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Five nerdy university perks to geek out about

There are amazing hidden treasures tucked away on your campus, waiting to be explored.

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Halifax Planetarium watches the stars. - PETER KLAGES
  • Peter Klages
  • Halifax Planetarium watches the stars.

Being a student has its perks—from newfound freedoms and friendships to self-discovery and maybe even learning to do your own laundry. Something not to overlook in that list, though? Embracing your inner geek.

In my first week of classes as an undergrad, a professor made an impassioned speech to my classmates and I that we ought to treasure this time, because we'll likely never again get the chance to pursue learning in such an immersive way. (Spoiler alert: She was right.)

While hitting the books (and, um, actually going to class) helps make the most of the learning side of school, so does making a point to bask in all things academic.

With that idea in mind, let's take a peek at some of the most obscure, learning-for-learning's sake treasures at a few of Halifax's universities. Most are free and accessible to students, so getting your geek on will be easy to do.

University of King's College's special collections
The library at King's is already a thing of beauty, with fluted columns and ceramic busts giving a serious, ancient scholar vibe to the space. Take a break from your required readings and check out the special collections: Some 20,000 rare works that range from medieval manuscripts to volumes from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Mount Saint Vincent University's lesbian pulp fiction vault
While throwaway beach reads from the '50s and '60s aren't something you'd expect to find behind glass in a library, the Mount has spent over two decades amassing one of North America's largest collections of lesbian pulp fiction. Skewing from somewhat voyeuristic to achingly real, the books allow an understanding of what it was like to be alive (and like girls!) during the time they were published.

Dalhousie University's planetarium
Tucked away in room 120 of the Sir James Dunn Building is any wannabe astronaut's dream: A vintage planetarium mapping out the night sky before your eyes. Step into the pitch-black space as the sophisticated riff on a pinhole projector casts a detailed depiction of the solar system onto the walls and ceiling! Approximately twice a month, the 1950s-era piece is the subject of a $5 public lecture that'll let you see the magic in action. Check out astronomynovascotia.ca or our listings for details.

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design's Dawson print shop
The Dawson Print Shop is sure to make any font fiend salivate. The space has literally thousands of little metal and wood letters, used in a set-by-hand letterpress (the predecessor to modern printing). Crowded cabinets hold everything from Helvetica to Times New Roman alphabets, begging to be plucked from their places—part of Canada's largest collection of type. Put them to use by taking a book-binding or letterprint class.

Saint Mary's University's Burke-Gaffney Observatory
High atop the Loyola residence, the Burke-Gaffney Observatory offers a crystal-clear chance to wish upon a star with its powerful telescope. Free public open houses on most Friday evenings make a starry start to your weekend (get full details at ap.smu.ca/pr/bgo).


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