All over the world, and right here at SFU, this Humans-of-Somewhere style of storytelling has appeared, and made big waves in the way we look at people around us. Last week we went around talking to, and photographing, some of the students who form the residence community on the Burnaby campus — paying homage to the popular Humans of SFU Facebook groups. We are all just people. All too often we put ourselves down, and say that we’re not ‘interesting’ enough, ‘smart’ enough, ‘cool’ enough — but everyone has a story to tell. And there are some great ones right here at SFU.
Peter is a computer science major, who stayed in homestay before residence. He never really felt like he fit in, though. Originally from China, Peter moved to residence last semester after leaving his homestay arrangement. He says homestay gave a false sense of family: “It’s not ‘your’ family; it is a family but not yours.”
He currently lives in the townhouses at SFU residence. Although he is far from his family in China, he gets to make a new family here. He has made many friends in his time at SFU, mostly within the residence community.
One aspect of living in residence that he has enjoyed is the opportunity to meet people from around the world. He made friends with his roommates, who are from Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Although he has had some issues adjusting to the new rainy climate, he says he welcomes the change. He loves the freedom living on residence grants him, and really enjoys summertime: “The temperature and weather is fantastic,” he says.
Mide is originally from Nigeria. This move could have been tough to get used to, but luckily for Mide, he usually travels a lot, so adjusting to Vancouver wasn’t a complete change of pace: “It’s not like a new environment completely,” he says.
This is Mide’s third semester living in residence. He still enjoys every bit of it. For Mide, residence allows him to remain active, mentioning tennis and partying as some of his favourite pastimes on campus.
Originally, Mide moved into residence to be closer to classes, but he says being here has shown more benefits. Most of his friends already lived in SFU residence when he moved in, but he says that he has made many more friends from the residence community after moving in. “Living with people from different places” is one of the best parts about being here, according to him.
Before living on campus, he says his exposure to other cultures was limited. Being here gives him the opportunity to create bonds with all kinds of people, which he says has made him a better person: “They all have different views and it’s really cool to listen [to] what everybody else has to say.”
Originally from Zimbabwe, Bono has been staying in SFU residence ever since he came to Vancouver two semesters ago. He has made a lot of friends in his time here, a fact that sometimes overwhelms him, but he is learning to manage social obligations alongside personal care. He moved to Pauline Jewett House this semester and is hoping to transition to the townhouses next semester.
Bono says that his life has changed a lot since moving to Vancouver. Although climate is one of the main changes, it’s not the only one — for him, life here is very fast, unlike back home. Despite this change in pace, he believes that he has successfully adjusted in the past eight months. He credits the community on campus for helping him adjust to all the change.
Bono says he likes kicking back with friends on residence, mentioning common areas like the Madge Hogarth House as good places to relax. Although he would prefer to see more events and activities in residence, he is happy to be here. The Dining Hall, the convenience, and the community are reasons he loves living on Burnaby Mountain. Despite a few flaws, Bono doesn’t see himself living anywhere else while pursuing his studies.
Cory is a local who has lived in residence since the fall of 2014. Although she was a little hesitant to move onto the campus at first, her cousin, who is a past student, shared positive experiences with her. This ultimately gave Cory the push she needed to make the move.
Entering the world of university seemed a little scary to Cory, but the orientation — both to the university and also to residence — helped her feel more at home. Soon after that, she started volunteering with the Residence Hall Association, represented Shadbolt House, and helped with organizing events. Later on she took on the role of vice-president of communication, which was a big step up and a great experience for her.
Now Cory works with the Residence and Housing office, sorting out accommodations and organizing events. Although she will move out in the fall for nine months while she is on exchange in Northwest France, she hopes to move back in when she returns. For her, SFU residence has become more about the community than the convenience.
Although she saw her parents in May this year, she still misses them and can’t wait to see them again. While she says that the experience is a challenging one, being in residence with her friends has helped buffer some of the homesickness. She loves swimming and tries to go to the pool with friends as often as possible, but her busy schedule can make it tough.
She also says she loves events like the Spring Formal, which are accessible to all residents.
Catherine is from China, and is relatively new to both residence and the SFU community, having been here for about a month. She is fascinated by the Canadian education system, and loves the fact that you can take as little as one class each day, unlike at home where she had to take classes all day long.
She also enjoys living in residence and having a private room all to herself in comparison to China, where she had to share her residence with at least four other people. “Here I have my own room, and there is a refrigerator here. I like that very much,” she says. For Catherine, the 10-hour long flight has been worth the experience so far.