Si Hui Christy - University of Waterloo

B. Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

The University of Waterloo School of Architecture has the most hardworking and intense people I've ever met. Right from the first week, I was thrown into my first project which was a group one where we had to take on a case study of an office building in Toronto and make a video. It was the most stressful project I've ever done but seeing it played in the lecture at the end of the assignment was fulfilling.

One of the most memorable courses though was 19th Century Enlightenment and Romanticism, although being a core architecture course, I had to read texts such as Emma, Frankenstein, the Communist Manifesto and Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Experiencing the way they taught at another university was interesting and it made me have a different perspective on architecture.

Personal experience

The School of Architecture for UWaterloo is located in a small town in Cambridge which meant that I didn't participate in any of the activities for exchange students on main campus, and there was only 1 other exchange student at the architecture school. This however gave me the opportunity to make friends with the locals and of course because they're Canadian, they were all really friendly.

After the exchange I travelled to Montreal and Chicago by myself, not something I thought I could do but it turned out to be some of the best times of my life. I took my time exploring the streets of Old Montreal and looking at the architecture of Chicago. After this experience it has given me the confidence to try even more new and exciting things.


I lived off-campus as the architecture school didn't have its own accommodation. I was very lucky to find accommodation right across from the school though, which proved convenient as I could come back after classes to cook. Also considering the -20 weather of a Canadian winter it was good I didn't have to walk 20 minutes in the morning like some of my friends.

I think it's a good idea to get in quick if you find a really ideal place but if you know someone where you're going and you have some time before you start the semester it could be better to scout out the accommodation once you actually get to the country.


Groceries cost about $50 a week and generally, if your housing doesn't come with laundry it cost $3.00 per load for washing and drying (around where I lived anyway). In the town I stayed (Cambridge), the local bus service-Grand River Transit was free for UWaterloo students so just flash your student ID and you're good to do. I didn't travel much while I was actually studying as the town was pretty isolated but I definitely spent the most money on travelling. I think it's good to save up during the semester by cooking and not spending too much in order to save up for when you travel.

Professional development and employability

I believe that through the exchange I've become harder working and found that drive that I was lacking before. Going on exchange has definitely also given me more independence and confidence that I can actually do things.


Watching the sunset over Chicago from the Hancock tower.

Top tips

I think really do research into all the possible universities and locations you can go to.

Also, step out of your comfort zone and do things you normally wouldn't do (but be safe of course)!