Saint Mary’s University: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more
Claire Keenan
(Courtesy of threesixfive/Saint Mary's University)
(Courtesy of threesixfive/Saint Mary’s University)

Claire Keenan, 24
Applied psychology

Claire Keenan (Courtesy of Haya Bakour)

Why did you choose Saint Mary’s?
I chose to go to Saint Mary’s University because of its stellar applied psychology master’s program. I was also attracted by Saint Mary’s reputation as a school with an exceptional sense of community. Being a smaller university in Halifax, Saint Mary’s offers the benefits of city living as well as a vibrant, tightly knit student body.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.
One great experience that I’ve had at Saint Mary’s was presenting my research at the 35th Annual Psychology Student Conference. Despite being virtual, the conference was well attended and well organized.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
Being a master’s student, I have less time for extracurriculars, though I am currently the executive editor of the SMU Journal, the student-run independent publication at Saint Mary’s University. Overall, I feel that the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association (SMUSA) does a great job of promoting societies and extracurricular activities that take place both on and off-campus.

What do you think of your professors?
Every professor I’ve encountered at Saint Mary’s—whether in class, through my role as a teaching assistant or through research opportunities—has been extremely friendly, helpful and dedicated to students’ success. Even while everything has been online for the past two years, professors at Saint Mary’s are easily accessible and approachable over email. They are always happy to answer questions or hop on a Zoom call whenever needed.

What do you think of the school’s administration?
Saint Mary’s University has an outdated system of signing up for classes that certainly causes a few headaches. There are a few different platforms to navigate, and it isn’t always clear which platform you need to use for the information you’re looking for. But every member of the administrative staff is extremely helpful and goes above and beyond to help in whatever way they can. I have never had any issue getting into the classes that I need for my degree.

What is off-campus life like in Halifax?
Halifax is the perfect city for students. It has a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene and plenty of coffee shops to study in. Public transit is pretty reliable on the peninsula if you ever plan to go somewhere outside walking distance. The bustling boardwalk is a huge attraction for many, and it’s a great spot for a study break.

PROFILE: Saint Mary’s University | Halifax, N.S. | Founded 1802

If I wrote the school motto: ‘Good luck finding a parking spot’
Best place to live: The South End
Best place to study: Fifth floor of the student centre
Best campus events: Welcome Weeks
Weirdest tradition: Spotting Carlton the campus cat
Best campus food: The Gorsebrook Lounge
Best pizza: Pizza Girls, Sicilian Pizza and Johnny K’s make up Pizza Corner in downtown Halifax. Choose wisely!
Best place for a fancy dinner: Julep Kitchen & Cocktails. Great location, amazing cocktails and a beautiful interior.
Best giveaway: SMU merch for participating in photo shoots
Best bar for hanging out: Henry House
Best live music venue: Durty Nelly’s or the Old Triangle if you’re feeling particularly Celtic
Best hangover breakfast: The Cheeky Neighbour Diner
Best place for a nap: Upper floors of the campus library
Best weekend activity: Visit Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market in the morning, walk through Point Pleasant Park in the afternoon, and then head downtown for the evening
The thing that surprised me most about the school: How long it takes to find your classroom—be aware of the changing floor numbers in McNally
If I could change one thing about the school: Bigger library with more quiet study spaces