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Hi I am a Uk student I will be starting the MA in English Literature in September. I was wondering if someone could tell me a bit more about Green College http://www.greencollege.ubc.ca/ to live in for my first year. I think it looks great, but any info/anecdotes would be very appreciated! The food plan isn't on the cheap side and I was wondering what living on campus would be like. 

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Hi I am a Uk student I will be starting the MA in English Literature in September. I was wondering if someone could tell me a bit more about Green College http://www.greencollege.ubc.ca/ to live in for my first year. I think it looks great, but any info/anecdotes would be very appreciated! The food plan isn't on the cheap side and I was wondering what living on campus would be like. 

 

i second the request for experiences with green college. i'm looking into it, but the expensive meal plan is turning me off.

 

the way i see it:

- pros: it looks beautiful, built-in social life

- cons: far away from the rest of campus, expensive as hell meal plan (and for one 10 meals/week!)

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Hi I am a Uk student I will be starting the MA in English Literature in September. I was wondering if someone could tell me a bit more about Green College http://www.greencollege.ubc.ca/ to live in for my first year. I think it looks great, but any info/anecdotes would be very appreciated! The food plan isn't on the cheap side and I was wondering what living on campus would be like. 

 

i second the request for experiences with green college. i'm looking into it, but the expensive meal plan is turning me off.

 

the way i see it:

- pros: it looks beautiful, built-in social life

- cons: far away from the rest of campus, expensive as hell meal plan (and for one 10 meals/week!)

 

I was never a graduate student at UBC and I'm not there anymore (was there for undergrad), but I knew plenty of grad students there. 

 

Here are some thoughts about Green College (sorry that I don't have direct experience, hopefully someone else can provide that!):

 

Meal plans all over campus are super expensive. Generally, residencies at UBC do not require a meal plan for anyone beyond the first year of their undergrad, but you might notice that Green College is special because the meals are a special community event! As you pointed out, Green College does have a built-in social life, and I think the community meals is a big plus for many Green College residents!

 

I would say that Green College is not a typical graduate student residence! After all, you have to apply to join the college, and there aren't very many new spots per year. It is designed for a specific purpose of building a scholarly community, which is great if that's what you are looking for. I do notice that many international students tend to like Green College too, because it's a great way to meet other like-minded individuals when adjusting to a new place!

 

But, if you are looking into on-campus alternatives, have you looked at/considered the Thunderbird Residences? http://www.housing.ubc.ca/thunderbird/thundebird-overview There are shared units (separate bedrooms, shared living quarters/kitchen) as well as studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom units). Some of the units are like townhouses, and they are almost like renting a small apartment anywhere else! While Thunderbird isn't technically a graduate student only residence, it is meant for mature students. There is a minimum age limit (19 or 20).

 

Also, I noticed you said Green College is far from campus! I don't think this is true at all, to me, Green College is about as close to campus as you can get. Sure, it's on the north end of campus, but basically all the residencies are on the perimeter of the campus. But I guess what made me think it was strange to see Green College being listed as "far" was that UBC is very much a commuter campus. The majority of students live off campus and commute by bus. Almost all of the graduate students I knew did this (the ones that did live on campus mostly lived in Thunderbird). This page from UBC has some good advice about living off-campus: http://www.housing.ubc.ca/off-campus-housing/deciding-where-to-live.

Edited by TakeruK

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Thanks for the insight! I didn't mean that it is far away from campus in general. Clearly, it's ON campus, but it's pretty far away from other residences and where the main centre of the campus appears to be. I'm worried that on weekends campus will be dead and life will get pretty dull. I mean, you have no neighbours there and you're literally on the edge of a cliff.

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Hi everybody,

                      I will attend a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia for a week in the middle of September. This post is not about moving to Vancouver as a grad student (like most others). But still I thought some pointers from the natives of that area can be of help, especially the grad students' viewpoint. As everybody knows, grad nerds think alike. I have a few specific questions.

