Drew McLachlan, 22
Whether you’re living in residence or you’ve opted for somewhere nearer the sea, as you roll out of bed you’re likely thinking the same thing as your fellow students across the country—how to get to the class you have in 20 minutes.
At Vancouver Island University, the day might begin in much the same way, with a walk across the quad, wondering if you have time to grab a coffee at the Students’ Union Pub. But as you look ahead, you realize you’ll need all the energy you can muster if you hope to clear the 409 steps in time.
A hundred steps up, you’re thinking about what you should do on the weekend. Snowboarding at Mount Washington? Surfing in Tofino? Maybe just stay in Nanaimo and hike Mount Benson?
Two hundred steps up and you wonder whether it would’ve been better to bike to the top of campus. As you look up at the West Coast sun, you start to regret choosing coffee over water, so you duck into the library to use the water-bottle-filling station.
Three hundred steps up and you’re wondering why they haven’t built an escalator yet. They wouldn’t even need two escalators, they could just install a slide for the way down.
Four hundred steps and you’re nearing the top. Somewhere between the theatre and the anthropology building you decide against Mount Benson. Maybe you’ll just hang around downtown and see some local bands. You reach the top, catch your breath and turn around, only to lose it again. Four hundred and nine steps above the city, you’re lost in the natural splendour of the campus. Suddenly you’ve forgotten all about the vertical commute. Just try not to forget about your class in two minutes.
The university’s Campus Rec group is there to make sure you take advantage of all it has to offer, from kayaking (sea or freshwater) to rock climbing (indoor or outdoor), skiing or surfing. There’s a shuttle waiting for you outside the gym. Walk onto the quad and you may find an international fashion show, a ska concert, a chili eating contest, a farmers’ market or the biannual club fair, showcasing VIU’s growing number of student organizations.
While there’s so much to do outside the city, Nanaimo is really the perfect place to come back to. This working-class town has reasonable rents, affordable food, not to mention a plethora of high-quality yet unpretentious eateries. Nanaimo’s nightlife consists of everything from the jazzy Corner Lounge to the rocking Cambie, from the chic Modern Cafe to the Palace, where you can order Lucky Lager by the can and scratch the cue ball because a stripper pole got in your way. Like any West Coast city, it’s vegan- and LGBT-friendly as well.
If you want to know about things in Nanaimo, check out ThingsNanaimo.com.