Vaidehi is a joint Honours Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage & Family studies student in her 3B term. Here is what she had to say about her first year at Waterloo.
Why did you choose the University of Waterloo?
When I first read about co-op and the innovation that happens at the university, I believed that these opportunities would help me become a psychotherapist and reach my full potential because my plans aligned with the university’s purpose. As someone who was born in India, raised in Qatar, and now pursuing higher education here in Canada, Waterloo seemed like a safe place for me to grow and experience life and it certainly holds true today.
When you received your offer of admissions, how did you celebrate your success?
I was extremely happy that my hard work paid off and I was overwhelmed with pride that I was going to be a part of the Waterloo community. I had received a cute package with a personalized letter in it, which I still have with me. I continue to celebrate my success by contributing and being a part of the various programs at Waterloo. It has become my home!
Before you arrived, what worried you about coming?
This is hard to believe, but I was only a little nervous about coming here. My happiness exceeded the worries. I had heard that Canadians are extremely friendly and a lot of my high school friends already studied here. I would say the positive picture I painted in my head along with the many excellent reviews about the university helped me approach this new experience optimistically.
What did you expect Canada and the university to be like?
I expected a bit of difficulty in transitioning to the culture, but surprisingly it was the best experience. In fact, I made more friends than I expected during my first year.
Was there anything that surprised you? How so?
I was surprised how closely knit the city is. For the past three years I have spent here, I have fortunately faced no safety issues. This was my mother’s prime concern when I was leaving home at the age of 18, and I can proudly say that she is no longer worried. I have also explored every bit of the city. It’s very easy to navigate and is student friendly.
Were there any highlights during your first term at Waterloo?
I got my first job at the age of 18 as a Residence Ambassador where I gave tours of my residence (Village 1). This was my first step towards independence. Holding this job helped me make my own decisions and I learnt to take small steps towards my goals.
Did you face any challenges in your first year? If so, how did you overcome them?
I initially started in Arts and Business program and there were a few courses I did not like. My advisor helped me a great deal in drafting my career plan and helping me identify my real passion. Now I am a double major in Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage & Family studies. I enjoy every bit of my academic program. Changing programs taught me that one must not completely expect university to be an easy transition. It is a learning experience and because you are involved in so much decision-making, one must adapt to the word ‘change’ and navigate your way to your passion.
If you were arriving as a new international student again, what would you do differently, or the same?
If I was arriving again, I would relive the experience with no regrets. I would be more involved in the various programs offered by the campus for international students. Currently, I work as a Community Leader for the International Peer Community and help new international students transition to Canadian culture and make new friends. Honestly, if I hadn’t embraced my multicultural identity, I would have never been able to achieve this. I therefore encourage future international students to embrace their identities and be themselves. Waterloo has a lot to offer you and you won’t be disappointed.