Having attended the University of Waterloo after growing up in Kitchener, I always had the urge to get out and see the world. The opportunity finally came when I was accepted into the computer science master’s program at University College London in London, England. While London is not ‘the world’, the world does come to London … literally.
Every day I walk past King’s Cross and St. Pancras Station to get to school, and every day I see tourists from all walks of life lugging their suitcases, smartphones in hand, trying to navigate the streets of London. There is an equal representation of nationalities in my program—if only the gender representation was a little more equal, but that’s computer science for you. There are students from France, Greece, China, you name it, but I’m the only Canadian. Yet, my classmates know me as the girl with the pink uWaterloo water bottle. Yes, I brought my uWaterloo bottle all the way to London. It was a graduation gift from my friends that I carry around to remind myself and others of how I got to where I am.
I’m always pleasantly surprised when I receive a compliment from someone who recognizes the University of Waterloo. I find myself wondering, “How do they even know I went there?” Then I remember my pink water bottle—it’s kind of hard to miss. But they know about Waterloo? Apparently so! The fact that individuals from all over the globe recognize our school and its reputation speaks volumes about Waterloo’s international presence.
I am now six months into my program and am developing a whole new appreciation for my undergraduate education. My current studies have not been a walk in the park (not that I expected them to be) but they would have been a lot rockier had it not been for Waterloo’s rigorous math program. Yes, I dreaded doing those weekly math assignments, but just like eating Brussels sprouts, they turned out to be good for me, just like the professors said they’d be!
I graduated from Waterloo armed not only with a collection of esoteric math theorems, but with the ability to manage my time effectively, think critically, and most importantly, ask for help when needed. These are the invaluable life skills that I gained while at Waterloo and these are the skills helping me to succeed at this chapter in my life and that will help in all subsequent chapters.
Jennifer Nguyen, BMATH ‘12