Dear Innovation Academy Students…

Although some of you are still in the “getting lit at Asia” mindset, soon you will all enter your second, and possibly last semester with Corey Topf. Some of you will graduate this year and go study abroad, others will transition towards senior year and (hopefully) carry on the IA.

As for myself, I’m writing this blog while procrastinating on two papers due later this week while hoping for spring to come soon (thanks Canada…). As much as I have to study, I could not help to put my thoughts on paper and to reflect on how it was when I was in your shoes a year ago.

My first year as an Arts student at the University of British Columbia has been quite the journey: I’ve learned a lot from classes I never thought I’d take (Political Science, Psychology, Geography, etc), made friends from all over the world (India, Indonesia, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Greece, China, etc) and had some amazing nights out (those I’m keeping to myself). However, I couldn’t help to wonder about the kind of advice I would have wanted to hear before coming here. Once I graduated FDR, I anxiously looked up countless YouTube videos on what the college experience is, and in all reality, none of them do it the justice it deserves. University teaches you so much about the way the world functions; we never come to realize just how complex things are, and what all that complexity has done to progress. I’ve condensed some of my thoughts into a bunch of pieces of advice reflecting on my own experience in university. Keep in mind that this reflects the Canadian education system, not the American:

  1. Listen to Corey. You will learn more from him than from almost any professor at university, and that is because he genuinely cares about what’s best for you. And make sure you read all the IA books, particularly To Sell is Human, The Lean Startup, Excellent Sheep, and Good to Great. I cannot emphasize how much I regret not giving enough thought to these books during 11th and 12th grade.
  2. There is only so much that university can give you. University as a whole is both exhilarating and disappointing. The first thing you learn from studying and doing assignments is that the world loves to complicate things that we think are simple. If your institution has the words “Research” or “Academic” anywhere in their pamphlets, then get ready to do a fuck-load of reading, summarizing, and synthesizing. Also, make sure that you’re in the right program, and judge a school by their program rather than by their name. If any of you innovators are planning on applying to UBC, I highly recommend applying to the Sauder School of Business, the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) or the BMS (Bachelor Media Studies) programs. If you choose to do a BA (Bachelor of Arts) keep in mind that it’s just going to be IB on steroids.
  3. Fuck university prestige. The way I see this is the following: most universities that make the top 40 lists (if they’re not fine arts schools or institutes such as MIT) are all pretty much the same. The only real noticeable difference is the logo you wear and what city you’re in. Also, once your acceptance letter comes in, feel free to take as many risks as possible. You have a few months to fuck up and to succeed, so take advantage of them. Because trust me: once November hits in and you’ve got three midterms and two papers due, you simply forget how “pretty” the campus is.
  4. CHOOSE A UNIVERSITY THAT’S LOCATED IN A CITY! (unless you’re Chavez and you love adventure shit)
  5. Take IB Math Standard Level, study your ass off and get a 5. Having those sweet science transfer credits makes your first year a lot more fun. Oh and btw, you will need at least some level of math in life, so listen to profe Acuña, he knows what he’s talking about
  6. Roosevelt HAS prepared you for university, but the IA has prepared you for life. Many of my Canadian (and American) friends mention all the time how they wished they did the IB like us foreigners. Now, remember how much we complain about the IB, yeah. Be grateful for your education, because I’m certain that we have one of the best in the entire world.
  7. Take care of your health. One of my goals in uni is to do the Freshmen 15 backward (losing 15 pounds instead of gaining them) and I’m almost there. You should try it out as well.
  8. Have a good relationship with your roommate. He/she will be like your brother (or sister). At first, you will spend a lot of time with him. Then, you too will distance each other as life begins to happen. But one day both of you will agree to go out again as friends. Then, you will remember how amazing he really is.
  9. Don’t spend too much money on bullshit (bullshit includes booze). This is especially applicable to whenever your meal plan runs out.
  10. Call your parents every once in a while. Skype with them while you’re walking around campus, it’s worth the extra data. You won’t believe how happy and proud that will make them.

Anyways, enjoy Roosevelt for these next couple of months. Study hard, but also enjoy the warm latin American weather. But most of all, enjoy the company of one of the best professors and mentors I’ve ever come across. The IA is a program way ahead of its time, and it’s going to revolutionize how education is viewed worldwide. But at the end of the day, university is worth it. You’ll get it very soon.


Sebastian (but you guys can call me Mendo)

Like what you read? Give Sebastian Mendo a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.