Bird’s Eye View: The townie experience

Lauren Bird - Bird's eye view (Tom Bateman/AQ)

University. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start. It’s a chance to leave behind the mistakes you might have made, a chance to reinvent yourself. No one in this new school or town knows your family or your situation or your past. You are free (for a while at least).

So you go and pick out things you’ll need for your dorm room. You creep your roommate on Facebook to make sure he’s not a creep. Your parents drop you off and you make a new set of friends — someone who will be the best man or maid of honour at your wedding or a Godparent to your first-born child.

Okay, maybe I’m Hollywooding it a bit. But from an outsider’s perspective, this is what I imagine university to be like.

Before you start to question my validity here, yes, I am a registered student at St. Thomas University. But I never went through roommate anxiety; I never got sick of the food at the caf and for most of my undergrad, I came to campus for class and left straight away.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a townie.

So what’s the big deal, right?

Nothing, really. There aren’t separate water fountains or bathrooms – in fact there are a couple good things about being a townie (excuse me while I think of some).

There is a distinction between students from Fredericton and students from away. Townies are less likely to become involved in activities, although, there are exceptions to every rule. For the most part, they stick to their townie friends. University for a townie is a different experience — a sort of non-experience.

“It’s just high school extended,” said fourth-year townie Meghan Reed, who’s majoring in psych and gerontology. “I feel like if I moved somewhere…it’d be so different.

“You are a part of it, but you’re not,” she said. “If I was in res I would feel like I was part of the community when you live at home it’s like it’s your job.”

Mike Bowser is from Fredericton and a recent graduate of Memorial University, though, he spent his first year at the University of New Brunswick. He feels going away for school was the right decision for him.

“When I went to MUN I met new people and new kinds of people…Even when I was at Memorial and I wasn’t in res I still knew a lot more about what was going on than I did in Fredericton.”

So townies don’t know too much about the insides of university. We never had quite the life-changing experience. Instead we stayed where we came from, some to save money and some because they didn’t want to leave.

But it becomes a cycle. From Leo Hayes High versus Fredericton High to St. Thomas versus UNB. For a lot of townies, it’s just another four years.

“There’s parts of me that wished I went away so I could live in res and meet new people. I feel like it’s all up to you if you want to be a part of your community,” Reed said. “If you want to be a part of [university], you can.”

And there are those who have. They know there doesn’t have to be a separation, the town can put on a gown and blend just as well. It might just take a little more effort.

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  • Erin Flower

    This was a great article, I'm glad someone pointed this out!

    I went to FHS and I'm now in my 4th year at stu and although I stay in jdh between classes most days I can definitely tell the townies from campus students. I don't feel like I've had the university experience that I would have if I were to stay in res. I remember in first year welcome week, the OC group had fun together but there were so many things we missed out on, just with chatham and rigby getting together or vanier and harrington type thing. The residences got to know one another extremely well but OC was just there once in a while, and people in the OC group were people I went to high school with anyways. It makes it hard because first year is when you meet your friends and once 2 3 and 4th year set in friendships and groups have already been set. I've still had a great time at STU but I was happy to read this article and see that the townie experience wasn't just me, it's all us Frederictonians!

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