Living in Rez: A Survival Guide

McGill rez

by Elliane

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.

Housing Style

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!:)

From One World to the Next in Less Than Four Hours

Dorm room

by Elliane

I think it is safe to say that my college move-in day was not a “typical” day, if anyone can say they had a normal move-in. This summer I worked as a camp counselor at a summer camp about an hour and a half away from Montreal, Quebec, where I go to college.

My contract was ending on Sunday, August 24 at 4 pm. Move-in day was Saturday, August 23.

The whole time I was at camp I was pretty nonchalant about moving in a day late, but on the inside I was freaking out! What if everyone made friends on the first night and there was no one left when I got there? Would it be awkward to have my mom there if everyone has moved in? What would my room be like?

Of course, I shouldn’t have been worried, but who wouldn’t be? My mom picked me up at camp promptly at 4 pm and we rushed off (as fast as you can rush in traffic) to McGill University. I was bouncing up and down just wanting to arrive!

When we did get there I signed my lease, got my key, and a room inspection sheet. The two of us decided it would probably be best to go up and see the room prior to hauling my things up.

McGill campus view

The good view from my friend’s room across the hall! The dining room is the round building.

My dorm is on the sixth floor out of seven and all the way at the end of the hallway. On my door was a little sign that had my name, Ellie, and a just little things note that read “When you see your food coming in a restaurant.” I turned to my mom and said “They know me already!” (I really like food.)

Because my room is a corner room, it is “bigger” than the others. Ha! Although it is more spacious than my friends’ rooms there are some awkwardly placed shelves and most of the furniture is nailed down so I had to keep it exactly how it looked. We checked everything out for a minute or two and then went to unpack the car.

Now this is where it got stressful in a couple of ways. First off, my dorm is on Mount Royal (Mount-Royal -> Mont-Real -> Montreal!) so you have to hike up to it. Then there are stairs to climb to get to the actual building as well. After walking up and down a couple times to the foyer we brought my things up to my dorm.

During this whole back and forth there was a crowd of people outside the main doors. Each time we would try to enter they would hardly budge. To me it wasn’t much of a bother because these were potential friends, and also distracted college students. Of course when another girl who was moving in introduced herself, my mom decided to call out the people blocking the doors outside. I was mortified because she was talking about the people I had to make friends with!

I won’t go into complete detail, but remember that on your move-in day your parents are probably tired, sad, and if it’s about 80 degrees out like it was for my day, hot.

My biggest tip is not to unpack everything, but to immediately make your bed because you won’t want to do it when it’s dark out and late at night!

After all my belongings were in my room, we went for dinner and unwound a bit. My Mom dropped me back off at Gardner Hall, my dorm, and that was it, moving in was over.

After living with seven other girls in a cabin for a month this summer it was a shock and somewhat lonely transition to living on my own. I wouldn’t recommend going from one world to another without stopping on neutral ground (home) but it is not impossible.

You will make friends, and you will find your hairbrush/ toothbrush/ spoons/ or whatever it is you can’t seem to find. Guaranteed you will think you’ve lost your keys, hopefully you haven’t, but don’t panic, just retrace your steps! Happy unpacking!

Here is my master list of things you need or your college dorm room and tips for move-in:


  • cereal
  • a fan
  • sticky squares (for putting pictures on walls)
  • a lamp (or 2)
  • a carpet (the floors are hard and cold, a rug warms things up!)
  • sunscreen


  • Make your bed before you leave. You don’t know the joy of coming home to a made bed until you actually feel it.
  • Take deep breaths, take time for yourself.
  • Go explore your floor or building. Everyone is in the same position as you, tremptious (nervous but excited, not a real word, but very useful)
  • Do talk to your parents/friends back home. It’s not clingy, it’s nice!
  • Smile!
  • Leave your door open and venture out of your room to meet the people on your floor.
  • Stock up on food for those times you need a little snack, or even a full meal (it happens).
  • Put up something from home, and then another thing, and then at least 10 more. Decorations are the key to making your place feel like your place.

Moving In. Moving On. Moving Up.


by Natalie

The major changes that are made a little easier by the things that stay the same.

On any given Saturday evening you might find me hanging with my homies, on Netflix, or eating exorbitant amounts of cheese popcorn.

On Saturday, August 24, on the other hand, I was doing none of these things as I was whirling around my house: a tornado of anxiety and sheer force leaving a path of folded clothes and empty shelves in my wake.

I was packing.

“Packing for what?” you might ask.

“A lovely tropical all-expense paid vacation to Fiji?”

“A skiing expedition in the Alps?”

“A cross-country tour opening for Katy Perry?”

Not for any of these things but for an adventure much more important by far: College.

The following Sunday morning, when the pickup truck that would become my mode of transportation and the crossover my parents were driving were both packed to the seams, we piled into our respective vehicles and set off for beautiful Concordia College in exotic Moorhead, Minnesota.

My new home.

It was a long four hours as the dusty light of the early morning sun broke through the fog of sleep deprivation and stress to bring me into a new frame of mind as we traversed the wild terrain of I-94.

Upon our arrival on campus, I felt no more doubt or fear or fretfulness. I felt only a tidal wave of excitement and giddiness wash over me as I hopped out of my truck to be greeted all at once by five very attractive young men.

I was guided around the awe-inspiring campus that I now call home to my dorm by one of those strapping lads, Josh. Josh wrangled up a friend of his, Peter, and the two of them set up the bunks for my roommate and me and swiftly departed to help other lost little freshman.

I was given my key and introduced to my Resident Assistant (RA), Jazzy. She explained where my resources would be here at Concordia and left me to my unpacking. Within a few hours, my room was decked out with a TV, a tower fan, a tiny little kitchenette and a lot of room for activities.

As I stood in the middle of my modest new home, a young lady and her parents walked in and plopped a few boxes down. This was my roommate, Courtney, a wonderful person who has proven to be the most understanding and marvelous living partner to ever walk the streets of Moorhead. After the niceties had been exchanged, the beds made, and the ethernet cables plugged in, my parents and I went off to Buffalo Wild Wings for a lovely meal of crispy barbeque chicken strips and Dr. Pepper.

After lunch, they drove me back to campus and we said our surprisingly tearless goodbyes.

My mom told me to make good choices.

My dad told me that these would be the best years of my life.

As they drove off, I turned and entered the auditorium where the next chapter in my life and, more importantly, my orientation week would begin.

Concordia does orientation like nobody else. It’s a nonstop barrage of pump up jams; high energy 20 year-olds; getting to know you games; heavy conversation about drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll; pure exhaustion; and food.

There was a lot of food.

I think I gained my freshman fifteen in just those few days. That extra padding wasn’t all I gained in my first two weeks of my collegiate life. I’ve collected a few new friends, a few new habits, and a few new adventures in the past 14 days here at Concordia.

I’ve found that I am much more attentive to my classes and much more motivated to do my homework than I was in high school. I got into the fall musical, Les Misérables, and I’ve met some of the most extraordinary people with some of the most beautiful and the most horrific paths that have brought them into my life.

I’ve grown.

On any given Saturday evening, you might find me at a faculty concert, hanging with my new homies, doing my music theory homework, or eating exorbitant amounts of all you can eat cookie dough from the dining services here at Concordia.

Move-in day changed a lot about my day-to-day life. And I love it.