University of Ottawa: student tips on surviving life on campus

Best spectator sport, unofficial school motto, almost notorious bus route and more

University of Ottawa. (Photograph by Jessica Deeks)

University Insider: Zainab Al-Mehdar, 22, Communications

Best place for a nap: The Learning Crossroads library
Best cheap lunch: Pivik (UCU)
Worst cheap lunch: SITE cafeteria
Best breakfast: Elgin Street Diner or Zak’s Diner
Favourite campus food: Poutine
Favourite campus events: Poutine Festival, Snow Festival (free Beaver Tails)
Best place to study: The law library
Worst place to study: Fifth floor of the Morisset Library
Hidden treasure: Second floor, DMS Library
Best live music venue: Café Nostalgica
Best spectator sport: Football
Campus mascot: A Gee-Gee (the first horse out of the gate in a race)
Unofficial school motto: ‘Defying the conventional’
Most notorious bus route: Just walk!
Best cultural events: International Week, Black History Month, Islam Awareness Week
Best place for creative flow: Mantovani 1946 (ByWard Market)

PROFILE: University of Ottawa | Ottawa, Ont. | Founded 1848

Don’t stay away from Ottawa because it’s a small city. Sure, it isn’t as big and glamorous as Toronto or Vancouver, but we have heart and soul! The city’s scene has been growing, and the University of Ottawa is at the centre of it all.

Every day is different on campus, and the University Centre is the one-stop shop for everything you need: events, activities, free food stands and a farmers’ market. It’s always busy with great people, food and music.

The opportunities for students are immense. The U of O provides one of the largest French-immersion programs in the world. It also offers work-study programs and co-op opportunities that allow you to work in various fields and gain useful experience. Looking to sharpen up your resumé? The career development centre has the right people to help you, and to calm your nerves about interviews.

In my first semester, I wanted to find my place. I soon realized my place was in all the little experiences on campus. It was where I got the best London fog (Café Alt, hands down), where I found a tucked-away library, and where I enjoyed the terrace view.

If you are about that healthy fitness life, U of O offers free yoga and pet therapy, which is undoubtedly the best cure to a long day. Keep a look out for Muggy Mondays, where you can bring your own mug and enjoy some free fair-trade coffee. Lastly, if you are a vegan or an aspiring vegan, there’s the People’s Republic of Delicious, a campus club that serves vegan food once a week.
And, of course, every student must have a questionable hot dog from the hot dog guy parked on Laurier Avenue, across from Tabaret Hall. Rumour has it he’s as old as the university.

Local Vibe
From great food to live music and shopping, it’s no wonder ByWard Market is the city’s main attraction. Lansdowne Park, with its stadium, festivals, shows and farmers’ markets, is a must visit for everyone in Ottawa. In the winter, it’s a great place to go skating and enjoy all the lights. The beauty about being in Ottawa is that Gatineau’s beautiful nature is merely a bridge away. One thing you will notice if you are moving to Ottawa is how the city embraces bilingualism. What better time to improve your French?
As much as transportation can be a drag, the long-awaited completion of the light-rail transit system will happen soon, providing easy access to U of O.

The Skinny
For that book hustle, the U of O textbook exchange on Facebook will be your saviour! Used books all the way! Follow the construction page on Instagram—weird, I know, but they keep you up-to-date on all the new buildings and where to go to avoid construction.