Ask Pawan: Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays

New Year, new advice columnist!

My name is Pawan and I’ll be taking the reins as our favourite columnist, Natalie, approaches graduation and the world beyond our university.

To give a little background on myself, I’ve been attending UBC for a few years now and have been an avid reader of The Ubyssey since my first semester here. I particularly enjoyed reading the witty, sincere advice doled out on “Ask Natalie,” and I hope to do my best in retaining that same spirit in the articles to come.

I begin my time as an advice columnist by asking a favour: if you have any troubles, big or small, I encourage you to send them in anonymously to me and I’ll strive to provide honest, in-depth advice on whatever your dilemma may be, while also benefitting those who may be facing similar problems.

Without further ado:

“Dear Pawan,

I have one lecture where no matter how hard I try to stay awake and focus on the prof, I always fall asleep. This leads to me missing explanations for some key topics and getting a little lost sometimes. Normally, I'd go to office hours and ask the prof to go over some of the things I don't understand, but I'm pretty sure he knows that I sleep during his lectures and I'd rather avoid any confrontation about it. What should I do?”

In my time at UBC, I’ve definitely snoozed through my fair share of classes, so here’s some tips I found to be helpful in clearing my head — without upping my caffeine to barista-worrying levels.

The first is a rule of thumb for in-class lethargy: get active in both brain and body. Try seating yourself closer to the front of class so you feel more connected to the professor and maybe even try asking the occasional question to stay fully focused on what they’re lecturing.

Related to in-class engagement, I also recommend brushing up on what you’ll be covering in the day’s class. If you do find yourself drifting off, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks as to what the prof is droning on about.

Regarding material you may have missed, start by talking to anyone in the class who you think would be willing to share notes. If you don’t clear up all your questions there, my last recommendation is that you go through all your course material (syllabi, textbooks, etc.) so as to narrow down what you’re unsure of, then take those unknowns to your professor.

With any luck, they’ll appreciate your resolve to stay engaged in class and lend themselves to helping clear up any final points of confusion for you.

“It's the first week of classes, but I think I want to drop out. I hate my new classes and I wish I was back at home. I don't like it here. I thought I liked it last term, but I think that I was just overwhelmed with how new everything was.”

When you first start attending UBC, it’s easy to find yourself swept up in the excitement of being a part of the bright and beautiful life that inhabits the campus, but once you’ve found your footing and that initial glow wanes, it’s important to take stock of how this new life fits.

First semester is renowned for its ability to keep life lively, presenting new opportunities at every turn, but after a trip home during winter break, you’re often packing a renewed homesickness on your way back to campus.

Take a step back from both the excitement UBC offers and your feelings of homesickness. Try to take an objective stance on where you find yourself and how content you are with your situation. Try to remember what pulled you to UBC in the first place, as well as where your passions lie, academically, socially and otherwise.

Try to get a solid understanding of why you don’t enjoy your classes, whether it be a boring curriculum, bad professor, leftover homesickness or anything else.

All of this advice centres around you ensuring that you’re armed with all the information you need to take your next step confidently, whether that be switching classes, changing majors or faculties, or taking a break from UBC.

You will probably find yourself arguing against yourself on a dozen potential paths, each unique to itself. If you end up here, I suggest you take a minute to appreciate the diverse range of opportunity you’ve worked to give yourself, and remember that the confidence you’ve gained from getting all your information together and understanding your options will make your next step all the more likely to be the right one.

Need advice? Contact Pawan anonymously at or at and have your questions answered!