This is what university housing in Toronto looks like as lockdown drags on
Despite the ongoing pandemic and lockdown in the city, many students at Toronto universities have decided to continue living in student housing this year.
While living on campus is usually associated with a full social calendar and a sense of community, that's not exactly the case this year, however.
Eli Meadow Ranraj, a cinema studies, philosophy, and creative expression and society student at Victoria College, lives in the Lower Burwash student residence.
"I've lived on residence for two years. I specifically requested Lower Burwash this year is because I just love it so much here," Ranraj told blogTO.
Victoria College is a college of the University of Toronto and is located on the UofT campus.
Ranraj is from British Colombia, but he still decided to return to Toronto to live in residence while attending his online classes.
"I like being here because I can see people and talk to people and not feel so isolated [and] I associate my dorm room with that academic headspace I need to be in, much more so than I do my house."
Ranraj would usually share his space with two or three people, but because of COVID-19 precautions, he essentially has a two-bedroom suite to himself.
"Burwash is a hall with conjoined rooms, and most of them have a common living space with a bed alcove, and a bathroom that conjoins to the same layout just mirrored and each of those sections can technically fit two people."
Ranraj keeps most of his belongings in his bedroom, leaving the rest of the space untouched.
Ranraj says that while some of their shared common spaces are open, there are restrictions in place to ensure proper COVID-19 regulations.
Lower Burwash has a few common spaces that students can use to study and socialize, but throughout the pandemic, they haven't seen a lot of use.
"From what I see, they are incredibly underused. I never see people in them."
However, given that the number of students living on campus has shrunk to accommodate COVID-19 safety regulations, it makes sense that these spaces are being underused.
On Ranraj's floor alone, there is only one other person when there typically are four to six students living there.
The dining situation is also very different this year. All students in residence at UofT are still required to have a meal plan but they have to take their meals to go.
"The dining hall is kind of the beehive and that's where you meet most of your friends. Of course, that's no longer in the picture here because everything is takeout," Ranraj said.
With students picking up their meals and eating elsewhere, the dining hall, which eerily resembles Hogwarts, is also a ghost town.
Living in residence during the second lockdown may not be a party, but students are making the best out of their experiences.
And living on the campus of the best-ranked school in Canada can't hurt.
"At the end of the day, social life on a residence is really whatever you make it," Ranraj said.
Eli Meadow Ranraj
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