James - University of Waterloo

Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce
Semester 1, 2018
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.

Academic experience

I study a dual Bachelor of Engineering and Commerce, with my majors being Finance and Mechanical. When I went on exchange, I was in my final year which made finding equivalent subjects a little cumbersome. The University of Waterloo is renowned for its Engineering and Science programs, whilst they do have a business program later year subjects are unable to be taken at this campus. The UQ equivalent subjects I took were:

MECH3100 -> ME380
MECH3300 -> ME526
MECH3400 -> ME354, ME353
As not many other mechanical students had gone to Waterloo in the past it was difficult at first to find these subjects, but the staff at Waterloo were very helpful.

Personal experience

Going on exchange was great in that it took me out of my comfort zone and gave me the ability to see parts of the world I may not have seen otherwise. I also have made some new close friends on the other side of the globe.

Accommodation

During my semester I lived on campus at the Claudette Millar Hall (CMH) residence. By chance it was conveniently across the road from most of my classes which was great when I had to walk home in the snow. I lived at college at UQ and in comparison, I found the residence to be more of just a place to live than a social environment. However, I met lots of other exchange students who lived at the residence and others nearby. In most of the rooms in CMH you live in 2-man rooms. It is more expensive than the other residences but is much nicer than the apartment style living.

Costs

The public buses around Waterloo are free with your student ID card. Also, Waterloo is about an hour and a half from Toronto. You can catch the Greyhound buses for about $20 one way. However, I found it much more convenient using the ride sharing Facebook group which offers regular trips for around $15 each if you don’t mind being squeezed into a small car. 

At CMH you are required to purchase a 'meal plan' because you don't have access to a kitchen. This was good in that you didn't have to cook and the food wasn't terrible, however it was quite costly.

Professional Development

I learnt about Engineering industries in North America and what sorts of things they look for in employees which was great because I hope to work there one day.

Highlight

I would have to say the highlight of my trip was going to Niagara Falls. Also, if you go in the winter term you must go out with your friends for St Patrick's Day - it is nothing like you've ever seen. Students drive from all over Ontario to Waterloo for it.

Top tips

If you are unsure, just have a crack because you won’t regret it. If you are already set on going, get involved in every opportunity you can because the time goes way too fast.