Limei Chen

Limei is a Financial Analysis and Risk Management student in her 3B term. She is also one of the 2019 International Live Chat hosts. Here is what she had to say about her first year at Waterloo.

Why did you choose the University of Waterloo?

I decided to make the University of Waterloo my first choice after talking to my friend who was an upper-year student. That chat, and the fact that Waterloo has a very good international reputation, helped me make my decision. 

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

I was super excited and my family went out for a big dinner celebration!

Before you arrived, what worried you about coming?

Before I arrived, I was worried that I might not be able to quickly get used to the new environment and cultural differences. However, after I arrived, I found people here very friendly and I felt I could always ask for their help. I also joined university clubs and went to different events where I met many new friends.

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

I thought the students would only focus on academics. However, when I arrived and became one of them, I realized that most students maintain a very good balance between study and personal interests. They work hard but also play hard, and more importantly, enjoy what they do.

Was there anything that surprised you? How so?

I was very surprised to see so many geese and squirrels on campus as I have never seen so many of them before, especially the geese! I find them really cute :) 

Were there any highlights to your first term at Waterloo?

The highlight for my first term would be my first time to Waterloo Park, which is one of my favourite places in Waterloo! I really enjoyed walking around and watching the cute animals. It was also my first time seeing a real alpaca! Even now, I always go for walks there with my friends to visit the animals and relax.

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

My first language is Mandarin. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to live and learn in English because there were always some words that I did not know and sometimes I could not make myself well understood. What helped me improve was looking up words online, watching more English shows, and talking to more people.

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

Limei, Shreena and King Warrior.

Catch Lemei, Shreena, and Kealan (King Warrior as a stand in) during the International Live Chats this July 2019.

In my first year, the language barrier was one of the biggest challenges. Although I had no difficulty understanding the lectures, sometimes I found myself unable to express myself well when talking to friends and classmates. Hence, in order to improve my English, I tried to talk to more people and learned from them. My friends also taught me many things about Canadian culture and helped me better adapt to the life here.

Another big challenge would be feeling homesick. Besides sending messages and phone calls to my family, my friends’ company really helped me feel better when I was homesick. It was also a joy to celebrate traditional festivals together with friends.


What main differences have you noticed between your home culture and Canadian culture?

There are many interesting differences between Chinese and Canadian cultures. For example, in my first year, one day I was on my way to school and a girl came to me and said that she really liked my sweater. I was very happy, but also a bit shocked, because in Chinese culture people would not talk to the strangers on the street and compliment their clothes. Moreover, in Canada, people usually address the professors and the elderly by their first names, but in Chinese culture, students always address teachers by their last names to show their respect.

What were your experiences like when you returned home?

When I returned home in summer, my parents came to pick me up at the airport. Everything felt familiar but different at the same time. Overall, I was very happy to see the people I had missed and share with them my experience in Canada. As we did not see each other for about a year, we treasured the time we spent together much more.

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

If I were arriving as a new international student again, I would spend more time exploring the local area. When I first arrived here, I did not spend much time going out. It was only later that I realized I had missed many fun events, such as the Art Market, the farmers’ market, local concerts, and music festival that happened in the area. Hence why I would definitely explore the local area more.

One thing that I would do the same would be joining different university clubs. I joined the Tennis and Archery clubs in my first term and enjoyed them a lot!

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

Don't be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone. It can be frightening to be in a new environment and make new friends. However, be brave to take the first step, to try new things, and have fun at Waterloo!

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

One thing that I would like to share is that although study is important, it is more important to keep a balance between academics and your personal life. Whatever your interests are, it is great to keep them up and you can always find people with common hobbies through university clubs and events. Moreover, there are many useful resources on the Student Success Office website, such as the International Peer Community, Peer Success Coaching, information on studying abroad and exchange and so on. I would highly recommend the incoming warriors to check the website and make use of the services. I only started to learn more about these services in my second year and found them very helpful!