Richard Kent, 25
I had always wanted to attend a small school, but it was a few days into frosh week before I realized just how small Mount Allison was: I could walk from one side of campus to the other in about five minutes. I spent my first semester feeling suffocated by the university and the town, confident that I had experienced everything that Sackville had to offer and, in time, to complain to everyone about it over Christmas. Luckily, I was wrong.
Going to Mount A turned out to have some unexpected perks. Small classes made it impossible not to get to know all of my professors, and these relationships came in handy when I needed advice about whether or not to write a thesis and what I should look for in a grad program. The small student body meant running into friends and classmates every time I left my apartment.
The intimacy of a small school and small town does have its drawbacks: Most upper-year classes are only offered once every two years. Be prepared to wait for an appointment with the doctor; you need an appointment with the nurse first. And get ready to sign your lease up to a year in advance, as students leave residence to escape the shared bedrooms, costly meal plans and inescapable gaze of residence staff.
Getting involved at Mount A tends to happen by accident. Despite the small number of students, undergraduate societies exist for nearly every interest, and they’re always recruiting. Cross-cultural offerings are an unexpected highlight, so take advantage of Japanese cooking lessons in your home, or sign up for a “voluntourism” trip to South America over spring break. Campus media and publishing are also strong: Your own radio show is a pitch away, and a student-run publishing house printed its first novel last year.
Culturally, Sackville is a miniature Montreal, without the bilingualism and rampant corruption. Taking full advantage of its location on the Trans-Canada on the border with Nova Scotia, touring bands come through nearly every weekend, while the local scene reinvents itself as students come and go. Art galleries abound, providing free access to installations, exhibitions and performances by locals, students and artists-in-residence. For the outdoorsy, Sackville is home to many kilometres of walking, biking and skiing trails, all minutes from campus. Foodie? No problem. There’s a farmers’ market downtown every Saturday morning, and local restaurateurs and food trucks are moving in, boasting big-city culinary quality.
The university provides a weekly digest of many on-campus happenings by email and online at MTA.ca/Community/Events.aspx. For everything else related to Mount A, there’s Facebook.