First of all, congratulations for choosing one of the best universities in Canada!
Western is among the top universities worldwide with 30,235 students, focusing on academic excellence, research, and leadership! It's probably best known for the Ivey Business program, which was ranked no. 1 in Canada. Western also has one of the most beautiful campuses in Ontario, with kind of a gothic meets modern vibe throughout our buildings. The one downside of such a huge campus is that it takes forever to walk from start to end: I did 20,000 steps my first day of O-week!
While us students are known for our academic achievement, ambitious work ethics, and involvement, we also have a reputation to throw amazing parties! Don't let that fool you though, because Weldon library is packed 24/7 during finals.
My residence pros and cons.
If you're anything like me, traditional dorms are NOT your first pick. I just couldn't imagine using a communal bathroom for an entire year... so, I stayed at Perth Hall! Although it's one of the smallest residences on campus, it had the biggest amount of residence pride and school spirit! The beauty of the hybrid style residences is that you can get really close to your suite mates, while still having a bit more privacy. Perth gave me the greatest friends during first year (and a bathroom almost all to myself), plus a great location to get to the rec centre and my classes! I wasn't the biggest fan of caf food everyday though, and I ending up dropping about $150.00 at Subway the first two weeks. Yikes. On the bright side, there's a Subway and shawarma just before you get to the building entrance!
My best tip for residence life is to try and befriend your RA. They're one of the best sources of information, and they live on your floor so you always have a personal resource close-by. It's also great to make upper-year friends!
The BEST places to eat on and off campus.
If you're a Western student, then you're inevitably going to eat at The Spoke. They serve a LOT of bagels, have a bar, and a section in the back for miscellaneous foods, like quesadillas and burgers. I absolutely LOVE pitas, so I easily spent half my flex dollars at the Pita Pit in the UCC caf. One of the most well-known things on campus is that the UCC Starbucks and Tim Hortons lines are so LONG. They move pretty quickly, and there's three Tim's in the same building, but I still prefer hitting the Booster Juice. The UCC also has a bit of a fancier restaurant on the second floor, called The Wave, and they have the BEST desserts. You can also use your flex dollars to buy your meal, so it's a perfect place to go with friends after a five o' clock class.
Off-campus, the London downtown area has a ton of restaurants. A student-favourite would have to be The Works, which is both a bar and a restaurant. All of their meals are super cheap, a lot under 10$, and come in good portions. A lot of students, myself include, use UberEats and Skip The Dishes for just about everything. Pizza is also great to share among your suite mates on the weekends.
If you're 19 in first year, then you definitely need to check out these bars.
To the lucky ones who have early birthdays in first year, going to a bar is like a rite of passage for many students. Some of the best include The Barking Frog (or just Frogs), The Ceeps (although their lines can get really long), Jacks, Cowboys Ranch (which has a mechanical bull, and that's bucket list worthy), LAVISH Nightclub (which is an LGBTQ+ bar and has drag queen shows), Molly Bloom's (an Irish pub with live music), and The Belfort (one of the more well-known bars in London).
The best events on campus.
I have to start this out with FOCO, practically the biggest event all year: even Shawn Mendes went to it once. It's during Western's homecoming celebration, the name coming from "fake homecoming," where most people head to Broughdale Street for drinking and partying. However, administration isn't the biggest fan of FOCO and a lot of people do go a little bit too crazy, but it's always full of students having a good time together.
Asides from FOCO, O-week is also a major event that brings a massive turnout. O-week has so many performers and night parties, activities at the UCC, and information throughout the day. It's a great week to let loose, meet new people, learn more about Western and the campus, and have a great introduction before classes start. At the start of second semester, residences have Frost Week, which is a more chill version of O-week in residences only. There are also off-campus Sophs and events for off-campus students, which you can learn about from your own off-campus Soph.
Western's weather... don't worry, the snow isn't THAT bad.
The first three weeks of school were still exactly like summer, and I mean it was HOT. It cooled down once classes really started progressing, and winter came by really fast. London is particularly a hotspot for snow, although my first year didn't have too much.
Some essentials you want to bring to campus are a lot of warm sweaters, sneakers for the insane amount of walking during O-week, a strong pair of winter boots, and an umbrella. I'd also recommend some professional clothes, which are necessary for club interviews, some presentations, and even potential job interviews!
Lastly, campus is a strong mix between comfortable and extra in terms of fashion/style. Dressing up for every class seems like the best option, but I've seen so many people still in pj's and sweats during finals week. It's honestly up to you and how you want to express yourself, but nothing really hits better than sweat pants after pulling all-nighters.
Some campus sayings and jokes.
@__martinallen__ on Twitter
One of the well-known sayings on campus is "save a cowboy, ride a mustang," which you could probably figure out from our official mascot. Another thing to know about is our rivalry with Queen's University. I don't know how it started, I just know it's real and great for house signs during FOCO.
The biggest joke for 2019-2020 was the Law library "banning" any students who weren't in the Faculty of Law. Some students really put up signs to claim the library and keep other Faculties out.
My best advice for you.
Everyone has a different dream of what university will look like, and I can promise you that will change for the better. Don't expect to make a billion new friends the first day, or that all your courses will be extremely hard. Good friendships take time, but once you meet the right people, it'll feel like you've known them for years.
Join as many extracurriculars that interest you! Sophing is one of the most involved experiences on campus, comprised of extreme leadership and character. Sophs, both Residence Sophs and Faculty Sophs, can be the first friends you make on campus.
University will be where you develop close connections and meet a ton of new people. Stay open-minded, keep track of your mental health/wellbeing, and take every opportunity you can get, both academic and just for fun!
I wish you the best of luck on your next four years!
Although the 2020-2021 school year will be spent online due to coronavirus, London and Western will still be an amazing place for you throughout. I know it's not the first year any of you pictured, but once coronavirus isn't a threat for us anymore, you're going to love this school and everyone there!