her “intellectual needs." It took all of my strength not to laugh as I managed to convince her to stick to her required courses and focus on getting trained in the lab for the Fall. She could always take extra courses in the Winter, right? Early into the Fall semester she realized that, despite having fewer courses, grad school was just as demanding (if not more) as her undergrad had been; this is normal. Many new grad students have to learn to juggle thesis work with degree requirements like seminars, courses, lab rotations, etc. not to mention teaching, research assistant-ships, and/or part-time jobs. 

Instead of having hard deadlines for assignments and tests there can be a lot more freedom involved. If you don’t have strong time management and self-discipline skills you will get a crash course in both of these during your first semester. Don’t worry if you don’t, you’re pretty much forced to pick them up if you ever want to graduate in a decent amount of time. And it is completely NORMAL to question whether you belong in your program. Ask another grad student whose been around there a while and they’ve probably experienced feelings of inadequacy themselves numerous times. Once you realize you’re not alone you’ll feel better.

Not only is grad school a fairly new experience but many of you are new to Edmonton as well. I can assure you, despite the cold winters and small town feel of the city, once you get used to your new surroundings you’ll see the potential and liveliness Edmonton has to offer. And in no time you’ll settle into and become a part of the diverse and dynamic U of A community. In fact, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to get involved on campus. Find a group, committee, or team where you can meet other grad students. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a supportive group of other grad students around. I say grad students specifically because if you have to cancel on beers and pizza for the second time in a row because you ran into problems with an experiment, no one will understand better than someone else who’s had a similar experience. Not to say my non-grad student friends aren’t understanding, it just takes a lot less explanation. It’s not like you will be working a standard 9-5 all the time. Also, getting involved will distract you from the frustrations of school and thesis work. My personal preference is volleyball; it’s great to smash a ball when your latest assay hasn’t worked. Yet again.

Along with a supportive group of friends, humor is important. You have to be able to laugh at spending 15 hours straight in the lab. Like a lot of other students I’m a huge fan of and Despite the incredible amount of work grad school can be it is also an extraordinary experience meant to be enjoyed. Sometimes you need a little humor to get through the not-so-fun parts.

Plus there are many benefits to grad school other than getting the degree. For instance, if you look hard enough you could probably find 1-2 free lunches a week and each one of those lunches will likely come with a pretty interesting seminar too. Sometimes I sit there and I can’t believe I’m getting paid to listen to someone talk about their research… Usually while eating a pretty decent lunch. Another major advantage is the opportunity to travel by going to conferences and usually it’s acceptable to extend your trip by a few days so you can explore a new city. I’ve gotten to travel to quite a few amazing cities in North America –with the costs of my airfare covered. Plus, there are plenty of interesting people you are going to meet both on and off campus who will share the same interests and passions as you. Collaborate with others from the U of A and see how you might be able to work with the connections that you’ll make during your conferences whenever you have the opportunity. It will enrich your education, your resume, and your life.

So to sum it up, some things you’ll want to keep in mind for your first semester (and beyond) will include:

1.    Time management: if you don’t already have a grasp on this, you’re going to by the end of your first semester.

Levels of Procrastination
Image courtesy of

2.    It’s normal to question whether you belong or not to your program.

Stich - Where do I belong?
Image courtesy from Pinterest

3.    Get involved! You’re part of a diverse community, so make new connections and explore your passions.


4.    You’re NOT alone! Share your experience with other grad students.

Community Group Hug
Image courtesy of

5.    Support each other.

Guba and Patches high five

6.    Keep up your hobbies. 
(Again, my preference is volleyball, but you can pick what makes you happiest.)

Volleyball at UAlberta (intramurals)

7.    Don’t forget to laugh.

Evil laugh Tina Fey GIF
Image courtesy of Tumblr.

8.    Search and you will find free food.

Pancake Breakfast at UAlberta

9.    You will get to hear about amazing academics and may be one of the first outside of their lab to hear about cutting edge results!

Discovering the Hell Diamond

10.    Conferences = travel, networking, explorations, and collaboration.

eHub Conference

11.    Collaborate!

Group Work with Guba and Patches

12.    Enjoy!

The Carlton Dance
Image courtesy of

If there is any other advice or info I have missed please add to this in the comments section.

----About the Author


Hi, my name is Shannon and I’m here to provide you with a YouAlberta graduate student perspective. I am currently in the last year of my degree and have (quite) a few years of experience on the U of A campus as both an undergrad and graduate student.

I am excited to show off our student experience both here at the U of A and in the broader Edmonton community. We have a dynamic campus culture full of events, groups, and just day to day awesomeness. My passions include science and getting others involved in science related activities, volleyball, hiking, and camping. I’m also full of tips on how to have fun on a student budget. Over the next year I hope I can show you how to make the most of your U of A experience because there’s so much more to school than classes and expensive textbooks!

© YouAlberta | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template by pipdig