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The culture in Ottawa

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Hi friends, 


I'm curious about the culture in Ottawa, in terms of entertainment, festivities and other events. Including the culture present at Ottawa Law. 
How is it compared to Toronto, per say?

How would you rate the quality of life in Ottawa? (Especially for someone who has never been there before)
i.e., Living, diversity, food(!) I love food, events, etc. 




Thanks! 

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I really can't speak to the 'culture' of Ottawa. There's good food, lots of activities, it looks nice in the summer. Winter sucks balls, and seemingly lasted forever this year. It's like Toronto, but slower - if that makes sense. And it unequivocally smells better.

 

What do you mean by the culture of Ottawa Law? What type of information do you think would help you with your decision making? I can try to shed some light on it, having completed (almost) my first year. 

 

Just to hit some of the tropes of the school that might qualify as 'culture':

- Ottawa's administration isn't perfect!!!!!!!!! I demand my money back!!!!

- Everyone wants to work in legal aid, and 'Big Law' is for Satan's minions.

- OH MY GAWD THERE'S SO MANY PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING!!!

 

Really all you need to know about the school's culture is that there are a lot of people who want to do some sort of public-interest law, but there's tons of people who would also do the downtown-big-city 60 hours a week life too. No one is better than the other. Law school culture is very, very similar to the culture of any large undergrad program. You get out what you put in. 

 

I like it here, it has everything I need. 

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I really can't speak to the 'culture' of Ottawa. There's good food, lots of activities, it looks nice in the summer. Winter sucks balls, and seemingly lasted forever this year. It's like Toronto, but slower - if that makes sense. And it unequivocally smells better.

 

What do you mean by the culture of Ottawa Law? What type of information do you think would help you with your decision making? I can try to shed some light on it, having completed (almost) my first year. 

 

Just to hit some of the tropes of the school that might qualify as 'culture':

- Ottawa's administration isn't perfect!!!!!!!!! I demand my money back!!!!

- Everyone wants to work in legal aid, and 'Big Law' is for Satan's minions.

- OH MY GAWD THERE'S SO MANY PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING!!!

 

Really all you need to know about the school's culture is that there are a lot of people who want to do some sort of public-interest law, but there's tons of people who would also do the downtown-big-city 60 hours a week life too. No one is better than the other. Law school culture is very, very similar to the culture of any large undergrad program. You get out what you put in. 

 

I like it here, it has everything I need. 

Thanks! 

I'm curious about campus spirit and how you feel as a student of Ottawa. Where I'm from, my undergrad university life sucked. 

I hear from many LS that some schools, for example, Osgoode, has a "bro" vibe. I hope I am making some sense. 

 

 

 

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Ottawa is like a mini-Toronto. I don't live in Ottawa but I do visit often and I love it so much more. Its not nearly as busy as Toronto and the people are very friendly. Winters are super brutal though. Entertainment wise, the Byward Market is an amazing time for students or anyone looking to have a good night out. I can't say about the culture of Ottawa law just yet, as I am currently in this cycle of applicants! Also, its a great hockey city if that means anything to you haha!

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Thanks! 

I'm curious about campus spirit and how you feel as a student of Ottawa. Where I'm from, my undergrad university life sucked. 

I hear from many LS that some schools, for example, Osgoode, has a "bro" vibe. I hope I am making some sense. 

 

 

 

uOttawa undergrad (almost) Graduate, and there is very limited school spirit, or at least as compared to somewhere like Queen's or to a lesser degree even ( shudder) Carleton (mind you that is likely due to their recent success in football against us, and naturally they are damn good at Basketball, but I digress). I am, however, for what it's worth, coming back to uOttalaw next year. I come from a tiny town, so I am not the one to talk about the city as compared to living in T.O. or anywhere else. However, I have not wanted for anything that I can't get here, and it does feel like you are able to get out of the city relatively quickly if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.

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Thanks! 

I'm curious about campus spirit and how you feel as a student of Ottawa. Where I'm from, my undergrad university life sucked. 

I hear from many LS that some schools, for example, Osgoode, has a "bro" vibe. I hope I am making some sense. 

