• Jason Wheeler

Everything You Need To Know About Living At Orchard Commons (OC) – UBC Tips, Tricks & Advice

Moving into Orchard Commons is going to be the first time for many incoming students that they will ever be living on completely on their own. With this brand new experience comes many new experiences, many new friends, and many new learning curves. Having been lucky enough to live on first year residences at 3 separate times (once at Vanier during my first year, once at Totem during my Jumpstart Orientation training, and once at Orchard Commons during the first few weeks of Jumpstart) I’ve had plenty of experiences, and have gathered a few tips and pieces of advice along the way. So in today’s article I want to provide my two cents when it comes to moving into Orchard Commons (OC) for your first year. 

orchard commons from the outside

First off, you are all SO INCREDIBLY LUCKY that they didn’t decide to stick you guys all in Vanier or Totem, as Orchard is by far the nicest of the first year residences. For those of you who haven’t seen pictures of it yet, OC looks and feels like a hotel. The building is one of the newest ones at UBC, and it definitely feels like it. The rooms look modern and have been built to accommodate university students with a bike hanger in your room, personal bathrooms (almost – you share with 1 person), efficient storage, and if you’re lucky an unreal view of the UBC campus. The furniture is all newer editions, and so not only do they look good, but they also haven’t been worn in as much as other residences *cough Vanier *cough. They also have some awesome amenities like outdoor ping pong tables, a super nice mini gym in the lobby, a TON of study rooms, sick 3 floor lounges, a super nice courtyard, the best cafeteria out of all the first year res’, good parking, and decently close to everywhere you need to get. With all that being said, here some of my tips, advice and tricks for living at Orchard Commons at UBC. 

orchard commons cafeteria

  1. Buy a mattress pad – despite how much I just hyped up OC, the one thing it is really lacking (like all the other residences) is good mattresses. The mattresses are hard and uncomfortable and so I strongly recommend buying a mattress pad to make your sleep feel like the five star stay Orchard is. 

  2. Make friends with your residence advisor (or at least play nice with them) – I’ve worked with plenty of residence advisors during my time at Jumpstart, and I also have a few friends that are still doing it, and the one tip I cannot stress enough is to be nice to your RAs. They are ultimately the ones that can make your stay at OC a great one, or a dismal one. If you’re kind, respectful and just not a dick to them, more times than not they will give you the benefit of the doubt and just warn you about situations rather than write you up for it. It never hurts to be on their good side. 

  3. Visit your floor lounges frequently (especially during the first few weeks) – this tip is especially relevant for the COVID-19 times, when all classes are online. With Covid it’s already hard enough to make friends, especially ones from the same faculty as you, so use your floor lounges when possible. It is so important to make friends with people in the same faculty as you throughout all of university. Not just so that you don’t feel sad and lonely  but also so that you can “collaborate” on assignments, tests and quizzes. It never hurts to have a study buddy or another person working on an assignment with you. 

  4. Cafeteria Tips/Tricks – In my experience here are some of the best dishes (value and taste wise)

  5. Sandwich bar (build it exactly how you like it)

  6. Mongolian Grill (same thing as above, you cook whatever you like)

  7. Specialty station (you will get tired of eating the same things over and over again, and so take advantage of the temporary stations when you can. 

  8. Make your own Burrito (honestly better than the sandwiches in my opinion)

  9. *Chicken thigh + garden salad (this one is sort of an off the menu kind of thing. You need to first pre-pay for the chicken thigh, then take it to the grill, where you can also order your garden salad. You then create your own chicken salad by putting the chicken into your salad. It’s super cheap and definitely a good bang for your buck. Plus it tastes really good. 

  10. Caesar salad (pretty basic but also pretty good. Definitely overpriced though, and the garlic will stink up your breathe pretty bad.)

  11. Butter chicken + naan (this classic is just always good, it’s pretty hard to mess up butter chicken and so this is always a good call)

  12. Tips for cafeteria – Do with this information as you will, but there are no scanners/security systems in place to prevent you from taking free drinks, cookies, muffins or any packaged goods. I’ve seen plenty of people simply walk right in and walk out with a handful of cookies and a bottled drink. I can’t say I’m that mad though because all the drinks and food are overpriced, and UBC is ripping us off. The key to doing it is just being confident and obviously waiting for when no one’s staring at you.

  13. Take food to your room – You can ask for your food to-go and they will give you a reusable to-go container that you can then take to your room, to your class (if they are still in person), or wherever you want to go. 

  14. You don’t need a vacuum or anything – your RA or the front desk will have most of the necessary cleaning supplies that you will need. Basically you just swap your student card for the vacuum, broom or whatever, and once you return it you get your card back. 

  15. Bring toilet paper and other bathroom essentials – OC does NOT provide bathroom utilities and so you will need to bring hand soap, toilet paper, hand towels, etc.

  16. The walls at OC are pretty thick and so you will not be able to hear the shenanigans that are happening next door, and they will not be able to hear yours. So this means you can bring a speaker and play it decently loud without bothering anyone.

  17. Bring a mini fridge – this will be your #1 most used item! Great for leftovers, storing drinks and as an OC if it gets hot in your room lol

  18. Get used to fire alarms going off – OC is well known for having an absurd amount of fire alarms pulled throughout the year, or just people burning stuff in microwaves. So get used to it.

Those are all of the points that I can think of as of right now. I will either continue adding to this list as more things come up, or I will just make a separate post, but hopefully these tips gave you a bit more insight before your big move to UBC. Despite COVID, you’re gonna have the time of your life at UBC, and it sure as heck doesn’t hurt getting to be residing in the best building in all of UBC. Good luck and stay safe!

I also have a very long list of cool decorations/items to add to your dorm room design to make your room the best it can be, so make sure you check back to see that article when I post it! Or just follow our instagram to stay updated: @theofficialcapsoff