Make the most of on-campus living
by Kylie Robertson
The start of a new school year can be intimidating, especially if you’re leaving home for the first time while making the transition to university. But have no fear! The Reflector has you covered with the residence survival guide for 2010-2011. I lived in residence for three years, and was a resident adviser for two. And I’m here to tell you that there are only three guidelines to make sure that your year in residence will be a success:
Number 1: Your RA will be your most important campus resource. Resident Advisers, or RAs, go through two weeks of training prior to the September long weekend move-in date. They’re put through their paces and given extensive role play and training scenarios to make sure that they’re capable of dealing with any situation you can throw their way.
Your RA can help you settle roommate issues, help talk you through the transition from home to residence, help you with finding the right resources on campus if they can’t help you themselves, or just hang out with you if you want company. They’re chosen for their people and problem- solving skills, so don’t feel like you can’t tell them a problem. If you don’t get along with your RA — which is entirely possible — there are a ton more, and they’re all willing to talk. If you have a friend on campus who keeps telling you how much he or she likes an RA, don’t be afraid to go and speak to that RA. If that’s not the case, you can find RAs pretty easily; look for decorated front windows in the townhouses, or for rooms ending in 05 in the west apartment buildings (for example, A105 or C405, etc.).
Number 2: Don’t enter into a room assignment with the expectation that your roommates will be your best friends. It’s true, you can meet your best friends while you’re in college. But it’s never a good idea to project that expectation onto a person that you’ve just met.
A healthy living assignment is one that’s built on mutual respect, and not necessarily on friendship. Friendship can always evolve out of respect, but if it doesn’t, respect will be what gets you through the next eight months. Talk to your roommates early about cleaning and dishes, and make sure that you can all agree upon what defines “clean” and “dirty.” Remember that not everyone will have the exact same definition. Don’t forget to discuss house quiet hours, in the (likely) event that some people will be morning people, and others will be night owls. These are the most common points of contention between roommates, so if you get them out of the way early, it will be a smooth transition for everyone.
If issues do come up with your roommates, it’s very important that you’re comfortable talking about them amongst yourselves. While your RA is a great resource if you find that you can’t resolve your issues on your own, each and every one will tell you to try to fix the problem on your own first. Approach the situation calmly, and make sure that you’re addressing the behaviour that bothers you, not attacking the person who’s exhibiting that behaviour. For instance, say that you dislike that the dishes don’t get done in a timely manner, not “Jane, I hate you because you never do the dishes.”
Number 3: Take advantage of all the residence-offered programs and events.
You’re paying for them with your residence fees, so it’s definitely to your advantage to show up to these things! There’s often free food — who doesn’t appreciate a night off from cooking — and you can meet some great people who also live in residence and are experiencing some of the same changes you are.
The events are free most of the time, and if there’s a charge it’s usually at a reduced cost, since the RAs are able to offer deals for events on campus. Some events that have been hosted in the past include climbing nights, Cougars hockey games, trips exploring campus and what’s nearby, pizza parties, Wii tournaments and potlucks. If you think of an event that you’d like to see, speak to your RA. They’re given a budget every semester to host events, and are always open to ideas from students. These are the basic guidelines for survival in residence, and if you follow them it’s safe to say that your year will be successful.