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How to get the most out of your residence experience

by Natalie Irwin

Heading to university can be absolutely terrifying, and if you’re in the same situation that I am, university means moving away from home and experiencing residence. A huge part of choosing a university for me was the residence. As someone who needs a space to myself to think and study, UOIT’s South Village residence seemed perfect. I shared one of these rooms with a friend I went to high school with, which was nice because we were both coming from far away and weren’t sure what to expect. Our parents helped us lug our bags to our rooms and settled us in. I won’t lie, I had so many feelings happening all at once; excitement, nervousness, hesitation, and confusion, just to name a few. When our parents left, I don’t think we knew what we were really in for yet. As two new students, we weren’t sure what residence was even like. The first night, we sat in our shared living room and watched TV, looking out the peephole any time we heard anything outside the door that we might be remotely interested in. Slowly but surely, we realized the best part of residence life was waiting outside our dorm room. Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of your residence experience!

Recognize that everyone is in the same boat

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My roommate and I both felt like we only had each other. It wasn’t until a few days into living in residence that we realized everyone is in a very similar situation; we’re all young people living away from home (many of us for the first time) and we are eager to meet new people that are like us! This picture of leaving home and finding yourself becomes a lot less terrifying when you realize that most of the people in residence with you are in the same situation, feeling the same things that you are.

Go to residence-organized events

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Your residence is going to put on a bunch of events for you to go to. Trust me, these are awkward at first because, again, everyone is feeling the same uncertainty about their new situation. These are awesome opportunities for you to meet new people without having to organize it yourself. The residence staff will often post these on bulletin boards around your residence or give you a list of things they are organizing when you move in. Don’t hesitate to get involved in these! There is going to be a lot happening, especially in the first week of living in residence. I know it’s scary but jump right in. While living in residence, I went to a flag football game facing off Simcoe Village Residence. It was there that I met some of the best friends I still have today! Remember, these events are organized for you (and you’re paying for them!) so get out and enjoy them! If you haven’t heard of any events, don’t hesitate to ask the front desk or one of your Residence Assistants (who usually live at the end room of every hallway!) They’re always happy to help out.

Eat with people

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I know this seems like a weird one, but the cafeteria has a mandatory meal plan for every student living in residence, and everyone has to eat at some point! I often found this easier than talking to people at events that sometimes feel awkward. If you meet someone at an event or in the hallway, just extend the invitation with something like, “hey, I’m going to go to the cafeteria at 5:30 for dinner, did you want to come then too?” and if you don’t end up getting the opportunity to do so, ask someone eating alone if you can eat with them! I found that so many of the memories I have from residence, surprisingly, were sharing meals with people in the cafeteria.

Everyone’s experience in residence is so different! I found when reflecting on my experience that some of these really helped me get the most out of my residence experience. Overall, go and have fun. My mom once said, “you’ll never be in another situation like this in your life where you are with so many people of the same age experiencing the same thing!” and she was right! Embrace this incredible opportunity to meet new people, find new things that you enjoy, and experience a sense of individuality! Awesome things are waiting outside your comfort zone, so get out there, say “hi” to someone new, join in events, and of course, eat with people! Be yourself and you’ll come to find that residence life can be really great.