Sometimes talking the talk is not always enough to fully empathize with someone's situation.

That's why five Laurier students are livingoutside, as part of their annual five days of homelessness campaign.

The students have been living under a tarp since Friday. They were given a pillow and sleeping bag, then left to deal with the cold nights on their own and without technology.

These challenges are presented to help them understand the daily difficulties people living on the streets face.

“I felt a little defeated that the shelter we built didn’t hold up against the weather,” said participant Sandra Portanova. “It was somewhat of a struggle [to put up again] and those are the things that just kind of make the experience more real.

“You don’t really think about [how much you take for granted] at the time, but when you receive a bunch of apples, you’re happy that you’re able to have something healthy.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the issues of homelessness particularly experienced by youth.

“We're representing a group of people who are often invisible, who are often ignored, stigmatized,” said Five Days of Homelessness Laurier President Noelle Rossi. “We really try to show people that it could be your classmates, your friends.”

The goal for the campaign this year is to raise $17,000 that will go toward youth shelters.

"I find that as soon as people hear a little thing about what we do, they are immediately intrigued,” said Rossi.

In addition to living, the students still have to go to class.

“There’s times when I ask ‘people have to do this by themselves every single night?’” said participant Alyssa Shields.

She adds that going through the experience as a team makes it easier.

It's been such an eye-opening experience,” said participant Sandro Portanova. “And we're only part-way through it.”

The students will continue braving the elements until Wednesday along with 18 other universities across Canada holding their own, similar campaigns.