Andrea Pugh, 26
The University of Lethbridge is small, and the older buildings are especially nondescript. However, its location, nestled into the coulees on the west side of the Oldman River, provides an outstanding panorama from anywhere on campus. This is southern Alberta at its finest, and the river valley is truly spectacular.
Lethbridge is a car-centric place, with endless parking lots on campus. Students do not get a bus pass, but, luckily, there are many cheap housing options within walking distance, and I am always accompanied by a throng of students on my way to school. Residence is also a good way to go; there are several apartment-style options in addition to dorms.
The student services are fantastic, and the university is extremely welcoming to first-years. It is in constant communication via email, not to mention that my teachers and academic counsellor know me. The class sizes and friendly atmosphere definitely set this university apart. Expect to recognize people around campus, and around town.
Arts and science students say classes fill up fast, so be prepared to embrace backup options. That said, the university’s focus on teaching is reflected in its quality of instruction.
The university has a fantastic athletics facility. Although the machines can be busy, the track is never crowded. The climbing wall is very challenging, even for experienced climbers and, between the bouldering cave and the wall, climbers of any level can find opportunities for improvement.
There are a lot of clubs around the school, including the Bigfoot Club for “recreational sceptics” and the Headbangers Club for heavy-metal fans, some of whom arrange trips during Reading Week or put on performances throughout the year.
Lethbridge is a relaxed university town. Big-city drivers will be overjoyed by the ease of parking downtown. They may also be surprised by the amount of wide-open space; prepare to feel in touch with nature. Take a walk around one of the many lakes in town, walk or bike along the well-connected trails, and catch a prairie sunset. Life in a small city can be dull when you want to do something on a Sunday and businesses are closed, but, luckily, students—especially those in residence—are adept at entertaining themselves. Given the strength and frequency of the wind blowing off the Rocky Mountains, which can exceed 100 km/h, simply going outside can be more of an adventure than one expects.