Living in a student residence has been fantastic. Don’t get me wrong — there are definitely some downsides, but overall I give living in a residence two thumbs up! It’s been amazing to have so many people my own age living literally down the hall.
Here at McGill we call student housing “Rez” because Canadians tend to shorten all of their words (university becomes “uni,” cafeteria becomes “caf,” etc.) The interesting thing about Rez at McGill is that it is not required for all freshmen. This is because of a unique pre-university program in Quebec called CEGEP that fits between high school (high school only runs through 11th grade) and university.
In my experience most universities in the U.S. require first years to live on campus for at least one year with the options for student housing being limited. If student housing sounds scary, and you aren’t sure that it’s the right fit for you do some research about what other options are available at the schools you are interested in!
Here’s a list of things to consider about student housing options and some of my experiences so far with living on my own:
For the record, I am not always a “people person”… just sometimes. Being an introverted extrovert played a big part in my decision to have a single room. Single rooms are very common at McGill, my entire residence hall and the three nearby are only single rooms.
I needed to be able to get away from people and retreat into my own space, but I also wanted the ease of meeting people and being around friends. Having my own room, I can be as messy as I want and I also never have to worry about waking up a roommate!
If you think a roommate is right for you, definitely go for it. I think that it is an important experience to have; living with people is not easy so getting a head start your first year is a great idea. As I spent the last seven summers living in close quarters with girls at camp, I know that I prefer time to myself so I chose a single room.
Classic dorm, hotel, or apartment? Those were my three choices. I’m not certain what types of housing are available at other universities, but if any of these interest you, consider that in your search for the perfect university. Spend time looking at the different options – it’s where you’ll be living for nearly a year!
I live in a “classic” dorm here at McGill called Gardner Hall. There are 36 single rooms per floor and the building has seven floors. I share a bathroom, common spaces, and a “floor fellow,” (or Residence Advisor, “RA,” at other schools). It’s a less expensive option compared to the others. A meal plan is mandatory!
Next is the “hotel style” dorm, where the building is a converted hotel and it was modified by the university into a residence hall. We have three of these here at McGill and they are significantly more expensive than the other options. The rooms are standard hotel sized rooms with two queen beds and a shared bathroom. It is pretty much guaranteed that you have a roommate in these dorms because the rooms are so large. A meal plan is also mandatory.
Lastly there are the “apartment style” dorms. There are a few different options. One of these is living in a house with about 17 other people, cooking your own food and living somewhat close to campus. The next is an apartment complex that is right across from campus, where you have a roommate or two. And there is also an apartment complex off campus (about four metro stops away) where you have your own little apartment with a few other people, but there are still “Floor Fellows” to guide you through your first year of living on your own.
Take Care of Yourself
Although to some this may seem obvious, taking care of yourself proves to be more difficult than you think. I like to think of myself as a very rational person and someone who knows who she is. However not having my mom around is a big change.
I got the sniffles, and then a headache, a couple weeks before midterm exams began. Back at home my mom would have probably told me to take it easy, drink lots of fluids, and get more sleep. But living on your own comes with the responsibility of taking care of yourself and lots of other adult things. Make sure that you focus on you once in a while because if your body is not functioning properly than your studies and socializing are only going to make it worse.
Don’t freak out if you don’t get the Rez you wanted! No matter where you end up, you will find your place and your people. Make the best out of student housing because it is a phenomenal opportunity to meet a bunch of people who are all in similar places in their lives with similar interests and ambitions!
If you have any questions at all about Rez feel free to leave a comment!:)