i'm well familiar with MEC, their stuff is way cheaper than you can get it here, even with postage added. i'm quite envious of canadians, 'outdoorsy' stuff seems much better value over there
frederik's right, gears are useful, the hill on your commute might be one instance.
i rarely use my geared bikes for work, but time-trialling home on a friday evening on my old 16 spd racer, bombing muswell hill at 50mph, hanging off the back of the saddle like a fat marco pantani... there is no finer way to travel
single-speed bike <<--- would this be a road bike? Sorry for asking such novice questions, but I really don't know much about bikes and parts and stuff.
s/s bikes can be road bikes, off-road, whatever. having only one gear, you tend to just 'get on with it' to get over hills - you'll likely find you go over short, sharp hills faster than you would on a geared bike
if you're carrying books n stuff to uni, you might want a bike with a rear rack, or at least the mounting holes for one. it's generally better to keep loads as low down on the bike as possible.
"No se deja de pedalear cuando se envejece.
Se envejece cuando se deja de pedalear"