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UCalgary nostalgia: Reminiscing on pre-pandemic activities on campus

By Ramiro Bustamante Torres, March 10 2021—

After shifting to an online setting since the middle of the Winter 2020 semester, we can’t help but feel nostalgia for the activities we used to do on campus and the memories we made there. I have decided to compile a list of some of these experiences many of us used to share and hopefully will get to share again. 

Spinning the Zipper for good luck

We stopped practicing the age-old tradition of spinning the Zipper for good luck long before classes moved online, as the statue was moved in December 2019 for an exhibit at the Esker Foundation. After its return, we had already departed from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and so for the past year, the Zipper has been alone and rarely spun — except for the occasional passerby or a university staff member. What made this experience special was the rush of spinning the Zipper, hoping that past university students’ knowledge would transfer to us in the precious minutes before the midterm or final that we barely had time to study for, started. It is also a widely held belief that any engineering student who spins the Zipper would only receive bad luck. Rumour has it that once, an engineering student got their arm stuck inside the statue while spinning it, resulting in a fracture. This story is the university equivalent of the myth of Icarus, to remind students of the folly of engineers and that the Zipper was a gift of luck we shouldn’t abuse.

Fighting for parking space in McMahon or the Arts Parkade

Every UCalgary student with a license knows that when you’re trying to find a parking space at university-designated parking lots, you have to be early to find a parking space, lest all of them be taken. The rush of dragging yourself out of bed earlier than you needed to find an appropriate spot, or the adrenaline kick from getting up later than usual, barely managing to find a spot and running to your class from McMahon, is what this experience was all about. The Arts Parkade is an endless maze, but worth it in the winter, since it is much closer to campus than McMahon. 

Looking for study spaces in the TFDL, only to give up

Before or after your lecture, if you wanted to take a seat and go over your work, you might have decided to do it at the TFDL. It was a case of mass amnesia as we would all forget the amount of students at UCalgary and the limited number of study spaces and proceed to naïvely search the floors of the TFDL. There were six floors filled with books and people. If you were trying to find a spot for a group study or practice session, the bottom three floors were where you searched. Now, if you hadn’t booked a workroom then it was a battle between you and the other groups to see who would take a just-now-leaving group’s spot. If you were working on your own, it was better to search on the top three floors, designated as quiet study-areas. The most coveted spots were on these floors — especially the ones beside the windows where a student could resort to escapism. Usually, most of these spots were filled after 10 a.m. — even more so during midterm and final seasons. After a 20 minute search from top to bottom, the average student would give up and just go find somewhere else to study.

Running across campus from Engineering to Education in under 10 minutes

It’s said that the average adult should have about 30 minutes of exercise everyday. The average uni student fulfills this by running across campus, getting in their daily steps as well as a cardio workout. When signing up for courses and checking where they were all located, many students experienced the dread of having two back-to-back classes across the campus from each other. These large distances were typically from the Education building to one of the Engineering halls or from the Biological Sciences building to a Kinesiology hall. The fastest way was going through the outside pathways, but that came with obstacles. On a perfect, sunny day with no snow, there were few students and no construction. On the worst days, the paths were an obstacle course with ice, construction and a time limit. Students could then choose to go through the inside, but then had to face the hordes of people who were also changing between classes. For example, between MacHall and Science B, you would find 50 per cent of the student population who were either on their way to get to a lecture or to get some food. If you didn’t know you had social anxiety or could get overstimulated in crowded spaces, this was the perfect screening test. It was also the perfect place to test anyone’s patience, if the pace was too slow. For anyone that needed to commute to the Foothills or Spyhill Campus, theirs was an odyssey of their own.

There are many more moments that every student goes through, like getting in line at one of three Tim Horton’s at MacHall or finding a spot to cry after a bad test. These moments are what made university interesting and those that we hopefully can experience again, soon. For those who have not yet had these experiences, you are missing out!

This article is part of our humour section.

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