Bachelor of Engineering, 3rd year
Bachelor of Engineering, 3rd year

Academic experiences

I am currently studying Civil and Geotechnical Engineering.
Fortunately for me, I was able to find compatible courses at my host university which allowed me to claim full credit for my degree at UQ.
University of Waterloo has a surprisingly similar academic system and work load compared to UQ. Most students study 4-5 subjects and they measure grades in terms of % instead of 1-7.
The biggest challenge I faced in my engineering courses was getting used to the imperial units (feet, pound etc.).
Due to the fact that Canada and USA are neighbours, even though metric units are the official unit of measurement in Canada, you will encounter lots of situation both academically and in everyday life which forces you to use imperial units.
For example, when I first arrived at Waterloo, a local student told me that the average temperature for that week will be 10 degrees even though it is snowing right outside.
It wasn't until 5 minutes later that I realized he was using Fahrenheit.

University of Waterloo during Spring

Personal experiences

The main reason I chose to go to Canada was because I enjoy skiing a lot.
During my semester at Waterloo, I joined a skiing and snowboarding club and went skiing every week.
I even learnt how to snowboard during my time there.
Winter sports are VERY affordable over there, the university club bulk buys the lift tickets and you basically can pay a student rate of as low as $20 for a whole day of skiing/snowboarding.

Weekly trips by skiing club

Accommodation

For any students considering going on exchange to Canada during the winter semester, I highly recommend on-campus residence.
Although on-campus accommodation is typically more expensive and you lose some flexibility (e.g. we had to pay the whole semester's rent and their residence meal plan), the benefits far outweigh the cons.
A casual 5 minute walk to class will very likely turn into a 30 minute hike if there are heavy snowfalls.
Furthermore, if you live off-campus and catch a bus to university, you will have a bad time waiting for a bus at -20 Celsius in the morning.
I lived at Village 1, which was an excellent choice in my opinion.
During my semester, they grouped all the exchange and new international students onto the same floor so nobody feels like an outsider (since we all are).

Expect to see this kind of snowfall everyday in winter

Budget

In total, I will say an absolute minimum of $8000 AUD will be required although this value can differ greatly due to fluctuating exchange rates.
I spent roughly $2000 on flights, $2500 on accommodation and $1500 on food during my semester. Add on another $500 for medical and travel insurance.
I spent approximately another $5000 on entertainment such as snowboarding, skiing and traveling after my semester.
If you do decide to study at the University of Waterloo, going to the East Coast of USA is a must.

Niagara falls (more like stuck) during winter

Academic development and employability

Going to another university possibly allows you to study electives which aren't typically offered at UQ.
In my case, I had a spare elective so I studied a mining course about rock fragmentation even though I study geotechnical (soil).
Due to the fact that this was an extra course, it doesn't have any impact on the university fees nor extra time spent finishing my degree, I was able to some extent experience another field while simultaneously studying for mine.

Grandcanyon- travelling after semester ends

Highlight

Learning skiing and snowboarding was definitely the best thing I have done in my life.
After the semester break, I travelled with a couple of new friends to the East and West Coast of the United States, we end up learning scuba diving in Cuba as well.
If you do decide to do some traveling, make sure you travel with friends, splitting accommodation cost for hotels are cheaper than backpacker hostels and the experience is much more enjoyable overall.

Top tips

General tips
1. BRING A POWERBOARD.
If you are bringing multiple electronic devices, buying a single power board and adapter are much more convenient than bringing multiple adapters for each device.
Consider buying an international adapter if you are traveling to multiple countries.
2. Sort out Visas before you leave Australia, the last thing you want is not being able to complete your studies due to mistakes in your Visa application
3. Start sorting out your course selection as soon as possible before you even finalize on choosing your host university.
In my case, I only had one choice left because two other universities couldn't offer compatible courses/in the right semester.

Waterloo tips
1. If you want enjoy winter sports, buy your gear off kijiji (it’s their version of gumtree).
I bought my whole 2nd hand ski set for $50 and kept swapping with my friend who bought a snowboard set (also $50) to save on rental fees.
We ended up selling the gear before we left so it was actually completely free.
2. Gym, pool and ALL LOCAL BUSES (our Translink) are free with your student card!!!

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