Kayla Warren is thinking about leaving Newfoundland, but says she’ll stay for the cheap education first.
The valedictorian at St. James Regional High in Port aux Basques plans to study biochemistry at MUN.
“I got accepted to University of Toronto, but even if MUN raises tuition, it’s still going to be a lot cheaper than Ontario,” she says.
Warren lives in Isle aux Morts, about 20 minutes from Port aux Basques. Not long ago she spent some time in Ontario, and got a kick out of people there telling her they were from a small town.
“‘It only has so many hundred thousand people,’” she remembers them saying. “And then I’m like, ‘no, I’m from a small town. There’s 600. I’m 10 hours away from the nearest Starbucks. That’s a small town.’”
Warren sees the good in rural life, and says her area hasn’t been hard hit by the province’s economic woes. Many people around there work for Marine Atlantic, and many work in Alberta or on the lakes.
She says a bunch of people in her graduating class of about 45 will end up taking the non-destructive testing class at College of the North Atlantic.
But she is drawn to big cities, and wouldn’t be sad to leave certain parts of rural life behind, such as the limited options for shopping.
“If anyone has to pick something up, then they’ll go into Corner Brook or St. John’s when they get a chance,” she says, listing a handful of stores in the mall in Port aux Basques. “Hard to have a Walmart when there’s only about 5,000 people.”
Health care in the region has its limitations, too. She remembers having to visit an orthodontist in Corner Brook or Stephenville once a month when she had braces, and says just seven or eight years ago, people requiring dialysis had to travel several times a week.
“Any sort of specialist appointment, it’s either in Stephenville, Corner Brook, Gander or St. John’s, so having to drive over two hours to get to a doctor’s appointment,” she says.
If she ends up settling down somewhere else, there’s one thing she’d miss for sure: “The taste of the water. Because it seems like other places you go, their water is very heavily chlorinated. That’s one of the things I’ve actually noticed the most about going away.”