It was always a no-brainer that I would live in residence my first year of university. It seemed as if every university student I spoke to raved about residence and how it led them to meet their best friends, so even though I was doubtful that my experience would be that incredible, I decided I couldn’t miss out. But alas, when the pandemic struck, I was worried that my residence experience would be compromised because COVID guidelines have the tendency to limit the opportunities for fun and socialization.
Nevertheless, I decided it was worth a shot. On September 5th, I packed up my stuff and drove all the way to St. Paul’s University College in Waterloo. I didn’t know anyone else, so you can imagine how nervous I was (truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life). Living away from everyone who knows you is a daunting thing; I remember thinking I’d hate it on my first day because I didn’t immediately “click” with anyone. But over time, I not only got used to living in residence, but I started to love it.
Now, that being said, by no means was I wrong for being worried; the pandemic has definitely made it more difficult to safely socialize with others. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to deal with the constantly changing COVID guidelines, and it can be a bit of a pain to have to wear a mask everywhere. But I’m not here to talk about the miniscule, first-world problems of residence — I’m here to tell you why I think coming to residence is one hundred percent worth it.
- It gives you independence and will help you grow as a person.
I’m glad to say that learning how to do laundry isn’t the only way I’ve grown since coming to residence. I actually think I’m a completely new person since the beginning of the year. For starters, I’m more outgoing and confident, probably because I had to go out of my way to make friends. I can solve everyday problems on my own without relying on my parents or sister, and I’ve become more adaptable to new or unknown situations. I certainly wouldn’t have the same level of maturity had I stayed at home, so I owe a lot of my self-improvement to residence.
- You’ll get the chance to make lifelong friendships.
I guess the upper-year university students weren’t exaggerating when they told me they met the greatest people in residence, because I’ve had the exact same experience. Since I came to residence alone, I built relationships with others so much faster than if I had one of my friends from home here with me. If I was sad or stressed, I had to talk it out with my new friends because they were right there, which made us much closer. I come from a polar opposite background than most of my friends, but residence has brought us together and I’ll never be able to express the extent of my gratitude for that opportunity. (Not to mention, I did meet my boyfriend in residence — do with that information what you will!)
- It enables you to get a somewhat normal first year.
I was not about to throw away a quarter of my university experience just because of COVID-19. No sir; I already lost my graduation and prom because of the virus, so I did not want to miss out on anything else. By no means has my first year of university been normal, but at least I have been able to make friends and be on campus, which is more than I would have been able to say had I been living at home. Plus, being here has allowed me to familiarize myself with Waterloo’s beautiful campus so that next year won’t feel like a culture shock. Unfortunately, learning how to tolerate the Waterloo geese and prevent their attacks is just not possible from my hometown.
- It’s way easier to get work done here.
At the end of my grade 12 year, when everything was online, it was absolutely impossible to focus. I didn’t have a set space where I liked to work, and I couldn’t effectively limit my distractions. Here in the residence I’m at, there are several study rooms (the perfect places to work), along with friends who will motivate me to get my work done. I can say for certain that my procrastination has reduced to a minimum since being here, and I’m especially grateful for that.
- You’ll have new experiences and make memories you will cherish forever.
This part might get a little cheesy, but just remember that nothing I say is embellished. If money isn’t a constraint and you are looking to have incredible experiences with awesome new friends, residence is for you. Even in the pandemic, I’ve made some fun and hilarious memories I know I’ll reminisce about in the years to come.
So, there you have it — despite common assumptions, residence is certainly still worth it. COVID can’t stop us from having a great first year experience!