Student Insider
by Areeha Mahal
November 1, 2022

University of Alberta: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more

Areeha Mahal (Courtesy of Areeha Mahal)

Areeha Mahal, 19: Biological sciences and English

Why did you choose University of Alberta?

Location played the primary part in my decision. I knew I wanted to live at home, and my family lives just north of Edmonton. I was interested in biology and wanted to attend a university with good opportunities for undergraduate research.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.

My favourite experience thus far has been joining the Gateway, the University of Alberta’s official student publication. Through this opportunity I have met the most interesting people on campus and in Edmonton—from students and professors to politicians.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?

In addition to the Gateway, I am involved in the Biology Students’ Departmental Association (BSDA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation Students’ Association (HSFSA). On weekends and evenings I work part-time at the TELUS World of Science–Edmonton, one of my absolute favourite places in the city. There is a variety of extracurriculars available for students. One of the coolest clubs (which I’m not a part of but think is pretty neat) is the NHL Analysts Club. They get together to watch hockey games together and discuss predictions.

What do you think of your professors?

Generally, the professors at the University of Alberta are approachable and helpful. Most importantly, the majority of them really love the work they do. This is something I’ve observed in a variety of classes and faculties. However, in larger, entry-level courses (which can have upward of 300 students), it is harder to make connections with professors.

What do you think of the school’s administration?

I can’t recall any particular issues that I’ve encountered when registering for classes. Even when I’ve had to be put on the waitlist for a course, I always got in within the first week or two of classes. University administration has generally been accessible and helpful when I’ve reached out to them online, and I’ve always had any small issues that come up resolved in a timely manner. However, I do recommend calling rather than sending an email; that usually gets issues resolved quicker.

What is off-campus life like in Edmonton?

There are plenty of fun things for students to do in Edmonton. A personal favourite is getting ice cream from Yelo’d Ice Cream on Whyte Avenue or visiting the Art Gallery of Alberta, which has free admission for University of Alberta students and $10 admission for out-of-province students. The art gallery also has lots of fun photo ops for Instagram, which is always a bonus.

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Best place to live: At home with family: nothing beats free home-cooked meals!

Best place to study: Either the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library (which is always pretty quiet) or the atrium in the Agriculture and Forestry Building. But beware: outlets are hard to find.

Best campus events: Campus Cup!

Best campus food: Hands down, Savoy’s Express. Their menu is also halal, which is really great!

Best pizza: Any free pizza you can score at a campus event

Best giveaway: I love the agendas that the Interdepartmental Science Students Society (ISSS) gives out

Best bar for hanging out: The Sherlock Holmes Pub

Best hangover breakfast: I don’t drink, but Gateway staff recommend the all-day breakfast at Dewey’s or a buttered bagel from the Daily Grind

Best place for a nap: The couches in the Gateway office

Best weekend activity: Catch a movie at Metro Cinema, which offers a great student discount

The thing that surprised me most about the school: How many familiar faces you’ll repeatedly run into on campus. Also, how long the Starbucks lineup is in the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science.

If I could change one thing about the school: I wish students organized more protests, especially considering the sizable budget cuts being faced by the university