Introducing Ana

Headshot of Ana EnnisAna Inés Ennis (she/her) completed her undergraduate and PhD education at Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was born. In 2022, Ana came to Canada to begin her postdoctoral appointment at the University of Waterloo through the Centre for Astrophysics and Perimeter Institute.

International postdoc experience

For Ana, having grown up and studied in Argentina, Canada was in her “top 3 places I wanted to try getting a position in since it seemed like such a beautiful country” and she was excited to live somewhere with “real snowy winters”. In terms of choosing Waterloo, she always preferred smaller cities and explains Waterloo seemed just the right size. Aside from the location factors, Ana also saw there was a lot of exciting work and research happening within the astronomy field in Canada, particularly at UWaterloo and Perimeter Institute.

After being offered a position came the intimidating process of applying for a Visa, but Ana explains the process was not as scary and quicker than she anticipated. Ana did find some of the process confusing, especially as postdoctoral positions are a unique category of job, so some of the questions on the forms were difficult to answer. However, most of the visa process was able to be done online and was not too hard. Ana explains she had to gather papers to confirm her PhD, employment history, and postdoc position at UWaterloo. After things were processed online, she did require one trip to the embassy for fingerprints and to have her Visa officially stamped. One of Ana’s most difficult experiences was when her flight arrived in Canada at 5:00 in the morning. Ana described getting her work permit at the border as not one of her brightest moments.

Once arriving in Canada, Ana says she did not experience culture shock, but instead had weather shock!  She arrived in November with a notion of what chilly weather meant, but she was nowhere near correct or ready. Ana said, “snow sounded fun from a distance, but having to shovel a sidewalk makes you feel quite differently about it!” Other than the cold weather shock, Ana found Canada quite welcoming.

Advice for other postdocs

For other international postdocs, Ana engages putting intentional effort into connecting with other international postdocs and partaking in events/opportunities to interact with other people from different fields. She highly recommends attending events as she found connecting with other postdocs outside her field has been helpful for her mental health. Ana also shares that from her experience, “people are always willing to help if you reach out”. She also acknowledges that every situation and postdoc is different, but there are so many postdocs across UWaterloo, that she says, “you will probably find someone who can put you in contact with someone else who went through the same thing you are dealing with”. Moving to a new country can be hard, but remember, “there’s no need to make it harder by doing it by yourself!”