Vancouver Island University: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more

Lauryn Mackenzie, 22
Digital media studies

Lauryn Mackenzie (Courtesy of Siddhanth Arikeri)

Why did you choose VIU?
It was difficult for me to choose which school to attend, partly because I had two great options. After a lot of thought, I settled on VIU. Some of the things I loved about the university were its small class sizes, its really interesting digital media studies program and the fact that it wasn’t too far away from my parents. Another plus was that my mom went there. Not many people from my high school were planning to attend VIU, so I thought going there would be a great way to meet new people.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.
In my second year, I took an audio production course. For one assignment, I teamed up with criminology students to create a podcast. I really enjoyed that project and have been inspired to continue pursuing audio production. Another great experience has been working for my school’s newspaper, the Navigator. I joined in my third year, not really knowing much about journalism, and have fallen in love with writing. I have gained so much experience and knowledge from that job.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
VIU offers many paid work experiences on campus. In addition to being on staff at my campus newspaper, I’ve worked as a resident adviser, at my campus radio station and in the student union office.

What do you think of your professors?
My program is small, so it’s super easy to get to know the professors. I’ve found that they always make themselves available when students need help and are particularly supportive if we need extra time on an assignment.

What do you think of the school’s administration?
I have never had a problem signing up for classes. Any time I’ve been put on a waitlist, the professor for the course has been able to squeeze me in. When planning ahead, I really recommend reaching out to your department chair or academic adviser every year to make sure you are on the right track with your degree.

What is off-campus life like in Nanaimo?
Nanaimo is on the ocean and not too far away from the mountains. You are only about an hour away from hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing or snowboarding. The city also has many great bars and breweries, and several of them often hold live music events. For shoppers, the downtown area of Nanaimo offers great thrift stores and interesting local businesses.

PROFILE: Vancouver Island University | Nanaimo, B.C. | Founded 1969

If I wrote the school motto: ‘We are all Mariners’
Best place to live: Central Nanaimo
Best place to study: The top floor of the VIU Library or one of the local cafés
Best campus events: FROSH
Weirdest tradition: The fishery program names all their fish after supermodels
Best campus food: Poutine from the cafeteria
Best cheap lunch: Tomo Sushi to Go
Best pizza: Mambo Pizza
Best place for a fancy dinner: La Stella Trattoria
Best giveaway: The VIU student union always has great giveaways
Best bar for hanging out: VIU Students’ Union Campus Pub
Best live music venue: The Vault Café
Best hangover breakfast: Gabriel’s Gourmet Café
Best place for a nap: The grey spinny chairs in the Health and Science Centre
Best weekend activity: Going on hikes in the nearby trails
The thing that surprised me most about the school: How many stairs there are
If I could change one thing about the school: There needs to be more parking

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