Upon hearing I had been accepted into exchange, my immediate next thought was “will I be able to go to college?” Living in Burgmann at ANU for nearly 3 years, I absolutely loved the vibe of living on res – there is truly no better way to make friends or settle into a new environment. So, hearing I had been accepted into the University of Guelph and knowing this meant I had guaranteed on res accommodation, I was ecstatic!

Applying for residence at UofG was really simple – a single form on Guelph’s ‘MyHousing’ website which allows students four living preferences, while also including a personal survey to match you with other students – ie, a studier or a socialiser, a night owl or early bird, sports or instruments and more. However, most importantly for me, the application for residence gave me options for rooms as well as buildings – in North America, it is not uncommon for students (especially in first year) to be in double- or triple- bed rooms and this was an entirely new experience for me! ANU offers single-bed rooms across all our residences and I didn’t ever consider I might be in accommodation with another person. Luckily, the application for residence allowed you to choose either a preference for your building type (or college) or your room preference (single, double, triple) and I was able to nominate myself for a single room but in a shared residence – similar to the shared apartments at UniLodge.

I was a lucky one – I got my first preference for accommodation and knew I would be moving to UofG and into a single room in Lanark in the East Village with just one other suitemate – this meant we would have a suite-style set-up including 2 single bedrooms, a lounge area with a dining table set and couches, and our own kitchen and bathroom but still on a floor with other students and lots of neighbours. I did end up changing my preferences after my initial application (and don’t be afraid to do the same – the housing services at Guelph are absolutely terrific). One thing to understand at UofG was that “roommates” means people (or beds) in the room, while “suitemates” meant who was in each apartment or townhouse. East Residence has shared apartments from 2 – 10 people and you have a shared kitchen and a bathroom per four people in each. After our room assignments were released, someone on the “Incoming to Guelph” Facebook page crated a WhatsApp group for everyone to join and discuss room and residence selections to see who would be moving into suites together. This chat was an amazing idea and I would highly recommend it when going into any new res or exchange program!

Moving day was intense, I was nervous and excited but didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully, UofG offers a ‘START-International Program’ which allows new exchange and international students to move into res three days earlier while attending workshops and activities to become acquainted with our new university. Guelph also recommends a company called “Residence Linen” which offers a full or basic bedding set ready and waiting in your room when you arrive. Although this can be quite pricy (basic sets around the $150-$200 range, and full sets looking at $400, including tax), it made moving in just that much simpler knowing I wouldn’t need to race into town to buy sheets and towels that afternoon. I ordered a complete set that came with full bedding (including sheets, duvet and duvet cover, pillows and pillow cases), plus a towel set, a Guelph-embroidered blanket, bathroom accessories, a laundry hamper, and coat hangers. Even so, within the first 24 hours of arriving, we did have the opportunity of going down to Walmart and we all loaded up on bedding, cushions and blankets – preparing for the Canadian winter – and it was certainly a long trek back to campus with our purchases (check out my photo attached!)

The campus at Guelph is absolutely stunning – the paved streets are lined with looming trees, a café on each corner, and squirrels or chipmunks in every tree! East Residence is named for its location, and as such, is situated on the eastern edge of campus – extremely central to classes, cafes, libraries, and directly across the road from the fitness centre. Prices on campus are reasonable (coffees, although nowhere near as good as Australian coffee, can be bought for just $3), and the fitness centre is only $50 CAD for the semester (incudes full access to the gym, 90 classes a week and the swimming pool). Facilities at East Res are basic, same as any college, but are clean, spacious and extremely affordable in my opinion. A single room at Lanark means I have the option to be self-catered (kitchen in the apartment) but can also additionally add on a meal plan and thus offer options for a variety of students. 

I have only been living in my accommodation for four days, but so far I am more than happy with my decision to move into East Residence. I would recommend adding on a flexible meal plan if that option is available for you – all meal plans are connected to student cards, and with a flexible plan, this means you can pre-load funds onto your card and use this for discounted meals and coffees across campus and also in some areas of the city itself. Definitely bring some personal items form home with you and be prepared when moving into residence on exchange there isn’t much free time in the first few days so come prepared with linen, kitchen accessories or similar, or have a second option available like Guelph offers. Lastly, don’t be fooled by thinking Canada is always cold (or maybe I was just oblivious) but moving in day was around 26*c and I definitely need more summer clothes!