For most of McMaster’s undergraduate population, Hamilton serves as a second home from anywhere between three to six years. While these three to six years are about expanding personal boundaries, it only makes sense to expand physical boundaries as well.
So, why are so many McMaster students so afraid of Hamilton’s downtown core?
While there are plenty of reasons to stay on campus, from the McMaster Museum of Art to Cootes Paradise, there are more reasons to discover the city you will be calling home. The imaginary borders surrounding the McMaster community, commonly referred to as the McMaster Bubble, allow students to venture off campus, while staying close enough to their comfort zone.
The Bubble is safe and eventually becomes familiar but there is more to Hamilton than Westdale and, quite honestly, the Bubble does not do Hamilton justice. I am not suggesting that discovering a new city is not frightening. It can be overwhelming to step outside of your own bubble. But what I am suggesting is that Hamilton, if anywhere, is just the place to do it.
Hamilton’s core is not what it used to be and it seems as though the social stigma surrounding the core, although slowly losing its edge, is to blame as to why students are out of touch with the opportunities and experiences downtown has to offer.
What previously had the reputation as a gritty, working-class steel town has grown and shifted into a prospering city, chock-full of opportunity and things to discover. The city’s focus on the arts, entertainment and professional development has ultimately brought a new sense of vitality to the core, with unemployment rates being at their lowest in over ten years.
Hamilton has also seen an abundance of investing and development opportunities geared toward students and student retention. In fact, the City of Hamilton identifies the attraction and retention of students and young professionals as a priority in their Economic Development Strategy.
In collaboration with the McMaster Student Success Centre, among several other community partners, the city is working to ensure that Hamilton the leading choice for young professionals through job fairs, information sessions and networking opportunities.
The city really does have a way of turning ambition into practice. Between writing term papers in local cafes or taking SoBi rides to Bayfront Park, I would be lying if I said that who I am today has not been shaped by my experiences downtown Hamilton. So, trust me when I say getting out of your comfort zone will be worth it.