Ask Natalie: New term blues

“Dear Natalie,

My Christmas break was good … until I got my marks back. I’ve failed one of my English classes and it actually matters because I’m in third year and this was a required course. I’ll need to take it again, but I don’t want to be the old person in the class. What should I do?”

You take a breath. A big deep breath. Grades do not define who you are or your worth. One (or two) failing grades aren’t going to make or break anyone. Sure, if you are planning to apply to grad school it may be a little dent in your plans, but it doesn’t mean that your plan is completely derailed. You can still reach your goals without a 100 per cent pass rate.

If you aren’t planning on going to grad school, then calm down. As much as I hate the saying, C's get degrees. Don’t stress too much. UBC won’t kick you out for one sub-par grade. The Arts policy says you may be put on Academic Probation if your winter session average falls below 55 per cent. If it’s below 45 per cent, you will be required to withdraw for one academic year. But in both cases, you should talk to your Academic Adviser. I am not your Academic Advisor. Other faculties’ policies may vary. 

As for being the old student in class, I think you overestimate how much other students care about you. No one in any of my classes have ever asked how old I was outside my language classes’ forced conversations. It’s a required course, so just do it before you forget what you know about the course material. It doesn’t matter if you’re the “old” person in the class because you’re not old and unless you’re going around shouting that you failed this class before, I doubt anyone will know. 

Learn from what happened and move on. One failed class isn’t the worst things that’s ever happened.


“Dear Natalie,

With the New Year, it’s become very clear to me that this will be my last semester at UBC. I’m not sure what I’m doing after this, but the tentative plan is to move back in with my parents until I land myself a job in their city. It’s possible that I’ll find a better opportunity before I graduate, but I’m wondering how I will move all my stuff back to my parents’ place. What’s the best way to do it?”

If your parents live close by:

Pack up the car! Recruit your friends with cars! Move that bus! You can do it! It’s just going to be slower (and sadder) than you think as you pack up the last bit of freedom you’ll get until you get to pack everything up again. 

If you’ll have to drive more than eight hours:

Pack the car up, but as tightly as possible. The absolute easiest way to move your stuff back is to not move it, but dump it. Just get rid of anything that isn’t necessary. Those beautiful clay pieces of art from Intro to Ceramics? Toss 'em. Those clothes that are super cute (!!) but have been hanging in your closet since fall 2013? Donate! 

Things like dishes, hangers, textbook are heavy and they take up space so they would be a terror to ship, but you can pack them up and stick them in the bottom of your car/van/U-Haul/truck/whatever. Keep everything that you really, really, really need and donate everything else.

If you’ll have to fly:

This is where the real decision making happens. How expensive is shipping/Greyhounding your stuff, or at least how much is your budget for shipping/Greyhounding your stuff? It’s not going to be cheap, but you can weigh the costs and benefits of keeping each piece. Those posters from the poster sale? Not really needed unless they take up less than .02 per cent of one of your bags. The textbook you know you’ll use again? Fine, keep it. 

It’s not possible to keep everything unless you have unlimited amounts of time and money. You’ll have to say goodbye to some memories, but you can rent someone’s garage or a storage unit until you can comeback for everything. Don’t take too long though, no one wants a favour to last longer than expected. 

“Dear Natalie,

How do I keep my New Year resolutions this year? I always fail!"

My piece last year outlines what I think are the best ways to keep a resolution, but for sure the best way is to be passionate about it. Only when you care about something can you really succeed at something, whether it’s your grade, working out or personal goals. Keep at it and you will have success!