Hi HOEMies! We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the experiences of some of your fellow students through our first Humans of HOEM series. If you’ve enjoyed reading Humans of HOEM, let us know in the comments! We would love to continue this series with future generations of HOEMies.
This final interview features Ashleen, Musskan, and Moksh. Having travelled together from Dubai to study at Ryerson and OCADU, they are full of energy, ready to make new friends and immerse themselves in everything Toronto has to offer.
From left to right: Moksh, Musskan and Ashleen
Now, let's get to the interview:
Ani: Where are you all from?
Ashleen: I’m originally from India but then I lived in Dubai.
Musskan: Yeah same. Originally from India, but I live in Dubai as well.
Moksh: Yeah. Me too. I was born in India, moved to Dubai.
Ani: So what school do you all go to? What programs are you in?
Ashleen: I’m at Ryerson University, Business Management.
Musskan: I’m in OCAD University, and I'm studying interior designing.
Moksh: I’m in Ryerson and I'm doing Business Management.
Ani: Okay, and what were you most excited about when you decided to live here at HOEM?
Ashleen: I was really excited for the windows because there's a lot! Like the windows are really big, and I liked the natural light coming in. So I was really excited about that compared to other housing that I saw. And I liked how the washrooms were one washroom for two students. I like that because I don't like sharing my washroom with a lot of people.
Moksh: Yeah. That's kind of what it was for us as well.
Ashleen: Yeah! Oh, and the kitchen came with all the utensils, which made the transition from moving from Dubai to Canada very easy.
Musskan: I think living in a student residence makes [things] easy, especially, you know, during COVID, making friends.
Ashleen: I was like, going through [your] Instagram page to see what you guys have, how everything is and then I saw the events and the events highlight. The first thing that caught my attention were the dogs and the food truck [fest]. So I thought, “Oh, that's so exciting.” It seemed like [HOEM] had a really close community with all the [events] like the talent shows and stuff, so I was really looking forward to all of that.
Ani: Cool. What are your happiest memories at HOEM?
Musskan: We literally have a highlight.
Ashleen: Yeah, basically we have a highlight, like a monthly page where we write everything that happened that month. I mean, I think for me, it's probably just the fact that all of us, almost every night, just chill together, make food and just talk like the whole night.
Moksh: Yeah. We convert this [living room] into a dining living floor. So we sit there and have food and chill.
Ani: How did you make friends in the building? Like did you take any collective effort or did it just happen by circumstance?
Ashleen: Yes! So we kind of made an effort, like if we follow someone [on Instagram] and we see them at HOEM, we would just make an effort to message them. And Moksh actually went knocking on people's doors to make friends.
Moksh: But yeah, but during COVID people are you know….
Ashleen: Very, like conservative. So…
Musskan: Yeah, it is really hard during COVID to make new friends. I think it was very easy for us since all of us were here as a group. If we were to be alone and not together, it would have been really hard.
Ashleen: It made the entire process easy for us just being together.
Ani: What's your favorite way to spend free time here?
Moksh: We all sit together and watch movies and…
Musskan: And play UNO!
Ashleen: Yeah! Like we just play [games] all the time. You know?
Moksh: Yeah and we go to the beach sometimes.
Ashleen: Or we cook food. Me and Musskan, we just keep experimenting with food and stuff.
Musskan: All the time.
Ani: What type of stuff do you cook?
Ashleen: We made dumplings the other day.
Ani: From scratch??
Musskan: Yeah. And we made meat brisket.
Moksh: Yeah. One time I came over, she made proper Indian food.
Musskan: Like biryani.
Moksh: Yeah. That was really fun.
Ani: Okay, what is your biggest hope or goal that you have for the next year?
Ashleen: It all depends on COVID. If COVID does go away, you can make more friends and you can go to the university [in person].
Musskan: I'm planning to come back to HOEM during September.
Ashleen: Yeah, we're gonna come back. So my only hope for September is that things open up and we can have close community events again.
Ani: Okay, cool. This is an interesting one. Who are you inspired by?
Ashleen: I don’t know, I think I inspire myself…Just kidding. I think cats are inspiring. I just love looking at them. Like they make me want to be active! Like just running around. Like I see videos of them on Instagram. Yeah. I think cats. I can’t think of anything else.
Ani: Do you own a cat? Have you ever had a cat?
Ashleen: Yeah, back in India I still have like four cats at home.
Moksh: I'm just inspired by the concept of making it.
Ani: What does making it mean to you?
Moksh: Like if I wanna buy something, I don't have to think twice about whether it's you know…
Ani: Feasible or not?
Moksh: Yeah, basically. I want to have a club for myself. Ashleen and I have an idea that we are gonna open a club chain.
Ani: Oh! Wow.
Ashleen: Yeah. We are gonna name it Dusk!
Ani: That’s nice! Cool. Do you usually go clubbing when you are allowed to?
