On-Campus Housing Survival Guide : New school, new environment, new friends. (PART 2)

So you are finally moved in!  What do you do now??  Where am I supposed to go from here??  Well, here are some things you might be interested in doing AFTER you are all moved in / settled in.

AFTER you are all moved in :

1. Meet your roommates : I am not saying you should stake out of your roommates’ rooms to ambush them with your smothering.  Just a routine meet and greet is more than sufficient.  You’ll hear them move around and stuff, so you don’t necessarily have to be too eager to meet them.  If you can’t wait till you get to meet them, just leave  your inner door open for now.  That’s usually a good way of letting your roommates know you are willing to meet them and say hi.  You are right there!  They can’t miss you.  When you see your roommates, just put a big smile on, introduce yourself and say hi.  If they are decent people, they will do the same.  This is usually perfect time to feel out whether you and your roommate / roommates are going to get along or not.  These are the people you are going to end up for the next 4 months or so, so it’s better if you can get along.  If not, you can always find other people to socialize with, so it’s no big deal.  However, make sure anything common-area related rules (Bathroom cleaning and etc.) are abode by everyone in the quads, including yourself, so it’s good to get together with them to discuss the mutual respect issues and etc.

2. Mutual Respect and Rules : Most of the roommate conflicts I had dealt with in the past as an RA, were mostly simple problems that could have been solved by the students themselves.  Such as noise issues, bathroom cleaning and etc. Most issues are just common sense related issues.  It’s 2 in the morning, maybe it’s not a good idea to turn up the volume on your stereo system with the bass thumping.  You forgot / neglected cleaning the bathroom on your turn, and your roommate had to do it for you 3 times in a row.  He’s mad at you for not pulling the same weight.  Can you really blame the guy?  Be considerate.  Try to see things in other people’s shoes.  Would I like it, if someone was blaring music 2 in the morning when I have midterm early in the morning tomorrow?  If you did everything you could to solve the problem, but your neighbor simply does not fix the issues you raised, then contact RAs or Staff, they’ll be more than happy to handle it for you.  The worst case scenario, we can even move you or the roommate in question to another room, so it’s not the end of the world, if you don’t get along with your roommate.

What you do in your room *most cases* are your own business, as long as you are not bothering people around you. (**OCH does have ZERO TOLERANCE policy for illegal drugs, so absolutely NO ILLEGAL DRUGS are allowed on the OCH property.)   Just remember, OCH doesn’t ask you much. No illegal drugs, No alcohol outside of your room, No loud noises.  That’s pretty much it.  Pretty simple, isn’t it?  As for everything else, just use your common sense.

4. OCH Services / Events Participation : OCH offers tons of services for its students such as : Movie nights, grocery runs, free pizza day and etc. USE Them.  Not only they are helpful, it’s also the best way to meet new people.  You don’t even have to depend on the events / services that RAs or Staff come up with.  If you have a great idea for events, and you’d like to make it into an ongoing thing (Zumba class, Pilate class, Lazer Tag, 5 Pin Bowling or hiking excursion and etc.), just talk to the staff or RAs, they’ll be more than happy to accommodate your ideas!  They may even be able to provide you with means of transportation or financial aid.  If you want to be an active part of this community, we are behind you 100%.  You don’t have to be a RA or a Staff to make a difference.  Your opinion matters.

5. TRU Student Services :   http://www.tru.ca/studentservices.html  If you want information on what Thompson Rivers University has to offer for its students, look no further than this link!  Not only you can get whatever services you need from there, you can also volunteer for many positions to help other students.

6. International Students : If you are an international student, don’t worry.  You’ll fit in OCH just fine.  About 25-30% of the OCH students are from all over the world.  Not only it’s a perfect place to learn about Canada and its culture and people, it’s also a great place to experience other cultures from other countries.  In my days, I had Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Israeli, Canadian, Bangladeshi, Finnish, German and French friends. All of them, I met from OCH.  It’s like a mini U.N. here!  I understand most of you might be feeling a bit homesick and all, but don’t let that feeling hold you back from venturing out and experience all that is Canadian.  If you are not familiar with Canadian customs, learn them.  Ask around.  No one would judge you for wanting to know.  You are new here, we understand.  There are numerous resources available for international students around the campus and within OCH.  There are many friendly Canadian students who are more than eager to make new international friends.  Canadian students are just about as curious about you as you are about them.  Smile and friendliness is a universal language. Use them.

