University of Calgary: Student life on campus

Where to find the best cheap lunch and more

University of Calgary. (Ewan Nicholson/University of Calgary)

Unofficial school motto: ‘Seriously, why aren’t you going to ThursDen?’
Best place for a nap: The round couches on the third floor of MacEwan Hall are a godsend after an 8 a.m. class
Best cheap lunch: Bake Chef’s $7 Vietnamese subs, delicious and mostly nutritious
Best hangover breakfast: Vendome Café in Kensington serves fantastic, affordable food and the best hot chocolate
Favourite watering hole: On campus, the Den & Black Lounge. Off campus, National on 10th Avenue S.W. is a beer hall and bowling alley.
Perks of living in this town: Banff’s hiking trails and ski slopes are only an hour away. Regular chinooks break up the dreary winter.
Best place to study: The Taylor Family Digital Library, until it gets crowded. During the afternoon rush period you’re better off in the faculty of arts computer lab or the atrium in administration.
Weirdest tradition: Every orientation week, the Schulich engineering freshmen march through MacEwan Hall to proclaim their superiority over the Haskayne business students, and also the rest of campus
Best campus event: Bermuda Shorts Day is a huge end-of-year block party
Best giveaway: The Level Up program gives away prizes like Beats headphones, iPads and robot vacuums for participation in campus events
Best live music venue: HiFi Club and Nite Owl

PROFILE: University of Calgary | Calgary, Alta. | Founded 1966

University InsiderKathy Pham, 22, English and Communications

The University of Calgary feels like a place in transition. Even during the institution’s 50th anniversary in 2016, old buildings were being torn down and new ones were popping up on those same foundations. Recently, the university has opened new facilities such as the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and the long-awaited Canadian Natural Resources Limited Engineering Complex. Despite Alberta’s current economic downturn, the administration remains focused on growth in everything but tuition, which will stay frozen through 2018-19.

Admittedly, the U of C community can seem a bit frosty—regardless of the weather—for those not in business or engineering. With more than 25,000 undergraduates in attendance, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of lectures in freshman year attended by 200 students. As a result, programs like Level Up and UCalgaryStrong have been launched to help students find their people on campus. There are more than 300 clubs to choose from, which means the events schedule is always packed. Volunteering opportunities are plentiful, and MacEwan Hall hosts frequent concerts at affordable ticket prices.

It might take you a while to find your footing. Once you do, UCalgary’s student life can overcome the most inclement weather.

The university encourages undergraduate research through a number of scholarships and an annual symposium. Opportunities are tilted toward engineering and the health sciences, with most other students vying for the PURE Awards, which provide summer research grants. UCalgary has a pervasive spirit of freedom, which complements the well-rounded education offered. Despite the city’s reputation for political conservatism, the university’s campus is socially liberal.

At the top of the list is the Taylor Family Digital Library, a six-storey, ultra-modern facility that boasts a gaming centre, soundproof media editing suites, a 3-D printer, extensive special collections and a gallery.
Extracurriculars range from the Ski & Board Club to the Maier Student Leadership Program for Engineers to the Spoken Word club, which hosts on-campus open mic nights. Campus publications include the Gauntlet newspaper and NōD literary magazine, both of which are always looking for new voices. The Q Centre is a resource and events hub for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and ally community on campus, located right in MacEwan Hall, and the CASE Club has been educating students on sexual consent for years.

Local Vibe
The university is barely 15 minutes from downtown. Walking across campus seems to take longer than heading to Kensington Road for lunch. There you’ll find breakfast joints, coffee houses, Korean fried chicken and even some fine dining. The Beltline area offers craft beer, consignment shops and every kind of cuisine a foodie could ask for.
For downtime, the Globe Theatre carries limited-release films, and Theatre Calgary offers $20 matinees. When looking for a place to live, avoid the suburbs. Calgary’s sprawl is never-ending, and hard to navigate without a car. But at least we finally have Uber.

The Skinny
Facebook is your friend for finding events. The university has an active subreddit at For other happenings, there’s

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