Moksh: I mean I haven’t been clubbing because in Dubai, the legal age is 21 and again in Toronto, it’s all closed. There are clubs in India, but none that I’d try.
Musskan: I just don’t like clubbing. Too many people.
Ani: Fair enough. What was your first day at HOEM like, after your travel quarantine?
Moksh: That day was fun because…
Ashleen: Oh yeah, yeah!! We went for a walk and it was snowing. It was really nice.
Moksh: And then we went and got pizza from Metro because we didn't know where to get pizza from.
Moksh: Yeah. The pizza was actually really good.
Ani: Cool. What is something you're really happy about right now in life?
Ashleen: Oh, the weather's nice, And I'm happy with the people I'm surrounded with. They’re just always hyping me up and like, just always there for me.
Moksh: For me, I would say what's making me happy is the fact that even during COVID I've made so many friends and things are looking better for Toronto. Things are opening up so it’s making me happy, that things [are] getting better.
Musskan: I am happy about the fact that I’m in a different country, the freedom that we have. I think I’m more responsible.
Ani: How has it been living at HOEM throughout the pandemic?
Moksh: HOEM is like an extremely, extremely safe place. That's why we are moving back [to HOEM in September].
Ashleen: Yeah. HOEM really does feel like home. Like I mean there are the nests, the Zen room, the gym on the second floor. It’s just all really nice. I also feel that HOEM, you know, actively tries to make it better for the people living here. They try a lot to make sure that everyone staying at HOEM is comfortable and happy.
Moksh: They take care of you. Like our RA Cheryl, she’s very supportive and nice.
Musskan: All the HOEM staff just make you feel really comfortable. Just like being open to them if you have any problems or anything like that. I don't think I've ever had a problem. I think even telling the front desk about anything, it's really comfortable.
Ani: What are you looking forward to this summer?
Ashleen: To go back to Dubai maybe.
Moksh: I'm just excited to see a lot of people in the streets.
Musskan: Actually, I’m excited to go to a restaurant, sit and eat food.
Ashleen: Yeah. Or Canada’s Wonderland. I heard It's really fun.
Moksh: Yeah, something we did almost every week was go out and eat. And yeah, it's been five months since we've done that.
Ani: Do you think it's important to live in a student residence?
Musskan: Yeah. Definitely.
Ashleen: It can help you adapt to this new city, new country.
Musskan: That entire process would be easier just you know, you're transforming into a completely different person. Again, the friends, the social factor. There is the safety factor.
Ashleen: Yeah. It's easier to make friends. Just feels homey.
Ani: Fair enough. What are some of the favorite places you visited here in Toronto so far?
Musskan: Sugar Beach is nice.
Moksh: Woodbine beach was nice as well. The grocery stores are very nice here.
Ashleen: Loblaws is the best!
Musskan: Dollarama has been helpful.
Ashleen: Well, I really like the area at Ryerson where they have a skating pond during winter. It has really big rocks and an eating place.
Ani: How have you kept yourselves active during this time?
Ashleen: Cycling using the city bikes! And then we go to the park and just play sports and tag.
Ani: You played tag?
Ashleen: Yes. We just went there and didn’t know what to do so we just played tag. It was actually fun.
Ani: What about you Moksh?
Moksh: For me, just working out at home. We bought gym equipment.
Ani: Very nice. What's some advice that you would give to students moving to Toronto?
Ashleen: I would say definitely stay in a student residence during the first year.
Moksh: Yeah. Stay in a student residence. Just be open to making new friends.
Musskan: Like literally, I would say to just go and talk to people because you might think it's so awkward but at the end of the day, don’t just overthink everything. And I would say just be open and not be scared to make friends.
Ani: Final question. If there's one thing that you wanted someone to know about each of you, as an individual, what would it be?
Musskan: I can’t take showers without my slippers on.
Moksh: For me, I’m very approachable.
Ashleen: If I have to pick, I can’t think of anything…
Moksh: Ashleen is like a very positive and happy person to be around. That is what I would say.
Ashleen: I paint.
Musskan: I’ll tell you what. She gets really excited about food. She is a big foodie. It is something that people should know about her!
Ani: You said you paint. What inspires you to paint?
Ashleen: Okay, to be honest in [high] school, we only had two electives to choose from. Just music and painting. But I didn't know how to paint and I used to skip my painting class. But then my art teacher, she was a rock for me. She didn't get me into trouble for skipping. She would actually force me to sit with her and then she would talk it out with me and she really helped me find my painting [style]. Like I did not know I could paint until she helped me and I’m really proud of [my art].
Ani: That's a good one! That's all the questions I have. Thank you so much everyone.
Thank you for reading and being part of our first Humans of HOEM series!
Images by: Jordana Petruccelli
Interviewed by: Anirudh Muruganand
Transcribed by: Melanie Feng Chen