Living off campus is a culture shock compared to living in residence, but vital to becoming a fully functional adult.
Making friends is hard, it’s even harder when everyone is new. First-year students are all trying to find where they fit in, and when people live off-campus for first year, it can be more difficult to seek out their place in the school’s community.
Nothing beats walking three steps to go visit a friend.
Residence creates camaraderie.
After moving off campus, friends that saw each other everyday while living in residence, now see each other once a week or once a month. Friendships are harder to maintain when a previously 30-minute visit now means an hour or more taken out of study time.
It is convenient to text a friend saying, “be there in 10,” and just walking in upon arrival though. Students living in residence will grow to hate key cards and the phrase “come get me.”
Residence is certainly not for everyone. It can push socializing limits for even the most extroverted extroverts. There are people everywhere. Go to the washroom; someone there. Go to the common room; someone there. And for many, go back to the dorm room; someone there.
Coping is possible – wear headphones, find a study carrel in the Killam, or hide in the bathroom stall.
On the upside, it makes a person appreciate all the benefits of a private room. Mental breakdowns can, and will happen. No one likes to cry in front of someone, especially if they barely know them. But living off-campus means that someone isn’t going to walk into the room without knocking. It’s comforting.
First-year was full of stifled tears, second-year was still full of tears, just free flowing ones. In the privacy of an unshared room. It’s healthier.
Residence is a smart choice though. It’s intense to fly the coop. At least landing in residence isn’t such a big leap. The RA’s are there to talk to, the food is made by someone else, and a whole community is already built.
Living independent of campus requires more responsibility. The university takes care of the utilities. Don’t be like me and forget to pay the internet bill until winter break the first year of living off campus.
Seriously, it piles on a lot of surcharges.
Renting an apartment means actually paying rent. Every month. Meaning having the right amount of money in the right account at the right time. Seems simple but even a dollar off can turn into a $100 mistake. If a check bounces, the bank charges a fee and so do landlords.
It’s a hard lesson so learn from my mistake. Double check your account after every Interac purchase when it’s coming up to the first of the month.
Paying for the apartment is a responsibility but so is cleaning it.
Going from tidying half a bedroom to a whole apartment makes a person miss cleaning the shoebox sized place.
Dishes suck, but they suck less when done in small amounts. So clean frequently and immediately after eating. It’s so much better in the long run.
Cooking on the other hand, is best when done infrequently. Especially come exam time. Making big meals and eating leftovers is smart. Cooking can seem like a chore, especially after living in the lap of luxury and showing up and being fed. Cooking whatever is desired and however it is desired is fantastic though. A slow cooker will become your best friend for days classes run until five.
Pros and cons can be found for both living on and off campus, but it’s another step in the journey to independence. Each one plays an important role. I applaud those who jump right into living off campus. Talk about adding stress.
Residence is a great experience, one that I would not repeat nor do differently. Off campus living is like a breath of fresh air, just be careful and don’t get caught in a storm.