It is with great sadness that I write this post because in just over a week I will be packing away my winter clothes, brushing the dust off my suitcases and saying farewell to the University of Calgary. Unlike Durham, where you have a few weeks for post-summative de-stressing with your friends, once you finish your last exam here you have about a day to move out of student halls. It’s all so sudden and rushed. One minute you’re busy organising and cramming for finals and the next you’re vacating the building like you were never truly there. And everyone is given different move out days so there’s not really a chance for one final get together. There’s no time for partying, no time for goodbyes, not really any time for recollection at all, which is what makes leaving all the more heartbreaking…
But without wanting to make this post sound too depressing, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on my year away and briefly share with you a few of my favourite things about Calgary and the University, so that you might experience them too.
Favourite Place of Interest: In the first semester I took a class which allowed me to study primates every week at Calgary Zoo. I became particularly attached to the gorillas. Needless to say (monkeys or not) come rain, shine or snow, the zoo is great day out! I particularly enjoyed the Zoo Lights during winter, where the whole place was lit up with thousands of colourful lights; it really was worth braving the cold for. I’d also recommend Calgary Tower, the Glenbow Museum, the Sky Luge at Canada Olympic Park and you must go watch the Flames play at the Saddledome (ice hockey). Plus when the weather is nice, there are lots of really pretty parks to discover including Nose Hill Park and Prince’s Island Park.
Favourite Place on Campus: I only lived about 15 minutes walk away from all my classes so I never spent too much time hanging about the university however there are a wealth of places to go to relax or study. I always liked the time I spent in the Women’s Resource Centre, a safe space for students to come chat or work over a free cup of tea or coffee. I’d highly recommend anyone to drop by. I also spent a fare amount of my evenings in the gym which has excellent facilities and of course, I loved going to the student club, the Den, on a Thursday night!
Favourite Place in the City: Just a few stops on the train and you come to Sunnyside station a.k.a Kensington. Despite being so close to the city centre, this area has a small town vibe which always reminds me of my home in Bristol. The streets are lined with delightful little cafes, restaurants, eclectic boutiques and independent stores. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Grab a coffee, gaze at the street art and make your way down to the Bow River to have a gander at Calgary’s beautiful Peace Bridge.
Wining and Dining: UofC is literally packed full of places to eat. There are multiple fastfood outlets, cafes and a dining centre on site. But I guess my favourite place to eat was at one of the two restaurants on campus, The Last Defence Lounge, a laid-back bar offering reasonably priced food and drinks. It’s a good place to kick back after work or go for a midday meal. I didn’t eat out that much in Calgary but I don’t think I ever had a bad meal when I did! Cora’s, Denny’s and Galaxie Diner are a must try for brunch if you’re feeling hungry. And you must try out poutine from the Big Cheese, it’s the best!
Nightlife: Well it’s safe to say I tried out my fair share of nightlife in Calgary. Despite my initial belief that there wasn’t that much available, I soon realised that once you knew where to look, Calgary pretty much offers any night out you could ask for, whether you’re looking for casual drinks or a big, messy one! I’m really not a fan of the whole country music crowd so tried to avoid the likes of Cowboys and Ranchmans but I would definitely recommend giving them ago – line dancing with your friends can be hilariously entertaining! Believe it or not, Calgary has a really decent electronic music scene and I could list off a multitude of clubs that I’d recommend. They often get big names coming to larger venues too. There are pretty much always lots of places playing good DJ sets – if you can put up with the fact they all finish at 2am! Commonwealth is great but you need to get there annoyingly early to ensure you get in and Murmur is really great fun and worth the long journey to get there!
My time here at UofC has been a life-changing experience and I’m gutted that it’s coming to an end. The courses that I’ve taken and the things I’ve done in my spare time have had a massive impact on my beliefs and outlook on life. Most importantly I’ve met so many welcoming people who have opened my eyes to new ideas and experiences. Of course leaving was an inevitable part of coming abroad but I never really believed that I’d ever have to say goodbye. I’ve come to understand that sometimes friends will come in and out of my life in a flash. But by no means does that make farewells any easier. Sometimes the best you can do is make the most of every opportunity you’ve got to spend with your mates. Even still, I’m also of the philosophy that the world is an increasingly small place; buddies from all over the globe are really just around the corner.
I’m not quite ready to go home just yet though. I want to make the most of my time on this side of the globe. So from Calgary, I will be heading down the west coast, travelling through Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle before finally being reunited with my sister in San Francisco. From there I will be staying in Belize for two months for an internship. I can’t wait for the second part of my adventure to begin! So I guess the next time you hear from me, I will probably be in the US. I will try and keep you all updated soon.
Goodbye Calgary, it’s been an absolute pleasure living here. Thanks for the memories.
Love Effy x