Whether you’re a seasoned Stratford campus student, an incoming first year, or you’ve never even heard that UW had a satellite campus in the quaint town of arts and theater, I’m here to give you some tips on navigating our campus and let you know about some of the great eats and activities for students in Stratford, Ontario.
For incoming students at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, all you need is on the first floor of campus. At the Media Services office, you can rent out everything from an electric guitar to podcast equipment, all for free. Students can also access low-cost printers, photocopiers, and 3D printers for projects. The media services team is here to help you with all your school or personal projects to make the most of your time in Stratford.
Media Labs often flies under the radar, but the Stratford campus has an audio lab equipped with Universal Apollo Audio interface, Adobe Audition, and other digital audio workstations all at your disposal. Clean, modern project rooms are available for booking, which are scattered on the second and third floors to support team projects and co-working.
The best way to start your morning in Stratford is at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters (149 Ontario St.), a historical gem inspired by Parisian cafes which opened in 1996 on the main downtown strip. Lunch time means Sirkel Foods (40 Wellington St.), otherwise known as the best sandwiches ever. You might even run into some festival actors while waiting for your sandwich like I have. If you’re looking for a lighter lunch, a few doors down is Soup Surreal (98 Wellington St.), which has hot and fresh soup with wild flavours like chicken souvlaki and samosa (even better with the 10 per cent student discount). Every day, there are four flavours available for purchase, and you can also buy from a range of 40 frozen soups to make later. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can eat your way around the city with your 20 per cent discounted student Chocolate Trail pass to all the world-famous confectioners and bakers scattered across Stratford (visit the front desk on campus to learn more).
Activities in Stratford
If you’re looking for a fun workout, go down to Retro Rollers Inc. (65 Albert St., Unit B), a new roller rink that offers classes for all levels and a safe space to freestyle, meet new people, or try a new hobby. For a literal breath of fresh air, take a break in a gazebo full of sun and relaxation, surrounded by colourful flowers in the Shakespearean Gardens (5 Huron St.), constructed in 1936. Tom Patterson Island (300 Lakeside Dr.) is another nature escape a little farther from campus but worth the wander. It sits in the middle of Lake Victoria and is accessed via a wooden footbridge. You can also peruse the trails along the Avon River and spot the swans swimming.
Attend a world-class theater right down the street and catch a play in September or October during the Stratford Festival. There are a series of pay-what-you-can tickets to fit within your student budget on the official festival website (stratfordfestival.ca). Finally, throughout December and into January, the city dazzles with colourful light installments as a part of Lights On Stratford (made even better with a gingerbread scone and cinnamon bun latte from Balzac’s).
As a fourth-year Stratford student and GBDA veteran, I want to extend a huge welcome to our incoming and returning students. Our campus is right downtown, full of local businesses, shops, and art. I implore you to visit the local theaters, appreciate the art scenery, and indulge in all the amazing food.