UVic Torch -- Autumn 2008
Autumn 2008,
Volume 29, Number 2

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Good Calls
Story and Photography by JULIE NIXON, BA ’99

 

Sometimes a part of life-before-UVic is what’s needed to get through the transition to campus living. For first-year university students moving to campus housing, the adventure can be bittersweet. They relish the independence. They endure the homesickness. Keepsakes remind them of who they are and how they came to be in this place. Here, five new students share the stories behind their mementoes.

THE BEAT GOES ON

Tech In The Park“I feel music is kind of like my first language,” says Patrick Lavoie. “In certain cases I’m extremely introverted; but when I get onto a musical instrument I become extremely extroverted.”

He’s played piano since he was four years old, and when he was five his mother took him to a music shop to buy a metronome. He remembers the shopkeeper calling it “the world’s smallest metronome.” Lavoie laughs at the memory as he starts up the ticking instrument. “I’m sure they make them a lot smaller now.”

It wasn’t until Lavoie moved from his hometown of Vernon to go to boarding school that he began to truly appreciate music. “Coming to a new environment, it’s unnerving,” says Lavoie. “When I left for that first time, it [piano] became really important and now that I’m here at UVic it’s even more important, because I can rely on that to keep things straight.”

His metronome symbolizes a measure of balance and harmony. At university, “everything has to be like clockwork and every step you take is time metered. And that’s like music in a way; if you don’t follow the time-specific clicks, it doesn’t work.”

In a hectic new life (the 18-year-old is planning a combined major in Biology and Psychology), the metronome offers something familiar. “It’s just always been there, watching over everything, in a way.”

WELL-CHOSEN WORDS

 On the night of her high school graduation, Émilie Bouchard’s parents gave her a print by the celebrated Yukon batik artist Lynn Blaikie, along with an art card of the same piece. Inside the card are inspiring words of wisdom and humour, written in her first language, French. Bouchard was born in Montreal, and her family moved to Whitehorse in 2004.

Now, at 18, Bouchard is setting out on an unfamiliar journey. “It’s a totally new experience. I can’t say I’m not enjoying myself, but I’m already homesick. I miss family…I miss friends,” says Bouchard. She’s still trying to find a balance between school and her social life, but she’s intent on getting into the flow of campus life.

The card from her parents helps. When she’s feeling blue and in need of a pick-me-up, she looks at her card and thinks of home. “We’re a lovey-dovey family,” she says.

Some of the quotes, she says with a smirk, are typical of her dad. One of her favourites reads: “Some people still think that earth is flat; don’t waste your time with them.”

Bouchard, a Science major, says the card means a lot because it reminds her of home, her siblings, and her parents—the people who are always careful to give her encouragement and buoy her spirits.

A CALMING INFLUENCE

 The inner calm sparkles through Shivangani Murti’s voice when she talks about her cherished necklace. The tiny gold aum pendant hangs on a long, spiraled chain—a gift from one of her grandmothers the day she was born in Suva, Fiji. “It’s tradition in our culture that the first born is given more gifts, and more valuable gifts,” says Murti. Her parents, unsure of the life for their three daughters in a largely gender-biased society, moved the family to Canada 12 years ago, when she was five.

A devout Hindu, Murti respects what aum symbolizes and lives her life accordingly. “Aum is basically the vibrations. If you say it properly it will be the vibrations of everything. When you say it, it calms you, so you become peaceful. And then you are able to do whatever you put your mind to.”

Murti, who’s studying Psychology, explains that Hinduism is based on nature and human nature. “It allows you to be a human, and not just this good person. Because Hinduism knows you can’t always be a good person. Aum just reminds me that I am allowed to be human. As long as I do what I think is right, try to help others as much as I can, it’s okay. Just be me, and that’s what’s important in the end.”

THE INSEPARABLES

 When Taylor Antoniazzi is asked what she brought to UVic that means a lot to her, she barely hesitates before answering: “I brought my best friend!”

Growing up in Vancouver, Antoniazzi (below, right) and Bailey Spraggs have spent nearly their entire 17 years together. Their houses were six doors apart, and since preschool they have enjoyed an ever-growing friendship. “We’ve always known each other; I can’t remember when I didn’t know her,” says Spraggs emphatically. She says they’re more like sisters, because the word “friend” seems like such an understatement.

Antoniazzi replies that she can’t put it into words. Their experience over the years has been extremely visceral. The two girls have been through so much together that they are more like “two halves of a whole,” says Antoniazzi.

And yet they are quite opposite in many ways. “You should see our room,” laughs Spraggs. “Her side is black and she has a bunch of CDs and old posters, and mine is all pink and fluffy and purple with sparkles on everything.”

Antoniazzi, who’s decided to take History, came to UVic to “start growing up.” On a trip to Victoria, Spraggs visited campus and “fell in love with it.”

And it all came together.

Their bond is a comfort in this new and strange place. “I don’t think I could have done it without her,” says Spraggs. Antoniazzi nods her head, in smiling agreement.






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