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Across Canada, the universities nestled in each of our cities are hubs for innovation, creativity, and social interaction. Here in Vancouver, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is a case in point.
The university campus has much to offer students and oftentimes locals, too, including quirky cafes and beautiful spots primed for relaxation and focus. Now, as students prepare for their return to campus this fall, we wanted to learn about their favourite spots in and around UBC — so we asked them.
Here are five of the best locations recommended by UBC students in Vancouver and why each spot brings them joy.
The Forestry Building
When you take a trip down the Main Mall at UBC, you’ll find the Forest Sciences Centre, also known as the Forestry Building. The centre, which was completed in 1998, was designed to showcase construction using Canadian forest products.
The fourth floor, “specifically where you’re closest to the skylight,” is Forest Engineering and Forest Technology student Steven Tien’s favourite spot. Tien, who is heading into his fourth and final year at UBC, says the building was designed to look like a forest, so it feels like you’re studying underneath a canopy of trees.
“With live plants and shrubs surrounding the atrium floor, it’s like an escape into nature while you’re still on campus,” he tells us. “In addition, the innovative wood structures used to construct the building can be seen in ground-breaking engineered wood products in commercial and residential projects today.”
Great Dane Coffee
In 2011, Great Dane Coffee was co-founded by a UBC grad who missed the energy and beauty of the campus. Located behind Gage Towers on Walter Gage Road, the cafe serves up everything from cups of Joe to baked goods, which can be purchased using contactless Interac Debit.
“This is definitely my favourite spot on campus to grab a bite to eat or some coffee,” Kana Saarni, a recent Political Science graduate, tells us. “It’s a hidden gem behind Brock Hall and Tallwood House! I didn’t end up finding out about it until my third year at UBC, but it soon became a favourite.”
Saarni says there’s a secret backside of the cafe where one can study if you go out the back door and to the left of the main cafe. “And, if you’re lucky, the owners of the cafe own a massive Great Dane (hence the name), who sits on a giant pillow in the hidden back area of the cafe” who you might just get to see.
The AMS Rooftop
UBC’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) is the largest student society in Canada, and the Nest, which opened its doors in 2015, is an environmentally-friendly space where students can study, socialize, and engage in sustainable activities, such as those with student club Roots on the Roof.
From the fourth floor of the Nest, students can access a stunning rooftop area, which Speech-Language Pathology Master’s student Kayla Joyce says is her go-to. “I discovered it during my first week at UBC, and it has been a favourite spot of mine ever since. I’m not sure if most people know it exists,” she tells Daily Hive.
Joyce says there are also five communal garden plots for Roots on the Roof club members. “With a garden and tables, the roof is a great place to enjoy lunch under the sun (and/or live out your High School Musical dream of dancing around a rooftop garden).”
UBC Rose Garden
Located on Crescent Road, the UBC Rose Garden is a real treat for the senses. An escape from the bustle of Vancouver, it boasts scenic mountain and ocean views. And between June and September, over a dozen types of vibrant roses can be found blooming here.
Ashika Harman, a third-year student completing her Bachelor of Arts degree and Master’s in Business Management concurrently, says the Rose Garden is her favourite spot to study on campus. “The view is beautiful all year round, and it is always such a nice place to go for a walk and take a break,” she says.
“It is free to access and open to everyone, so I definitely recommend visiting!” One thing most people don’t know about this spot is, “You can have your wedding in the garden,” she tells us.
The Nitobe Memorial Garden (known to students as Nitobe Gardens) is a traditional Japanese garden covering over two acres at UBC. It was launched to honour the memory of the late Dr. Inazō Nitobe, and today, it’s part of the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research.
Saarni reveals this has been her favourite spot to visit between classes and enjoy lunch outside — if it’s not raining. “Admission is free for students; all you need is your UBC card,” she notes. “There are lots of benches to sit on and catch up with friends, and it’s just a good place to stop for a moment and catch your thoughts.”
The best time of the year to visit? Saarni says it’s when snow is falling. “The pond freezes over when it snows, and the gardens turn into this beautiful winter wonderland.”
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