 

  1. I guess the weather will be pleasant. Does it rain in September?
  2. Is it advisable to take a prepaid sim from the airport just for voice calls? (Who wants to pay for international roaming?) I want to know the usual sim activation charge in Canada. If that is too high, probably it's not worth the money.
  3. Any suggestion for accommodation? All I need is a clean room with a bed for myself and in a safe locality. (My department budget is not very generous, as grad students will understand.) If you know Vancouver or travelled there, recommendation of any specific hotel, lodge or some locality will be great.
  4. In the daytime, I will be attending talks, which will go on till almost 5 pm. Any suggestions about nearby local attractions which I can visit in the evening-the dining, the entertainment districts etc.?
  5. Anything else you think I should know about?

 

Be as specific or generic in your suggestions as you want. Thanks in advance. Cheers!

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Hi everybody,

                      I will attend a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia for a week in the middle of September. This post is not about moving to Vancouver as a grad student (like most others). But still I thought some pointers from the natives of that area can be of help, especially the grad students' viewpoint. As everybody knows, grad nerds think alike. I have a few specific questions.

 

  1. I guess the weather will be pleasant. Does it rain in September?
  2. Is it advisable to take a prepaid sim from the airport just for voice calls? (Who wants to pay for international roaming?) I want to know the usual sim activation charge in Canada. If that is too high, probably it's not worth the money.
  3. Any suggestion for accommodation? All I need is a clean room with a bed for myself and in a safe locality. (My department budget is not very generous, as grad students will understand.) If you know Vancouver or travelled there, recommendation of any specific hotel, lodge or some locality will be great.
  4. In the daytime, I will be attending talks, which will go on till almost 5 pm. Any suggestions about nearby local attractions which I can visit in the evening-the dining, the entertainment districts etc.?
  5. Anything else you think I should know about?

 

Be as specific or generic in your suggestions as you want. Thanks in advance. Cheers!

 

1. It can rain at any time in Vancouver. One joke is that the "Vancouver Rain Festival" runs from Sept 1 to Aug 31 every year. In fact, at many conferences in Vancouver, the "conference swag" you might get is an umbrella with the conference logo on it.

 

2. A sim card is about $10 and most pay as you go type plans in Canada will charge about 40 cents per minute and 25 cents per text message. Alternatively, if you plan on using your phone a lot during your visit, you can get a single month plan. Here is an example from one single company, but they are all going to be similarly priced: http://www.fido.ca/web/page/portal/Fido/PrepaidPlans?forwardTo=prepaidPlans&service=addons&lang=en. I am not certain if you can get these at the airport though, especially if you arrive at a time where the shops are closed. You can check the YVR (Vancouver Airport) website to see what retail stores they have.

 

3. This depends on where the conference actually is and what your budget is. I don't know if I can really say anything useful without more information! 

 

4. In the evenings, I think downtown Vancouver is quite fun. There are a lot of restaurants and shopping along Robson Street downtown. I like to take visitors on a walk to English Bay and there are good places for ice cream near the beach. You can sit in the sand, eat ice cream and watch the sunset! There is also a great cupcakes bakery called "Cupcakes" (http://cupcakesonline.com/) near English Bay. Another fun walk is to walk along Davies St (from English Bay). It's the "gay/pride neighbourhood" in Vancouver and I think it really captures the spirit of what Vancouver is about. 

 

Other places that are nice are: Lonsdale Quay (at the Waterfront subway station, take the seabus across the water), Stanley Park/Coal Harbour (Cardero's is one of my favourites but it's pricey), Gastown, and Granville Island. If you have time on the weekends, there are mountains just north of Vancouver that you can hike. Capilano Suspension bridge is the famous and expensive one but you can also visit Lynn Canyon for a much smaller but free suspension bridge and hiking area.

