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.
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!