Things seem a little more normal at Lakehead University as the school welcomes its freshmen living in residence.
The school held its annual move-in day, helping newcomers settle into their rooms and start life on campus after spending most of their high school years on Zoom distance learning. during COVID-19 closures.
Lauren White has just moved from Toronto to Thunder Bay and will be studying nursing at the University.
“I’ve never been to anything like this, so I’m a little overwhelmed,” she said on move-in day.
But, she said, even though it was her first time away from her home in Toronto, she didn’t feel particularly nervous about moving to a new city.
Her mother Neela White, meanwhile, beamed with pride.
“Very proud, very excited, this is a new path for [Lauren]”, she said. “But I think as a parent, I also feel a little heartbreak.”
Tyler Vear moves to Thunder Bay from Longlac, Ontario to study at Lakehead.
“I have family that lives in Thunder Bay, and they’ve always told me it’s a really great school,” he said. “Besides, it’s more similar to what I’m used to.”
Vear said he was nervous before he arrived in Lakehead, but move-in day, he said, was “awesome.”
“All new, completely new environment, new challenges,” he said. “But seeing all the positivity, it seems like everyone is calm, and that calms me down.”
But no matter how he felt earlier, Vear said Wednesday he was looking forward to an “incredible experience” at Lakehead.
“Looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “There’s a lot of sports, a lot of clubs, diversity, it all looks really cool and really appealing.”
As the countdown to the first day of school begins, post-secondary institutions across Canada are preparing to hold their first all-in-person orientation week for incoming students – a rite of passage that has been postponed for two years due to of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For staff and older students at Lakehead University, Wednesday’s move-in day was a time to help out and reminisce about their own experiences.
“We’ve all been in a new situation, and having staff members who can help with that transition is huge,” said Shannon Foster, director of residence services at Lakehead. “Obviously there’s going to be normal things like the anxiety that they’re in a new community, a new university… even a new country.”
But, Foster said, the student residence volunteers have been through that and have a sense of what new students go through.
“We are delighted to help students,” he said.
Sean Borden, another student and Residence Life staff member, said move-in day was important to him when he started at Lakehead.
“I didn’t know anyone who had been here,” he said. “It was better to meet people, go to events, and then I made friends.”
Joshua Sanchez, a sophomore who is also on staff at the residence, said he was able to adapt quickly to life at Lakehead.
“It took me…about a week,” he said. “I’m from Peru, so I’m from quite a distance.”
“When I arrived I was like ‘what the hell is this?'” Sanchez said. “But everyone made me feel at home, and they showed me around the university, the city.”