It's September again, and with that comes a fresh round of incoming SMUdents, but while the faces may change, the struggles pretty much remain the same. These are just twenty of the situations that each and every student is likely to run into while attending Saint Mary's University.
1. Trying desperately to get coffee between classes in Loyola.
You've got fifteen minutes between each class, provided you don't have a particularly enthusiastic professor, which ought to be plenty of time to pop down to the conveniently located Tim Horton's in Loyola and grab a coffee for yourself. Unfortunately, 80 other people have had the exact same idea at the exact same moment, so you're about to be left standing a line so long that it would be laughable if it didn't mean you being late for class.
2. Only being able to pay cash for that coffee you just stood in line ten minutes to get.
In the course of four years at SMU, I guarantee that at least once you'll get to the front of that line only to make an absolute rube of yourself when you realize that they don't accept credit or debit. If you're lucky and there's no one behind you, you can probably rush over to the ATM and get some bills, but if there's a line, you'll just have to slink off shamefully. In the latter scenario, obviously, you can never again show your face at the Loyola Tim Horton's.
3. Having just five minutes to catch the bus after class gets out.
As a student you'll be issued a bus pass for the year, an utterly invaluable tool, but one which is made less useful by the fact that the bus schedule at SMU is basically a nightmare. When you get out of class on the quarter hour you'll generally have under five minutes to catch the bus going downtown, meaning that if your professor runs long or your so called friends try to strike up a conversation, you're in for a half hour of waiting for the next one. And it's not like you can run, as that would the carefree/world weary attitude which you're trying to cultivate.
4. Defaulting back to mediocre food from the student union because you're trash.
Halifax is a city with a lot of great restaurants where a dude with a big beard and a waxed moustache can serve you something delicious, and with your bus pass you can get to most places if you've got a free hour. You might actually make the effort to do that a couple of times, but at the end of the day you'll find yourself settling for a quick and cheap slice of pizza at the Student Union Building because it's cheap and it's easy and at heart, you know you don't deserve any better.
5. Having your campus invaded by children each day.
SMU is part of a rich academic community, not just sharing a city with multiple other universities, but also being within walking distance of a junior high school, which means that every day around lunch time, the SMU cafeteria where you mournfully choke down your shame pizza will be flooded with junior high students, the most loathsome stage in human development. Sure, you can't blame them for wanting in on the food, but no one likes junior high students. No one.
6. Having your non-SMU friends not want to go out on Thursday nights.
SMU's four day week is somewhat notorious, but listen, when you're cramming a full week's worth of classes into just four days rather than five, you've earned that extra night of indulgence. Unfortunately, Halifax's other schools don't subscribe to a “work hard, play hard” mentality, and your friends from outside of SMU are probably going to let you down when it comes to Thursday night plans, with tall tales about “morning classes” and “homework”.
7. SMU's general reputation as the least prestigious school in town.
That four day week probably has a lot to do with SMU's being thought of as something of a frat-y party school, a reputation which isn't entirely unearned. Every school's got it's wild students though, most of them first years who are embarrassing themselves spectacularly, but by the time the herd has been thinned in the third or fourth year the student body is pretty average. Be prepared to grind your teeth through a few conversations though as someone smugly drags the school that you're probably going into massive debt to attend.
8. Trying to find a seat in the atrium and failing miserably.
SMU's atrium is a genuinely nice area, the perfect place to sit down with some friends and really have some deep conversations about the world and your future. Alternately, it's the a great place to eat that pizza you bought. It's also extremely crowded though, and while you might just find an empty seat, you're significantly less likely to find one with the socially mandated one seat buffer zone between you and the stranger next to you. Best to just eat your pizza while standing, like an animal.
9. Having classes in Burke and suffering terribly.
We can all be honest in admitting that Burke is the worst place to have classes at SMU. Once you get over the initial novelty of being taught in a big ol' auditorium with a stairs and everything just like all those movies promised university would be like, you'll realize that the seats are tiny, the aisles are unbearably narrow, and half of the little writing desk attachments are broken. Any class in Burke is a guarantee for 75 minutes of physical discomfort and regret.
10. The windowless classrooms, which double as saunas.
Burke isn't the only building where you should prepare for suffering though, as all of SMU's buildings offer the joy of a few windowless, poorly ventilated classrooms, where you're going to wind up taking at least a couple of classes. With more than a handful of students these classrooms can turn into veritable ovens, and soon even your teachers will be desperately setting up fans and flinging open doors in an attempt to get some kind of airflow going. It's rarely that effective, but it's a great bonding experience.
11. Climbing the ludicrous amount of stairs in McNally.
The McNally building is everything you could want out of a building at a university, big, old, distinguished, and with a name like a rogue Irish cop. It's also chock full of stairs. Just a ludicrous number of stairs, and far too few elevators. Climbing those stairs at the start of your day sucks. Climbing those stairs at the end of your day also sucks. But your glutes will look fantastic after a couple semesters of it.
12. The mismatched floors in McNally.
On the topic of McNally, every SMUdent is bound to face confusion more than once when a trip to the end of a completely level hallway somehow means that you've gone from the second floor to the third, thanks to McNally's charmingly anarchic interior layout. I'd say you get used to it eventually, but that would be a lie. It will haunt you through your entire time at SMU.
13. Feeling guilty about using the elevators, having no real reason to feel guilty.
Every once in a while you're going to have to just give up on your fitness goals and take the elevator in McNally, but you'll always feel weirdly guilty about it. There's no rational explanation for this, it's not about to be put to more worthy use, but nonetheless you'll hope no one sees you doing it. Because they'll see your shame, they'll know your shame, and they'll judge you.
14. Cramming into the gym for mass exams.
What is this, high school? When you attend a post-secondary institution you expect a little pomp and ceremony for their evaluation. Perhaps a council of bearded elders could ask you questions and nod sagely at your enlightened responses, or you could simply live the exam free dream. But instead you're probably going to wind up cramming into the gym with a couple of hundred other people at the end of each semester, packed in like the cookie cutter drone that “society” wants you to be, man. So the opposite of pomp and ceremony, really.
15. Not being entirely clear on how the science building works.
Most SMUdents aren't in the science program, and so the building is really something of an enigma. They could be doing pretty much anything in there most of us would never know. The only people who ever go in there are nerds and people who are looking for a shortcut, who will invariably become lost, not that I speak from experience on that one.
16. Having really boring societies.
At the start of each semester SMU has a society day, showing off the clubs and groups that you can join around school. An eager, fresh faced young first year might think that this is a great chance to meet some friends who share common interests but a quick glance over the list of societies will reveal that the breakdown of societies is as follows: 20 clubs for exchange students, 20 clubs related to classwork, and one videogame club which a bunch of people will join, but will fall apart in all but name after about a month.
17. Being patronized when you explain that you're not a Commerce student.
Sure the Commerce department is SMU biggest and most popular program, but not everyone who goes to SMU is looking to be a part of it, to the occasional surprise of people from other schools. Just remember to be clear that the four day week really wasn't the reason you chose SMU. Well, at least not the only reason. Seriously though, did you only choose SMU because of the four day week? Because that's a burnout waiting to happen.
18. Explaining that you're a commerce student and watching people's eyes glaze over.
Or maybe you are in the Commerce department, it is SMU's most popular program and one which isn't entirely lacking in prestige. In which case you should be prepared for everyone to immediately lose interest in talking about classes with you, because business classes are only interesting to 1) business students, and 2) highly strung power executives who may or may not be transporting a human body in the trunk of their car.
19. Having to engage in a feud with Dal students, for pretty vague reasons.
As a student at SMU you're going to have to trash talk Dalhousie every once in a while, it's only sporting after all, but try not to think about it too hard, lest you realize how pointless the whole thing is. It's not like there's much academic overlap between the schools, they're both known for different fields, and it's almost like humans are stupid animals who will take any excuse to draw up divisions between each other. Really, we shouldn't be fighting, and we can all be united in the name of laughing at the King's College students with their Hogwarts looking campus and their clove cigarettes, the absolute prats.
20. Trying to get a job after graduating.
Okay, nevermind the struggles at SMU, you'd take it all back if it meant getting a stable job after graduating. Unfortunately you're in beautiful Nova Scotia, whether the skies are clear, the people are friendly, and the economy will drag you into a back alley and beat you to death. Aren't you glad you fell in love with the city while studying here?