 

 

 

 

 

 However, I have not wanted for anything that I can't get here, and it does feel like you are able to get out of the city relatively quickly if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.

 

I think Tree17 really nails it on this one. There's not much you're going to miss going to Uottawa (law, or the City in general) that you would get in any other city.

 

When people at the university talk about disappointments of any sort, I find there's always a degree of 'entitlement'. Like they're asking for way more than what could reasonably be expected. This goes moreso for what they expect out of their first year of law school, than the city I think though. I've hear a lot of people complain about some aspects of the school, speaking mostly to the administration, because they haven't integrated perfectly to law school. Mostly because they don't have some perfect job with exquisite grades right off the drop. But I think this is relevant to most law schools considering people mostly enter in to it as high achievers who have had a relatively easy go at school (not to detract from the hard work people put in to their undergrad, though).

 

So that being said, and going to the 'school life', and spirit, it's all fine. There's people with the Uottawa Law pom-poms, wearing the shirts, going to the events. There's lots of stuff to keep you busy if you want to be the standard bearer for the school. I, on the other hand, am not interested in that. Not because of any sort of repulsion, I'm just not really someone who does the 'hype' thing.

 

Osgoode might have a bro culture. Western might have a bro culture. Ottawa might have the hippy bleeding heat liberal cultural. The reality is that there's groups of all these people in every class you're in (the bigger classes at least). But largely it's all secondary to the main culture of being a 'law student'. Sure there's lots of people that go out drinking a couple times a week, or just lock themselves in the library, but that doesn't create a clique-y segmented population. People just have their group of friends.

 

I like it in Ottawa. The school has everything I wanted, or need, from an education in law. The only thing that's held me back is my lack of bilingualism. But that's a 'me' thing. There's people here who I think are stupid (and likewise people who think I'm stupid), some professors who i question why they're in the position they're in, and sometimes the school seems a little crowded. But if you focus on those as they relate to Ottawa Law, then you're going to miss the fact that literally every law school in Canada has the same issues (to varrying degrees).

 

It's good to get advice regarding what law school is the best fit. I did the same thing. But at the end of the day I think it's going to be up to you to create the law school experience you want. 

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Hi friends, 

 

 

I'm curious about the culture in Ottawa, in terms of entertainment, festivities and other events. Including the culture present at Ottawa Law. 

How is it compared to Toronto, per say?

 

How would you rate the quality of life in Ottawa? (Especially for someone who has never been there before)

i.e., Living, diversity, food(!) I love food, events, etc. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks! 

 

Context: I've never lived in Toronto, though have visited. I've been in Ottawa almost 10 years now.

 

Ottawa's culture: the general wisdom is that Ottawa is Canada's largest small town, and I think that's pretty true. We've got most of the amenities that you'd find in a larger centre, but the place does get pretty quiet during the week after working hours. Things are changing a bit as Ottawa's tech sector has begun to rebound, so there's a little more optimism in the city, especially when coupled with the LRT that's supposed to open next year. The french-english split in the city is a nice touch, it adds to the place. It also helps that Ottawa is one of those few places in Canada where it's feasible to actually live downtown without having to pull in insane money. It's affordability is a major selling point. Perhaps it's just my own caricature of Toronto, but I imagine that there you have to be making 120k+ to even consider living downtown long-term or else you're stuck having a long commute. Additionally, with the government here, wages in general are pretty high and the stability is a major plus not to mention that there's a fair amount of events here for the size of the city by virtue of being the capital.

 

Really, Ottawa's main problem is that it has major confidence/self deprecation issues.  It isn't a lack of things to do; it's lack of self-confidence. Heck, there's even someone who's selling Ottawa vs Itself t-shirts (a play on the Detroit vs. Everyone shirt).

 

As to the law school, it definitely has a left-ish tinge to it, but not uniformly so. Tied to the self-deprecation thing, it is a bit annoying how many at UO law just see Ottawa as a waypoint onwards to Toronto or Vancouver as opposed to a destination in itself.

