Photo by Andrea Marie Tan
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan

UBCO prides itself on being a tight-knit community that welcomes a multiplicity of personalities into its friendly and warm campus. However, how much do we really know about the talented people that surround us outside of our group of friends? What makes others around us sad, happy, or excited?

In order to contribute to UBCO’s growing sense of community and to make this campus truly feel like a family, I am starting a weekly series in which I will follow a member of this campus for one day and experience, however briefly, a day in their lives.

This week I followed Zoology major and Theatre minor, Aditya Swami. Adi, as his friends call him, arrived at UBCO in 2017 from Mumbai, India. Adi had “a pretty early start” to his Friday morning, the day I interviewed him. He left Academy Hill and headed to Rutland to hit the YMCA gym.

It is a common myth that students do not have time to do anything outside from academic and social activities. Adi emphasized that even with a busy schedule, it is important for him to have “me time, because along with all the daily activities you have planned like classes, homework, spending time with your friends, most people forget that doing something you really enjoy as a hobby or passion is very, very important. It refreshes your mind and makes you feel good about yourself.”

After the gym, Adi freshens up for his 12:30 p.m. shift at the Global Collegium. Collegia are spaces on campus dedicated to commuter students. In these spaces students can study, socialize, eat, and even nap. Collegia assistants are students that ensure the spaces are welcoming to every member of the community, not only by keeping it clean daily, but by putting on events in the Collegia meant to enhance social and academic experience for the space participants

When asked why he decided to get involved on campus and with this particular program, Adi answered, “I always had this inherent need to interact with more people in my day to day life and I feel the Collegia gives me a broader number of people I can interact with… I can have some more fun during work because I don’t consider this a ‘job’ job, I consider this a fun job.”

His shift at the Collegium lasted two hours, after which he had an hour to spare before his only class for the day. Since he did not have breakfast and did not have time to cook, he went to grab lunch with some of his friends and then to the library to do some readings for his classes.

Aditya is a vegetarian. Despite the significant changes to food services this year, I wanted a student’s opinion about the new options available on-campus. Adi said, “It is hard to complain about [food choices] because they are trying to incorporate more and more vegetarian options every year. That said, they still need more vegetarian options in places such as Picnic or even Sunshine Cafeteria.”

One of the things students miss most about their home countries is food, and despite Adi’s efforts to “copy his mom’s style of cooking,” he “still fails miserably” at it. That being said, the UBCO campus should keep the international community in mind when they try to expand the food options available to students.

After lunch, Adi had a Neurobiology class that I attended with him. There were approximately 140 students in the classroom which is a common number for science lectures. As an English major, third-year biology is a foreign language to me. It was altogether interesting to hear Adi explain the basics of the course.

Photo provided by Aditya Swami
Photo provided by Aditya Swami

It is interesting to me how Aditya immerses himself in this world of nature, facts, and experiments, and then has a minor in theatre. Where did these contrasting interests come from? “I’ve always had a passion for animals and I’ve always wanted to prevent some animals from extinction…that is one of the interests I have as well, life conservation. Theatre [has] been a hobby for the past twelve years…so from a hobby, it transformed into a passion, which transformed into my minor.”

It is really inspiring to be surrounded by people like Adi that are passionate about such diverse range of things. Being in this campus is an opportunity to expand your knowledge immensely, and it doesn’t have to happen in the classroom, it can happen just by getting to know people.