A Dal night-out through the eyes of an English exchange student

A sober assessment of Canadian party life

Leeds University is one of the biggest party universities in England, home to over twenty nightclubs. So, it’s fair to say coming to Dalhousie University as an exchange student for the year has felt a little different.  

Differences in attire 

One thing I learned quickly was how to spot a first-year student at a party.  

Canadian guys love a black Dal hoodie paired with a rucksack full of alcohol that won’t leave his back for the entire night. First-year or not, students in Leeds wouldn’t be caught dead wearing uni merch on a night out. However, I have enjoyed the break from the student fashion parade that is Leeds University.  

The only acceptable outfits in Leeds are thrifted for three times the original price, simply because they were labelled as ‘vintage.’ That, or the same ‘edgy’ urban outfitters top that half the girls in the club are already wearing.  

Once you’ve arrived at the party  

Canadians are weirdly obsessed with beer pong. If there’s no beer pong at your party, people get mad.  

There’s way more rules to it here — I still don’t know what a redemption round is — and everyone takes it very seriously. Although, I will stand by the fact that beer pong should be played with beer, not water.  

No, I don’t care that the ping pong ball has been on the floor, and yes, I will be drinking from the cup it has been thrown into. At Leeds, we stick to good old-fashioned card drinking games, with Ring of Fire or King’s Cup being a rite of passage for first-year flat bonding.  

Even the drinks are different here. Every U.K. student turns up to a party with a bottle of vodka in one hand, and mixer in the other. Most Dal students only seem to drink cans. White Claws are also completely new to me. Oh, and what on earth is Clamato juice and why does everyone drink it?  

Bars and nightclubs  

I thought I’d left fake IDs and underage drinking back in school until I found myself sneaking  Canadian first-years into bars and clubs.  

Speaking of night clubs, I would like to emphasize that The Dome is not, in fact, home. After every visit to the Dome, I am left with a huge dent in my bank account from paying the entry fee, as well as having to pay for coat check.  

Despite the urge to wear mini skirts with no coat to the club in November like we do in the U.K., I’m not willing to get frostbite by doing the same here.  

If you fancy spending even more money, you could be tempted by a VIP ticket. Although, I have to warn you that you will be spending the night in the corner of the dance floor separated by only an airport-style belt barrier.  

Considering the state of Dome, maybe it’s a good thing that clubs close earlier here. Nights out start and finish much later in Leeds. Pre-drinks start at 10 p.m., we get to the club after 12 a.m. and leave at about four or even 5 a.m. This is apart from the nights that start at 2 p.m., after your mate has said “fancy a pint?” and you find yourself at the local pub for an afternoon of day drinking. Inevitably, this ‘one pint’ turns into a full-blown night out. Leeds definitely has a better choice of nightclubs. However, what Halifax is lacking in nightclubs, it makes up for with karaoke bars.  

Karaoke at Oasis every Thursday has won my heart. I love how Canadians are much less embarrassed to go on stage and sing, even if they are singing Canadian country songs that everyone seems to know but me.  

Drunk food 

I’m very sorry to say that Canada’s national dish is just every U.K. student’s favourite drunk food: cheesy chips and gravy from the local chip shop.  

This can be topped by replacing the gravy with curry sauce. As bad as it sounds, cheese, chips and curry are a combination made in heaven. These British delicacies are best served in my local chip shop: Crispies.  

After 2 a.m., it plays club music, has disco lights, and gives out free chips to those who arrive at closing time. The only place that comes close is Triple A, and only because their pizza slices are basically half a pizza.  

From doing maple syrup shots to meeting Signal Hill, my Dal nights out have been all I could have hoped for, and I will miss them sorely when I leave at the end of this year.  

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