The “First-Year Experience” at KPU Isn’t so Fresh, Man

If you’re finding it hard to make friends here, you’re not the only one

I can’t blame Kwantlen Polytechnic University students if they feel let down about their first year at university. Rather than a year full of friends, parties, and ramen noodles, we face stress, student loans, and a lack of school spirit.

Likely the biggest difference between the expectation that new students have about their first year at college and the reality at KPU is in our school’s lack of dormitories. On-campus student housing provides the perfect setting for 20-somethings to balance their studies and their early college lifestyles.

Alexa Kaweski, a student at Wilfrid Laurier University, says that her dormitory experience “felt like a movie.” She says it involved pulling pranks with balloons, having passive aggressive roommates, and making “a bet about who could eat solely pogos for every meal and snack the longest.”

Sadly, KPU just doesn’t have a place where these kind of antics are possible, let alone appropriate.

Because we don’t have dorms, there isn’t a lot of motivation for students to make new friends in their first year. Many of us hang on to the same friends we had before university, especially because of the fact that our school is split up between a number of campuses around Metro Vancouver. It can be hard to make friends in Langley if you’re only there once a week.

By contrast, Brooklynn Sawatzky, a Bishop’s University student, described making new friends with ease. Her first—and now best—friend simply walked up to her and said, “I’m joining you now.”

“It was cool because everyone is looking for friends [in their] first year,” she says, adding that the friendly atmosphere at Bishop’s gave her “confidence to introduce [her]self because everyone there is really cool and wants to meet new people.”

It’s rare to see KPU students make an effort to meet new people. It seems like many of us are afraid of each other, but we shouldn’t be. We’re all in the same boat.

I’m in my second year now and have yet to make completely new university friends; almost every person that I have become close with has been from some previous connection. Whenever I try and make friends in class, the “friendship” only lasts to the end of the semester. I’m lucky that I’m not enrolled full-time and have the opportunity to be social off campus, because if I spent all my time there, I imagine that I would feel very isolated.

In a very scientific and totally professional poll I ran on a Facebook group chat, almost every KPU student who participated described their first year experience as “anticlimactic.”

This goes completely against the typical expectations of freshman year. I was hoping for Blue Mountain State, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or at the very least a grown-up version of Zoey 101.

To be honest, all I really wanted was to play hacky sack on the quad. Alas, instead of doing keg stands with my millions of cool and hip university friends, I’m left doing keg stands by myself, then going to class in the morning.

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