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St. John's Newfoundland, Canada


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Can anyone tell me about what it is like living in St. John's, especially for an American student?

What is the weather like?

How bike friendly, walking friendly is the city?

What kind of political leanings do people have?

What is the general reputation of MUN?

What is the cost of living like, comparable to the US (specifically Ohio)?


Edited by woolfie
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I did a year there in 07-08. loved it.

great people, fairly easy to get around car-less. enough going on, but yet not mega-city hectic. beautiful parks, coasts, architecture. There are parks and walking paths that permeate the entire city, especially near MUN. Rents are fairly cheap, and you can find decent places close to campus.

the weather was a bit damp and drizzly. My year there, I was told it was the third snowiest winter on record (it seemed to me not so bad, slightly on the heavier side of an upstate NY winter). I had no problem with it (except that my bus stop didn't have a shelter), but on a couple days I was drenched to the bone heading to campus; most rains were light but some were deceptively heavy.

it's a very pedestrian-friendly city, except for winter. It's very bike-able, as long as you don't mind hills. There are some really good recreational trails right in town and nearby.

Politically, it's a bit maverick-ish. There's been a lot of support for the local Progressive Conservatives but dislike for the federal Conservatives. It's not really hardcore in any one direction.

MUN seems generally well regarded. It doesn't carry the prestige of McGill or Harvard of course, but it's no slouch.

I don't know Ohio costs. Rent-wise, it seemed cheap (you can do well enough in the 400-600 range). food costs can be a bit higher to varying degrees. Beef is cheap; chicken isn't. Dairy is pricey.

only a few little things came as negatives: Miracle Whip seems to be a default for sandwiches. Food prices can be a little bit higher, and fresh veggies/fruits especially. Some brands/staples we are used to may not be available at all.

Fun and odd little quirks: when you order a coffee/tea, you may be asked if you want fresh cream/milk, or tinned. No one uses household garbage cans; in warm weather you put out your garbage under nets so the birds don't get at them. In winter you just put the ads out to the curb. Most flights to the rest of North America seem to leave around 5 am and arrive after midnight (cab companies are used to this, luckily). Local CBC news does lots of live shots of MUN.... from its front lawn next door - it makes it seem like its out in the field when it's not. If you need a winter hat and aren't into tuques, bring one with you or buy online; don't bother looking for variety in the stores. Everything shuts down in a snow storm, even the buses.

The best bakery in town is a little place in a neighborhood called Georgetown, in between downtown and campus (but closer to downtown). There's a great little seasonal tea/sandwich shop up on Mount Scio behind the campus, tied to the botanical garden facility. There's a great specialty foods shop downtown, that carries cheeses, imports and all sorts of neat stuff. The bar scene is legendary, and the restaurant scene is not bad, always getting better. Growing arts scene too.

MUN is not a bad campus. like many places, the science and business buildings are newer and have more put into them; the arts buildings are showing a little bit of age (and are less likely to have current classroom tech) but are still okay. Much of the campus is connected by all-weather walkways, some underground (the MUNnels), some elevated. They are color-marked and one can follow various 'lines' across campus.

The grad student pub isn't bad, and they have traditional celtic music on Mondays and/or Tuesdays. The dining hall is not particularly inspiring. There is a fast food court between two buildings, elevated over a major street. Many buildings also have small coffee shops in their basements, offering drinks, soups, sandwiches and mediocre pizzas. These are extremely convenient. There are also two Tim Hortons on campus. There isn't a lot of food nearby otherwise; a McDonalds (inside a gas station), a decent motor inn pub, and (a lil bit further) a small plaza, Churchill Square, that offers a little bit more variety.

that's off the top of my head.

Feel free to ask me anything more specific.

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I've visited numerous times but have never lived there despite my grandfather being from the island.

What is the weather like? Wet, windy, but not usually very snowy. It's on the ocean so you end up with very mild temperature fluctuations despite its latitude.

How bike friendly, walking friendly is the city? The downtown is very, very hilly. It's a small city so most things you need are in walking distance but I would not want to try to bike into and out of the downtown (double true if you ride fixed gear).

What kind of political leanings do people have? People there are friendly beyond belief but generally very isolated so the political opinions can seem some antiquated on some social issues. My experience is that most people there are traditional "Red Tories" which is a political leaning that I don't think has an American equivalent but put simply it would be similar to slightly conservative Democrats, I guess. MUN has a strong contingent of social democrats, particularly in the undergrad and graduate students unions and the TAs union.

What is the general reputation of MUN? Depends. It's regarded as a pretty middle tier Canadian university in general but has some significant strengths (used to be great for labour history, is still well regarded for ocean sciences and folklore)

What is the cost of living like, comparable to the US (specifically Ohio)? Not sure about rent but some food can be very, very expensive due to the isolation. I remember salad being pricey everywhere.

Two things that don't fit into your questions:

- It is isolated. Insanely isolated. Driving to another province takes literally 12 hours (assuming you take a very expensive ferry). It's a 16 hour drive to the nearest city with a population over 100,000 people.

- The commercial and residential architecture in the downtown is stunning in a really adorable way. One of the most beautiful Canadian cities in my opinion.

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  • 3 years later...

I'm going to be heading to Memorial in September.  Does anyone know when the best time is to start looking for housing/when places tend to be available to move in?  My program has a field school which will take me out of St. John's for virtually all of September, so I need to make sure I have everything settled before then.  Would moving in mid-August seem reasonable?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone have any info on life in Corner Brook, Newfoundland? I'll be studying at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. Any thoughts on renting costs, best time to seek housing, amenities, shopping, weather, the people and general life in the area?

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  • 1 year later...

Bumping for 2016-2017

Planning on attending MUN, but I don't know anyone there.

Any advice on how to find housing, getting settled in St. John's on my own, and meeting other people would be appreciated!

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