 

5. You can take the "Canada Line" light rail train (built for the Olympics) from the Airport to downtown Vancouver pretty cheap / quick, and there are a lot of connections you can take along the way if your hotel is somewhere in Vancouver close to a train station.

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1. It can rain at any time in Vancouver. One joke is that the "Vancouver Rain Festival" runs from Sept 1 to Aug 31 every year. In fact, at many conferences in Vancouver, the "conference swag" you might get is an umbrella with the conference logo on it.

 

2. A sim card is about $10 and most pay as you go type plans in Canada will charge about 40 cents per minute and 25 cents per text message. Alternatively, if you plan on using your phone a lot during your visit, you can get a single month plan. Here is an example from one single company, but they are all going to be similarly priced: http://www.fido.ca/web/page/portal/Fido/PrepaidPlans?forwardTo=prepaidPlans&service=addons&lang=en. I am not certain if you can get these at the airport though, especially if you arrive at a time where the shops are closed. You can check the YVR (Vancouver Airport) website to see what retail stores they have.

 

3. This depends on where the conference actually is and what your budget is. I don't know if I can really say anything useful without more information! 

 

4. In the evenings, I think downtown Vancouver is quite fun. There are a lot of restaurants and shopping along Robson Street downtown. I like to take visitors on a walk to English Bay and there are good places for ice cream near the beach. You can sit in the sand, eat ice cream and watch the sunset! There is also a great cupcakes bakery called "Cupcakes" (http://cupcakesonline.com/) near English Bay. Another fun walk is to walk along Davies St (from English Bay). It's the "gay/pride neighbourhood" in Vancouver and I think it really captures the spirit of what Vancouver is about. 

 

Other places that are nice are: Lonsdale Quay (at the Waterfront subway station, take the seabus across the water), Stanley Park/Coal Harbour (Cardero's is one of my favourites but it's pricey), Gastown, and Granville Island. If you have time on the weekends, there are mountains just north of Vancouver that you can hike. Capilano Suspension bridge is the famous and expensive one but you can also visit Lynn Canyon for a much smaller but free suspension bridge and hiking area.

 

5. You can take the "Canada Line" light rail train (built for the Olympics) from the Airport to downtown Vancouver pretty cheap / quick, and there are a lot of connections you can take along the way if your hotel is somewhere in Vancouver close to a train station.

 

 

Thanks a lot Takeruk for the detailed reply. You gave me more than I expected. I think I will carry a printout of your reply with me.

 

The conference venue is hotel Westin Bayshore at Bayshore drive, which, I guess, is a pretty expensive district. I will like to stay somewhere near from where I can travel easily. As for the budget, I want something within 70-80 CAD per day, maybe I have to stretch a bit if necessary. Since I have never been there, it is difficult to decide the budget beforehand.

 

For the SIM, I will consider options from the carriers. Of course I don't want to land in a new country at an awkward hour and will book my flights accordingly. I hope there will be some outlets in the airport and will check the site.

Edited by swagatopablo

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Thanks a lot Takeruk for the detailed reply. You gave me more than I expected. I think I will carry a printout of your reply with me.

 

The conference venue is hotel Westin Bayshore at Bayshore drive, which, I guess, is a pretty expensive district. I will like to stay somewhere near from where I can travel easily. As for the budget, I want something within 70-80 CAD per day, maybe I have to stretch a bit if necessary. Since I have never been there, it is difficult to decide the budget beforehand.

 

For the SIM, I will consider options from the carriers. Of course I don't want to land in a new country at an awkward hour and will book my flights accordingly. I hope there will be some outlets in the airport and will check the site.

 

 

There are a few hostels downtown if you're comfortable with shared rooms. I don't recall any of them being around Westin Bayshore (I used to work right across the street) but downtown Vancouver is very walkable and has great transit, especially in the city.

