There aren’t many students who know about 89 Chestnut, the purely UofT (not college affiliated) residence that is hidden away near St Patrick station. Composed by approximately 1050 students who primarily attend UofT (there are also a handful of students who attend the Ontario College of Arts and Design), the Chestnut community is built by a variety of people with a huge array of cultural backgrounds and academic interests.
For those who haven’t heard of it, or for those who are considering maybe living there for a year in the future, here are some pros and cons with regards to this secluded residence.
Location, location, location
One of the major complaints that arises amongst the Chestnutters is the fact that we are so far from campus (relative to those who live on or around campus). The 20-30 minute walk, depending on where your class is, can be quite unpleasant, especially if it is an early morning class, or if it is raining/snowing/hailing/blizzarding outside. There is no way you can pull off the “roll out of bed and get to class in five minutes” routine unless you are a very, very fast runner that is extremely committed to sleep! However, if you are willing to, it is feasible to get used to the walk and to even learn to enjoy it. I myself find it gives me time to think!
In comparison to most other residences at UofT and a lot of student apartments, Chestnut is quite expensive. In fact, one of the major reasons people move out after first year (other than wanting to live with friends or wanting to live in one’s own place) is the fact that most other options are cheaper to some degree or another.
While every resident will appreciate that he/she is safe within the building, the security measures at Chestnut are quite austere. Every student is assigned a key card for their room, and has to flash this card as they walk by the security desk towards the elevators. You cannot go by without it, and if you are a guest in the building, you have to be signed in and given your own little colour-coded card for the day and are only allowed in if you are with the person who signed you in! Most people who visit the building find this excessive, and to be honest, I do too. However, we learn to live with it, and like I said before, we are extremely safe.
There are six elevators that travel between the 27 floors of the buildings, and it is a good day when four of them are functioning. The past week has been good (knock on wood!) but there have been occasions when only two were working. When this happened, as I live on the 4th floor (the first residential floor), I would have to wait for ages for an elevator that wasn’t completely full – and by full I mean there was barely breathing space, let alone moving space!
Representative of UofT itself, the residence is filled with people from literally all over the world! (There is even a map in the lobby that points out how many people there are from each country). This, of course, leads to interesting conversation, various arguments, but also helps increase the variety of food options in the cafeteria as the kitchen tries to please as many palates as possible!
As legend has it, the Chestnut caf is probably one of the best on campus. On any given meal time, be it lunch or dinner, there is a choice of two main entrees. In addition to that, there is the grill bar that usually presents an array of burgers and hot-dogs (including the veggie variety as well). There is also a pasta/rice/noodle bar (depending on the day) in which you select the ingredients for your sauce, and this is located right next to the salad bar. Asides from that, there is also a larger selection of salads set apart, as well as the veggie food bar. As for drinks, there is a huge variety of both cold and warm beverages, including hot chocolate and French Vanilla cappuccinos. As for desserts, the favourite part for any sweet-tooth like myself, there is a new selection each day ranging from cheesecakes to pies to fruit salad. While people may start complaining as to the quality once they have lived here for a while, we all accept that it is much better than many other residences or university cafs!
Asides from the caf itself, they also have a bagged lunch program for people who have long days of classes (like engineers) and don’t have time to come back for lunch.
Location, location, location
While I’m aware that this topic is appearing in both lists, there is a reason for this. Even though the residence is far (compared to others) from campus itself, it is pretty amazingly located otherwise. We are literally a five minute walk from the Eaton Centre, ten minutes away from the two closest movie theatres, surrounded by a variety of restaurants and bars, making us fortunate to be living where we are!
It‘s pretty much a hotel!
The 89 Chestnut building was formerly a hotel. With that in mind, the lobby is luxurious, the rooms are all en-suite, and we have our own laundry service in the basement. Not only that, there is a massive common room on the 27th floor (yes, I said 27th) which has a wonderful panoramic view of the city. With regards to services, each room is fitted with a phone that can be used for making local calls, and both cable and internet are included. As well, there is a weekly cleaning service (although some people may count this in the cons when it’s their turn to have the early morning knock on the door announcing their turn!). This involves a proper wipe down of the bathroom, new toilet paper roles, and a quick vacuum of the carpeted floors.
The nut house, as some of us affectionately call it, like any place, has its good and bad parts. However, having lived here for three years already, I can only say that it’s a great place to make friends, and while you may be a bit removed from campus life itself, there is a community within the building that helps maintain a pretty stable social life for anyone who lives here.
Editor’s note: For more information on Chestnut Residence, visit their website at http://www.chestnutresidence.utoronto.ca/