Student Life and Activities

At VIU, we know that students participating in at least one extracurricular activity enjoy a more fulfilling university experience.

We encourage you to start out the year right, and join one activity, event or student life program that interests you!

We've highlighted below the programs we offer through WorldVIU and the Faculty of International Education, in addition to some of our favourite programs, activities and events happening around campus and in the community:

CC Road Trips

Cultural Connections Road Trips

Join our Cultural Connections Road Trips and discover Vancouver Island's vibrant communities, local cultural events and attractions.

Being connected, active, and engaged in the local environment is healthy. It can help with the cultural adjustment process for students who are new to Canada or new to the community.   Every semester, we prepare a schedule of seasonal weekly Saturday activities available to registered VIU students.

Road Trips
CC Local Hikes

Cultural Connections Local Hikes

Each semester we head outdoors and explore some of the most scenic and awe-inspiring local hiking trails Nanaimo has to offer! The Local Hikes program is designed to encourage confidence and creativity in participants, while at the same time aiming to forge a connection with nature and a desire to protect it. John Muir was onto something when he said, "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks". From boosting fitness, to improving mental wellbeing – and even helping us in our social lives, hiking offers all kinds of tangible benefits. Did we mention - it is only $2! 

Local Hikes
Culture Couch

VIU Culture Couch

Tuesdays 5pm - 6:00pm - Building 255, First Floor Commons

Culture Couch is a student-led weekly event.  Each week is different, often consisting of sampling traditional foods, sharing music, and engaging in conversation. By attending, you can gain more understanding about the world and about each other in a casual and fun setting.

Culture Couch
VIU - Cultural Connections - Global Groove

Global Groove

Global Groove is a free monthly concert series produced just for VIU students! Each month features a different musical genre from around the world.  Concerts are the first Thursday of every month, September to April. The series is a proud partnership between VIU Students' Union (VIUSU) and VIU Cultural Connections (International Education). 

Global Groove
Peer Helper

Peer Helpers

Peer Helpers are the international student volunteers who support new student orientation events and cultural programming throughout the year. They are dynamic leaders who possess the experience, training and skills to support VIU's newest international students during their first few weeks on campus and beyond.

Peer Helper
World VIU Days

World VIU Days

First week of November Annually

The purpose of the week is to raise awareness and build appreciation for the cultural diversity that we have on our campuses.  It is also an opportunity to celebrate culture and to recognize the richness that diverse perspectives bring to our campus and community.  The week concludes with the WorldVIU Festival - a celebration of International Education, with cultural exhibits, performances and a world fashion showcase by VIU Students.

World VIU Days

Student Activities

Share your interests with others and join one of the several clubs that operate under the guidance of the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union (VIUSU). The VIUSU also organizes campus social events such as BBQs, welcome festivities and movie nights. Weekly events are held at the Students’ Union Pub.

Vancouver Island University Student Union

VIU Campus Recreation

Campus Recreation offers you the opportunity to foster meaningful connections, healthy practices and holistic learning while you’re at VIU.  Stay healthy and happy by participating in fun events organized by Campus Rec. A wide variety of activities are offered, from intramural sports leagues to fitness classes and outdoor recreational activities.

VIU Campus Recreation

VIU Theatre

 Enjoy live theatre from VIU students.

VIU Theatre

Living in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Bus System   

Bus Etiquette

To help make the transit experience pleasant and comfortable, please be courteous and respectful of your driver and fellow passengers.

We encourage you to follow these simple suggestions while travelling with RDN Transit:

Although RDN Transit serves everyone on a first-to-board basis, we extend a special thank you to our customers who give up their seats for people with disabilities or mobility challenges. Courtesy seating, located at the front of the bus, meets the needs of all transit customers, and is especially vital to:

  • Customers who use scooters, wheelchairs, pediatric strollers or other mobility aids
  • Customers with a disability or mobility issue
  • Customers with baby strollers

Do not stand in the doorways. This is for your safety and so customers can quickly enter and exit the bus. Please stand behind the red or yellow lines.

When the bus is full, please move to the back of the bus to accommodate as many passengers as possible.

Seats are for customers, not bags, feet or wet umbrellas. Please allow others to make use of the seats. Place and hold your bag on your lap or on the floor where it will not obstruct the aisles or other customers.

