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Residence Survival Guide

by Alena Blanes

It’s that time of year again.

Now that summer is over, it’s time to start gearing up for the school year ahead. For many of us that means packing up our belongings and moving across town, or across the country (if you’re like me) and settling into residence.

Living on campus is great for a lot of reasons. You can roll out of bed 15 minutes before class starts, socialize with friends as often as you like and spend a late night studying in the LRC. For many, this may be your first time living away from home. I know it can be daunting, but I’m here to tell you you’re going to be alright.

Whether you’re new to residence or just still trying to master the whole living-alone thing – fear not! We have you covered with this handy survival guide.

Woman relaxes in bed

1. The dorm-essential you didn’t know you needed

Dorm beds are notoriously thin and uncomfortable because let’s face it, this isn’t a hotel. In my first year, I had a friend in residence who bought a foam mattress topper for her bed and I was blown away. I bought one when I moved into res this year and have zero regrets.

If you’re finding your bed uncomfortable, consider getting one.

You can thank me later.

 

Man vacuums enthusiastically

2. Don’t be that person on your floor

If you live in a single room, you are responsible for keeping that space clean all year. If you’re lucky enough to live in a suite, keep in mind kitchenettes and washrooms are only cleaned twice a month. This means making sure you and your roommate(s) keep your shared space tidy.

If you plan on using common areas for studying or cooking please clean up after yourself and wash your dishes. Remember you’re living with many people on your floor and nobody wants to just be known for what they leave behind.

Five cacti inside pots placed side by side

3. Make your space feel like home

Empty dorms can look (and feel) pretty sad and boring, so make the space your own and personalize it. Order a cool duvet from IKEA, find some online inspiration, hit up the campus poster sale, buy a cozy rug or bring a plant from home.

You’re going to be here awhile, might as well make yourself feel at home.

Group of college students hanging out together in a lounge area

4. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone

During Orientation Week, everyone is going to be putting themselves out there. Go to the events put on by your RAs, talk to people in your floor lounge, and don’t forget to check out this year’s Frosh events including performances from CAKED UP! and Lil Yachty as well as free axe throwing at both North and Lakeshore campuses!

And if you haven’t quite found your group yet – don’t worry! While it may seem like everyone has already settled into their clique by the first few weeks, by the end of the year things will likely change. You’ll meet people anywhere from class to the 8 a.m. lineup at Tim Horton’s. This isn’t high school anymore so don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone. You’ll never know what kind of people you’ll meet. But remember, you don’t have to befriend everyone.

Group of girls walking on the street

5. Leave your room (seriously!)

I know you miss your friends back home, but Snapchatting and Facetiming them won’t help you expand your circle.

If you want to make the most out of your residence experience you have to leave the comfort of your room. It can be tough to adjust to a new life but getting out can really boost your confidence.

Go for a run in the Humber Arboretum, join a club, read a book in the library or take advantage of all the great volunteer and job opportunities on campus. You might just meet your new best friend.

And don’t forget to buy your tickets for this year’s Frosh concerts!

 

Man holding his hands to his ears

6. Know how to deal with noisy floor mates

Let’s be real, residence can get loud – even on weeknights. Chances are you will find yourself trying to get some rest or finish an assignment while everyone else on your floor is partying two doors down. Nobody wants to be the one telling people to turn down the tunes, so if you’re having trouble concentrating you have a few options:

  • Earplugs work wonders when you need a little noise cancellation
  • Speak with you RA
  • Make a noise complaint by calling the Residence Front Desk at 416-675-6622 ext. 77201 (North) | 416-675-6622 ext. 73001 (Lakeshore)

 

Man knocking on a door

7. Know who your RAs are

Adjusting to life in residence can be tough sometimes. But your RAs are here to help.

As returning students, they totally understand what it’s like managing school, sleep, socializing, and well-being. If you’re ever in a slump and need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to knock on your RA’s door. It’s their job to help ease your residence transition.

Burrito with various toppings

8. Make the most out of your meal plan

Don’t just limit yourself to the dining hall in residence. There are plenty of on and off-campus eateries offering a variety of options including vegan, vegetarian, and Halal choices. Here are some of our favourites.

Another pro tip: If you have a fridge in your room, stock up on basics at Fortinos – a 5 minute bus or 20 minute walk from the North campus. For Lakeshore students, Rabba Fine Foods is a great 24 hour option less than a 10 minute walk from K Building.

 

Toronto skyline at night

9. Be aware of on and off-campus events (and go to them!)

Aside from the constant airplanes flying overhead (you’ll get used to it), living on residence definitely has its perks. You’re only a bus and subway ride away from downtown Toronto. Something’s always happening in the city so why not spend a day checking out these cool spots downtown.

Over at Humber and Guelph-Humber there are free events, workshops and giveaways almost daily.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat @ShareIGNITE so you never miss another exciting upcoming event.

Young woman running in wood, training and exercising for trail r

10. Make time for yourself

Finally, with so many events, new friends, classes, and parties it can be easy neglect ourselves while away at school. Don’t forget to make time for self-care too. This includes getting some physical activity in, making informed choices about what you eat, managing stress, prioritizing sleep, and drinking enough water.

We know student life can be tough sometimes so don’t forget to take advantage of all the great resources available to you here on campus such as fitness facilities, water bottle refill stations, sleep lounge, 24/7 LRC, and more.

If you’re looking for even more of a boost this semester enter our survey for your chance to win $5000.

You got this!