Superficial friendships and convenience litter residence life
School, nap, party; repeat.
That was essentially what my life consisted of during my year in residence. Although I may have been able to strike an appropriate balance between these aspects, something many first-year students struggle with, the overall experience was extremely artificial and didn’t allow much time to mature or evolve as a person.
Moving here from Alberta, I didn’t have much choice in whether or not I lived on campus, so I obliged without much hesitation and happily unpacked my bags into my single room in King St. residence.
The first day was a little intimidating, but by day two I had already made a group of close friends who seemed determined to maintain this newfound companionship. Now, besides one roommate, I don’t regularly speak to a single other person from my residence floor.
I know some residence communities remain in touch, if not close, for the four years of university and beyond; however, this was certainly not the case for me.
The friendships I made were quite significant for me during that year, but reflecting back, I realize that the bonds I was making were friendships of convenience more than anything else.
This same principle may be present in any other types of friendship, but it is particularly heightened while living in close quarters during first-year.
The people who live on your floor become more than just your friends; they consume the majority of your waking life, much like one’s family. For most who come to WLU, this is the first time being away from home and a strong support system is essential in adapting to a life without parental supervision and care.
In an unfamiliar environment, it’s only logical that you cling to those that you see on a daily basis, even if it becomes unhealthy.
In my situation I would go for weeks without leaving campus and think nothing of it; I spent every minute – eating, watching movies, studying – with the same six girls. It turned into an obsessive dependency on other people.
The unnatural influence of residence occurred to me in the first few weeks of summer after first year. I simply wandered around my house craving something to do or someone to see; I could not stand to be alone.
It wasn’t until second year came around when I lived off-campus, that I began to make friends in my classes and get involved in co-curriculars.
I soon discovered really important things about the type of person I was becoming, such as the fact that academics and grades are very important to me, that I am a raging feminist and that getting involved with something that you are truly passionate about – like a campus newspaper – is an invaluable experience.
My biggest regret of university, if I can only choose one, is that I didn’t take my first year to explore all that the school and the Waterloo community have to offer.
I’ve grown so much since I arrived at WLU four years ago and, unfortunately, very little of that growth took place during my first year.
While experiencing it, I certainly loved my time in residence, but it was one of the simplest times in my life.
Although making friendships with people you share a living space with is important, it is also important to form relationships with those who share your interests and passions, even if they aren’t right across the hall.
Surrounding myself with like-minded people really allowed me to foster the development of myself beyond the influence of classroom and extracurricula.
Though a new city and new school may seem like a scary place, the walls beyond the confines of your dorm are what university is really about.
Ultimately, the greatest risk is succumbing to the residence life bubble, so don’t limit yourself to those who are convenient to associate with; go out, join campus groups, get a job, meet people in your classes – it is practically impossible to regret having a large array of experiences.