Thunder Bay

Lakehead University welcomes new students at Residence Move-In Day

Things are looking a bit more normal at Lakehead University as the school welcomes its first-year students living in residence.

More than 1,000 students registered to live in residence as university resumes pre-COVID rituals

Neela White, right, said she's 'very proud' of her daughter Lauren, who will be studying nursing at Lakehead University. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

Things are looking a bit more normal at Lakehead University as the school welcomes its first-year students living in residence. 

The school held its annual Residence Move-In Day, helping new arrivals get settled in their rooms and begin their life on campus after spending most of their high school years on Zoom remote learning during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Lauren White has just moved to Thunder Bay from Toronto and will be studying nursing at the University. 

"I've never been to anything like this, so I'm a little overwhelmed," she said during move-in day.

But, she said, despite this being her first time away from her home in Toronto, she wasn't feeling particularly nervous about moving to a new city.

Her mother Neela White, meanwhile, was beaming with pride.

"Very proud, very excited, it's a new path for [Lauren]," she said. "But I think, as a parent, also feeling a little bit of a heartbreak."

Tyler Vear is moving to Thunder Bay from Longlac, Ont., to study at Lakehead.

"I have some family who live in Thunder Bay, and they've always told me it's a really awesome school," he said. "Plus it's more similar to what I'm used to."

Vear said he was nervous in the leadup to his arrival at Lakehead, but move-in day, he said, was "awesome."

First-year student Tyler Vear said Wednesday he's looking forward to having an "amazing experience" at Lakehead University. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

"Everything new, completely new environment, new challenges," he said. "But seeing all the positivity, it looks like everybody's like calm, and it's calming me down."

But regardless of how he felt earlier, Vear said Wednesday he's looking forward to an "amazing experience" at Lakehead.

"it looks like it'll be a lot of fun," he said. "There's lots of sports, lots of clubs, diversity, all that just looks really cool, and really attractive."

As the countdown to the first day of school begins, post-secondary institutions in Canada are getting ready to host their first fully in-person orientation week for incoming students — a rite of passage that was postponed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For staff and older students at Lakehead University, Wednesday's move-in day was a chance to help out and reminisce on their own experiences. 

"We've all been in a new situation, and to have staff members that are able to help with that transition is huge," said Shannon Foster, Lakehead's director of residence services. "Obviously there's going to be normal things like anxiety about the fact that they're in a new community, new university ... even a new country."

But, Foster said, the student residence volunteers have experienced that, and have an idea about what new students are going through.

"We're excited to help the students out," he said.

Sean Borden, another student and residence life staff member, said move-in day was important for him when he first started at Lakehead.

Lakehead University mascot Wofie and student Jonah Anderson welcomed new students to residence on Wednesday with cupcakes. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

"I didn't know anyone who came here," he said. "It was best to meet people, go to the events, and then I actually made friends."

Joshua Sanchez, a second-year student who's also part of the residence life staff, said he was able to settle in to life at Lakehead quickly.

"It took me ... around a week," he said. "I come from Peru, so I come from pretty far away."

"When I arrived, I felt like, 'what's this?'," Sanchez said. "But everybody just made me feel so at home, and they showed me around the university, the town."

A residence room at Lakehead University. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)