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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2014, 9:43 PM
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St. John's for the newbie

Okay, so you probably gather from some of my posts (and PMs in some cases) that my daughter is planning to move to St. John's this fall. The plan is to get there about a week before the beginning of class in part so that she isn't so rushed last minute and also to get the lay of the land.

As she settles in, St. John's will become home but for that first week I suspect it will be more like a vacation.

So, what do you suggest for the newbie Newfoundlander in that first week - thinking about it as a bit of a reccie trip?

Sure, the tourist things are good to hear about, but what do the locals do?
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us? NOTHING!
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2014, 10:06 PM
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I'm not sure you wants your daughter to be at what the locals do.

If she's car-less, she'll need to familiarize herself with Metrobus. St. John's has terrible public transit; she's in for a shock if she's used to the sensibility and convenience of public transit in Calgary. Routes and times here are generally inconvenient.

http://www.metrobus.com/home.asp

A good first day activity is the familiarize herself with the lay of the land. St. John's is a linear city, not very wide from east to west but incredibly long from north to south.

Also, coastal cities are very different than prairie ones: on the prairies, the downtown is usually at the geographic centre of a city. In St. John's, and most coastal cities, the downtown is at the extreme edge of the city along the edge of the land. There are vast parts of the city she's never going to see or need to go to.

Since she'll be on res, I recommend taking the bus downtown on her first free afternoon and exploring a bit. Downtown St. John's is very dense and compact, as old cities tend to be. It's easy to walk around the works of it in a few hours. Focus particularly on Water, Duckworth, and George streets since this is where she's likely to end up most often.

When she goes clubbing with friends, advise her not to go to Allure or Onyx. These places don't have the best clientelle and, while anywhere in St. John's is perfectly safe, they're the types of places where Girls Gone Wild videos could be filmed.

Dusk is the pretentious dance bar, VERY popular with the university students from big cities. That's a better choice. If she's more into pubs, then Christian's, and the two bars on campus (Breezeway and Bitters) are great bets.

Sundance is also very popular.

Martini Bar is a great option for a respectable young lady who still wants to have the college experience of crazy nights out.

Anyhow, back to her walk...

The must-stop spot for lunch is Rocket Bakery. Rusty van Reddick thinks it's one of the best cafes he's been to, so it's a great introduction to the local cafe/coffee culture and food scene.

http://rocketfood.ca/

For clothes, Model Citizens, Always in Vogue, and Twisted Sisters are the trendiest for girls. They're all downtown.

You can buy booze anywhere here - corner stores, gas stations, whatever else. But if she wants wine or anything hard, she'll have to go to a grocery like Sobey's.

If she's into learning a bit about the local culture, The Rooms Museum is the best first stop. There are also lots of informative signs and plaques all over the city, generally on the route of the Grand Concourse (our urban trail system - includes park trails, city streets, etc.).

For a reasonable price, you can also hire a sight-seeing cab at a flat rate. They'll take her all over the place, even to Signal Hill and Cape Spear (which are otherwise long walks with no bus service).

Beyond that, she'll find whatever she wants based on her own interests. Everything is downtown except the big box stores. Even the main sports centre is downtown. And it's all in such easy walking distance that she'll have no trouble killing a few days and discovering all sorts of things she'll want to look into further.

She'll also have easy access to a swimming pool (the Aqua Arena) on campus as well as a skating trail in Bannerman Park, so she should bring along the necessary equipment if she enjoys either of those things.

She'll also want to consider a pair of rubber boots. They're fashionable here in winter and spring, in bright colours and patterns, and VERY necessary if she's going to be walking anywhere. Even in the depths of winter, it's generally mild, slushy and wet here.

Also, the city doesn't plow the sidewalks in the winter, so people have to walk in the street.

