When I attended UBC GALA international orientation in late august 2008, I was quite frightened, tired and unable to realised what was really happening around me. Entering the first workshop demanded quite a bit of courage but I thought that if I managed to get that far, I could try a to walk a bit further anyway. It was my first encounter with a university-type lecture room and it was full of people who looked as terrified as I was and somehow, it made me feel better. Following this session on health insurance (it coasts a lot but you never know…), visa (be sure to renew it at least 6 months before it expired…) and student part-time job (this program has been designed especially for you…), everything seemed more complicated and confusing and I was getting hungry because of the jet-lagged that made me skip lunch. Probably not the best state of mind for an orientation day.
Next workshop was supposed to take place in the Chan Centre (Designed like the inside of a cello) where we were welcomed by a representing of the Musqueam people, met some important people who gave us speeches and were asked to talk to our closest neighbours about why we decide to come study in Canada among other things. And between all of this, we also met Dan Mangan and a man playing the bass.
It’s funny how their short performances between each speeches and presentations were what touched me the most, (power of live music ?). I did not know who they were and I couldn’t quite get their names but I liked what they did very much. They played three songs and everyone was clapping more and more enthusiastically at the end of each of their appearances. During their last songs, he invited us to sing along on “Robots” and somehow, I felt everyone was happy and enjoying this moment.It was a different way of making us feel welcome and connected and I find it much more significant than the Speech one of the higher up person of the university gave us and which he re-used at the “general orientation” that all the students attended three days later.At the end, they told us they had a CD for sale outside, but I never managed to find it when exiting and people I talked with after told me they did not find it neither. Everything could have stopped there, after I tried to make a search on Internet and did not get any significant answer.
Until this year, when an exchange student from my GALA group told me she remembered his name which allowed me to find Mangan’s website and listen to his songs once more.
I especially liked Basket,which talks really truly about growing old. After getting the actual CD, I read the lyrics in more details and I liked how Mangan put his own comments before each sets of lyrics as to explain a bit more his intentions and inspirations.
Because of the Olympics, lots of free concerts have been organised around the area and I was lucky enough to attend Mangan’s performance in Surrey. I have a lot of negative feelings toward the people in the crowd that day who made me so mad (and realised that height-wise, “medium size” in Canada is “small”) but I guess you should always try to look at the positive side of any experience (especially when it’s free).
It felt especially good to be able to sing along on “Robots” one more time.
Between each songs, he also provided us with Jokes and comments. The musician were all very good (the bassist had to run out at the end to get to another gig with Said the Whale by Skytrain) especially the keyboardist/trumpet player.
It’s funny how some part of your life can be deeply connected to songs and music you listened to at a particular time, a bit like a Madeleine de Proust, starting the flow of memories. I guess that in the future, these songs will triggered some Universities memories and for that, I’m really grateful.
+ Hospital staff person did not get my name correctly (even though I gave my student ID) so I got called “Else” the whole time I spend there. I never thought it would be a difficult name to spell or say even though people tend to call me ” elSSa” here which I don’t really like.
+ Finally finished the last two chapters of Twilight. I did not enjoy it too much because I felt totally out of it. The target audience does not seem to fit any part of me and it was rather boring and the characters are quite annoying too (Gee ! Bella is a PAIN !). Still considering reading the rest of it (to get it back to my roomie mainly, not to die stupid and have a good reason to criticize it).
+ Getting around UBC while a Women’s Hockey game is going on can be quite amusing. Between the groups of colorfully dressed supporters, the people who look at you hopefully and say “Tickets ?!” or ” Tickets !!” loudly or the one trying to sell t-shirts, you can’t walk streight. But the best one was this guy trying to sell Chinese and American flag near shoppers by also offering Free hugs to passer-by.
+ I remember the first time We saw a real Capybara at the Biodôme de Montréal in 1996, my brother and I were overjoyed and also really surprised to see that such thing as the Princess Bride’s RTI (French version of the R.O.U.S, Rodent Of Unusual Size) did really existed in the world ! I recently realised that some people are actually raising Capybara as pet, the most famous being probably Caplin Rous who got quite a growing fan base now. I just hope it won’t become the new ‘pet-to-have’ since they required quite a lot of care (and love).
Over the cheering crowd you could probably hear:
Robots- Dan Mangan