As for Canadian students who have international students as roommates, please try to be as friendly and as welcoming as possible.  These students are 1000s of miles from home, all by themselves, please be friendly.  Keep in mind that they are from somewhat to completely different cultures from all over the world, please try to be more understanding.  Don’t forget what you do or say to them also reflects on what their views on Canada and Canadians.  Not a bad idea to set a good example instead of bad ones.  Same goes for international students. You don’t want to set a bad example of whatever country you are from either, right?  Be considerate.  Respect each other.  Use your common sense.

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Why I love the OCH Rez.

Well, it’s been a while since I lived there, but I still can’t forget all the fun I had in the good ol’ OCH.  My life there was extraordinary and I still look back on it with fond memories even after all these years.

I wasn’t really much of an out-going extrovert type of a guy in the beginning.  I was just discharged from my stint at the army and was thrown back into the civilian world. I didn’t drink (I still don’t).  I didn’t party, didn’t go to the clubs.  It wasn’t the type of fun I enjoyed even when I was in the army.  Other soldiers couldn’t wait till they could blow some steam off drinking and partying for the weekend, but I wasn’t one of those guys.  I would rather hang with like-minded fellow soldiers going hiking, running or explore the exotic local areas I had never been in.  By all means, my friends in the army, were not boring people.  They just wanted more in their life than just getting drunk every weekend.

So there I was, now aged 22.  Ready to get back to school.  Was I scared?  Not really. I used to be a University student before I joined the military, so I already knew what was coming.  What I didn’t realize was that things DO change quite a bit even just over 3 years.  Although I was only a few years old then most of the students, I felt this huge generation gap for some reason.  Maybe I was too used to my life in the military, but most of the students I got to interact with seemed so… how should I say it?… Undisciplined and disorderly.  I really couldn’t relate myself to those people and ultimately, I chose to just go on my own and do my own thing.

I chose to live in the OCH due to the fact that it was more affordable than the apartments and closer to the campus since I didn’t own a vehicle and wasn’t a fan of public transit due to its inconsistency.  The whole community living thing was not on my agenda.  In fact, I was far from being interested in any kind of community life.  The layout and the size of the room was very familiar to me.  It was eerily similar to my room back in the army barracks minus the cooking utilities. (In fact the wall paint color was exactly the same), so immediately, I felt right at home.

I got to meet my roommates when I moved in, but it was really awkward talking to someone just graduated from high school.  I don’t really remember his name, but he was a typical skate-board-riding surfer-dude type of a guy who used the terms “Dude” and “Rad” a lot.  He used to bring his friends who also happened to live around the area to have parties and whatnot in his room. They were somewhat annoying, but not overly so.  He was a nice kid, but I wasn’t really kin on hanging out with him or his friends since I had nothing in common with any of them.  I went to my full hermit mode and just did my own thing.  Most times, I would just read books or tinker around my computer a lot in my room or watch TV.  The way the quads were set up was super nice to accommodate such life style.  If I wanted to be alone, all I had to do was lock the inner door and that was that.   In fact, I didn’t spend much time in my room.  I was out a lot.  I was busy doing things outside the OCH.  I was volunteering my time at the Omega student newspaper as well as the Campus radio station.  I strictly used my room just to eat, sleep and shower.  That was pretty much it.  Well, up until I got bored one weekend and made a trip down to the Central Rez.

Central Rez

Central Rez – Back in the days…

Dealing with such disappointment as my roommate, I wasn’t really into talking to anyone there, I just wanted to watch my TV and get out.  There were a couple more people with bored looks on their faces blankly staring at the TV.  Unfortunately, there was nothing good on TV either and just I was about to leave, then this guy I have never seen before, who happened to seat behind me, started talking to me. “Man, nothing good on TV, eh? I’ve got an X-Box in my room.  Why don’t I just bring it here and play some games? I’ve got 4 controllers.”.  I had no plans for the rest of the day anyway, so I was like ‘why not?’  It’s been a while since I played a console game.  So the next thing I knew, 6 guys who had never met before started playing games while joking around and etc. as if we’d known each other for years.  It was fantastic.  They were all from different areas of the world too.  So much to talk about.  We ended up wrapping up the game since other people who came in later wanted to watch the TV.  We moved our conversation to outside deck by the BBQ, and continued on.  It was fascinating talking about all sorts of different things with a bunch of complete strangers.  From then on, I kept coming down to Central Rez and got involved with more and more people.  Just being friendly with them and talking to them.  I was surprised by the fact how much people were craving good company of people to just talk to.  Our simple little gathering at the Central Rez became something more than that.  We started hanging out more outside of the Central Rez and we all became friends.  All of a sudden, we started doing things.  Recruiting more people into whatever we were doing at the time whether it be hiking, board games, video games, having heated discussions about science, politics and etc.  The next we knew, we became a community of our own.

