Nothing to do but improvise…

The rock slides down the sheet, coming to a rest directly in the centre of the house – a perfect shot worthy of any Brier championship game. Except we are not in a packed arena watching a curling game.
Instead, we have just stepped out onto the first floor of Concordia University’s student residence building in Hingston Hall on the Loyola campus.
The students have painted a curling surface on the main floor of the residence, where their ‘rock’ – an empty Skoal chewing tobacco container filled with water and sealed with tape – is swept down the hallway with regular brooms into the house.
Jeff Peters, co-ordinator of student life, called the indoor curling an example of the students’ creativity. “The biggest problem is probably a lack of things to do,” he said, since students are left to come up with activities themselves as there are no bars or clubs near the Loyola campus where they can go.
“The students are restless because there is nothing to do on this campus,” added
Peters. “It would be nice if we had something like the Hive that was open on a regular basis.”
But such is not the case for the 144 students currently living in residence, who are left to their own devices. With the majority of the 76 rooms being doubles, students have made lasting friendships with roommates and floor-mates.
“It’s the best way to meet people in first year,” says Gillian Street, a first-year theatre major who lives in residence. “Especially if you are going
into a faculty that has really huge classes, it’s very impersonal and you don’t get to meet people that way, but here you get to know the people on your floor – you get to make friends and connections.”
You not only make connections with your roommates, but with people from around
the world, Peters explained.
“This year I got a student from England, two from Finland, one from Kenya, Japan, China, they come from all over the place. I think our international student population has gone up over the years,” said Peters. “It’s something the university encourages, it’s good for the building and it creates quite a cultural mosaic.”
With students coming from the four corners of the globe and staying in the residence while attending Concordia, Peters said he understands the importance of a comfortable living environment. The university spent over $350,000
upgrading and replacing curtains and furniture for each of the rooms to improve both the quality and the overall image of residence.
“They [students] have more respect for their environment,” Peters said. “If the place looks like a dump, they’re going to treat it like one.”
As this is the first time most of these students have been away from home, Peters and his staff offer educational programs such as sex education, time and stress management, study skills and this year’s popular seminar, proper nutrition.
“The pizza guy is here like 10 times a night, and so we want to teach them to eat properly because physical health and nutrition are big things,” said Peters.
Ask any student in residence and he or she will tell you that other big things include laundry, fitness, relaxation and “vegetation.” Students in residence have the benefit of a laundry room, an adequate weight room, a small games room equipped with a pool table and a television lounge. Also included is one kitchen
for each of the building’s three floors, which can get fairly hectic around dinnertime.
“Sharing a kitchen with 50 other people can be difficult,” said Street. “At six o’clock when there’s 20 other people all trying to use the same six burners, that can be a drawback on occasions.”
Despite the drawbacks, residence is about meeting new people and having a good
time away from home. Just ask Vaughn Maurice, a first-year Mathematics and Statistics major who came to Concordia from Quebec City. “Residence is nice because you get along with new people and you get to meet people from different
backgrounds,” says Maurice.
And talk about having a good time, friendly wagers and competitions have sprung up throughout the building.
“There’s competition between floors and floor cliques develop – people definitely have their own groups,” explains Maurice.
The residence is more than just a building in the far corner of the Loyola campus, it’s an international home that provides entertainment, fun and potential life-long friendships.
For now the hallway is silent. The brooms are in the closet and the chewing tobacco containers are neatly stacked against the wall. However, tonight, when classes are done and people are searching for things to do, the first floor of residence will once again be transformed into a spirited curling game, pitting floor against floor. May the best team win.
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