By Salam Jesudamilola David, December 7 2023—
I arrived in Calgary in the dead of Winter and in the middle of a global pandemic, not exactly the most ideal way to start college life. To add to that, I was an international student and so that was my first time experiencing winter. The funny part though is that upon arriving in Canada, these extenuating circumstances didn’t really occur to me. I just assumed this was how college was or specifically how the U of C was — cold, gray and empty. An unfulfilled promise.
I became depressed as I’m sure many of us who arrived in the same period did. I lost my appetite and my drive. I refused to leave the school premises and developed a strange aversion to people and crowds. It also didn’t help that I really loved my home country, Nigeria and leaving was tough. In those early days, I remember stalking some of the biggest schools back home’s student pages. I would lose myself in these insane, epic and sometimes sordid stories. Why am I here? I would ask myself, when I could be there, playing pickup basketball with friends, walking outside with nothing more than a sleeveless vest and shorts, skating through the school with earphones plugged in, giving or preferably receiving a bouquet of money for Valentine’s Day (Yes, that actually happened). I became resentful of everything.
That all changed one day. One of the few friends I had managed to secure came by my room for a visit and mentioned very casually something about a school confession page. I sat up immediately, discarding the bowl of cornflakes on my lap as my friend no doubt considered bolting for the door. Could it be true? I don’t think I can fully explain what I felt at that moment. If you’ve ever heard the story of the naked man running down the streets yelling “Eureka” then you might have a glimpse of understanding. I felt like Einstein must have when he first tasted a burger, my tongue, my skin, my ears and all my senses were bursting with dreams. It was like the whole world was sliding into proportion and a bright light of hope had appeared at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Once I managed to wrangle the name out of my friend (who I’m fairly sure was contemplating calling medical services). I immediately set out to read all of the U of Confessions posts I could manage in one sitting. I have no idea how many I read that night, only that with each slide, each tale, each surprisingly vivid description of crushes and subjects of admiration, I became more and more elated. This was it, there was life somewhere on this campus, other people living, facing the same problems I was facing, heartbreak, sorrow, fear and anxiety. I felt seen that day, I walked out of a dark cave to the bright lights of feelsday and nothing was the same.
What U of Confessions does well is it brings the school to life for so many. You hear accounts of people taking a pilgrimage to good earth to see the mythical “Craig” or “Daniel”. You learn which courses have the worst midterms (B- Chem it seems) and what spots are best for studying. You think to yourself maybe that person isn’t staring at me because your hair is wet but because they’re trying to memorize your outfit to post on feelsday later. It makes the school feel real, not simply a location you go to every day, but a real place where stories are being written and where people are living.
Students often complain about a lack of life on campus and a lack of a true student community. They point to the fact that the U of C is a commuter school and blame the school’s administration for not pursuing enough policies to integrate people into the community here. While these are all fair points, I think the U of Confessions page sets out a blueprint for developing campus spirit. It has to be us, the students, the soul of the school. We have to be the ones building a campus community. With assistance from the administration of course, but in essence, it needs to be us driving it, provoking the change, building a sense of community and identity that doesn’t leave people out.
Loneliness is a growing problem in this generation and winter only amplifies these feelings. So if you’re new to Canada and are reading this, remember winter fades and people exist, there’s life on this campus so do your best to try and live it, and for all continuing students, let’s take the initiative and play a part in building this campus community of our dreams
This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.