Moving in: Need to knows

Ejofon Ellis-Odjurhe - 05 August 2021

Whether it’s to a new country, province, city, or even a new building, moving can be a big deal. I always find myself wondering: “What are the people there going to be like? Will I fit in?” These are common and totally valid questions new residents joining any community may have—I know I did!

So, let’s talk about ways to ease this transition and lay the foundations for us to thrive in on-campus residence communities.

Your residence is your home

When moving to a new place, I often feel anxious when I don’t really know much about the place or the people there. I was pleased to find out that the U of A resident population is a combination of various identities and passions. I quickly learnt that navigating this space, one in which diversity is not only accounted for but also celebrated, would be an ongoing and educational experience. For me, this meant understanding the community’s expectations of me and what I could expect from the community.

Brushing up on my rights and responsibilities as a resident made the difference between me occupying a unit and actually having a say in what my residence community looks and feels like.

Together, we can build a community

If the past two years in residence have taught me anything, it’s that your residence community is what you put into it. When I started attending floor and community-wide events, like BaseCamp orientation, King Louis, Eastern Ascent and events put on by Resident Assistants and associations, I found that I started to build connections with other residents. The sense of isolation that comes with moving to a new space was replaced by an understanding that my presence was felt by my neighbours.

This meant a couple of things for me: Firstly, the lounge started to feel like a fun place for me to hang out in. Whenever I saw my floormates waiting to head to the caf, they were also waiting for me. Finally, asking and providing homework help was just a door-knock or text away.

Presence does matter

As my neighbours and I created a space for me within our residence community, I realised that I had to care for that space in addition to the spaces of other community members. In short, it meant decisions which were fun and convenient for me grew into decisions that accounted for the fun and safety of my community members. Reading over the House Rules helped to inform this transition, because like other residence documents, it exists and it’s revised to allow our diverse residence population to support each other as we live together.

For me, this transition looked like picking up and returning my neighbour’s ONEcard that they left in the lounge, turning down my music during the evenings or even just checking in on my neighbour who, lately, I haven’t seen around the building much. These little things made the difference between living in the same space together and actively looking out for one another.