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Moving from a small town to Edmonton – what’s it like?

by | Jan 14, 2024 | Lifestyle, People | 0 comments

I interviewed third-year student Brady Newman about his experience coming to Edmonton.

Life in the big city might seem like second nature to most students. They know how to navigate downtown, find the basic essentials, and deal with the everyday hustle and bustle. But, what about small-town students who are new to the city? What’s it like, leaving their small, quiet (probably) hometown for the city?

What are you studying?

I’m studying criminology — I aspire to become a lawyer.

What town did you come from?

Whitecourt — it’s about two hours away from Edmonton with a population of around 10,000 [people].

What made you choose MacEwan?

I wanted something that was in Edmonton because it was closer to my hometown. The University of Alberta was too big for me.

What was it like coming to such a big city? 

It was overwhelming at first. I was scared of crime, and everything was so fast and hectic in the city. There’s so many people. 

What did your first week look like?

I didn’t really do too much in my first week. Everything was very overwhelming; city life seemed very daunting at first. I just focused on getting settled in with my roommate.

Why was it overwhelming?

It was overwhelming because I spent my entire life in Whitecourt, and I was nervous since I had no idea what to expect. I was the first in my family to move out to the city and go to university, and both my roommate and I had never lived on our own, so it was like three major life adjustments at once.

Did you have trouble with navigation/getting around or anything else?

Driving was a problem — people are bad drivers, and I’d never taken public transport before. 

Was there anything that surprised you about Edmonton?

One thing that surprised me was [that] it wasn’t as crime-ridden as the media portrays. I also assumed that people would be more focused on themselves and would be less welcoming and friendly because of how busy it is. 

I also knew going in that big cities are typically less conservative, but being in Alberta, I assumed that being conservative would be much more prevalent. Especially in university, it seems that being liberal makes up the majority.

Are the people from your town different from the people here?

Yeah. Whitecourt is a very conservative town and mostly white; Edmonton is very multicultural and more liberal. In my highschool, there were like 4 [to] 5 Black people in total. People aren’t as open-minded as in Edmonton. I wouldn’t say they’re racist or anything, but many people there just haven’t experienced this level of multiculturalism. Also, with it being an oil field town and my dad working in that industry, it’s almost natural to be a conservative in that area.

Is there anything you want to say to any small-town Albertans moving to Edmonton?

It’s definitely overwhelming at first, but that’s natural. It’s an uncomfortable transition but once you settle in you realize how much the city has to offer. You’ll realize how much there is to do and that it’s very easy to meet new people. You’ll be more comfortable doing things without being judged, since in smaller towns people know you better and can pass off news about things you’ve done.

Photo of CNR McLeod River Railroad Bridge in Whitecourt, Alberta

Zaneb Alzubaidi

The Griff


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