After spending two years in the bustling city of Manchester and having university buildings spread all along Oxford road, it has been nice to experience life on a university campus. I have listed below a few topics of comparison which have been both positive or negative during my experience abroad.
Campus Halls Vs Fallowfield housing:
After spending my first year in university halls and upgrading (or some would say downgrading!) into private housing in Manchester, I got a good flavour of what living in a city was like. It was an opportunity to live with people you had gotten on well with and be in a house independently without the bother of parents. The freedom of this is great and is the first time your home really feels like home rather than living under the supervision of someone else.
Moving to Calgary was almost a throwback to first year as I decided to move back into university halls on campus. This was a great opportunity for me to meet likeminded exchange students who were in a similar position. My flat consisted of four rooms which were split by a shared kitchen and lounge area in the middle. My halls were quite big with around 25 flats on each floor and 4 floors in the building, presenting the perfect chance to interact with other students and get to know people you were living with. Being close to everyone gave a similar feel to Manchester halls, although the main difference was each hall was a mix of a certain year group rather than purely freshers. My hall was predominantly exchange and international students, which was the perfect chance for me to meet people who wanted to do similar activities. This made it more difficult to meet the local Canadians as most of them lived at home, but I don’t think this was too big of an issue as I met a lot of them through societies such as the bouldering society. I would definitely recommend living in university halls while abroad on a campus, as it gives you the chance to meet people from all over the world who are looking to travel and explore the new city, as opposed to locals who have lived there for their whole life.
Food choices around uni:
As most of the university buildings are along Oxford road, there is a large and diverse range of dining options when around uni. This is great for grabbing a quick coffee or lunch, with a range of different cuisines and styles of restaurants available. The same cannot be said for the food options available on Calgary’s campus. If you don’t have a pre-paid meal plan, the main place for food on campus is in a place called Mac Hall. This consists of quite a few fast food restaurants of different cuisines. Unfortunately, most of these are quite unhealthy and the range of food is not that great. The food here also tends to be quite expensive which I think is something they could look into changing, as they know the only customers are students and staff. A lot of the time I find it easier and cheaper to pop home to make lunch myself, but sometimes this is not possible if I have little time between lectures. Personally, I prefer the larger choice and price range of restaurants around Manchester as it accommodates for a larger audience and can be more economical for money conscious students.
Distance to lectures:
This is a big difference between being on a campus rather than at a city university. In Manchester, I have to travel on a busy bus from Fallowfield to northern campus (where most of my engineering lectures are) most mornings, which takes around half an hour. This can be quite a struggle especially if you have a lot of early 9am lectures. Coming back from uni is also a challenge, as the magic buses can fill up very quickly and you can be waiting to get on a packed bus for long periods of time.
This hassle is eliminated by living on a campus, as every building is within walking distance from my accommodation. This is great for people who want that extra time in bed in the mornings and means you don’t have to travel far to make those dreaded 9ams. Like I mentioned before, it is also easier to quickly route back to your flat if you have forgotten something or want to prepare some food during the day. I like this aspect of the campus when contrasted to a city but sometimes it can be very tempting to take a quick afternoon nap instead of that extra hour at the library!