Nanaimo is a small idyllic town with a population of roughly 90.000 people 4 lakes and a staggering amount of deer. Canadas famous nature and wildlife is to be seen everywhere, the high tops of the pine trees stick out between almost every house and the deer and rabbits that populate the island seem to be at harmony with the people and barely shy.
The Downtown area of Nanaimo is cultivated by small artsy shops and street-art is over the place. On one of our first days strolling through the downtown area, we met a young creative who was setting up for a community project where he wanted to create more street-art by getting everyone involved. We also got a little creative and painted 2 boards that will be hung up somewhere in Nanaimo. Overall my first impression with the townsfolk is very positive. A thing that people do here which takes a little bit to get used to is that people thank the bus driver when leaving the bus. Everyone throws in a casual “Thank you” and it really is a perfect example of the “friendly Canadian” stereotype.
The Vancouver Island university is spread out on a size of 37 hectares (52 soccer fields) and 42 buildings all assembled to one big campus. At VIU you have an infinite number of things to do. You can join one of the many sports teams, go to the gym, or become a member of a club, there is even a gaming and manga club. VIU is a pretty multicultural place. Among the students there is a solid community of 2000 international students with about 700 being from Japan or China and also about 200 Indian students. Nevertheless, you can almost always hear the familiar sound of German on Campus since they form the fourth strongest international group here.
The one downside of the Campus is that there isn’t really a lot around campus to eat out and the number of stairs you have to take to get off Campus are also not so inviting to go out for lunch. There is a Starbucks which is located in the library and a cafeteria serving warm lunch every day for a reasonable price. A big plus for me are the free water fill up stations on Campus which are located in almost every building.
Another factor I did not really take into account is how high the textbook prices were for the classes at VIU. As a design student, I got off pretty okay because our classes don’t require that many books but some of the people taking management had to spend over 200$ just for the required material. The students Union, which owns a building and a student’s pub on campus, provides students with a cheaper alternative: a second-hand book service, where you can buy and sell your books for a fair price.
Speaking of books: The Campus library is open 24 hours 7 days a week, so when it gets rainy in BC you can take a library day and read on one of the 3 floors of the library with a stunning view over Nanaimo and Departure Bay.
Overall Vancouver-island bears many places and animals to discover, especially from Nanaimo you have access to all of the island within a reasonable amount of travel time. With the surfer town of Tofino being no longer away than a 3-hour drive or the city of Vancouver just being a 2-hour ferry ride away, Nanaimo really is in the middle of everything.