Already two semesters have passed since I started my adventure at Waterloo, and it has been quite an interesting one. It’s too late to write a “My first week at University" post, so this will have to do.
Going into Waterloo, I had two main concerns: the difficulty of university work, and living without the comfort of my home. My high school teachers have done their best to cleanse my obsession of high marks, but it’s hard to break such an old habit. I was told questionable stories such as “ideal class averages being at best 60%” and how “one exam is worth more than half my final grade.” There’s also the “Freshman 15”, where we defined it as a 15% drop in marks and a 15 lb. gain in weight during first year. Although I was confident in my skills, I was definitely nervous for what was to come.
Aside from work, I would have to survive living there. Living at Waterloo would be the first time I would live without my family for such a long period of time. Although the countless trips during TOPS were priceless, a week’s stay is a blink compared to four months (even though time seems to fly by). As someone who was clueless about most daily chores, this is a big leap. However, this proved to be a valuable lesson as I’ve grown more independent and more aware of what goes on in life (and will prove to be very useful very soon).
And then four months went by. With one term under my belt, university seemed less daunting. Except now there’s co-op.
Just as how I had preconceived notions about university, I had just as many for co-op. After all, TOPS had a long history of Waterloo undergraduates, and with it came many stories of their feats. I had only used my résumé once in the past, and participated in one group interview. This was yet another challenge I had to face.
Thankfully, I was incredibly lucky and was matched with Yahoo for my first co-op. I still have no idea how I managed to secure this position, but I won’t hesitate to seize the opportunity. I'm also quite anxious about living in the US. Life at Waterloo wasn't a lot different than life in Toronto, and home was only a 1.5 hour bus ride away. This time, I'll be in a completely different country with a different culture and a different lifestyle. I’ll be needing every bit of what I learned here at Waterloo to survive in the US.
Looking back, TOPS prepared me extremely well for university. I had already learned first year math and physics, so except for a few subjects, classes were less of a burden that I thought. The frequent overnight trips also helped me adjust to the university lifestyle and made me more independent. On the other hand, university was no cakewalk. Being independent also means I get to set the rules, or better yet, there are no set rules. Every little task that I was once oblivious to, now needed to be taken care of. And I found just how easy it is to lose track of time.
Overall, my first year at university was an eye-opening experience and I can’t wait to see what more it has to offer.