A Day in the Life of SJC Students

Experience the life of students living in St. John's College at UBC

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Your friendly SJC librarian’s gift guide for people who like paper!

Given that we are graduate students, and it’s a pretty safe bet that we like books or know someone who likes books. Whether you need something for your secret santa-ee at SJC, or you want to give yourself a little something for having survived the semester, nothing brightens up a dark winter day like bookstore hopping. Because I am contractually obligated by my library degree program only to participate in activities that are laughably stereotypical, I signed up for a “used bookstore crawl” this past Sunday. Here are the deets on some great used bookstores downtown you might want to visit:

MacLeod’s Books (455 W Pender St.)

MacLeod’s Books

MacLeod’s Books

MacLeod’s is a Vancouver institution, and a trip to the ultra packed store is a pretty unique experience. Here’s the thing about MacLeod’s: If you suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, dislike dust, or have a reoccurring nightmare about being crushed by a towering pile of books, this might not be the place for you. However, they have an amazing selection, and if you have some time to dig and enjoy the thrill of the hunt, you’ll almost certainly find a used copy of any book you could possibly want.

Criterion Books (434 W Pender St.)

Criterion Books

Criterion Books

A pretty standard little used bookstore. It’s not as perilous as MacLeod’s, but it’s also much smaller, so the selection is not as extensive. However, it’s a pleasant, cozy place with the added bonus of a small collection of record albums for those of you who appreciate the warmer sound you get from vinyl (still have no idea what this means).

The Paper Hound (344 W Pender St.)

The Paper Hound

The Paper Hound

This might be my new favorite bookstore in Vancouver. It’s a beautifully curated, warm, and inviting little place with a combination of new and used books. The used books have been thoughtfully chosen and are displayed in a way that’s both attractive and easy to browse. There are some artfully arranged stacks of vintage-y books that add charm to the décor without also adding clutter and a little set of metal drawers with all sorts of treasures inside. Basically, it’s lovely, and even though it’s small you can spend quite a lot of time in there just enjoying the book eye candy.

Obviously there are several other great used bookstores in Vancouver (add your favorites in the comments below!), but these three make for a nice little SJC afternoon outing, especially when paired with cocoa or lunch. Happy book hunting!

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A Night at the Opera


Ever wonder what to do on a Friday evening? Why not try the opera!  That’s what Mia, Kai, Wendy, Amina, and the author of this post (Denise) did.  We saw “The Tales of Hoffmann” performed by UBC Opera.  This magnificent ensemble of sopranos, mezzos, tenors, and basses mesmerized us as they sung the story of Hoffmann, “the wild-eyed poet who travels the world in search of the ideal woman and ends up thwarted by villains at every turn.”


In 1995, the UBC Opera Ensemble was founded by Canadian lyric coloratura, Nancy Hermiston. She has won numerous awards, including the Opera Canada Rubie Award for her contributions to opera in Canada.

Every season at UBC, the now 90-member opera company performs three main productions and seven Opera Tea Concerts.  The next opera, “The Florentine Straw Hat” will take place February 6, 7, & 8 at the Chan Centre.  Tickets are discounted for students and for $20 an evening of bliss is in store for you.


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Simultaneous Chess Exhibition – Nov. 3, 2013

As a chess beginner, I was very lucky to be a part of the “Simultaneous Chess Exhibition” in which our SJC chess master, Sheng, played simultaneously against 8 of us.


The attached picture is of the name-tags made by Kamila. We had representatives from all over the world playing against our Canadian representative, Sheng-Jun Xu.

I would really like to quote one of our chess game organizers, Kamila for her encouraging words prior to the big day:

“Tomorrow we will face our enemy in the battle of the century! Let gods unite us for honour and duty and countrymen!”  🙂

Interestingly, we all predicted that “Canada” would be the final winner! And being able to have a multinational chess game event with so many SJC residents from different countries was a very fun experience.


During the 2 hours and half of playing chess, I felt that my playing improved a lot. As a piano performer, I firmly believe that “practice makes perfect”~ and I guess with chess, “losing leads to improvement”.

I’m really looking forward to becoming a better player and having another chance to challenge Sheng and the other chess players.

Special thanks to our SJC chess group leaders, Ronald and Kamila, for organizing this event.

~Winnie He