By Johannes – 3rd year student
Let’s be honest here. I love Quest.
In fact, I have this job of being a student ambassador because I love Quest. Coming here was the best decision I have ever made. But anyone who has siblings knows that often it is yourself who is the biggest critic of the things you love most. Because I believe in honesty and authenticity when deciding about such an important chapter in your life at university, I would like to introduce to you the top 3 things that are challenges for me at Quest.
Number 1: We are a small community
Quest currently has about 700 students. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in a small community. I chose to come here because of that. But I would be lying if that doesn’t also have some drawbacks. Being in a small community is awesome, you have all your friends around at all times, it takes 2 minutes to jump into my best friend’s bed to wake them up, I never feel unsafe or alone because no matter where I go I know someone. But at the same time, no matter where I go I know someone.
Small communities are an interesting case study. I believe I learned a lot about living and working with people, because I have had a lot of practice at Quest. I have to figure out how to live with my roommates, I have to figure out how to work with the people in my class, and I have to figure out how to motivate my community to come to my events.
Figuring out these things can be a challenge. If I have a fight with a friend, I have to deal with that. If I don’t do my dishes for my roommates, I have to deal with that too. The same goes for groupwork. Quest students are really accountable in that sense, but it can be a challenge to learn these skills. I have seen some of the most amazing situations, but also some not so amazing ones at Quest. I think Quest prepares us really well to learn to deal with these situations, but it is a process to do so. By now, I believe I am much better prepared to work and live with many different types of people and to experience diverse experiences.
Number 2: It rains a lot
It rains a lot… Did I mention it rains a lot? Since we are on the west coast of Canada, the rain is inevitable. But it can sometimes be a challenge if you don’t see the sun for days or even weeks. We try to compensate by having sun lamps in the library, or even owning one personally (like my roommate), but the rain can get to you. The funny thing is, once the sun comes out everyone is outside and in a great mood. Once in a while, somebody will cheer up the community through a Facebook post and we try to get together and have multiple events for all of us. Yeah…. It rains a lot. But hey, rain in Squamish means snow in Whistler!
Number 3: It takes me forever to explain my degree
Once I graduate from Quest, I will have a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences. As simple as that sounds, the next question always is: What was your major? And that is where things become complicated, because I don’t technically have a major. You guys should check out the blog posts about our Question program and why we have it if you are still unclear about what I mean. I do have what we call a Question, an interdisciplinary approach to a problem. So, my study at Quest revolves around the question “How do we distribute power in a multipolar system?” so my “major”. The usual reaction I get from students and parents is a slightly confused/ concerned look followed by the question: What can you do with that? or What jobs can you get?
It is completely understandable why that question would come up. Often, we are conditioned to think that a university is a very fancy (and expensive) job training program. After all, a medical degree is for doctors, a law degree for lawyers, an engineering degree for engineers and so on. What then is a Liberal Arts and Sciences degree good for, especially if I don’t even have a major?
When I answer the question about my major with a simple Well it would be an International Relations major, the conversation with my counterpart ends there. Maybe they have some vague idea about what that means, probably politics, but probably will not ask me about it. Conversely, if I answer the question with Well you see, I have an interdisciplinary question that guides my studies, that is the start of a super interesting conversation with them. In my case, this most often results in a set of further questions Why that question? What does that mean? Multipolarity?
At this point, I have the opportunity to explain my studies and really get into why I love doing what I do. But that takes time and energy. I would love to be able to just walk into a coffee shop in Vancouver and get asked Oh, you are from Quest? Cool! What’s your question? so I can jump right into that super interesting conversation about my studies, but that doesn’t always happen unfortunately. I truly believe what we do here is amazing, but it does take me a little bit to explain it. That being said, aren’t some of the best things hard to explain?