 

Finally: the winters are pretty rough, but once you spend a year or two here it's just part of everyday life. The bad part isn't so much the winter as it is March when we're tricked each year to think winter is over and yet snow falls again and there's a gross period of slush and mud everywhere. March in Ottawa is lousy.

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Hi friends, 

 

 

I'm curious about the culture in Ottawa, in terms of entertainment, festivities and other events. Including the culture present at Ottawa Law. 

How is it compared to Toronto, per say?

 

How would you rate the quality of life in Ottawa? (Especially for someone who has never been there before)

i.e., Living, diversity, food(!) I love food, events, etc. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

I'm currently finishing my second year and I only have positive feedback from the Ottawa environment, besides the snow and the cold. The people are very friendly and I have not had any negative experiences with anyone at Ottawa Law. I would have to second that the student-faculty communication isn't the greatest, but they do send out an email including all the events and important deadlines once a month (which I think most people dont read).

 

Coming from Toronto myself, I find its easier to study here because there is just less to do and theres no family and close-friend distractions. But. its very easy to make friends so dont be discouraged by that statement.

 

I have a friend at U of T law who deferred because she wasn't ready and felt it was stressful. I never had that impression here. Yes its stressful but that comes with the Law experience.

 

Hope that helps,

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On 2017-04-16 at 11:07 PM, Lawerup said:

Ottawa is like a mini-Toronto. I don't live in Ottawa but I do visit often and I love it so much more. Its not nearly as busy as Toronto and the people are very friendly. Winters are super brutal though. Entertainment wise, the Byward Market is an amazing time for students or anyone looking to have a good night out. I can't say about the culture of Ottawa law just yet, as I am currently in this cycle of applicants! Also, its a great hockey city if that means anything to you haha!

I would disagree with this comparison. But maybe my interpretation of it is wrong... 

Ottawa has upwards of 1.2 million inhabitants but is rather a "big town" than a dense city like Toronto. Even more so if you consider the entire region including Gatineau, which many refer to as the 'French side of Ottawa' but is actually across the Rideau River/ Rivière des Outaouais.  

I completed my undergrad at uOttawa and I can say that the city is filled with festivities at all times of the year. So, in other words, be ready to enjoy the sub-zero concerts that they hold in the downtown park for the Winterlude and to skate on the frozen canal. 

As for the campus, there has been a lot of construction in the past 4 years and they are still working on putting in the Light-Rail tramway system with a major stop on campus. For the rest of the questions regarding the faculty and student culture, I couldn't give you an answer. I came to find those answers for myself as I am 1L in the fall! 

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I grew up in Toronto and Ottawa is nothing like Toronto. Ottawa is a government city and the culture here reflects this. The downtown core is dead after 6pm, once all the government employees have gone home.  The people here have all of the dynamism you would expect government workers to have. Ottawa is a quiet, sleepy city filled with boring people. Ottawa is not an ethnically diverse city, so the diversity of food here is limited. The city does have a number of outdoor festivals, being the nation's capital, but it is so damn cold here,  you may just want to stay indoors.

I have not found the culture at U.Ottawa Law to be particularly healthy, but I think this is true of many law schools. As all courses are curved to a B, students compete against each other, rather than help each other. Coming from a business background, this was completely opposite to how I worked. Again, this is true for all law schools I believe. Ottawa has the largest law school in Canada, so there isn't a strong sense of community. The one nice thing they do in first year (IL) is they put you in a small group of about 15 students, so you will have a chance to get to know some people well.

 

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9 minutes ago, JohnP said:

I grew up in Toronto and Ottawa is nothing like Toronto. Ottawa is a government city and the culture here reflects this. The downtown core is dead after 6pm, once all the government employees have gone home.  The people here have all of the dynamism you would expect government workers to have. Ottawa is a quiet, sleepy city filled with boring people. Ottawa is not an ethnically diverse city, so the diversity of food here is limited. The city does have a number of outdoor festivals, being the nation's capital, but it is so damn cold here,  you may just want to stay indoors.

I have not found the culture at U.Ottawa Law to be particularly healthy, but I think this is true of many law schools. As all courses are curved to a B, students compete against each other, rather than help each other. Coming from a business background, this was completely opposite to how I worked. Again, this is true for all law schools I believe. Ottawa has the largest law school in Canada, so there isn't a strong sense of community. The one nice thing they do in first year (IL) is they put you in a small group of about 15 students, so you will have a chance to get to know some people well.

