By Yin Xzi – 1st year student
On August 28th of 2017 I landed jetlagged and exhausted after three delayed and rescheduled flights in Vancouver, only partially prepared with a large suitcase in hand to begin the next chapter of my life. Two days later I was in Squamish, British Columbia, being picked up in a Quest van to arrive on campus. In the blurred hustle of orientation I took my first (of many) photos of the Tantalus Range that sprawls out in front of the campus – the sun was setting and there was a moment of complete awe that settled over me as the mountains turned to nothing but shadow. Here I was, finally, at Quest.
Six days later, I began my first course at Quest. For me, Cornerstone with Ahalya involved a lot of people watching – an activity near and dear to my heart that I took on with gusto. With my group of four we settled in with the vast majority of all first years to begin our ethnography assignment in the cafeteria. During this block I learnt about how in the pursuit of knowledge we ultimately do select what’s most important, and that the knowledge that we leave out holds just as much significance. I also learnt the best places on campus to build rock towers, and of the wonders of kombucha and the life-saving resource that is the Learning Commons. 23 days and a round of final presentations later, it was block break number one. My first block break passed by in a whirlwind of impromptu hikes, playing music, and meeting my host family – and then it seemed that (all too soon) the second block was set to begin.
October was the month of Rhetoric with Keely, multiple Thanksgiving dinners, and a lot of volleyball. With the second weekend came my first Open House. In many ways I was just as excited as all the students we had visiting campus, as their first Open House experience of Quest was mine as well. With October also came the start of the rumored Squamish rain – coming from Southeast Asia I was not at all prepared for how suddenly the weather could affect my mood. The weather flipped from sunny, cloud swept days spent supporting Quest’s soccer team out by the field to a permanent fog that caused the rest of the world to disappear. As a student who has now tested all mainstream forms of sun therapy that this campus has to offer; trust me, the sun lamps work, so go plant yourself in front of one when the time comes. (Placebos are effective even if you’re aware that it’s a placebo).
Post a lively second block break of a lot of sleep and rounds of laundry I entered into November’s block of Chinese Film and Transnationalism with Fei completely unaware that my understanding of time would be forever warped. I’ll set the scene: I wake up at 7 in the morning when it’s still dark out, and grab breakfast from the caf, and begin working on readings about the Dramaturgy of Film Form. After lunch I’ll head to class and spend the next three hours talking about the readings, the film we watched last night, and the readings in the context of the film. By the time we step outside at 4 the sun has already begun to set. Two hours later, post a class screening of “Raise the Red Lantern” by Zhang Yimou it’s pitch black out and I’m heading to dinner before volleyball or before continuing work on my research essay. But the early darkness messes with my brain more than I think, because in no time at all it’s already 11 o’clock at night (when I swear the last time I looked it was 8). With all of the movies that I watched for the course it was almost miraculous that I also managed to have a movie night every weekend with a group of Red Tusk friends. (I doubt the movie watching helped my understanding of time either, though I would recommend it for sheer stress relief.).
This suspension of disbelief when it comes to time carried over into December’s block of Self, Culture, and Society with Liz – in which papers due on Friday were completed on Thursday in the library, a place in which no two clocks tell the same time. Wanderings in the forests behind South and Riverside took by body (and with it thoughts about my readings about the study of body within geography) out amongst a lot of beautiful nature. Nothing bonds a group of friends more than watching someone (me) lose their footing and slide (mostly gracefully) down the muddy hill between Ossa and Red Tusk. In tandem with the paper writing and forest wandering came my record of going to the Arts Bay every single day and simply producing art. This production of art led me to create a collaborative art piece for Polaris – the community celebration that took place last Friday.
As I head home tomorrow, I have a lot to look forward to (being barefoot, tropical fruit, my mom’s cooking, my sisters, warmth, more than 8 hours of sunlight a day), but I’ll have to admit that I’m going to miss seeing the mountains (and the sometimes breathtaking mind-blowing word-loss-due-to-how-beautiful-it-is sunsets that occur).
I’ve learnt a lot in my one hundred and ten days here at Quest – lessons about friendship, map-making, transnationalism, race, myself, the weather. There’s something to be said about the people on this campus, the campus itself – it’s a lovely place to learn and grow in. So here I present the last photo of the Tantalus Range of this semester, taken on my last full day of campus right before the fog once again enveloped everything and turned Quest into a world of blurred shadows and spots of light.