Students have many different choices facing them as they begin their journey into a higher education. These include what to study, where to live and how to pay for it all. Some students choose residence living, with an all-inclusive price tag, while others choose to live on their own and take their chances on the extra expenses that go along with it. Either way, life for students is expensive.
Take for instance, life outside of residence. 23-year-old Jill Carter, a third-year French translation student, lives in a three-bedroom apartment and has two roommates. She says that although it can be difficult getting used to having roommates, having others around is a great way to help with expenses, chores and loneliness. Also, due to her part-time job, she finds it difficult to juggle study time, work time and social time.
Sticking to a budget is not easy, and she finds it difficult because there are many things that she has to cut out of her life. All extras, outings, clothing and even some groceries are not possible on her budget.
Originally from Nova Scotia, Carter came to Montreal to study at Concordia. While she tried living in residence, she found it was not to her liking.
“I wouldn’t go back to residence. I hated it!” she says. “People were there to party and always borrowed my stuff without returning it. [Also], it’s more expensive.”
Last year, she lived on the South Shore, where there was more of a neighbourhood feeling, but also more travel expenses. However, since she now lives in Verdun, she acknowledges that it is definitely an advantage despite the high rent.
“I’m more motivated to go to class,” she says. “There’s more freedom. There’s no curfew. I can do what I want. There [are] no rules. I’m responsible for my own actions.”
Carter hopes to graduate with a degree in translations and feels that her sacrifices will be worth it in the end.
Another student who chose non-residence life is Jennifer Dedomenico. Since she was a full-time student and had to work part-time, she admits to having had difficulty juggling a schedule and going without a lot of extras.
“It was rough finding enough time for everything,” she says.
Dedomenico, however, had less difficulty making ends meet.
“Although, it was difficult at the time, it was well worth the sacrifices I made,” she says.
She describes her time living near Loyola campus on Patricia Avenue in N.D.G. very quiet and found to be very beautiful and the apartment rates to be reasonable.
“It was peaceful,” she says. “I had no interruptions from other students and that’s what I wanted most: not to be disturbed in the day or night when I was in my cozy home. When exam time came around or I had to write a paper, I didn’t have to go to the library to find peace. I didn’t have to worry about where and how to store food. I didn’t have to worry about if the showers were clean or anyone walking in I had total privacy, and it was great!”
Fortunately, life is very different for her today, and she graduated several years ago with a sociology degree. Dedomenico currently works as a development officer for the Youth Achievement Awards for the Welsh Association of Youth Clubs in Great Britain.
Then there is residence life. Marie (who did want not her last name published) is a 27-year-old Vancouver-native in her first year of Ztudes fran_aises. She came to Concordia to learn French in Montreal. In her opinion, residence living is lacking.
“There are many nights that people are talking in the hallways, even after 11 p.m.,” she says. “It is often difficult to get to sleep.”
Although the budget is not a problem for her, rest and quiet study time can be hard to come by at times.
“11 p.m. to 8 a.m. is supposed to be quiet time, but very few people respect that,” says Marie.
Marie says there are many morning classes that are difficult to get up for as a result. Working one day a week, as well as loans and bursaries, seems to meet her financial needs, but privacy can be a problem. The bathrooms are shared and often not too clean, she explains. Marie feels that the food could be healthier, but all in all, she believes it is a good experience for her.
Life in residence being a good experience is a sentiment that 19-year-old Eliane Caltin also echoes.
“I enjoy living in residence,” says the first-year music student from Matan.
One reason Caltin enjoys life in rez is because she finds it very convenient to be so close to school, library and all the services offered by Concordia.
“It’s like having an office in my room!” she adds.
With loans and bursaries, and parents to help out, Caltin doesn’t have a problem with keeping a budget. She also has a boyfriend to help keep her free time busy and loves living on campus.
Without a doubt, there are many different decisions and survival choices to make by every student whether or not he or she is living in rez. One must simply make the best of what he or she has. For some students though, going without certain things is not a choice but simply the way things are. They have to go without simple pleasures and some necessities in order to meet their budget needs. There are, however, many places to go for help.
The Multi Faith Chaplaincy offers emergency food vouchers to needy students, as well as offering other helpful services that are worth looking into. One of these services includes Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard that offers vegetarian suppers for students and their families each Thursday night at 2090 Mackay from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The suggested donation is $1. You can reach them at 848-3590 and visit Annex Z in rooms 102-106 at 2090 Mackay or 848-3588 and Annex WF in room 101. The People’s Potato offers excellent vegetarian food free of charge. Donations are accepted as well.
For clothing needs, there are many second-hand stores in and around the city, such as Dixieme Fois located at 1946 St. Catherine Street and Jardin de Vetement at 6592 Somerled in N.D.G. The anti-poverty group located at 2121 Oxford in N.D.G. can also be of some help. There is also always Sun Youth and the Sally Ann.