For most students, moving into residence marks the first tentative steps out of their parents’ home and into the real world. It’s like purgatory — not the heaven of living rent free with a fridge full of food, but also not the hell of paying electric bills and deciding if a Costco membership is worth it. But it’s still a transition, and incoming students will inevitably have some adjusting to do.
Every year on move-in day, residence services does everything they can to make residence as appealing as possible. Incoming students get a fancy drawstring bag full of coupons, a bus ride to Bed Bath and Beyond to purchase discounted shower caddies, the promise of frequent floor events and dozens of Residence Students Association members spouting words like “community” and “family.”
They make it seem like residence is a summer camp that never ends.
In many ways, that’s true. Residence is a place where, if you want to party, there is probably a room full of dudebros doing vodka shots and attempting to illegally play beer pong on two milk crates and an engineering presentation poster. They’ll greet you with a raucous cheer and invite you to join in. Everyone is everyone’s friend at a first-year rez party, especially if you bring booze.
For when you aren’t busy drinking, food is available at your fingertips. The Dining Centre, while expensive and bland, at least has vegetables. As tempting as it may be to live off of Reese’s peanut butter pops and cup-a-noodles, man cannot live on junk food alone. Take advantage of the thousands of dollars you were forced to pump into your meal plan.
There will come a time during your stay in residence when the appeal starts to slip. When you find yourself complaining about how overpriced rent is (which is incredibly overpriced) or how loud your neighbour’s party is (which is incredibly loud) or how tiny your twin bed is (which is incredibly tiny), remember that residence is a transition point built on convenience. You won’t be here forever.
I’ll admit that three years and four different buildings after my first move-in day at University of Calgary, most of the lustre of that first day is gone. I don’t know any of my current neighbours. I haven’t been to a floor event since my first year. The only alcohol in my fridge is a half case of Mike’s Hard Lemonade left over from a staff party three months ago. My shower caddy was purchased at full price on my own time. But I still choose to live in residence.
This is a place where I can roll out of bed at 7:50 a.m. and still make it to my 8:00 a.m. critical theory lecture. And as shitty as some of the services are, residence is somewhere I don’t have to worry about setting up Wi-Fi or fixing a broken sink because maintenance is always on call.
There are a few tips I can impart upon you to maximize residence’s convenience. Learn nearby transit routes. Keep a first-aid kit in your room. Invest in your own shot glasses. Know your neighbours. Never date on your own floor. Buy groceries and use your fridge for more than just Jägermeister — your body will thank you. Find excuses to get off campus. For kicks, you can always laugh at the poor suckers who have to commute on the train for an hour and a half every morning.
You might spend only eight months here, or five years and every summer in between. You might become an active member of the RSA or a jaded recluse. Regardless, you will make it through this, unless the Aramark food kills you first. And if you ever get duct-taped inside of a dorm room, well, it happens to the best of us.