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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A Social Journey through Cultures: No-Rooz edition

SJC is an international college and at any time, we represent 45 different countries and as many cultures.

No-Rooz celebration

No-Rooz celebration

In the past five years I was living at SJC, it was brought to my attention multiple times that only a certain group of residents would come to some events organized in the college. More recently with the strategic planning similar issues were raised and the focus on being inclusive was mentioned.

As a consequence, a few residents decided to gather and to create a new entity in the college, a “committee” aiming at developing our knowledge and understanding of the multiples cultures present in SJC in order to include more residents to the different activities.

SJC is supposed to be your home away from home, so it is important you feel good here. Most of the time, it means celebrating a certain event, having a specific meal, doing something very special that is dear to you and your culture. And that’s what we are here for. We can help you organize such events and introduce it to the rest of the college.

No-Rooz celebration

No-Rooz celebration

We are currently building a yearly calendar of events that are important for all of you, for all of us. Learning, understanding and exchanging are part of the mission set by the college, and that’s what we want to do with our multiple cultures.

The first event organized was last week end, for No-Rooz. No-Rooz is the Persian new year, celebrated by many countries, from Iran to Russia including also Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other. Farhad, accompanied by Shirin, Mohammad, Zeinab, Sohrab and Siavash have helped to bring us this event. They gave us their views of No-Rooz; what is it all about, what is the cultural significance, and how it is traditionally celebrated. They also introduced us to the food traditionally served during No-Rooz, and told us why and how No-Rooz is important to them.

So if you feel like sharing with us something important to you, please contact any of us. Even if you are the only representative of your country: it doesn’t matter. If it is important to you, it is important to us and we can help you organize it.

Guillaume, Farhad, Charlotte, Paola, Ronald, Shreyas, Leah and Ian

No-Rooz celebration

No-Rooz celebration

No-Rooz celebration

No-Rooz celebration


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The Inaugural Wreck-Tower Cup

Last Saturday night saw a troop of SJC residents head over to Green College for the inaugural Wreck-Tower Cup. This would be see the two residences face off in 7 different challenges. But firstly, we need to go back a few hours to the Salvation Army Thrift Store on 4th. Chantal and I had been asked to be the king and queen in a human-sized game of chess between the colleges. All the pieces were getting dressed up and we needed sceptres to complete our outfits. It’s amazing what you can do with some duct tape and some candle holders. Our friend Calvin was visiting from Seattle and did his best to securely attach them together without it looking rubbish. And on the way out we spied a perfect unicorn for one of the knights to ride.

ImageYaseen joyfully playing the role of the knight with his unicorn

So back to the evening, we had paraded across to Green College, chanting various songs on the way (including Spam from Monty Python) and were meet by jubilant Greenies ready for a battle. After a short speech by Green Principal Mark Vessey (where he outlined the use of Queensberry Rules for the evening) and a huge group photo with the trophy, the games began.

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John as the other loyal knight in the epic chess battle

The epic chess battle was the first to take place outside with a huge human chess set. SJC’s Sheng commanded the SJC forces while Green’s Robin lead his troops. First blood took down one of the pawns (cardboard boxes) but it wasn’t long until human pieces started feeling Sheng and Robin’s wrath. As King I initially felt very protected in one corner with various pieces but they started disappearing, especially after we lost our Queen. But Chantal was resurrected and Sheng brought the game to an end with an SJC victory.

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Chantal’s dramatic Queen costume

Soon after that victory, we heard news that SJC (led by Myron) had also won the soccer game with a narrow 1-0 score. Inside we all warmed up and began the foosball tournament with some food. Each college held a small tournament amongst their teams to find their best to send to the semi-finals. These ended up with an SJC team and a Green team in the final and after a stressful game for Markus and Vivian they came out victorious.

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A stressful final of the foosball

 

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Glorious celebrations from the foosball victory

SJC was 3-0 up but we knew that are strongest events were behind us. Our fantastic Chef Sean joined for the table tennis tournament and even with his incredible skills we couldn’t overcome Green and they took that competition.

Next up was the Trivia. We split up into small teams of either Green or SJC residents. Having watched Tom & co easily win the Trivia Night at the Academic I was feeling hopeful. The questions were an incredible mix of flags, Vancouver, UBC and particle physics. The team I was in managed okay and surprisingly guessed a few of the flag questions. Did you know that the Vatican City flag is square?

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Intense discussions before the Trivia began

And then the best SJC teams and best Green teams had a final few questions. Our team didn’t make it that far but we still tried to do it. Naming four letter countries was perfectly aimed as Chantal and I lost a lot of the Christmas break playing Sporcle quizzes (prepared to delay your graduation by ~6 months if you start playing them). But we still couldn’t get them all. And unfortunately none of us have been to that many UBC libraries. The score was incredibly close in the end, but the best Green team won it by a single point. That brought the overall score to 3-2 points to SJC with two competitions remaining.

