Studio Stories: “My First Week at CityStudio”

(Originally posted on UBC student, Iva Jankovic’s blog.)

You know it’s not regular school when the first day of class starts with a potluck.

CityStudio is one of those things that is very difficult to explain in a way that does it justice. Imagine 20 of the most passionate, globally minded, and unique students you can pick from all over Vancouver, sitting together in a circle under the Cambie Street Bridge with some of the most influential leaders in education, urbanism, politics, and placemaking. With the skyline of Vancouver as our backdrop, we are all here for the same reasons: we love our city, and we want to be a part of shaping its future.

So here we are, day 1, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for Janet to mention the big project – the magnum opus that is supposed to come of our three months time “away from school”. You can feel the anticipation building in the room, the sheer eagerness to get to work. But nope. Not a word said. The next month, as Janet says, will be spent “getting to know each other” and preparing ourselves to take meaningful action. 20 faces stare back at her. There is a silence as we all brace ourselves.

This first week was all about introductions and encounters. We were faced with challenges, trials if you will, that tested how well we could work in teams with people we just met. How well we could make observations about our surroundings and turn them into stories. How well we could self-organize to solve problems with little guidance. How well we could listen and engage in dialogue. We built towers out of tape and spaghetti, talked politics with a City Councillor, and spent two days out on Granville Street scrutinizing every inch of a single city block so that we could string together past, present, and future in a 20 minute walking tour.

The first step to meaningful action is understanding, and I think that’s what we are building in these early stages of CityStudio. It’s incredible how quickly we’ve bonded and how much we’ve already learned in these short four days. Who knows what next week will bring?

Until then,


About the Author

Iva Jankovic is an urban planning student at UBC, currently participating in the SFU Semester at CityStudio program.