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How to Make the Most Out of University Life While Living at Home

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

Choosing to stay at home with your family during university can stem from a number of reasons: either because you live close to campus, you want to save money, or you’re not quite ready to part ways and move out by yourself. While staying at home can have its perks (such as home-made meals and having your own room!), it’s normal to feel as though you’re not as connected to campus life as your fellow peers who live in residence are. 

In order to make sure that you’re making the best of your university years at Carleton — even when you’re not on campus 24/7 — it’s important to connect and be involved in campus life as much as you can so you feel included. While the pandemic may have dampened these plans a bit, it’s never too late to try to branch out and take up new initiatives on campus despite not living in residence.

If you happen to be staying at home this year for university and don’t know where to start, here are some tips coming from someone who used to be in the same place:

Attend Student Social Events

Carleton’s Campus Activity Board (CAB) organizes and hosts a variety of events in order to bring students together and allow them to take a break from their studies. A few of their most popular events include EPIC Bingo, Bob Ross Paint Night, wellness workshops, trivia games, and more! 

For someone at home who isn’t always able to spend time with fellow Ravens in residence, going to a few of these events can allow you to meet other students through friendly competition, as well as have the chance to win some prizes. You can check out their event schedule on their website and register.

Join or start a club

Now I know that this is what every new student is told, but I can’t stress how important it is to join a community of students who share the same passion as you. Carleton has SO many clubs and academic societies that prospective Ravens can join. Many of these can center around meeting other students in your program who share a similar interest/hobby as you, sports, philanthropy, culture, etc. Overall, joining a club can help you gain leadership and team-building skills that can be applied to future careers, and can give you something else to devote your time to besides academics. Or, perhaps you may even have a club idea of your own that hasn’t been established at Carleton yet! Finding other students who would be interested in starting up a club with you can help you gain valuable connections and encourage campus involvement.

To see which clubs are available at Carleton, check out the club directory or visit Expo Carleton during Fall Orientation. 

Offer to show Out-of-town students around ottawa

Chances are, you’ll end up meeting plenty of students who aren’t from Ottawa. Luckily for you, if you’re choosing to stay home in Ottawa for the school year, there’s a good chance that someone like this will want to ask you where you like to eat, shop, or study as an Ottawa native. This gives you the perfect chance to act as tour guide and share some of your favourite spots around Canada’s capital and build rapport with other students along the way. 

Next time someone asks you where the best book shop and café near campus is, offer to tag along with them and give them a tour of some of your other spots that may be nearby. Who knows, maybe it will become a frequent hang out spot for you and your potential new friend!

Form a study group

Do you and the people you usually sit beside in your lecture always end up more confused about the content you just learned after class finishes? Yup, we’ve all been there. However, maybe instead of going home and trying your best to re-read your notes and conjure up some understanding of what you just learned, hit up some of the people who you know are just as lost as you and set up a study group on campus! 

Building a support system to help you be successful in your classes is extremely beneficial. Not only does this allow you to socialize with other students in your class, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn from them as well and work through different problems that you guys may have encountered. Also, sometimes certain classes offer Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), which are super helpful and engaging.

Take yourself on a campus tour and discover new spots

Living away from campus means that you most likely only visit the same few buildings where your classes are held each week. While Carleton may seem like a huge campus at first, getting familiar with some of the notable buildings is a good idea in order to make you feel less insecure about finding your way around. I can attest that I only stepped foot into maybe four different buildings last year due to many of my classes being online, but I am planning to explore more of campus this year, no excuses. 

Whenever you end up having free time after class and the weather’s nice, go out for a walk and discover some buildings that you never visited before (maybe you’ll end up finding another study spot that isn’t super crowded or popular on campus). Decide to even ask some people you regularly talk to in your classes where they like to go around campus if they live in residence, or ask them to explore different buildings together!

With these tips, hopefully you’ll realize that even though you’re choosing to stay at home instead of living in residence, you can always find a way to make yourself known on campus and be engaged with your fellow peers. There’s always something happening on campus, and there are especially a lot of new students who are looking to socialize with others. However, I think the most important tip to remember is this: don’t be afraid to reach out or try something new, because you never know where it could lead you!

Audrey is double majoring in Journalism and Communication & Media Studies. She's been involved with Her Campus Carleton since her first year, and has written pieces about lifestyle, entertainment, food, and campus life. In addition to Her Campus, she has also done reporting for The Charlatan, Capital Current, and Roots Music Canada. When she's not busy writing, Audrey loves discovering new movies to add to her Letterboxd watchlist, geeking out over musical theatre, trying new restaurants in Ottawa, and anything vintage.