 

I'd second all the suggestions made earlier. The hotel is pretty much next to Stanley Park: depending on the weather and your interests, going from the hotel around the seawall (you can rent various modes of transportation, check out: http://www.bayshorebikerentals.ca/) to English Bay is always amazing. Granville St has a lot of bars and clubs and gets pretty crazy weekend nights: not my thing but if you're into it. What else might be of interest depends on the kinds of things you like to do. 

 

Man, I miss Vancouver.

Edited by wtncffts

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Couple questions from a prospective student at Simon Fraser University:

 

1) What are the normal 'cold' weeks like in the winter time? (in terms of temperatures, coldest temp's you guys have experienced there in recent years)
 

2) How much snow if any does Vancouver / Burnaby receive in the winter months?

 

3) Are there any 'studded tires' laws in Vancouver? For example, for driving in inclement weather during the winter, am I only allowed to have studded tires on my car from November to March or something along those lines.

 

I'm coming from Alaska and am considering biking most places when I attend grad school there so I can save money by not using my car. I'm pretty comfortable biking in weather as low as about -7 c. and wanted to get a sense from locals if the temp may drop below that in January or February.

 

Thanks for any info about it!

Edited by Sword_Saint

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Couple questions from a prospective student at Simon Fraser University:

 

1) What are the normal 'cold' weeks like in the winter time? (in terms of temperatures, coldest temp's you guys have experienced there in recent years)

 

2) How much snow if any does Vancouver / Burnaby receive in the winter months?

 

3) Are there any 'studded tires' laws in Vancouver? For example, for driving in inclement weather during the winter, am I only allowed to have studded tires on my car from November to March or something along those lines.

 

I'm coming from Alaska and am considering biking most places when I attend grad school there so I can save money by not using my car. I'm pretty comfortable biking in weather as low as about -7 c. and wanted to get a sense from locals if the temp may drop below that in January or February.

 

Thanks for any info about it!

 

1) There is only a few days the temp drops below 0 degrees in Vancouver during the winter.

 

2) Perhaps once a year there is a day or two of real snowfall, but the snow rarely lasts long. Very rarely does snow stay for a long period of time in Vancouver.

 

3) No.

 

The problem with biking during the winter is not the temperature, it's the rain. From October to February there is a lot of rain. Like sometimes you will have rainfall for 20 days straight kind of rain and sometimes it will literally pour for a week on end.  

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Additional information on weather: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_VancouverI find that Wikipedia has super handy charts that gives lows/highs/averages when I visit/move to a new place :)

 

As victorydance said, you'll see that the average low daily temperature is above 0 at all months!

 

For the studded tires thing, I don't know of any laws, but you don't need studded tires at all in Vancouver. Some people carry chains in their trunk for the few days where it might help. 

 

On Burnaby mountain (where SFU is located), there has been a few instances where the snow did prevent buses from going up/down the mountain so that people were stuck up there overnight. But this is pretty rare!

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Hi,

I have received an offer of ~19k with full tuition waiver. I am planning to stay at a studio at thunderbird. I dont own a car, so planning to bike as a mode of transport. Is that affordable? Also as someone pointed, the waiting period is long. Any idea regarding how long I might need to wait for an studio at thunderbird. In case I donot get a studio then what are all other options? I heard that it rains a lot in Vancouver. Then would it be possible to bike from a little faraway places? Any help is highly appreciated.

Edited by sirpsiti

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I think 19k/year should be affordable for one person to live modestly. I don't know how long the Thunderbird waitlists are. There are other options off campus though. Most of the graduate students I knew live in Vancouver itself and bike or bus in. All UBC students pay a fee for an unlimited bus pass (whether you take the bus or not) so bus transportation is very popular at UBC. It looks like the rent for a studio in Thunderbird is close to $1000/month and I think you find similar priced studios in Vancouver or even cheaper places if you share a 2 bedroom with someone else. 

 

Lots of people in Vancouver bike for long distances. The rain is manageable with appropriate raingear. However, on extra rainy days, you might choose to just take the bus.

