For new students, adapting to university life can be challenging. From moving into your new home for the next few months, to making friends and starting classes, the first year can feel overwhelming. But there are a few ways you can reduce stress while learning to balance life as a student. 

We asked upper-year students to share some of their favourite spots on campus and advice that can help ease your transition to University of Waterloo. 

University of Waterloo co-op students

From left to right: Andrew Yang, Hadiya Yahya, Noorullah Nazary and Krisanthia Lam.

What advice can you share with first-year students? 

If Noorullah Nazary, a Global Business and Digital Arts student, could offer one piece of advice to new students, it’s to get involved on campus. Whether it’s joining clubs or sports, or participating in student-led events and activities, there are many great ways to meet new friends and get involved outside of the classroom. 

“You can join intramurals or try out for varsity teams and if there are any extracurricular activities you're interested in, there's probably a club for it,” Nazary says. “You can also try to create your own club as well and there's a process for that. So, get more involved and just be yourself. Have fun and go with the flow.” 

With more than 200 student clubs and societies, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) website is a great resource for you to learn more about each of the different WUSA clubs and societies, and other social events that are offered on campus.  

Science and Business student, Krisanthia Lam, says getting involved within your own faculty is another great way for students to meet new people. Lam adds that volunteering as a student ambassador was one of her favourite ways to get involved within the Faculty of Science. “Student ambassadors are current students from different faculties, who will then connect with prospective students to help share their experience of what it’s like to be here at Waterloo.” 

Krisanthia Lam working in a research lab

Waterloo co-op student, Krisanthia Lam, working in a research laboratory as part of her Science and Business program.

The University also offers many volunteer and paid opportunities throughout the year. From Campus Housing to student government positions within WUSA, there are various ways students can get involved outside of the classroom that can also help grow their network and build their resumé for co-op. 

Being a student can be overwhelming at times, and protecting your mental health is crucial for balancing your student life. Whether it’s going outside to get some fresh air or staying in and cooking your favourite meal — taking time for yourself can help make a difference in your mood and your well-being. 

“Relax a little bit, go out to more student-led events and meet new people,” says Hadiya Yahya, an Honours Arts in psychology student. “You have the rest of your university life to worry. Make sure to have fun but also stay organized. Do not lose sight of why you are here in the first place.”  

Andrew Yang, an Honours Arts and Business student, says that sometimes he doesn’t have time to eat breakfast. That’s where campus events like WUSA’s pancake breakfast during Welcome Week, helps students like himself, to come in and enjoy some food to help get him the day started. 

Waterloo faculty and staff have been working to provide both new and returning students with an engaging fall term. From Orientation and Welcome Week events to end-of-the-term de-stress events, students have a wide variety of opportunities to meet new people across campus. 

Follow @uwaterloolife on Instagram to stay connected with opportunities and student support all year long. 

Favourite place on campus to meet up with friends? 

Yahya says her favourite place on campus is the Student Life Centre (SLC). The SLC is  home to a wide variety of entertainment and services available for you. Lounge chairs, couches and tables are also readily available for studying or hanging out with friends. 

Students can stay active while hanging out with friends and meeting new people. Waterloo’s Field House is another place on campus which allows students to meet with friends and use for drop-in recreation, intramurals and sports clubs. You can register for a variety of open recreation programs offered at Waterloo’s Field House, Physical Activities Centre (PAC) and Columbia Ice Field (CIF).  

Lam adds that the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology building is her favourite place on the Waterloo campus because it houses the Earth Sciences Museum

“There’s dinosaur statues, fossils and minerals, and even a bear replica that is 100 per cent accurate but might be missing a part,” Lam adds. “There's also a variety of activities in there, as well as a café and couches that you can use.” 

Waterloo offers many indoor and outdoor spaces on campus where you can relax during the different seasons. Yang says his favourite place to be is the Arts Quad. A calm and inviting place which offers ping pong tables, lounge chairs and picnic tables for anyone to use to study and or take a break. Nazary prefers to meet with friends at the Peter Russell Rock Garden. Surrounded by nature, the rock garden provides students with a cool breeze and shade, making it a comfortable place where you can destress between classes. 

Favourite place to study? 

Both Nazary and Lam agree that Dana Porter library is the place to be for studying. Also known as the sugar cube, the building offers 10 floors to choose from that cater to both group study and silent study, which can help you focus based on your study preferences. While Yahya agrees that Dana Porter library is the place for silent study, she prefers the Davis Centre library when working on collaborative projects in the group study area. 

Yang, who has studied some of his favourite study places on campus, says “I really love a study place with windows. Whether that's Engineering 5, third floor, or Engineering 6, top floor. But an underrated pick is St. Jerome II building … that is a great place to study.” 

Make the most of your time at Waterloo and start exploring  your UWaterloolife student resources to keep building your community. Your future self will thank you.