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Choosing Student Housing
That Promotes Your Well Being

Finding a suitable dorm room
Or student apartment

Enlightened architecture promotes friendliness, well being, and productivity.

Where you live has a profound impact on your life. This page gives tips for choosing a dorm room or student apartment that will make your life better.

Why traditional dorms fail

Most university dormitories feature rooms along long hallways, where students mostly pass each other on the way to somewhere else. Some have a common room dominated by a television set that people watch (usually in silence) during their free time.

These very impersonal living situations do not promote friendly interaction or concern for others.

In these poorly designed dorms, you’ll nearly always find it harder to make friends. And, because so many students do not know each other very well, you’ll find less consideration about noise, etc., which can impact your productivity and health.

Better dorm designs improve your life

More and more, you have the choice of living in dormitories where rooms are arranged around small lounge areas, sometimes with small kitchens.

In these shared areas, students congregate during their free time and friendships more easily develop.

By all means, choose this type of dorm if you have a choice.

You may worry that this type of dormitory will be noisier.

Interestingly, though, these dorms are often quieter because people who know each other well are more likely to respect each other when playing music, coming in late at night, etc.

This more settled atmosphere promotes better marks, better sleep, deeper friendships, and in general a more happy and productive student life.

Let the sun shine in

When choosing a place to live, pay attention to sunlight. Avoid basement and other rooms where you’ll find little or no natural light.

Especially if it’s hard for you to get going in the morning, pick a room with morning sunlight. This is nature’s way of getting you on your way to a more productive and cheerful day.

You do not want to be living in a dark and gloomy room with a mood to match.

Fresh air helps

Sadly, a trend continues toward sealed windows, which let in no fresh air, in order to save energy.

Lack of fresh air alone can culture dullness in your life, but you may face a more serious problem.

In university dorms and elsewhere, many people follow the “no smoking” rule as if it applies solely to tobacco. Using an alternative herb is somehow not considered “smoking.”

If you’re into it, that’s not our business, but having someone on the other side of the wall using a bong, which filters into your room through heater vents and electrical outlets, does not provide the best environment when you want to prepare for an exam or have a clear mind for other activities.

Choosing a dorm room with fresh air gives you more control in these situations.

"But, I have no choice"

Yes, you do.

At your university, you may find that first year students are assigned to certain dorms—usually the oldest and most traditionally designed ones.

In this situation, at least pick one of the smaller dorms available (with a smaller dining room), where you stand a better chance of making friends.

And, at least make sure that you get a room with natural light and fresh air that is not adjacent to noisemakers, such as washrooms and vending machines.

If told all room numbers have been pre-assigned, remind yourself of how much you are paying to attend your university, and become assertive. Room and board fees are cash cows for universities, and they want you to remain happily on campus. If told "no," keep asking at higher and higher levels.

If seemingly stuck with an overly noisy and otherwise unsuitable room, a note from a doctor at the campus clinic outlining the room's impact on your health may become your vehicle for change.

Apartments vary, too

As with dorm rooms, you find most apartments arranged along hallways, where people rush on their way to somewhere else. Say more than “hello” to your neighbours, and you may feel that you are interrupting them. Some apartment buildings, especially high-rise buildings, can be remarkably impersonal.

Some low-rise apartment buildings, though, first built in the U.S. Sunbelt, but now found nearly everywhere in Canada and the U.S., cluster around garden areas and often around swimming pools. Some even offer gyms, tennis courts, and other places to congregate.

In these complexes, people linger and friendships more readily grow.

“Garden apartments," as they are often called, make the best choice, even in climates where outdoor facilities are not used all year.

Even if you have to pay a bit extra, go for a dorm room or an apartment or a room in apartment that promotes your well being. Good luck!

Go To >> Making friends and meeting people

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