 

Curious as to what school you went to for undergrad. I'm graduating next month from a biz undergrad, and the culture at my school is quite cutthroat. 

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15 hours ago, JohnP said:

As all courses are curved to a B, students compete against each other, rather than help each other. Coming from a business background, this was completely opposite to how I worked. Again, this is true for all law schools I believe. Ottawa has the largest law school in Canada, so there isn't a strong sense of community.

1L at UO and I disagree with this. I have received a lot of support from classmates and also think there’s a good sense of cameraderie. 

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15 hours ago, Inconspicuous said:

Curious as to what school you went to for undergrad. I'm graduating next month from a biz undergrad, and the culture at my school is quite cutthroat. 

Yeah, same with myself. Aren’t the majority of business undergrads curved to about a 70? Mine certainly was, and the competitiveness of those in the program was very much reflective of that. 

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On 3/26/2018 at 12:41 PM, hopefulcanadianlawyr said:

Yeah, same with myself. Aren’t the majority of business undergrads curved to about a 70? Mine certainly was, and the competitiveness of those in the program was very much reflective of that. 

I meant my professional experience and my MBA. I didn't do my undergrad in business.

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On 3/26/2018 at 12:38 PM, Girby said:

1L at UO and I disagree with this. I have received a lot of support from classmates and also think there’s a good sense of cameraderie. 

I am pleased to hear this. This hasn't been my experience, nor the experience of the people I know in law school.

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This is an old thread but I will offer my opinion for those who are seeking this type of information this year.

I came to Ottawa for a clerkship, after being born, raised and educated in Toronto, with the intention of staying one year and returning to Toronto. I even had a job lined up for after the clerkship. Here it is 7 years later and I'm still here! I love Ottawa and all it has to offer, year round. The number of music festivals, concerts, theatre productions (including the Lawyer Play, which everyone should go to - such a great opportunity to make connections), will give you more opportunities than you could possibly attend. If you like sports, you have junior hockey, NHL games that you can actually get affordable tickets to attend, CFL, soccer, and an abundance of sports teams of every description that you can participate in (another good networking opportunity).

Yes, winters are cold and snowy but there wasn't much difference between here and Toronto this year. You get used to it, trust me. Buy yourself a good quality coat and pair of boots and you're good to walk anywhere, something that far more people do in Ottawa than they do in Toronto. Skate on the canal. Enjoy all the events at Winterlude. Sample the delicious food at many of the ethnic festivals. Listen to great performances at the blues festival. Lots of events at TD Place at Lansdowne all within easy walking distance of the many restaurants, bars, and shops on Bank St. And, of course, the Byward Market area is always fun.

If you like to hike, Gatineau Park is close by with great trails for hiking or snowshoeing. Cycling in Ottawa and the surrounding area is a pleasure.  Ottawa's museums are varied and fabulous.  The Museum of History is a spectacular building and is worth a visit just to stare in awe at the architecture, and, of course, the beautiful view of Parliament Hill from Gatineau. All have student pricing, and you can get a memberships for unlimited visits at a reduced price.

Not to mention, easy access to exposure to government in action, and the SCC.

A few links to provide you with more detailed information.

http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/cycling

http://www.ottawafestivals.ca/

https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/winterlude.html

https://ottawabluesfest.ca/

https://www.tdplace.ca/

http://ottawafringe.com/

https://nac-cna.ca/en/

http://ottawamuseums.com/

 

Lastly, getting around Ottawa is so much easier than Toronto. I think it's a city that has the amenities of a larger city but with the ease of travel that you won't find in Toronto. Good shopping, lots of independent small shops, a mall with lots of high end shops if that's your thing, and, for something more law student focused, many professional events, conferences, etc.  I know dozens and dozens of U of O law students, and have met many more. I've never heard any complaints of competitiveness among a cohort, and from what I've seen, it has always been a true sense of camaraderie that extends after graduation and into practice here.

 

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