The Centre for Digital Media student apartments opened in September 2012. Of the 40 full-time Master of Digital Media students that are enrolled in the current cohort, 29 are living on-campus in the apartments upstairs, just steps away from their classrooms and learning spaces.
This is the first group of students at CDM who’ve had the option to live on-campus and it’s changed the whole student experience. The students are close, supportive and, in their words, “family.”
Hanging out upstairs with them at lunch, this closeness is obvious. Students have their apartment doors open and people are popping in and out of one another’s places. One student is walking around offering cookies from a tray. Someone else is asking for advice on how to clean out a pot. Other students who need to study or want to keep to themselves, work quietly in their own apartments.
For Henrique Arrais, who’s from Brazil, living in the CDM apartments has been a complete surprise. On-campus living was originally his last option. He thought that he’d have no freedom living at the school but his experience has been the exact opposite of what he was expecting.
“As a student living on-campus, you have way more time [because you’re not commuting to school] and you get to connect with your fellow classmates way faster,” says Arrais. “The best part, especially as an international student, is the bonding. If you’re nervous about being away from family and friends, this is the place to be.”
Other students echo this sentiment. Rafael Vazquez, from Mexico says, “The appeal here is the people. Living here is the way to get super close to your classmates.”
Russell Kentish, from London, notes “Relationships really evolve in the common areas. One person may be in the hall, then another and before you know it there are 10 people hanging out and we can decide to go out.”
The students also agree that living on campus has improved their learning opportunities. Arrais says “Learning with others is the key to learning, and living with them [gives you the opportunity] to learn even more.”
Isabelle Alles, from Mexico adds, “Living here actually encourages you to work more.”
When asked about the rent (it’s $899 per month, with possible scholarships or subsidies) they all feel that it’s reasonable. The rent includes parking, internet, electricity, hot water and a free 24-hour gym. Vazquez also points out that it’s easy “to have lunch upstairs. At lunchtime you can go back to your apartment, make lunch and take a nap. It saves you money instead of going out and buying your lunch everyday.”
The students have organized various apartment events throughout the year, including movie screenings, board games nights, music parties and potlucks. CDM is also only a 10-minute walk to restaurants and pubs on Main and Broadway and is close to downtown Vancouver.
When asked if they would recommend the apartments to new students, they all unanimously replied "Definitely. It’s a really nice place to live, definitely."