Respecting Differences in Student Residence Support

Although UBC offers services that address the issue of loneliness within its student population, it’s important to consider the type of loneliness; who experiences it and in what way. As an international student, the student residence services website was the most accessible to me and coming from a very similar context (Australia to Vancouver) I found this information relatable and relevant. However, this information may not be as useful for international students coming from other contexts or cultures. Similarly, people who don’t gain satisfaction from interacting with others, people who are highly introverted, may experience and therefore find solutions to loneliness, in different ways. In this way, the support services UBC provides online may serve only to further alienate individuals who do not find “eating with others” or “leav[ing] your door open” as comfortable ways to overcome their personal sense of loneliness.

Chandra Mohanty, a feminist scholar, discusses in her article “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” about the need to view things from different perspectives, and different cultures. Our different contexts can change our understanding of the world and our experience within it. Although UBC’s methods of combatting loneliness are relevant to its physical location within British Columbia, the students on campus come from many different walks of life. It is important to recognise and honour these differences through cultural sensitivity and respect.Furthermore, it is important to not conflate loneliness with being alone. Most of the solutions suggested

Furthermore, it is important to not conflate loneliness with being alone. Most of the solutions suggested involve interacting with others. For an introvert, this may not be the preferred method of remedying the feeling of loneliness that can come with such a significant and abrupt change of location and lifestyle, as often happens when starting university in a new place. There are already so many instances that require interaction with unfamiliar people when first integrating into a new community that for some, staying in with a good book, or trying meditation may be the best way to overcome a feeling of loneliness. Feeling lonely is a natural reaction to being in a new environment where everyone and everything is foreign, but being lonely does not mean you are physically alone. Sometimes, the best way to not feel lonely, is to be counterintuitive, and spend time on your own.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 1984. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship And Colonial Discourses”. Boundary 2 12 (3): 333-358.

Robinson, Janice. 2016. “Feeling Lonely?”. Vancouver.Housing.Ubc.Ca.


Student Residence Support

The University of British Columbia offers a page of useful resources for student residences, particularly aimed at new students, to help them find their place on campus. This site offers advice for making friends, living with a roommate, making good choices and maintaining mental health. One particular section, titled “Feeling Lonely?” provides ten steps to combat loneliness, including advice on being more social and seeking assistance. This site is useful in that it doesn’t conflate loneliness with a mental illness, it presents it as a human experience that has small and simple solutions.

1. Live in residence. It’s one of the best ways to meet people, adjust and succeed at university.

2. Hang out in the residence lounge, not in your room.

3. Eat with others. If you live in Totem or Vanier, your floor or house has special tables in the cafeteria where residents regularly sit. Just ask your Residence Advisor. If you go by yourself, and there’s someone at the table you don’t know, sit in the next free seat and introduce yourself.

4. If you want company, leave your door open when in your room. Others will stop and say hello.

5. Read bulletin boards and flyers around residence. See what’s going on, and go check it out. It’s fine to go by yourself.

6. Talk to a Residence Advisor about upcoming activities and programs you might enjoy.

7. Go to the Residence Involvement Fair (September) to learn residence committees like football, ultimate, musical, newsletter, sustainability and more.

8. See about getting involved with your residence association.

9. Go to Alma Mater Society Clubs Day (mid-September) at the Student Union Building (SUB). See if there’s a club that interests you. Getting involved in campus organizations is a great way to build campus connections.

10. If you’re still having a hard time, talk with a Residence Advisor or the Residence Life Manager. They can’t fix the problem—but they’ll listen and try to help you find answers.


As an international student coming to UBC to live on campus, I accessed this site prior to the beginning of semester and found it to be a helpful resource in normalising an experience I was very apprehensive about. Although the site does offer further support links, it doesn’t imply a more serious problem must be at hand. It offers straightforward and easy to follow steps that are relevant to students living on campus and experiencing the sense of loneliness that is almost unavoidable when first embarking on your university career in a new and foreign environment.


Robinson, Janice. 2016. “Feeling Lonely?”. Vancouver.Housing.Ubc.Ca.