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Last edited by SignalHillHiker; Apr 12, 2014 at 10:29 PM.
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2014, 10:29 PM
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Wow! Thanks!
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us? NOTHING!
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2014, 10:45 PM
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Oh, when she's getting Screeched In, don't go to Trapper John's. Their only joke in the performance is they talk fast and they make you kiss a stuffed puffin.

Go to Christian's. Their MC is awesome - he dresses up in a slicker, they get some bologna and Screech, and his performance is full of audience interaction, jokes, and so on. It's a much, much better experience.

Video Link


She'll want to wait until she makes a few friends to do it, because it's more fun with people. The night she plans to do it, show up early at the bar to register (you have to do that in advance so they can get your Honorary Newfoundlander certificate printed up). They'll tell you what time to come back that night for the actual ceremony.
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Last edited by SignalHillHiker; Apr 12, 2014 at 11:00 PM.
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2014, 1:35 PM
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SHH nailed a lot of stuff on the head there, I think his advise is solid. A few things I'd add:

Obviously check out campus before class starts. It's not huge, but it's definitely not small. There are probably 40+ buildings, however chances are she'll never have to go to most of them, and should just become more familiar with the main buildings (Education, Library, PE, Field House, Aquarena, Bruneau, Arts & Admin, Math, Science, Chemistry & Physics, University Centre, Earth Sci, and Engineering) Chances are these are the buildings she'll be spending most class time in. Some of the buildings have formal names that show up on online schedules (like the Education building is formally called The Hickman building). Besides hearing the library called its actual name (Queen Elizabeth II library, or more commonly the Q-E-2) these formal names are never used. Familiarize herself with the letter abbreviations for each building (SN for science building, ED for education). Finally, make sure to check out the munnel system; the underground tunnels that go around campus. They connect pretty much every building and use a silly subway-style color line to navigate. I avoided them forever because I was told that people would get jumped/mugged/raped in them in afterhours but this isn't true. I've been on campus for 6 years and nothing has happened, they're usually very busy and there are lots of cameras and security.

Now for the more fun part: definitely check out downtown like SHH said. The route 10 from campus will go directly into downtown and drive down water street. Get out and check it out. Presumably your daughter isn't of drinking age yet (19 here in NL) but if she is check out George Street. But there are plenty of nice bars/pubs on water and duckworth as well which can have a much nicer atmosphere for a casual drink with friends. If she likes coffee then downtown will be paradise. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of coffee shops. You have your typical Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Second Cup, but also plenty of great locally owned spots like Hava Java, Coffee & Co, Coffee Matters, and more I know I'm missing simply because I haven't been there before. And I can't say enough about how great Rocket Bakery is. Go there for coffee/lattes/baked goods and sit down and enjoy the old building. It's a hipsters paradise but I still enjoy it

Also take the time to check out the neighborhood near Rawlins Cross. It's fairly close to campus, and is really nice. I'd walk there if she has a car; the intersection can be a bit confusing/outright insane for non-locals (I haven't even attempted it ). Bannerman park is an absolutely lovely spot and a great place to unwind at any time of year. It's in this beautiful said neighborhood and is situated right next to the old Government House.

If your daughter is athletic in any way I really encourage her to join a local team for whatever she's in to. Ultimate Frisbee has caught on here like crazy and pretty much everyone I know plays in a league now. Rugby is also really big

I wouldn't worry about safety in the city. As long as you're smart you won't find yourself in trouble. But I guess coming from Calgary this is probably already known.

I guess the only thing I'd suggest is pack extra warm clothes. The months of June-October are delightful and make you forget exactly where you are....but once fall hits, boy.....
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  #6  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 11:31 AM
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Will she be living in residence on campus, or have you located off-campus housing? There are some neighbourhoods near the university I would recommend, and others I'd likely suggest staying away from... but if she will be living in residence, that's obviously not a concern.