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Thanks for sharing the information. Actually I was wondering how convenient will it be to survive there without a car? Particularly given the rain conditions etc. 

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You would be able to do most basic living things in Vancouver without a car if you live on a good bus route. Public transit in Vancouver might not be as good as, say, New York City, but it's certainly far better than a lot of other major metropolitan areas (e.g. Los Angeles). 

 

With public transit, most people can access things like home, work, grocery stores, going to movies/restaurants, going downtown, getting to the bank (although many major banks have branches on campus at UBC), doctors office etc. You might want a car for things that don't exist on convenient bus routes, which might include some beaches, friends' homes, speciality stores/shops, random appointments/errands that you don't do very often. But in these cases, you might be able to find a friend who can drive or bike or bus+walk or get a cab. So I would say that for everyday life, a car is not that much more convenient, but it could be really handy for errands/things you might do on a weekend. 

 

But cars are really expensive (especially parking). When I went to UBC, I lived in a suburb and although I had a car, I never drove it to school. My bus commute was 1.0-1.5 hours each way, and that was still more convenient than driving every day, dealing with the costs associated with driving and the traffic. So, since I am used to commuting, my idea of "convenient" might not be the same as yours!

 

As for the rain, I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask either since I grew up with it so it's no big deal to me. Just make sure you have good raingear, especially boots to keep water out of your socks. I wouldn't bike in the rain but taking the bus in the rain is fine (many bus stops have covering, but good raingear is important!). 

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Thanks for sharing the information. Actually I was wondering how convenient will it be to survive there without a car? Particularly given the rain conditions etc. 

Just seconding that you don't need a car in Vancouver -- if you're on a good bus route (or within a 5-10 minute walk), you'll be fine. The weather isn't bad enough that it impedes walking year round, and it's often rather nice to walk.

There are also a lot of carshare options around -- zipcar and car2go as just two examples.

As far as raingear goes--a good raincoat (especially if it's a light outer shell) will do wonders. Most people I know in Vancouver layer year round--so a rainy winter day would look something like shirt/sweather + warm layer + raincoat.

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Adding a few links for SFU incoming students -- hopefully also useful to UBC students!

 

A lot of our incoming students last year recommended Padmapper: http://www.padmapper.com/

(More housing links available in SFU's virtual orientation page: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/new_graduate_students/before_you_arrive/off-campus-housing.html)

 

Google maps now has live transit updates for Vancouver's transit system, so you can click on the "transit" icon and it will tell you how long it takes to get anywhere by transit.

 

Incoming SFU grad students have their own facebook group where we're answering questions and where they're getting to know each other. (There's a roommate finder thread there as well.)

Edited by sfugradstudies

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Hi there! Does anybody have any advice about life in Vancouver? I know that it can be pretty pricey and would like to optimize my money so that I can travel around the province on a budget. Is transit out to the mountains decent or is it best to have a car?

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To go to the mountains it would be a lot easier with a car. There may be tour buses that take you out there but it's not really that cost effective. Transit in Vancouver is great within the city but not really helpful to get out around the province. Also if you are seriously looking to explore the whole province it's a really really big place! You will definitely need a car for the stuff outside of the city, like the interior region (wine country) etc.

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There is public transit from Lonsdale Quay station in North Vancouver that will take you up to Grouse mountain. There is a shuttle bus that leaves downtown Vancouver for Cypress mountain. For Whistler/Blackcomb, there is a ski shuttle bus and there is greyhound. 

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I got accepted to SFU for the fall semester. If anyone could tell me anything about the area, I'd be grateful. Housing? Food? Things to do? What should I do first? 

I've also considered living in Blaine, WA while attending school in downtown Vancouver. Is this plausible? 

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22 minutes ago, mcgatay said:

I've also considered living in Blaine, WA while attending school in downtown Vancouver. Is this plausible? 

