For six months, this is the breathtaking, rural landscape I have woken up to every morning.
After loading the last box into Dad’s pickup, it hit me. I was going back to Fredericton for the first time since COVID-19 hit New Brunswick. If you told me last September my first-year would end with a global pandemic, I would have called you insane.
I felt like something was off when I arrived at Rigby Hall. Last year, there was so much hustle, with various cars, characters and convos. Instead of a friendly handshake, I was welcomed by a COVID-19 questionnaire and three masked Residence Life staff members.
Mom and Dad usually unpack with me and help decorate, but with two hours to move in, that was out of the question since it takes us around four hours.
After unloading the truck, which only took 20 minutes, Dad suggested I test the lock. He and I walked into the hall, I closed the door and inserted the key.
It didn’t open. I tried it again. The door still didn’t open … my key was a dud.
I walked downstairs to find someone from Residence Life and explained what happened.
“I don’t have a timeline [for how long it will take] to get you a new key,” they said.
Thankfully, I was going out for lunch with my parents so I didn’t need to immediately get back inside. And despite mentally panicking, I brushed it off, left my phone number and jumped in the truck to go about the rest of my afternoon.
After a carb-filled lunch of chicken and ribs from Montana’s, my parents and I were about to go grocery shopping when I got the call for which I was waiting.
“We have two options and neither one is good,” the voice on the other end said.
They explained I could either wait for a new room key or move into another room down the hall, which included a luxurious balcony. Who could turn that down? Naturally, I delayed my shopping and promptly returned.
But when I arrived, I was told a new key would be there soon, which meant I wouldn’t switch rooms. They explained the place offered to me was next to someone with whom I had a negative history and didn’t want to make us uncomfortable. After a brief back and forth about other room offers, they said my new key would be ready in an hour. I told my parents, both of whom were just as confused, and went shopping at a student’s paradise — Dollarama. I set one foot into the store when my phone rang.
“Hey, Aaron! Your key is ready,” the voice said.
“Oh, that’s wonderful! I’m shopping. I’ll be there in half an hour,” I answered.
“Well, here’s the thing…”
The voice said they needed to run errands and had to leave and they were wondering if they could drop it off at the store. Sure enough, as I approached the cash register with canned meat, bread and cleaning supplies, they walked in, we made eye contact and hurried over with the key.
“I’m 200 per cent sure this works! I tested it,” they said.
“Well, thank you for going through all this trouble,” I answered.
Despite an unconventional move-in, I’m satisfied with how professional everyone acted. Move-in day is never easy, especially for nervous first-year students, and Res Life knows it’s stressful for everyone. But its team flows through the day seamlessly, making sure every STUdent is taken care of, feels welcomed and loved — like a close-knit family.
Class of 2024, welcome to your new home; I think you’re going to like it here.