Growing up

Andre Bonfiglio Compean - 21 April 2021

We often hear that growing up can be scary (and it sure can be) but it is part of our journey after all. In residence, I have experienced endless growth as a student, as a leader, as a person and as a friend.

My journey in residence

When I first showed up here, it was my first time in Edmonton and it was a bit terrifying. But between friends, RAs, staff, the cafeteria, dodgeball and a little love it all came together quite well. I can now say that I feel much more prepared to take the skills that I developed in residence to the outside world.

I assume this was the journey that many experienced. For some us, it may have been our first time away from home—some flown across the globe to get here while some just took a long drive to reach this place that we now call home... a home away from home. A place where we gained more independence and built a family of our own, and a place that may have marked their hearts for eternity.

For some people, growth was apparent. A few of us may have had to learn or master English, others may have had a harder time coping with university life, some may have struggled with being away from home... the list goes on. But what is most important is that at the end of the day, we conquered.

We all grew and now we are better prepared for university, for life and even for a life during a pandemic (which sucks but it is definitely a skill that we have all acquired).

Continuing to grow

I am telling you this now: Things may not get much easier. Growth and change are always hard but they also bring the greatest rewards. When the world returns to “normal” (whatever that may be), we will have to adapt once again.

We will continue to grow. Next year may be your first year taking in person classes in university. You'll experience being in a room with hundreds of strangers for the first time. Many will get lost around campus while searching for the lecture halls.

Even for those of us who have already experienced a normal university year, it will still be strange. You'll probably question the thing that seem simple and instinctive. It will take some time getting used to taking exams without access to your notes or actually having to go to class because they are no longer recorded.

Big changes are about to come, as they always do. But change isn't bad! It is an opportunity for growth and to build character. Challenges, such as this year, only make us stronger and also make us aware of our humanity.

Learning from a challenging year

This year has taught us to appreciate the little things and never take something for granted. I can say that I never even considered not seeing my family for 2 years but that is exactly what happened. And it sucks, but it also helped me appreciate residence staff members, my RA team, my firsties and my friends so much more.

Some may not be aware of how much of an impact they have on a person but personally speaking, all the people that I just mentioned truly helped me grow. I have learned so much from each one of them and there are lessons, stories, conversations, and moments that I will remember for life.

That is how I experienced growth in residence. I met people from every corner of the world, learned about their culture, taught them about mine… I was able to open my eyes to so many different perspectives and definitely found myself challenging many of my beliefs along the way.

That is what I take away from residence. I may not be here next year, but Lister will always hold a place in my heart, and I hope it does in yours as well once you decide to move on from residence.

Recognize your own impact

Our journey in residence after all is only the start of so much more—a glimpse at life that will fill you with joy and make you a better person. I hope that we can all appreciate how much our experiences in residence have helped us grow.

In life, we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that is (in my opinion) one of the most important things that I have learned during my years in residence and at the U of A.

I hope that as I have, all of us are able to recognize the impact that a community such as Lister or East Campus has had on us. We did not grow on our own! We grew with our friends, family and the community overall—and we helped them grow, too. There are things that you just cannot explain, and living and growing in residence is one of them.

Thank you to all of those who helped me grow. I will miss all of you. :)