Living off campus can sometimes make it hard for students to get involved and can leave them feeling like they are missing out on the university experience.
Second-semester Concordia University student Sara Guerreiro lives at home in the east end with her parents. For her, 8:30 a.m. classes are out of the question as it typically takes her over an hour to get to school by public transportation. Majoring in psychology does not make her travel time any easier since her classes are at the Loyola Campus. With most of her day spent travelling, Guerreiro has not had the time to get as involved as she would like in campus activities.
“University life is pretty much routine for me. I get up, go to school, and spend some time in the library and go back home. Travelling to campus is a drag too. Because it’s so far away, I barely have anytime for myself or let alone join a club.”
Whether you are in your third year or your first semester, you have probably found it hard to be a social butterfly when you are living at home with parents. There are chores to be done, parents to obey, and family dinners to attend. So the question is, how do you get out of all that and join campus life?
“Unless going to a football game counts as a Concordia activity, I honestly don’t know how I can get involved,” Guerreiro confessed. “I’m never aware of any activities that are taking place around campus.”
The first thing to do is push yourself to get involved and meet other students. One way to do this is to simply talk to your classmates. Bring up last night’s Habs game or the upcoming exam. If you are shy or are in large classes where there is not much opportunity to meet people, take advantage of the programs, groups and services run student groups, like the Concordia Student Union.
One of the popular services the CSU offers is their 101 classes, courses offered outside of the classroom. Students pay between $25 and $60 to take anything from CPR and massage therapy lessons to photography or yoga.
101 coordinator Jenny Kim explains that these classes are a great way to meet new people. “Instead of being in a class with 100 people, these classes have about 15-20 people so it’s a great opportunity to meet students with the same interests.”
While the events are well-advertised, Kim says the response comes mainly from students living on campus.
“It’s hard to reach out to those students who just go to class and go home,” explains Kim.
While some students are like Guerreiro and spend little time engaging in campus life, there are some off-campus students that take advantage of living at home and still manage to feel connected.
Political science student Stefano Apostolakos has no problem living at home with mom and dad.
“To be honest, living at home is great. My parents are both European, so even if I wanted to move out of the house I’d break their heart,” says Apostolakos.
Apostolakos might not be ready to move out just yet, but he is making his stay at Concordia useful by combining school and business to enable him to further his career and meet new people in the process. He explains that getting involved in campus life was something he had to do in order to advertise his company, SMAN Productions, which markets DJs and promotes clubs in Montreal.
“My line of work is all about networking. All day, every day I meet new people and larger class sizes means more opportunities,” she says. “More importantly, it’s all about meeting the right people.”
Not all students need to be as ambitious as Apostolakos to join in on the social side of university life. Almost every week, there are parties thrown on campus, you just have to keep your ears, eyes and Facebook pages open to find out about them.
Translation student Tania Schiliro lives in RiviÃ¨re des Prairies and got used to assuming campus parties were too much of a hassle. But after being approached by Wonder Woman, things changed.
The woman in costume was advertising for the ASFA/CSU Spanish Cultural Night that happened earlier this month at the Hive. As part of Orientation Week, there was free paella and sangria. Schiliro had never been to a Concordia party before, but after running the idea by her friend, they agreed it would be fun to try something new. To their surprise, it appeared that Concordia students party, and they party hard.
“Turned out to be a pretty crazy party for a Monday night and I definitely wouldn’t mind attending another one of these random night festivities,” Schiliro laughed. “The paella gets two thumbs up, and the bartenders were fun.”
Free events always draw a large student body since most students are on a budget, even if they’re living at home. People’s Potato and the Loyola Luncheon offer free vegetarian meals for students at both campuses and are a great place to meet fellow students. While there are a ton of restaurants around campus that can provide a quick and cheap meal, they will not help integrate you into campus as much; plus, after a while, even Tim Hortons coffee gets expensive.
Another problem off campus students encounter is that reluctance to hit the town at night or stay late at the library because they have to worry about how they will get home. While a cab is always an option, it can be quite expensive when you are venturing into the suburbs alone. So rather than worry, visit www.bit.ly/d4pROz for the STM’s night bus routes. Most late night buses even offer to drop women off between stops if you ask.
There are a lot of campus events that can help you live the university experience even while living at home. But it is up to you to take the first steps out of the house and into Concordia’s social scene.
101 Courses: Registration ends Oct. 1. For class schedules and sign up, visit www.101.csu.qc.ca.
The Loyola Luncheon at the Hive is open everyday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The People’s Potato, located on the seventh floor of the Hall Building, is open for lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily.