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A day in the life of a student in Canada

Ever wondered what a typical day looks like for a student in Canada? Geography and psychology student Becky Bradley shares her daily routine at the University of British Columbia

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    Becky Bradley

    October 18 2018
    a day in the life of a student in Canada


    I greet the bus driver with a cheery “good morning!”, as is the norm here in British Columbia, Canada rather than the head-down mutterings common in other countries at this early hour. Prior to becoming a geography and psychology student at the University of British Columbia, I had a set daily routine – which seemed to make life simpler. Routine at university is virtually impossible with varied deadlines and obligations throughout the term. However, a typical day for me goes something like this:


    My morning routine has changed drastically over the years at university but now, in my third year, I like to think that I have finally mastered a somewhat consistent schedule. After the 10-minute ride on the 99 bus, I thank the driver – another wonderfully Canadian practice, and head to UBC’s gym for a workout before class. Breakfast varies, in terms of when, if, and what I eat.

    Class time   

    My first lecture is at 9.30am in the geography building; it is on globalisation and is a relatively small class with about 50 students. I have this course twice a week and love it. This class finishes at 10.50am, allowing ten minutes to walk/jog/cycle to the next lecture. UBC’s Vancouver campus is located on the Point Grey peninsula, a stunning site jutting out into the ocean, so this can be an enjoyable commute.

    Fortunately, my 11am, a course on environment and sustainability, is also in the geography building, so I simply have to change rooms. This lecture has approximately 200 students and is only 50 minutes long, but I have it three times a week. I then have a small break to eat lunch(more on that later) before my next class.

    At 1pm I have my Spanish literature course in the arts building known as Buchanan. It’s a small class of only 20 students, lasting 50 minutes three times a week. You might be wondering why I am taking a Spanish literature course as a geography and psychology major. This is because, as an arts student at UBC, I have a literature requirement to fulfil, and I love Spanish so decided to combine the two. I love the range and flexibility of courses that you can take outside your major. Now it’s 1.50pm and I am done with classes for the day...except on Wednesdays, when I have a three-hour sports psychology lecture in the evenings.

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    Lunch – best part of the day!? 

    I try to save my wallet by bringing leftovers from dinner the night before. However, I still like to be sociable at lunch so I normally meet a friend in our student union building called the Nest. It’s called that because our mascot is the Thunderbird, so we have many bird-related puns on campus. If it’s a nice enough day (not raining), my friend and I will probably eat on the grassy mound just outside the Nest or we will venture to our campus beach. 

    If I have forgotten my lunch at home or was too busy (lazy?) to prepare food, I will grab a bite to eat at one of the many eateries in the Nest. My favorite place is Honour Roll sushi; it’s affordable and has delicious salmon/avocado and yam tempura rolls. If you enjoy sushi, Vancouver is the place to be – there are sushi restaurants everywhere and many are student (wallet) friendly.

    Afternoon time

    Afternoons are usually my study time. Where I study depends on whether I am studying in a group or not; if studying solo, I enjoy the Hogwarts-like ambiance of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, our main library. But if I am studying with friends, we will most likely study in a coffee shop on campus because it’s a more noise-friendly environment.

    However, my afternoons are not always dedicated to studying since I do have two campus jobs. As a UBC student ambassador, I give campus tours to prospective undergraduate students. My other job is working at UBC’s Alumni Centre as a secretary. Because UBC is my employer, it is flexible with my academic schedule and limits my number of hours per week. Many students don’t have jobs, but I chose to because I felt confident that I could balance the time commitment with my studies and wanted both work experience and money for travelling.


    My evening schedule varies greatly, depending on the time of term and whether I have impending academic due dates. Some evenings consist of yoga, which declutters my head. Other evenings I will be having a laugh and playing board games with friends at a local bar. Sometimes I go for a long meditative run in the beautiful Pacific Spirit Regional Park or play football with my Intramurals team.

    Also, most evenings involve lots of studying for my courses. And of course dinner, which is the time when my five housemates and I eat and talk together. It’s family time, a chance for us to share the highs and lows of the day and spend time with each other. 

    My bedtime used to vary a lot in first year, but as mentioned earlier, my schedule is more consistent this year with an approximate bedtime of 11pm. I think I am unusual in retiring this early, but sleep is crucial to my overall well-being and something I must prioritise because it impacts my day significantly.

    This is why I start winding down for bed at approximately 10.30pm and am sound asleep by 11pm, ready for the next day when I leave my house, umbrella in hand (always, it’s Vancouver!) and walk for six minutes to catch the express bus to UBC, greeting the driver with a cheery “good morning!"

    Read more: Best universities in Canada


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