We appreciate your help in keeping the bus clean. Take your garbage with you when you leave.

Be mindful of your belongings as you walk through the bus — you may be accidentally bumping into other customers as you pass.

A bus ride is a great time to listen to music, but please be considerate — loud music coming from a headset can bother others.

Please keep your in-person and cell phone conversations at a reasonable sound level.

Try not to get involved and engage in confrontations.

Yellow Cab

Taxi app

Taxi App


















This taxi service will give VIU students a 10% discount, just let the dispatcher know that you are a student and present your ID card to the driver. 

You can download their app to book your ride any time day or night, just click in the appropriate link: 

download app for Android      download app for iPhone

Vancouver Island University Parking Information

Driving in Canada

Speed Limit: Speed limits posted on signs are the maximum speed permitted (generally 50 Km/hr within towns/cities except near schools and playgrounds (30 Km/hr)). Speed limits are enforced by Police.
Parking: Pay attention to signs posted for parking regulations and parking meters. Not following these rules can result in you finding a parking ticket under your windshield wiper. Never block a fire hydrant or a driveway when parking on the street.
Emergency Vehicles (Police, Fire, Ambulance): When you see an emergency vehicle driving with lights flashing and/or siren drive safely and move to let them pass either by pulling to the side of the road or slowing down and staying in alignment with the vehicles around you in your lane. If you are stopped at a stop sign/light simply stay put and wait for the emergency vehicle to pass by.

Driver's License

Everyone who drives a vehicle (excluding exceptions) in Canada must have a valid driver’s license. Driver’s licenses are controlled by each province and territory separately. Click the link below for information about driver’s licensing in British Columbia.
If you have a valid driver’s license from another country or Canadian province and you are registered as a student at VIU, your driver’s license allows you to drive as long as you maintain *full time studies. You may need to get an international drivers permit or get your driver’s license translated to English. *Please note that if you are no longer a full time student you must obtain a valid BC driver’s license.
BC Identification
If you are not driving a vehicle but you want to get a local ID, see the link below to learn about getting a BCID card. This ID card can function as a legitimate form of government identification for you while you are here. Important to note that if you are applying for health coverage through the government of British Columbia health plan, you can use your BCID card or driver’s license as your health care ID card.

BC Services Card

Cell Phone

Pre-paid service
This option is best for students who will be in Canada for a short period of time:

  • Pay for a certain amount of data and minutes 
  • When out of credits, you can simply add more
  • You do not sign a contract

Contract service
This option is best for students who will be in Canada for a longer period of time:

  • You must sign a contract, usually 1 or 2 years
  • You have a certain amount of minutes and data every month
  • You choose a plan that caters to your needs 

Home Phone/Landline
Usually combined with home internet service, landline telephones can be the cheapest option for having access to a telephone. Most people will choose to have a cell phone instead but if you don’t need a cellphone a landline can be an affordable option.
Calling Cards
You can purchase calling cards from almost any drugstore, gas station or grocery store in Nanaimo. Calling cards allow you to call long distance from any phone for a very low price.

Food and Eating

For reasonable prices VIU students can buy amazing meals and baked goods prepared by the Culinary Arts and Professional Baking students at the Main Cafeteria and Lower Cafeteria. For an additional savings at the cafeterias, students can purchase the Student Value Plan. Load your student card with dining dollars redeemable at both cafeterias and save. 
If living in the VIU Residence, students can take advantage of the Free Grocery Shuttle twice a week to a local grocery store – check with Residence to find out which days.
To stretch groceries further, sign up for the Good Food Box (scroll down page) at the VIU Residence, Cedar Activity Centre.
If you are a sub sandwich fan, we have a Subway on campus in Building 165.
The closest grocery store is 15 minutes walking distance away – Quality Foods at University Village Mall. Also from this link see Starbucks, Subway, Ai Sushi Go, Baby Salsa, Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken. Shoppers Drug Mart and Value Village Thrift Store are also located in this mall.
See all the locations of our supermarkets in Nanaimo.
Check out organic and local produce at farmers’ markets, one of which is offered on campus throughout the fall.
Nanaimo boasts a wide selection of restaurants in downtown Nanaimo.