I should mention that Green had supplied a wonderful variety of nibbles initially and lots of pizza arrived later. This was complemented with soft drinks, wine, beer and cider. And most of the events were in their beautiful dining hall. It was very well hosted.

So it was down to the last two events: Beer Pong and Turbo Cup. These events would not be SJC’s strong point. I hadn’t played Beer Pong in many years and only realised I knew Turbo Cup after someone explained it was basically the same as Flip Cup.

So beer pong, in case you haven’t played it, basically involves throwing ping pong balls into cups at the opposite end of a table. Simple as that, but of course with some beer involved too. The dining hall was suddenly full of beer pong games going on and people running around trying to find errant ping pong balls. And eventually after many close-calls, Green College were declared the victors that brought the score to a draw. The decider would be Turbo-Cup.

Turbo-Cup involves a chain of drinking and flipping cups and then strangely a huge glass boot containing beer (I’m still not sure where that came from). With some team pep-talks, the challenge began and we kept up a reasonable pace but Green won. And that was the end. Green took the trophy and we must congratulate them.

It was a great evening with some excellent dancing. I think both sides are looking forward to the next SJC/Green event, and especially to the next competition for the Wreck-Tower cup.

 – Jake


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French lunch on a sunny New Year weekend

Bon appetit!

Bon appetit!

Eleven Johanneans joined our first restaurant trip in 2014. We had lunch at Le Parisien, a French restaurant in West End. Many items on the menu are a novelty to some of us e.g. croque monsieur/madame, quiche, bourguignon. Guillaume, one of our foodies from France, patiently explained to us what each dish contains and tastes like. We were curious about everything and it took us a while to decide what to order.

Duck confit egg's benedict

Duck confit egg’s benedict

Many of us were interested in duck confit. We learnt that confit is a way to prepare food in oil or syrup, which is a specialty of Southwestern France. Those who had duck confit salad or egg’s benedict were all very happy with the unique taste. As for me, I tried quiche, a pie-like pastry with custard and cheese. I love the flaky crust and savoury filling! One of us had mussels marinieres, and I still remember how Guillaume demonstrated his special way of removing the shells.

Duck confit salad

Duck confit salad

We were already quite full after the first dish, but how can one resist desserts? We ordered a few items to share and sample. Crème brûlée, chocolate mousse and cheese plates marked the end of our fabulous lunch. My happy palate tells me that I’m fully energized for the challenges in the new year!

– Zoe

Cheese plate

Cheese plate

Duo chocolate mousse

Duo chocolate mousse

Quiche leek

Quiche leek


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Baking Christmas cookies

Baking Christmas cookiesTo me Christmas is all about food. Well, at least food is an important part of Christmas, and Christmas cookies, including a gingerbread house, are key elements of Christmas food, and not least Christmas preparations. Where I come from, in the days before Christmas eve, we usually have a number of Christmas preparations: making head cheese, making pickled herring, putting up a bundle of oat straws for birds to eat, decorating the whole house, and, last but not least, baking lots of Christmas cookies, including a gingerbread house.

Baking Christmas cookiesIn the spirit of sharing some of the joys of baking and Norwegian Christmas traditions, I invited fellow Johanneans to an afternoon (that spilled into the evening) of baking cookies on December 21. We started with rolling out the gingerbread dough (we made it the dough previous day), and carefully cutting out all the walls, chimneys, windows, doors, and porches. The walls and other pieces were assembled using melted sugar, which turns into caramel when heated. Making gingerbread houses took a lot of time, not least since we had to bake the pieces in several batches. The other cookies – sandkaker (“sand cakes”), peppernøtter (“pepper nuts”), and mandelflarn (“almond something…”) were less time-consuming, but because of the number of batches we had to use the oven in the clock tower as well, plying between the two kitchens for an hour. But the best part was decorating the gingerbread house, of course, with coloured frosting and smarties.

Baking Christmas cookiesBaking Christmas cookies was a great way of maintaining an sharing some of my traditions, but also a fun (and tasty) way of meeting people over the holidays. As we say in Norwegian: “God jul!” (Merry Christmas!)

– Espen (text) and Tanvi (photos)

Baking Christmas cookies


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Thank you for thanking them!

The lovely card

The lovely card

Thanks to everyone who helped express our deep appreciation to the kitchen staff this holiday. The front of the card was was created by our lovely and talented Sarah Meli, and signed by most of us who live at SJC. If you did not get a chance to sign the card, please come by the servery when it re-opens in the new year and ask if you can add your name (bring your own pen if possible). And we can all thank them verbally whenever we think of it! Personally, I don’t remember to do that often enough.

In addition to the card, we gave a small gift to each staff member, consisting of some SJC swag. It is a very small token compared to all of the time and effort they devote to us each year, but we hope they feel appreciated. Peter, Shawn and Thanh are pictured with the card. Shawn said it was the first time the kitchen staff had received a card signed by all the residents. So great job, SJC! Let’s make kitchen staff appreciation a yearly tradition. Or even more often than that!

– Drea

Part of our fantastic SJC dining team!

Part of our fantastic SJC dining team!