SHH and Marty are right all around. I come from Nova Scotia in 2007 and did two years in res, and then moved off campus. The ONLY areas I really ever had any need to visit were the University, the Avalon Mall (about a twenty minute walk from the University straight down Prince Philip Drive), Downtown (about a forty minute walk, or a $14 cab ride) and Churchill Square / Elizabeth Ave area. There is very little need for a University student to venture into other, primarily residential areas of the city. If she can familiarize herself with the areas I listed, she should be capable of surviving. Further exploration would strictly be to see the diversity of the City.
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  #7  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWin View Post
Okay, so you probably gather from some of my posts (and PMs in some cases) that my daughter is planning to move to St. John's this fall. The plan is to get there about a week before the beginning of class in part so that she isn't so rushed last minute and also to get the lay of the land.

As she settles in, St. John's will become home but for that first week I suspect it will be more like a vacation.

So, what do you suggest for the newbie Newfoundlander in that first week - thinking about it as a bit of a reccie trip?

Sure, the tourist things are good to hear about, but what do the locals do?
If she is looking for some stuff to do in her spare time, other than what has been posted, I would advise her to buy a good pair of hiking shoes and a good camera. One of my favorite things about St. John's (and I've lived here my whole life), is the proximity to nature. A short drive out of town in any direction and you can feel like you are very far away from urban life. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of beautiful hiking trails where you can enjoy breathtaking ocean views, coastlines, wildlife and small picturesque towns. I would strongly encourage taking some boat tours if you come for a visit.

This will all be easier of course if she has a vehicle, or meets someone who has one. Public transit outside of the boundaries of St. John's is pretty much non-existent, unless you are willing to pay exhorbitant cab prices. Oh yeah, cabs are expensive in St. John's.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 1:28 PM
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My other posters have covered things pretty well, but I will mention a couple things.

The St. John's area has three primary Big Box Centres: Kelsey Drive (located a 5-10 minute drive from the Avalon Mall), Stavanger Drive (located at the edge of the city, near the airport), and another located in the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl. They all have the Canadian Big Box standards (Wal-Mart, Staples, etc..), Stavanger Drive is the largest and contains the city's only Costco, and Target. All the centres are located on bus routes.

The Avalon Mall and the Village are St. John's primary malls: The Avalon Mall is the largest in NL, contains a fairly good selection of stores and the areas main cinema. The Village is much smaller, but contains the city's only Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Labels, and Rossy. Both malls act as transfer points for buses, so getting to them won't be difficult.

The two main Supermarket chains here are Sobeys and Dominion (Loblaws), local chain Colemans also has a couple stores in the area. If your daughter is staying in area around the university, I think the closest would either be the Sobeys on Kelsey Drive or the one located at the edge of the Rabbittown neighbourhood across from the Rooms.

If your daughter is going to have a car, I recommend picking up a decent sat-nav system. St. John's has a very organic street pattern, and compass points are of no real help. Traffic in the city isn't really that bad, however in my experience drivers in St. John's tend to have far less patience, and drive more offensively then in mainland cities.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 1:29 PM
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That's a good point, Conundrum. In Winnipeg at least, they give directions based on the cardinal points. It's probably similar in Calgary. People here never do that. It's based on street names, landmarks, uphill/downhill, etc.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 2:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ConundrumNL View Post
Traffic in the city isn't really that bad, however in my experience drivers in St. John's tend to have far less patience, and drive more offensively then in mainland cities.
One cannot stress this comment enough....lol.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 2:50 PM
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For her first year at least, Res is her accomodation. At least if 174 on the waitlist isn't a bad thing. They did say she has a gauranteed room.

No car for now. Hiking boots are a good suggestion since she is an outdoorsy sort of person. She may actually like to ultimate frisbee thing too.

I don't think she'll be able to sneek into a bar unless they really don't care to much there. She certainly looks like she'll get asked for ID. We were joking that she'll get on the plane in Calgary as an adult and get off in St. John's as a child. And won't be an adult again until after the end of second semester.