One of my friends went to UBC for their PhD while living in Bellingham. It's certainly possible but with a lot of work, inconvenience and sacrifice. The main reason they did it was because their partner had a job that required them to stay in the US. With a NEXUS card and timing your commutes, you might be able to manage. In the beginning, it was very hard for my friend because they had class or TAing every day. However, in later years, they only needed to come in for seminars, meetings with advisors, and TA work, which they could schedule to only be 2 or 3 days per week. They would work 10-12 hour days (to avoid the rush hour traffic) on the days they were in the office and work from home on the other days. Whether this is possible for you depends on what your program needs from you. This decision did mean that they had to make the most of their 2 or 3 days in the office because a big part of grad school is the great interactions you get with your colleagues!

Also, now, the Canadian dollar is worth about 0.75 USD, so if you live in WA, keep in mind that you are being paid in CAD but spending USD! 

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On 2017-05-02 at 8:06 PM, mcgatay said:

I got accepted to SFU for the fall semester. If anyone could tell me anything about the area, I'd be grateful. Housing? Food? Things to do? What should I do first? 

I've also considered living in Blaine, WA while attending school in downtown Vancouver. Is this plausible? 

Congratulations!

SFU is a fairly isolated campus. It's difficult to get up the mountain in inclement weather. This winter was a particularly difficult one in Vancouver, with lots of snowfall that often resulted in classes at SFU getting cancelled (cars and buses had a difficult time, or just couldn't, get up the mountain). We don't often get a lot of snowfall, but when it happens, the city shuts down--something to keep in mind if you're commuting from afar. You mentioned downtown Vancouver, though, so I'm unclear about which campus you were accepted to. Are you going to Beedie?

I can't speak to housing in SFU since I live/work near UBC, but I can speak to housing in general in the city. Real estate in Metro Vancouver (Vancouver and outlying suburbs, including Burnaby, where SFU is situated) is a hot button issue and it's reaching a fever pitch thanks to the upcoming provincial election on Tuesday. Lots of people getting priced out of the city thanks to high rents and high real estate prices (looking at 2+ million in some areas). We pay $1175 for a 1.5 BR near Jericho Beach but this is unusual and we only got it so low thanks to a friend. You can look at Craigslist for an idea of how much rent you should expect to pay. Lots of apartment buildings in Vancouver, at least, have heat and hot water included in the rent, so you're responsible only for hydro, internet, and whichever other utilities you want to sign up for.

Food is good. Lots of cheap asian restaurants to eat at. Vancouver is known for lots of good places to eat. Depending on where you're coming from, the range of cuisine will be different--for instance, we don't have very many Mexican restaurants compared to Seattle. Grocery stores run from the very, very cheap (e.g. No Frills) to the horrendously expensive (Whole Foods, Meinhardt's, etc).

I believe SFU participates in the UPass program, so you will receive a partially subsidized bus pass which costs you ~$30. It's good for unlimited travel around Metro Vancouver and significantly reduces your transit costs. Insurance, parking, gas, etc., are all very expensive in this city. The downside is that certain transit routes are overfull during the morning rush--and commuting in such conditions during miserable weather just compounds the misery.

Vancouver is very much an outdoorsy city. I live near the beach so we go for long walks along the sea side or BBQ and laze about in the summer. I'm more of a homebody so I think googling will be of more use than I can be!

What should you do first? Definitely try to secure housing. It's a madhouse here, and I couldn't imagine having to find a rental in this market. If you aren't going to get housing through SFU, you must absolutely start this process now. Most leases are for 1 year and either expire (i.e. you have to renew or move out) or lapse into a month-to-month tenancy agreement. Most people give notice the month before moving out, so if I wanted to move out on June 30 I'd have to give notice by the end of May. Also, keep in mind that it is illegal for landlords to ask for more than 1/2 month's rent for a security deposit--familiarize yourself with the Residential Tenancy Act, again due to the market.

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