Living in Student Accommodation: 5 things you need to know

Getting a place at a university in North America is an important step in life. 

Where you live during your studies can make quite a difference to how you settle in when you first arrive.  If you’ve applied for a place in a student residence you’ll be living on or close to campus.  How you choose to engage with university living can affect your studies.  Try and make the most of the opportunities afforded to you by being in university residence and living close to or on campus.

Here are some things to be aware of when living in student accommodation:

  1. Resident Advisor or Resident Assistant (RA) – many college or universities operate an RA program in their halls of residence.   RA’s are peer leaders, trained in many aspects of living in a college residence.  These areas often include safety training and counseling and can offer support, help and guidance with institutional and academic questions.
  2. Rules and regulations – it’s important to read and understand your residence contract and be aware of any residence rules and notice periods as well as accommodation options for future terms and their associated application deadlines.  Most institutions have a Student Handbook or Residence Guide.  Be sure to read through it and ask questions if there’s anything you’re not sure about.  Breaking the rules often has consequences so be sure you know what the rules are and how they apply to you.
  3.  Meal plans – most colleges and universities have food outlets, restaurants and snack bars on campus and meal plans are often available.  These are often a very good way to make savings on food purchased on campus and can be an economical way to eat across the semester.  There are usually various options available including healthy choices and options that cater for specific dietary needs. 
  4. People and culture – be respectful of other people, cultures and ways of living.  Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  Be mindful of noise, cleanliness and always endeavor to display appropriate behavior.  You’re there to study as well as to have fun so getting the balance right, for your and for others, is important when living in a shared space.
  5.  Clubs and societies – try to find out from campus representatives what clubs, societies and associations are available to join, both at the college itself and locally too.  Choose from sporting options, debating societies, hobbies, culture and environmentally aware groups. Participate in existing campus activities or suggest new ones. Check notice boards and websites for details.

Being able to live on campus gives you a unique opportunity and a great base from which to build your student life and college experience.  Try and make the most of this time to make friendships and familiarize yourself with campus facilities and get to know what’s available to you.