Waiting on that student loan to come in? Wallet feeling a little light? Here are a bunch of things you can do for free—or at least, on the cheap—in the Nanaimo area until your bank account hits the quadruple digits again.

The Cultural Couch Series

The Cultural Couch Series is a student-led weekly event. Each week is different, often consisting of sampling traditional foods, sharing music, and engaging in conversation. Students can look forward to A Taste of Iraq on September 18, and A Trip to Nigeria on September 25. The event is free to attend, and is held on Tuesdays (Fall and Spring Semesters) from 56 pm in Building 255, Centre for International Education.

Attend A Game

Our teams and athletes here at VIU are continually ranked among the best in the nation. Do your part: get LOUD at the games, wear our colours, and show some support to these amazingly talented student athletes. Game admission is free for VIU students, $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, and kids under twelve are $2. #WeAreAllMariners


Looking to revamp that tired wardrobe? Or perhaps you’re looking for that grail vintage Polo piece hidden amongst heaps of unkempt Arnold Palmer collection collared tees. Whatever you’re after, Nanaimo’s many thrift stores offer the opportunity to find it at a bargain price. My personal favorites are Vancouver Island Thrift Store located on 1585 Bowen Rd, and Value Village located in the University Village Mall.

The Board Game House

Located on 411b Fitzwilliam St., The Board Game House is a fun and, most importantly, cheap way to spend the day. Pay $5 (Kids twelve and younger $2.50) and you can play as many games as you like, as long as you like. It’s hard to argue with that deal, plus the sheer variety of games alone make the cost of admission a worthwhile endeavor.

Go on a Hike

Just a short walk can take you further into the rainforest, to a river full of jumping salmon, along the gorgeous Pacific coastline or a hidden lake. There are plenty of hikes around the Island to suit all abilities, ranging from half hour to just less than a day in length. Not only are you almost guaranteed to see wonderful scenery; you may spot some of the local wildlife too. My favourites are the Wild Pacific Trail, and the Pub to Pub coastal walk in Black Creek.


We all have our own reasons for joining a gym. For some of us it’s about packing on muscle to improve strength, while others are more motivated by the boost of energy they’ll feel when they get into better shape. Regardless of your intentions or abilities, VIU’s gym membership is free for all students with a valid student ID.