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University of Waterloo, Canada

Waterloo seems to have a funny way of catching one off guard in how beautiful, simple and unique the life of being a student(-athlete) can be. I have been here just about a week, and it feels as if it has been a lifetime just through all the social events, the settling in and abrupt change in pace has flipped my life at home on a complete 180˚.  The University of Waterloo is a picturesque campus in the Waterloo-Kitchener region only a few hours north west of Niagara Falls and as a consequence the United States/Canadian Border in the province of Ontario. As it stands so far it seems to thrive off a wonderful combination of bribing students to attend events with free food (unnecessary, you’d want to go anyway), glaring academic support, phenomenal facilities and campus grounds, games at warrior field, healthcare benefits (free dental, counselling, physical therapy etc.), cheap cafeterias… and that’s all before you start on the lectures being engaging and the professors all genuinely wanting you to succeed in their subject.

One thing that has made me fall in love with it above all – is that I feel like an individual student, that I’m genuinely cared for and wanted as a student, and individual and an athlete. Since arriving I’ve become a part of the International Peer Community (IPC) that sets up events for students (exchange, international, domestic alike) that span from meet and greets on a Tuesday night to a day out at Niagara Falls. Furthermore, it allocates students into groups so that they can network beyond people in their course or around their accommodation, and at times to suit everyone’s schedules. I live at CLV-S, and there is an event on every Friday with more scattered throughout the week. Above all, there is a pool competition at the end of this month and most of us living at CLV-S are practicing on the community center table to secure ourselves a good chance at being a part of what will undoubtedly be an intense final.

Additionally, I have become a part of the Cross-Country and Track & Field Team, a significant passion of mine that I aim to work into a career. Piggy backing onto my earlier statement of feeling genuinely cared for, I was honestly surprised at how supportive the staff and captains have been for an exchange student like myself. That being said, not everyone has to love sport as much as I do to be a part of a sporting team, and as a result I’ve been able to play basketball, pool, swim and all in the first fortnight – something I don’t do a lot of at home!

However – budding exchange students, let me warn you that while I had been prepared for everything from Bears (I backpacked in Alberta before arriving on Campus) to minus 20 to permanently smelling of maple syrup I had not prepared for milk to be bagged or the size of Walmart. Proceed to Canada with caution.

Isabella Thornton-Bott
Bachelor of Technology and Innovation
University of Waterloo
Canada

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au

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