What every student should know about university residence

-It will be loud. All the time. “Quiet hours” are a lie, so if doors slamming, yelling, or drunken yodelling bother you, invest in earplugs

-People on your floor know everything about your life. Even if you’ve never talked to them. A girl from down the hall once came up to me and was like, “Who’s that guy you always have over? He’s really cute. Are you dating him? You should date him.” That was the first conversation I’d ever had with her.

-Everything will smell like weed always

-Don’t try to get anything done on Thursday nights

-There will always be someone drinking. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, and even during finals. Okay, especially during finals.

-Everyone’s fridges really only end up containing alcohol and maybe some hummus. Hummus makes really good drunk food.

-There will always be someone drinking their seventh cup of coffee

-There will always be that person who never gets out of their pyjamas, and as far as you know, never goes to class. Is there a degree in playing video games I don’t know about?

-In spite of the fact that you all live a few feet away from each other, people play online video games together in separate rooms

-At any given second someone is always saying “I should be doing school work right now” while watching youtube videos, playing video games, or just lying in bed doing absolutely nothing

-Half the floor is always sick. I swear, we just pass the same cold back and forth over and over

-No one knows where the library is

-Like three people on the floor know how to do laundry and they have to teach everyone else. Scratch that. All of the girls know how to do laundry and like three of the guys do. Not sexist if it’s true.

-No one has ever attempted to clean their bathroom

-The vacuum has been used maybe four times. Two out of four times were to vacuum up puke.

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On debating

I really never wanted to join the university debate club. I just wanted to go to IKEA. No, actually, that’s how it happened.

And yet, I’ve spent three of the last four weekends at debate tournaments, and almost all of my friends in university belong to debate. We literally go to other universities, stand in rooms, and talk for hours. And then we do it again the next day. With this in mind, I think it’s very valid to ask, how the hell did this happen? What the hell am I doing with my life? Let me explain.

I met Lena (I asked her which character she related with in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and she picked Lena, so that’s now her name) because she lived down the hall from me in residence. My first impression of her was that she was a bit too much a try hard, with her tailored blazers and little pencil skirts. Like geez, this is a dorm, not the UN. She was fun to talk to  though, and frankly, I had met very few people on my floor who I actually wanted to hang out with. Most of the rest were engineering students who alternated between doing physics, playing video games, and watching hockey, which are basically my three least favourite things.

So when Lena invited me to go on this special student shuttle to IKEA one night a couple weeks into school, I was down. I figured it would at least be something to do. The hitch was that Lena had to make a detour before we left. She promised it wouldn’t take more than an hour, she just had to go to this meeting thing.

Sure, I thought. I didn’t really have anything better to do. It was the second week of university so I didn’t really even have homework yet.

The “meeting thing” turned out to be a debate club meeting, and Lena, it turned out, was on the Canadian national team for high school debate. In other words, she was kind of a big deal in the debate community. When she showed up at the meeting members of the club already knew who she was.

I found all of this news mildly bemusing. I thought it was funny that there was a “debate community” and a national team and everything. I mean seriously, it’s just people arguing. How intense could it really be?

Super intense, as it turned out. At the meeting, the senior members did a demo round to show what debate was like in university. Not only was it intense, but it was also really interesting, and smart and…entertaining. I never would have seen that coming. What honestly drew me in was that all the debaters just looked like they were having such a good time. There they were, standing up talking about smart things, but also adding in jokes and good natured teasing. The debate I saw was about whether a total surveillance state was a good idea, and the debaters made jokes about their rights to watch BDSM porn in the privacy of their own home. They actually had the whole room laughing by the end.

When we left to go to IKEA, Lena told me straight up that she wouldn’t be offended if I told her I thought it was stupid. She said she new debating was kind of a ridiculous use of her time, but that it was something she had done for a really long time and she personally enjoyed it. I think I shocked her when I said that I was interested in going to the next meeting.

It just kind of snowballed from there. I went to the next meeting, then to a full day training session for beginners, then to one tournament, then another. At this point I think I’ve spent about a quarter of my weekends in university at debate tournaments.

It’s worth noting that not only am I not very good at debating, but I also don’t particularly care about becoming any good. For me it’s just about being around people who want to talk about important issues. The way one debate friend described it was that debaters don’t just talk about the “whats” in life-what you want to do, what you like, what you want to be-but also the “whys.” Debate is about calling your beliefs into question; you have to justify your choices and your reasoning. We don’t just talk like that in debates, but outside of them too.

I think the idea of thinking “whys” appeals to me because I’ve always thought like that. It’s a characteristic that shows in my writing, especially in this blog. I tend to write about something that happened, then how I feel about it, then speculate as to why I feel that way. What’s cool is that now I have a group of friends to talk like this with, instead of just turning over these thoughts in my own brain.

I’ve become close with four girls in debate, all first years.  What’s funny is even though I’ve only known them for a few months, I already feel as close to them as I do with friends I’ve known for years. Maybe it’s because residence forces people to become close. Maybe it’s because we’ve already spent so many weekends together for debate. Maybe it’s just the massive amount of wine we consume together. Whatever the reason, I’ve found people I belong with here. That’s a pretty special thing.

How to ace your first month in residence

In university I am learning to analyze stuff and such. Here are some facts about my first three weeks in residence. Feel free to analyze and interpret however you choose.

What I could have eaten for breakfast today: eggs made to order with whole grain toast and assorted fresh fruit

What I actually ate for breakfast today: three bowls of cheerios and some tater tots

What I could have eaten for dinner last night: a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, grilled veggies, and a fresh salad

What I actually ate for dinner last night: a taco, some sushi, and two slices of cake

What I could have eaten for lunch yesterday: a toasted egg salad sandwich and a bowl of vegetable soup

What I actually ate for lunch yesterday: Lunch? What is lunch?

What I could be keeping in my mini fridge: milk, juice, vegetables and dip, fruit, cheese, yogurt

What I actually keep in my fridge: four Palm Bays and some hummus

How many hours of sleep I could have gotten this weekend: 10+ per night

How many hours of sleep I actually got this weekend: Less than six. Total.

Number of colds I’ve gotten already this month: 2

Go figure.

T-minus 24 hours

Tomorrow I move into residence at the university. This time tomorrow perhaps I’ll be sitting in my res room listening to Vampire Weekend pumping out of my new Bose speakers (a belated birthday present from my dad), or maybe I’ll be eating dinner with some of my floormates in the fantastic cafeteria, or starting a game of pick up soccer out on the lawn.

Even though we were actually on campus today paying fees and picking up my student card, it’s still hard to imagine actually being there, like really living there. University is all I’ve thought about all summer during all of those long, hot shifts at the diner and late nights staying up with my laptop. I’ve imagined a zillion different scenarios for that first day, and now that it’s finally here I don’t even know what to think. I keep ending up arguing with myself:

Me: I should wear a t shirt and shorts and be super chill and casual on the first day

Myself: Oh my god no people here are probably so trendy I don’t want to look like a loser I need to put an outfit together like stat. Crap my fedora is all crunched from my suitcase…

I: Who cares! Just wander around and go up and talk to people. You should try to be outgoing and meet a ton of people right away!

Me: Well I don’t want to try to hard…maybe I’ll just chill in my room or something, at least for the first night…

Myself: But then who am I going to eat with? If I don’t meet people I’ll have to go to the cafeteria by myself and sit alone…

I: See this is my point, we need to get out and meet people! Who knows? We might meet our future best friend or boyfriend on the first day.

Me: Crap that’s a lot of pressure for one day.

So yeah. Wish me luck. As you can see, the hype for this day has gotten a little ridiculous.