By the time high school finishes, the teenage years end and the exciting yet stressful university years begin, a whole new life is about to start. Those three or four years promise to be among the most fulfilling years of a young person’s life.
For many, university is just another school year, with lots of homework, lots of parties, and lots of new friends. For others, it also means leaving home.
Leaving home can sound scary to some people, especially when the university they are attending is a thousand miles away from their hometown, in a different city, a different province, or even a different country.
It might also be hard to find someone to share an apartment with when you’re new to a place. This is the reason why many first-year students choose the easy way: living in residence.
Concordia has three residence buildings to accommodate students from every program. The Hingston Hall residence and the Jesuit Residence, situated on the Loyola campus, are put in place to accommodate a total of 183 full-time first-year undergraduate students. The Grey Nuns Residence, situated on the Sir George Williams campus, accommodates 241 undergraduate students.
According to D’Arcy Ryan, residence life director, living in residence is a smart choice and is very advantageous for students.
“Some quick ones off the top of my head include increased academic success, superior convenience and proximity to services, exciting events and activities, broadened social network, enhanced safety and security, accelerated growth and development, and comprehensive transitional support,” he said.
Many choose living in residence over getting an apartment because living in residence is a fast and easy way to meet new people.
“I think in the first year, you should live in residence to network and create a group of friends that you’ll have for the rest of your university career,” said Adam Mohr, a first-year commerce student. “It’s just so much easier, you can make friends, and I didn’t get the chance to come here beforehand to visit and meet people,” said Eric Philippona, an electrical engineering student.
Res life is also the life of the party, in some way. There are activities organized at night from Thursday through Saturday outside of residence, and the residents often go out together. Partying a lot is a good way to meet people, but for some, this sometimes interferes with their schoolwork.
“There’s a party three nights a week, at least. I go out three to four nights a week, when I should only be going out two. It does interfere with my schoolwork, I have to start getting more studious,” Mohr laughed. “I discovered that if you want to be productive, you can’t be productive in res, you have to go to the library.”
However, just because there’s a party going on doesn’t mean you absolutely have to go.
“I think that’s a personal choice. If I have a lot of work, I mean I’m not going to go party that night anyway,” laughed Jenna LaRose, a fine arts student. “I would like to think that I’m a responsible person, so I take care of my work,” she added.
But Ryan doesn’t think partying is a problem.
“People have a stereotypical view of residence in that it is just one big dorm party after another. This is not the case,” he said. “Do students have fun? Yes. Just like any other typical 18 to 22 year old first-year undergraduate student living in Montreal.”
Living in res seems to be all about fun and friends, but there is also a downside to it. For one thing, the Concordia residences don’t allow students to cook their own meals.
“There is a mandatory meal plan (choice of four plans) that students need to purchase in order to live in residence,” explained Ryan. The meals are served at the Loyola Service Centre or at the Zest dining room on the 7th floor of the Hall building on the SGW campus. A few microwaves are also available to students. Meal plans are interesting, but some students said they would love to cook their own food.
“I have a lot of friends who complained about not having a stove, they said they wish we could have days that we could all just cook together and have real food, but it doesn’t really bother me personally,” said Carolyn Donnelly, who’s majoring in studio arts.
Since they moved in res at the beginning of the semester, many students said they have been eating worse than back home.
“I’ve been eating definitely worse. The caf doesn’t have good fruits and veggies or anything like that. I go grocery shopping but there’s only so much you can get at the grocery store that you can eat without a stove,” Donnelly added.
Those worse eating habits have impacted some students’ weight more than others.
“I eat at the caf, their food is not that great, and I lost fifteen pounds actually,” said Mohr.
Another thing about residence life is that all students must use the common gender-designated showers and facilities located on their floor. Only private rooms in the Jesuit residence have a private bathroom/shower. All others have to deal with the common ones, which can be quite an experience.
“I find it a little awkward, but it’s not the biggest deal either,” Donnelly said of the showers.
“It’s a little uncomfortable at times, but you get used to it,” LaRose agreed.
No matter how bad it might seem, all the students interviewed said that living in residence was probably the best decision they made, or else they never would have met that many people that fast.
“I like res, I like that it’s always busy, and if you want to do something with someone, you have like a hundred people that you know that you can hang out with without having to go out,” said Maxwell Turner, a philosophy student. “So I think in terms of convenience, res is pretty unbeatable, I mean we have big rooms, even compared to people who live in an apartment.”
In the end, the residences are very conveniently located and the rooms, single or double, are gigantic. Life with a roommate isn’t always easy, mainly because as students study in different programs, some might have very different sleeping schedules. But it’s definitely an experience to live, and none of the students I asked regretted their choice.