Katrine Orland Led

Katrine is a Masters student of Applied Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Here is what she had to say about her first year at Waterloo.

Why did you choose the University of Waterloo?

I always wanted to live abroad and get to know another country, culture, and language, as if they were my own. Canada has always been very intriguing to me because of it's natural beauty, its reputation for being a friendly and openminded society, and offering some of the best education when it comes to environment and water studies.

I chose the University of Waterloo specifically because of its outstanding worldwide reputation, the level of education I could recieve, and because of the collaborative water program, which is the best interdisciplinary program in the world for water studies.

When you received your offer of admissions, how did you celebrate your success?

I was so happy I yelled “yes!” and then immediately called my mom to tell her the news! I did not tell her that I applied for taking my entire Masters in Canada, so the first thing she asked me was, “when are you going to ask me for permission to move so far away from me?” All joking aside, she agreed that I should go and she was super happy for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I got. She knew how much I wanted this.  

Before you arrived, what worried you about coming? 

What I was most concerned about was the extremely cold winters. Otherwise, I was not worried about anything because I knew there would be an amazing support system at the University of Waterloo and that they would provide me with any help I needed. Also, it was comforting to know that a lot of students at Waterloo are international students and they have been through similar experiences, so I knew I could ask them for help.  

What did you expect Canada and the university to be like?

I expected people to be as friendly and openminded as everyone is always generalizing, and I expected the University of Waterloo to host many events; both exceeded my expectations. Canadians are so friendly (almost too friendly) and there are so many events, parties, networking opportunities, and workshops - you just need to seek them out!

Was there anything that surprised you? How so?

Katrine joined the dance club.

I was surprised about all the different clubs and free services that I could join. Seizing these opportunities and joining various clubs, like the mambo dance club, to make a new network and learn new skills was the best! They have changed my life forever and opened so many future opportunities for me. So please, take advantage of all the opportunities you get at Waterloo!


Were there any highlights to your first term at Waterloo?

The biggest highlights were Orientation week and the clubs and service fair days at the very beginning of the term, which you must join! It was during these events I made my entire network and joined all the clubs I wanted. Other highlights thoughout my experience were:

  • International Canadian Student Network (Hosted weekly gatherings, planned trips and gave out free food/snacks)
  • Salsa clubs (I learned how to dance salsa, bachata and kizomba)
  • Hiking club (They planned two camping trips)
  • Parties (Who would say no to a party? Especially the Oktoberfest, which is the 2nd largest in the world!)
  • Student Success Office (Helping with immigration issues and hosting different workshops)
  • Writing Center (Helped with my English both written and verbally)
  • Career Action Center (Helped with my resume, cover letter, job interviews, how to find jobs in Canada, how to network, what your career goals are, etc.) 
  • Health and Dental Plan (Gives you access to a dentist, physiotherapy, chiropractor, massage therapy, etc.)

What was it like to live and learn in another language? 

I have always been good at English, but my written skills have become so much better. I am extremely happy to have seen this improvement because it is very important for my future career.

If you were arriving as a new international student again, what would you do differently, or the same?

Try to build a network and participate in as many events that you can on or off campus. Get exposed to as many things as possible! Also, figure out right away what free services/discounts you can take advantage off. That was extremely useful for me!

Challenge yourself and get yourself out of your comfort zone. Try as many new things as possible and grab every opportunity you get!