I did some rent checking online and 1 and 2 bedroom places seem to be on part with smaller town Alberta (like Lethbridge where my other daughter wants to go). For this year at least she'll be on the meal plan at Mun but I'm also curious what food costs there (grocery store rather than resaurant that is). Like what does 4 litres of milk cost ($5.09 here) or a dozen eggs...
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us? NOTHING!
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 3:04 PM
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I don't even know if you can buy 4L of milk here?

Here's the weekly flyer:

https://www.sobeys.com/en/flyer?

Choose Sobey's - Merrymeeting Road as your store for local prices.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 3:36 PM
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Like what does 4 litres of milk cost ($5.09 here) or a dozen eggs...
I've never seen a 4l carton of Milk here, I think the max is 2l. Milk is expensive here, your going to pay around 4-5 dollars for a 2l carton. I believe the price is artificially inflated, as all our Milk is produced within the province and the majority of it is actually shipped to the mainland.

Foodstuffs will be somewhat more expensive, because it's all shipped by truck via the ferry. Produce is often a lower quality then what's available on the mainland, mainly because of the increased shipping time. If your daughter is big on fruits and vegs, then I'd recommend getting a Costco membership, there produce seems to of be of higher quality.

Although food prices can be higher, our Supermarkets offer a variety of items you don't commonly see on the Mainland. Mostly locally produced goods, but also British imports that you would only normally see in speciality stores elsewhere.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 3:55 PM
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Mmm....turkey and stuffing sandwich at Coffee Matters.

Groceries can be shockingly expensive. Maybe it's better now, but I remember moving back to Saskatchewan and seeing apples for $1.29 and thinking I'd gone to heaven.

Yes, drivers are impatient. St. John's is the only city I've been to where I've been honked at to go through a red light.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 4:07 PM
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Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
I don't even know if you can buy 4L of milk here?

Here's the weekly flyer:

https://www.sobeys.com/en/flyer?

Choose Sobey's - Merrymeeting Road as your store for local prices.
Comparing my local flyer to Merrymeeting Road is a little cumbersome since I can only set one "My Store" at a time but a quick look at the first page and it's not too bad I guess. The turkey is only 20 cent per pound more there than here. $3 on a 15 pounder shouldn't break the bank. Although I suppose $3 hear and there on a cart full of groceries can add up pretty quick.
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us? NOTHING!
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 4:21 PM
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That's a good point, Conundrum. In Winnipeg at least, they give directions based on the cardinal points. It's probably similar in Calgary. People here never do that. It's based on street names, landmarks, uphill/downhill, etc.
Another point based off this is that east-west directions are often a little confusing as directions in the city are based off the harbour as a reference. In reality the "east end" part of the city is actually north, and "west end" is typically south
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 4:31 PM
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Yeah. If she has any concept of the cardinal points she's going to think Newfoundlanders don't know which way is up.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 4:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Marty_Mcfly View Post
Another point based off this is that east-west directions are often a little confusing as directions in the city are based off the harbour as a reference. In reality the "east end" part of the city is actually north, and "west end" is typically south
Or the Southside hills that shelter the harbour are actually in the east. Another good point, is that when listening to traffic reports all roads seem to be reported as East/West bound, even when the actually travel North/South. The East/West things seems to be a localism, with East meaning inbound to the core of the city, and west being outbound.

Quote:
No car for now
That's probably for the best, as I believe first year students very rarely get parking on campus.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 5:12 PM
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Yeah. If she has any concept of the cardinal points she's going to think Newfoundlanders don't know which way is up.
She's pretty spatially aware. But then Calgary isn't exactly hard to figure out either.
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us? NOTHING!
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2014, 5:23 PM
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That's probably for the best, as I believe first year students very rarely get parking on campus.
She hates driving anyway. It's been an uphill battle to get her to even get a drivers license. And all her friends are the same. Boys, girls, I don't get it. It was almost a rite of passage when I was 16 that you go and get your drivers license as quick as possible.
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