Chris Hadfield abord the Internaitonal Space Station

Chris Hadfield waves the Waterloo pennant aboard the International Space Station.

Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station, said he’s excited to begin teaching at the University of Waterloo, a “hotbed of research in all different areas.”

During a visit to the University of Waterloo, Hadfield told reporters that Waterloo “has such a tremendous reputation both nationally and internationally.”

Later, at a public lecture, Hadfield called the University of Waterloo “world class” and added he’s happy to come home after circling the Earth 2500 times.

No place like home

“No place feels like home to me except southern Ontario,” Hadfield told a crowd of more than 650. “I felt like I was visiting everywhere else.”

Hadfield dazzled the crowd with stories about everything from astronauts’ diapers to an emergency space walk during his time as commander of the International Space Station. He also talked about the magic of being in outer space.

Chris Hadfield public lecture at Waterloo

Chris Hadfield's public lecture at the University of Waterloo.

“You’re weightless which is the coolest thing ever,” said Hadfield. “This lecture would be a lot more fun if we were weightless.”

Hadfield, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, also shared details about the vehicles that have taken him to space. “I know there’s a lot of engineers here,” he said.

Chris Hadfield (wearing a Waterloo warriors jersey) and Feridun Hamdullapur

Chris Hadfield, sporting a custom Waterloo Warriors jersey, with Feridun Hamdullapur following his public lecture

Professor Hadfield

The newly-appointed professor of aviation at Waterloo also did a signing for his new book: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth.

Hadfield is expected to assume teaching and advising responsibilities at the University starting in the fall term of 2014. "This university is absolutely world class," said Hadfield. "I'm really looking forward to coming back in the fall. That will be when the circle comes around and I feel that my feet are back on the ground."

Chris Hadfield at lecture reception

Chris Hadfield connects with Waterloo students at a reception before his public lecture.

Hadfield’s relationship with the University of Waterloo goes back to 1982 when he did post-graduate research here. Hadfield, who made a space-to-campus downlink call to Waterloo students Feb. 15 this year — he was 370 kilometres over the Earth at the time — gave the keynote address when the university launched its aviation program in 2007.

First Canadian to walk in space

A Canadian Armed Forces fighter pilot, Hadfield became an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency in 1992. He was mission specialist during Mission STS-074 in November 1995 when the shuttle Atlantis docked with Mir, the Russian space station.

In 2001, he became the first Canadian to walk in space during a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the shuttle Endeavour.

But his photos, commentary on social media and catchy melody-making with the Barenaked Ladies (I.S.S.: Is Somebody Singing) made Hadfield's last mission to space, from Dec. 19, 2012 to May 13, 2013, his most celebrated. He commanded the ISS for the second half of the trip.

Now his thoughts, anecdotes and pictures collected over 20 years with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency fill An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth.

Released Oct. 29, the book is already a bestseller. It’s sold at the University of Waterloo Bookstore.

For more pictures and a recap of the day's events, view the #UWProfHadfield Storify feed and Facebook.