Finally getting a taste of what a community living could offer, I went down to the office, handed in my application to become an RA.  I really wanted to expand what I, and my friends had, into the whole OCH community.  The goal was that simple. There were RA programs in place, but our Resident Advisor program was still at its infancy, and we didn’t really have too much resources to work with.  We didn’t have fancy AV Equipments and TVs… not many board games or entertainment, didn’t have good guidelines and policies setup and etc., but we all shared one thing in common.  We all wanted to make OCH the best and the friendliest place you could possibly live in the Thompson Rivers University.  It was truly an exciting time.

Although we didn’t have a lot to start with, the manager and staff were fully behind us. We started developing more events specifically designed to bring people out of their rooms.  Free Pizza / Pasta night, New and Retro Movie Nights, Games Nights, Casino Nights, Spring Fair, BBQs, Grocery Runs, Pot Lucks, Pancake Breakfast, Halloween Dances at the Rez, Improv Night, Sports Night and etc….  We went to a point where we felt we went a little overboard with things, but everything mattered at the end.  People did come out of their rooms.  From all these events, a lot of new friendships were forged and some of those people even got married, had kids, and some were still being friends.  I am not saying all these wouldn’t have happened, if it weren’t for us.  I, do, however believe that whatever we did helped.  Everything we did, helped these students and ultimately enriched their lives with more awesome people around them.

Let’s face the facts.  Most of us at the OCH aren’t from Kamloops.  We are from all over Canada and even from all over the world!  No one is an island and even though you maybe one of those people, it’s still good to know there are people out there you can talk about anything.  Those people were used to be called “Friends” and I am pretty sure they are still called as such… and yes, you could always use one.

P.S. I’d like to personally thank everyone from OCH for making my life at the TRU such a memorable one.  Thank you very much Mark, Bill, Mo, Tammy, Moe, Albert all the RAs I worked with, all my OCH friends, Security Guards (especially Bill), and all the people I might have missed. You know who you are!

 

Thank you Everyone!

Thank you Everyone!

The mid-term, the noise, the guy upstairs…

Ahh… it’s that time of the season again.  All those tests are coming back and you are gearing up to finally get some study done and all of a sudden… what is this??  Why are my plates chattering and clanking from some kind of vibration?  Herds of Bisons stampeding through the parking lot or is it a T-Rex??  No, it’s the dang Bass thumping from the guy upstairs!!

We usually implement the “Quiet Time” policy during major exam seasons, so hopefully you wouldn’t have these problems.  However, whether you like it or not, you may encounter noise related issues once in a while.  Not everyone is as considerate as you.  You only have a few days till your mid-term and the guy upstairs (or your direct neighbor) is being a bit pesky.  You tolerated the noise the first day, but he seems to keep doing it the next day and the next day.  You are on the verge of mental break down now.  What do you have to do to stop that guy from creating more disturbance??  Well… actually it’s quite simple.  If you don’t mind walking upstairs and talk to the guy, …just talk to the guy.  Most people would usually go “Whoops, sorry about that, bro.  I didn’t know.  I’ll keep it down from now on.”  and presto!  Problem solved.  Of course, remember to be polite and be as nice as possible.  Don’t go to his room both guns blazing, yelling at the guy.  Always think in terms of “He wasn’t being a jerk, he just didn’t know better.”  Well, sometimes there are some jerks who just don’t give a damn, but those kind of people are pretty rare.  If you can be reasonable, the other person most likely will be as well.  Just like anything, it’s not “what” you say, it’s “how” you say it.

If you prefer not to have any kind of confrontations, just contact one of the RAs or one of our staff down at the office.  They’ll be more than happy to do the talking for you.  The ultimate goal of OCH isn’t just about providing you with the best communities / activities and etc, they would like to help you achieve the best academic successes as well.  In fact, that IS the most important priority we have in this facility.  Everything else is secondary.  We do not want anything that might hurt your academic standings in anyway, so if something or someone is disrupting your studying time, we’d like to know.  Just have the OCH’s phone number handy 250-372-7778 and call us anytime.