If you are in need of food, look into Nanaimo Area Food Services

Students should open a bank account in Canada if their home banking institutions are not compatible overseas. In Canada, most payments are made via debit or credit payments.
How do I open a bank account?

  • Browse the internet for branches that are close to your home
  • Search bank websites to view the services they offer
  • When choosing a bank in Canada, search for additional services for university students
  • Call the bank to make an appointment

What do I need to bring to my bank appointment?

  • Home address and local address in Canada
  • Two forms of identification (passport, driver’s license, BCID etc)
  • Study permit
  • VIU acceptance letter

Relationships aren’t always easy to maintain. University life opens the door for all kinds of new relationship challenges such as roommate issues, casual dating, serious dating, friendships, and sex. You may also be confronted by interpersonal issues in the class room working on group projects, or when you play on varsity or intramural teams, become involved in a student organization, or decide to join a club. These various relationships can provide a great deal of comfort and support during your college years, but they can also be a source of confusion and stress at times. How do you keep the lines of communication open so that you can maintain strong, honest, and respectful relationships? 

Learn about forming healthy friendships

Tips on Healthy Romantic Relationships

For more information contact The Human Rights and Respectful Workplace Office

Vancouver Island University recognizes its obligation to make reasonable accommodation for
employees and students who, in order to observe a religious holy day, must miss a day of work,
or a required academic event, such as a class, examination, test, or laboratory. Any
accommodation that is implemented must maintain the instructor’s capacity to fairly evaluate
the student’s performance.
Employees and students are permitted to be absent from work or a required academic event for
the purpose of observing a religious holy day, provided that the appropriate procedures have
been followed as outlined in the procedure for Student Leave Request for Observance of a
Religious Holy Day or the procedure for Employee Leave Request for Observance of a Religious
Holy Day.

Student request for leave form

  • Nanaimo and Vancouver Island has a wide range of hiking trails to experience from beginner, intermediate to advanced abilities
  • Explore the beaches of Nanaimo and surrounding areas. 
  • Enjoy Nanaimo’s recreation facilities from swimming, skating, outdoor tennis, beach volleyball courts, drop-in basketball and more. 
  • Meet up with a friend at one of Nanaimo’s many coffee shops
  • Nanaimo restaurant scene offers a variety of cuisine with options of take-out or casual dining. 
  • Visit one of the many farmers markets on the Island where local growers sell their produce and artisans sell their unique pieces. 
  • Check out Nanaimo’s live music scene where local bands are featured in cozy cafés to larger venues.
  • Attend seasonal events in Nanaimo from Bathtub races, Vancouver Island Exhibition, Dragon Boat races and more. 
Being in the mid-Vancouver Island region gives you the opportunity to be near it all — forests, the ocean, lakes and trails, small communities and big cities like Vancouver.

Are any of these activities on your list of things to do in the next year?
  • Surf at Long Beach in Tofino
  • Mountain bike on groomed trails like Doumont or the Abyss
  • Run the Westwood Lake and Morrell Nature
  • Sanctuary trails
  • Geo-cache all over the mid-Island region
  • Get active and check out the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, water slides and wave pool.  You can find it within a 5-minute walk of the campus. Playing fields, tennis courts, ice skating, bicycle trails, a 400-metre track, and baseball diamond are all located next to the campus.
  • Check out the local yoga and acroyoga scenes
  • Hang out on any of our Gulf Islands – three are just a short boat ride from the Nanaimo harbour
  • Do some indoor or outdoor rock climbing
  • Join a soccer league – you can play year-round here
  • Kayak around Newcastle Island Marine Park
  • Stand up paddleboard on the ocean or lakes
  • Explore the waterfront, grab a coffee and take in the glorious scenery
  • Check out Nanaimo’s thriving music scene –live bands play all over town most nights of the week
  • Appreciate healthy and local food choices by visiting a farmers’ market
  • Get your hands dirty – we have an active, local DIY culture that embraces creativity
  • Ski or snowboard at Mount Washington
  • Explore the white sands of Rathtrevor Beach and campground in Parksville
  • Hike up Mount Benson or Mount Tzouhalem ridge for amazing views of the coastal mountains
  • Live the west coast lifestyle where your options are only limited by your imagination!