The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks in this tundra hellscape of a city

By: Delaney O’Hara

RRC Polytech student completes schoolwork from her makeshift home office/DELANEY O’HARA

In March 2020, I watched announcements about universities and colleges closing due to the pandemic. I knew mine would make the announcement soon, and I tried looking at the bright side, which included sleeping in, classes from my bedroom, and having more time to do things I enjoyed.

That was two years ago. Since then, I have attended five terms of online school, including my entire time at Red River College Polytechnic. 

This made me realize that if I had to attend online school in one Canadian city, I would choose Winnipeg. It’s easy to complain about our cold winters, the abundance of snow, and lack of activities, but those are the same reasons it’s perfect.

I’ve never missed the commute to school. It was torture waking up early to scrape ice from my windshield and watching my breath while waiting for my car to heat up, only to get stuck in rush-hour traffic. 

This year, especially with the third-highest snowfall amounts ever recorded, I am thankful I never have to leave the house before 10 a.m.

Not only do I avoid the cold, but I also save money on gas, car insurance, bus fare, coffee, and parking. I can feel my wallet smiling up at me from the inside of my pocket most days. 

One of the only downside of online school, especially for extroverted students like me, is the lack of interaction between classmates. Luckily, Winnipeg has an incredible selection of places to choose to meet classmates or study at when health restrictions allow it.

Some great study spaces include Good Earth Coffee House, Parlour Coffee, The Canteen, and Modern Electric Lunch.

Winnipeg also offers excellent outdoor amenities like FortWhyte Alive, The Forks, Assiniboine Park, and countless outdoor rinks or community parks. These are great hang-out spots when you need to step away from your computer and get some fresh air.

Virtual hangouts or study rooms are convenient alternatives if you want to socialize with classmates but don’t want to venture into the cold.

Attending classes and working from home in general also has its benefits. Students learn better time-management, self-motivation, refined critical thinking skills, technical skills, and improved virtual communication skills, according to a blog post from Northeastern University.

Perhaps the greatest benefit living in Manitoba has for students is the financial benefits. While college and university are inevitably expensive, Manitoba has some of the lowest tuition rates in Canada. 

Living in Toronto, Ottawa, or Vancouver would be great experiences, but the cost of living and tuition is more than in Winnipeg. Lower prices mean that students have more money to spend on things they enjoy, such as visiting cafes, concerts, or eating out.

Online school has its challenges, but it also has many perks — especially in Winnipeg. It’s easy to fall into the endless rhythm of classes and assignments, but it is important to keep a positive attitude and consider how many local activities are at our disposal while learning online.