By Hannah Barnsley
Strolling by the river, hiking in the mountains, and taking in the culture at Nikka Yuko—there are so many things I love about Lethbridge, but only two years ago I was in a very different place.
Post-secondary is a new chapter in life, It's exciting and a bit scary. Continue reading for how Lethbridge became my second home!
As a child, I always dreamt of moving somewhere away from home for post-secondary schooling, like on the TV shows and movies I’d seen. But as a kid, I was very shy, and I did mostly grow out of it by my pre-teen years. I love my family and the city I call home, but by the end of high school, I knew I needed to take a step to grow as a young adult. I needed to experience true independence and challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone. So, I applied to Lethbridge College to be enrolled in the Digital Communications and Media program.
Before doing research on the type of program I was interested in I hadn’t even heard of Lethbridge before. Despite my lack of knowledge of the city, I was so excited once I had received my acceptance letter. I was so excited about the move up until about a month before. That’s when it hit me, I’d be seven hours away from everything I knew, seven hours away from everything that was familiar. I started to question my decision and if it was the right choice. But after some time, my excitement returned, and it was time to head to Lethbridge.
Introduction to Lethbridge
My parents helped me move into my dorm and then off they went, and it was just me for the next two years. I was so nervous for my first day of classes because I didn’t know anyone in my classes, and I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know I would meet some incredible people and make friends that will be in my life for many more years to come. Not only did living on my own in a totally new city challenge me, but my schoolwork also pulled me right out of my comfort zone which I wasn’t expecting, and I loved it. Once I had made some steady friends, I was able to explore Lethbridge more and get more comfortable with the city.
There are so many things you can do in Lethbridge and its surrounding area. Because most of the school year is during the winter months, I looked for fun indoor activities to do with friends or by myself. I wanted to familiarize myself with some of Lethbridge’s history since I didn’t really know much, so I took myself down to the Galt Museum and spent some time looking and reading the exhibits. Walking around the giant Pilsner bottle and cowboy boot made me feel like a kid on a field trip. I did learn some interesting facts about Lethbridge and made me excited to explore more of the city and the community.
So, being a student at Lethbridge College, I got discounts on hockey tickets for Lethbridge Hurricanes games. In my first year before COVID took over, this was one of my favourite ways to get out into the Lethbridge community. I love sports and the ENMAX Centre is just a short walk from the college residence. But even if you aren’t a sports fan these games were a great way to get out of the house, mingle with other friend groups, cheer for a team, and catch up with friends. I’ve made some great memories by going to these games.
Another activity I picked up to stay active during school was lane swimming at the Lethbridge YMCA. I prefer doing an activity over the workout room, but the Cor Van Raay YMCA at ATB Centre has great facilities for whatever you prefer, from the swimming pool to workout rooms and the flow rider surf machine. I love swimming, so lane swimming was a nice way to get me out of my dorm room and get some exercise especially during the winter months when it’s too cold to be outside.
Despite the winter weather, there are still fun outdoor activities to do. The Winter Light Festival at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is such a great experience around the holidays. You get to take in the Japanese culture, take photos of the gorgeous light displays that are comprised of over 120,000 lights, have hot chocolate, and enjoy friends’ company. It was quite chilly when I went but I enjoyed getting all bundled up.
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens are beautiful all year round and ringing the giant bell was definitely my favourite part.
My favourite time of year is spring and summer. The warm weather makes me want to get outside and in Lethbridge, there are lots to do in the sun. I love to be outside as much as possible. Luckily there are many trails and parks in the city to walk and explore. I really enjoy going down by the river. Pavan Park has so many paths and trails you can find quiet spots to enjoy nature, skip rocks and get some fresh air.
I also really enjoy going by and in the coulees. Coulees are the v-shaped valleys found along the river throughout Lethbridge. I found the coulees so interesting when I first moved here because I have never seen them before. But they add to the cities scenery and make for a good walking view.
I also like to walk down by the river bottom, there are lots of paths and sometimes you can come across beautiful wildlife.
With the warmer weather, I’ve picked up some new outdoor hobbies. I have recently started to learn how to golf and with all the courses to choose from in and around Lethbridge there is one for every skill level and it’s been fun learning something new.
One of my absolute favourite things about Lethbridge is how close to the mountains it is. Being from Saskatchewan I don’t see mountains very often and when I was 17, I got to go to Banff for the very first time and I fell in love with the views. Having the mountains only a short drive away, makes for fun day trips to places like Waterton and the Crowsnest Pass. Or even for a little getaway to Banff. These places are perfect for picnics, beginner hikes and beautiful waterfalls. I have found it a great way to get away from my screens and clear my mind from schoolwork or anything else that has been weighing on my mind. I am always looking for new hikes to take that have good views but that isn’t too hard as I am no expert hiker.
Moving to Lethbridge gave me the opportunity to discover independence, meet lots of people and experience new and exciting things. I am going to be leaving Lethbridge and back to my hometown for the last half of summer and I am truly saddened to leave this amazing city for the time being. Being in Lethbridge for post-secondary school was the best decision I have ever made, and I am so grateful for everything I learned while here and I know there’s still so much I haven’t experienced here yet. Lethbridge is an amazing city and it has become my second home.