I can hear the wailing sirens from my window, piercing the crisp autumn air. In the parking lot, a marching band has bestowed me with a repetitive, heart-stabbing rendition (really, I want to stab myself) of an unintelligible song in the parking. Across the hall, my dorm mate is ‘entertaining guests’ with popcorn and loud shrieking.
Yes, I’m downtown Toronto, and I am in residence.
For those who commute, the luxury life of residence seems overflowing with countless perks – no bus fares, sleeping in late before class, ‘freedom’, meal plans and more. But for us ‘fortunate’ few actually living in residence, we know the insides of what appears to be a wonderful fantasy. In spite of its many advantages, residence can be tough. Below are five things to consider if you’re thinking of taking the residence plunge.
1. Location. So you are in residence, but you still have to walk 20 minutes to get to Robarts Library? Yup, being on residence doesn’t always mean you are close by to class. Be sure to check on residences near your classes, figure out how far you will have to walk to get to class. When you choose a residence, look for information about banks, shopping/grocery stores (even if you have a meal plan), emergency medical services etc.
2. Crazy room/dorm mates: the top fear in everyone’s psyche – what if I get a crazy roommate? Well, avoiding such a situation isn’t easy, but answering the residence application honestly can help. Some colleges, such as Woodsworth Residence, require an extensive application, which expect you to detail your living, study and hygiene habits. Answer the questions honestly, and know your own weaknesses. If you know you like a single room, check out Residences like Knox College, or Primrose Hotel, which can feature many students in a single room. If you live in residence and have a roommate you can’t get along with, talk to your Don, who is trained in conflict resolution techniques and can share some strategies with you.
3. I hate my residence! Before you choose a residence, do some research. There’s not much you can do when you move into residence and you realize it wasn’t what you are expecting. The Student Housing website is a fantastic resource for comparing on and off-campus housing options. Clicking on the residence link on the left-hand side will allow you to understand both the application processes for every residence, but also to do a thorough comparison of each residence. You can also book a residence tour, and check out a residence for yourself.
4. Amenities. Well, you didn’t expect a flat-screen TV in your room, but imagine your surprise when you find out there is no air conditioning, and your room is infested with bed bugs (yes, they actually exist!), shag flies, and spiders! Make sure are prepared for residence by bringing fans and any other materials you need. One girl in my Residence even brought screen mesh for her windows (to prevent bugs from getting.) Bring screen mesh, and even some bug spray, if you have to!!! Many students bring mini-fridges and space heaters for their rooms.
5. Homesickness & other problems you think you’ll be “free” in residence, but actually you can miss home a lot. There are Residence Offices in every on-campus housing residence, and Dons or RAs (Residence Advisors) who can help you deal with problems from clogged toilets to homesickness. Know their contact information in advance so you can be prepared when you need help. Talk to a previous student at the residence or a Don for rules of the residence and pros and cons.
No matter where you live, you can enjoy the fruits of university to their fullest. For those students who are considering Residence as an option, the most important thing is to be prepared and know what you are getting into before you actually get into it.
Until next time,