Kunall Vadgama

Why did you choose the University of Waterloo?

UWaterloo has one of the best Earth Science programs along with a lot of research opportunities with the professors. To pursue a career in Hydrogeology, what better place to start than the Water Institute on campus! The field of opportunities are vast, and Waterloo can get me there.

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

I was driving back home when I got the email. I read the first line and shrieked with joy! When I got home, my parents and I went out for some ice-cream to celebrate. I was so ecstatic that I couldn’t sleep at night with all that excitement. I had been eagerly waiting for nearly five months to hear Waterloo’s response to my application.

Before you arrived, what worried you about coming?

My biggest concern with coming to Waterloo was getting around the city and learning where everything was. However, those concerns faded as the International Student Experience team aided with a lot of the logistics. From the very first moment I arrived in Canada, I was greeted by the Waterloo volunteers who helped take us to campus via the Airport Pick-up program. Once in residence, meeting with the Don and attending Orientation helped me to familiarize myself with campus and feel more at ease. 

What did you expect Canada and the University of Waterloo to be like?

Aside from the chilly weather that I expected in Canada, I also thought that it would be extremely complicated to find my way around. I was worried about following directions to stores and that navigating the public transport system would be overwhelming. However, when I got to Waterloo and picked up my WatCard, I found it to be much easier that I expected. Everyone around campus was super helpful and welcoming, and the bus drivers on the GRT are extremely patient! I would ask questions about where I should get off and whether or not I was on the right bus in the first place.

Was there anything that surprised you about the University of Waterloo? How so?

By far the biggest thing that surprised me about the university was how big it was. I walked more in my first month than I probably have in my entire life. With Ron Eydt Village residence and University of Waterloo Place residence being at extreme opposite sides of the campus, walking would take about 25 minutes, without getting lost. Naturally, I took way longer and ended up in parts of the campus that I didn’t know existed. The miles of tunnels, bridges, and passages that you can walk through indoors is mindboggling. Luckily, they have put up maps at every entrance and exit of every building which helped a lot.

Kunall at cultural caravan.

Were there any highlights to your first term at Waterloo?

My first term at Waterloo during fall 2017 was truly memorable. At Orientation I met a lot of my friends that I still have today, and Thanksgiving break was especially memorable as it was the first time I had ventured beyond the city with a few friends to see the sights in Downtown Toronto and the neighboring cities.


Did you face any challenges in your first year? If so, how did you overcome them?

I think that the biggest challenge I faced in my first year was adapting to my new schedule. Time management is key and it was probably the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. Beyond going to all my classes and labs, I had to learn how to manage socializing, attending clubs I had joined, and completing mundane tasks like cooking food and laundry. It took some time for me, but I was able to find a balance by setting a schedule for my classes, but also for other chores and tasks that I needed to complete on a weekly or daily basis.

What were your experiences like when you returned home?

The experience of returning home to Dubai was unlike any other. I saw my family again, but the visit went by rather quickly. The feeling of being home is incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced before. Although living in Waterloo alone did make me much more independent person, the luxury of easing off on chores and the lack of the constant worrying about planning meals and classes is extremely relaxing. Although the holidays are short, I try to make the most of them and spend as much time with my family as I can.

What is one piece of advice you would share with new Waterloo students?

Initially I was a bit hesitant to go to a new event without knowing anyone. However, if I were arriving at Waterloo as a new student again, I would tell myself to get out there and get involved with a lot more clubs, societies, and faculty events. I would advise every new student, whether international or local, to get involved with your faculty through any events, breakfasts, or seminars they may hold. Even if the event itself isn’t that appealing to you, the people you meet and the friends you’ll make at those events are priceless and will probably stay with you for a very long time.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

For all the incoming international students, I would highly advise them to join the International Peer Community as the activities and the events that are planned are a great way to get involved in the city and explore a new place and meet new people.