York: An insider look

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2009 - Campus Life at York University. Modern dance class.  PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW TOLSON

Photograph by Andrew Tolson

Leslie Armstrong, 22
Professional Writing

York University may not have the same prestige as the University of Toronto, but the experience doesn’t come with the same limitations and rigidity. With the exception of a few programs, you won’t have to pay a fixed fee for tuition, allowing students to study part-time and graduate at their own pace. If you can get past the weird course-credit system (three, six, or nine credits), you’ll appreciate York’s flexible major/minor system.

York’s minimalist, concrete architecture isn’t the coziest setting, and the campus libraries can barely accommodate our undergraduate population of nearly 50,000, so be creative when looking for study space. The colleges offer tons of suitable study spots, such as the Renaissance room in Vanier College and the dining hall in Winters College. Alternatively, the Bronfman library in the Schulich School of Business closes early but has comfy armchairs and a great view.

If you plan to live in residence, you’ll likely only survive a year, unless you don’t mind co-ed bathrooms and an overpriced meal plan with limited choices. After that, strike the best possible deal for a place in the Village, a nearby housing district for students, or, if you’re really cash-strapped, find some trusty roommates and live in the Four Winds apartment complex.

While the bleachers are empty at varsity sporting events, our vibrant arts community means campus galleries such as Gales and Zack’s feature student art, and the Martin Family Lounge hosts free live jazz every Thursday. To fulfill your exercise quota, join our friendly intramural clubs, or approach salsa and hip-hop dancers in the Student Centre and ask to join in. For offbeat hobbies, join the Beard Appreciation Society or the Ministry of Magic. Thanks to our diverse community, you’ll find tons of clubs dedicated to cultural celebration and, if you’re a Marxist, the Socialist Fightback Club is refreshingly active.

City vibe
Unlike Toronto’s downtown universities, York is an isolated village that turns into a ghost town by Sunday morning. Beat those blues and explore the city. For shopping, head to Queen Street West and, if it’s Saturday, stop by the Drake Hotel’s poetry slam. To mingle with other university students, head to any of the bars in the Annex—you’ll find a cheap pitcher at the Green Room, and the Dance Cave at Lee’s Palace is free for students. Take the 60 Steeles West bus to Yonge and Finch to experience the city’s best karaoke bars. If you’re not feeling adventurous, head to the Absinthe Pub, your standard watering hole, or the Underground for Thursday club nights.

The skinny
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