Queen's University: Student life on campus
An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more
Asbah Ahmad, 19: Biotechnology
Why did you choose Queen's?
I applied to a long list of schools in Grade 12; it was hard to know where I wanted to be for four years. Queen’s sold me because it seemed to be a big school in terms of opportunity but small in the sense of community. It was also one of a handful of schools with a stand-alone biotechnology program, which was important to me.
Describe some of your best experiences so far.
Looking back, I realize I truly gained independence in Kingston. I pushed myself to try new things, bursting out of my self-induced bubble. There was also a moment in one of my tutorials where I looked at the people in my group and knew we would be friends. I strongly believe that Queen’s has a space for everyone to find and form a community of friends.
Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
One thing I love about Queen’s is the extracurriculars. They can be an extension of academics, a way to develop skills and a great way to unwind. You can join one of many faculty governments or the Alma Mater Society (Canada’s oldest student government). Queen’s also has animal watching clubs, cause-based organizations and many magazines and publications.
What do you think of your professors?
In first year, class sizes can be quite large. So students have to go out of their way to access support from professors, in office hours and via email. This dynamic shifts as early as second year, when some classes have only 40 students. In my experience, professors make a very strong attempt at engaging students. Teaching assistants at Queen’s also play a significant part in supporting students. They lead smaller sessions, further develop the content taught by professors and are often approachable first points of contact.
What do you think of the school’s administration?
There is a student fear that when they enter university, they become a number. I believe it’s possible to advocate for yourself at Queen’s. Email the department; call the required administrative office. The staff are happy to help. On the flip side, it can be hard to navigate some offices or services. Different faculties at Queen’s can have different policies and procedures, and they can be confusing when you take courses outside your faculty. Reserve extra time when you try to navigate these, particularly during course enrolment when undergraduate assistants become a saving grace.
What is off-campus life like in Kingston?
Kingston has a lot to offer students. There is the water nearby, which is bustling with activity in the summer. The city lives up to its name as the “Limestone City,” and the architecture hearkens back to Canada’s past. Kingston also has an amazing nightlife and amazing restaurants.
Best place to live: I really like Earl Street
Best place to study: Jeffery Hall after 5 p.m., in the lounge near the lecture halls. Don’t steal my spot!
Best campus events: The Dan Studio Series: they are fully student-run drama productions
Best campus food: When flipit opened, I think I fell in love
Best cheap lunch: Location 21
Best pizza: Score Pizza
Best place for a fancy dinner: Casa Domenico
Best giveaway: Use the Queen’s ExamBank to study for your finals. It is a game changer.
Best bar for hanging out: The Brass Pub
Best live music venue: The Mansion
Best hangover breakfast: As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I think Smoke’s Poutinerie is an iconic choice
Best place for a nap: A study room in the Bracken Health Sciences Library. On warmer days, I recommend taking a nap near Breakwater Park—highly therapeutic.
Best weekend activity: In the summer, I recommend walking downtown and just exploring
The thing that surprised me most about the school: Students at Queen’s are some of the most approachable
If I could change one thing about the school: I wish students saw the value of student engagement in student government as I think it is significantly declining