The Mentorship Spot
Biomedical Sciences at the University of Waterloo
Iman Mir, Interviewed by Maisha Alam
Hey everyone! My name is Iman and I’m in my second year of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Waterloo! I hope my experiences can help you all in your preparation for choosing your post secondary program!
Why did you choose Waterloo?
One reason I chose Waterloo was because of the location. I liked the campus, and I wanted to go a bit further from Mississauga, and also experience residence life, and I’m glad I did! The second reason is that there are a lot of opportunities for co-op, and although I switched to a different program that doesn’t need co-op as much, it was an important factor to my decision at the time. Overall, I liked campus life, and I really liked the buildings. I enjoyed the vibe, people, and the overall atmosphere, and I felt comfortable and wanted to go there.
Do you think there is flexibility/variety in the Science faculty?
Yeah, so I went for Life Sciences, and there are actually a lot of different majors/disciplines to choose from in the general Life Sciences program. So, I was in Biology, but I switched over to Biomed, and it was an easy switch, which I thought was nice. But it’s good that they have options, and it’s not too difficult to change if you feel that something else is more suited for you. They have options like Earth Sciences and Chemical Sciences and more. For me, when I changed programs I only had to fill out one form, which wasn’t too bad. However, when you’re trying to change to a different faculty, that could be more of a lengthy process. But in general, I feel like there is good flexibility/variety.
What were your favourite and least favorite parts of first year?
My favorite part was meeting new people. It was a great experience just getting to know people through classes and from residence. I also really enjoyed working in labs, because it's a different experience from high school in terms of the ways that things work and the types of things you do. I also really enjoyed talking to professors. It’s different from talking to teachers in high school, because you really have to go out of your way to talk with them, but it's very enjoyable and you’re able to learn a lot from them, and it’s good to know that they are there to support you.
For my least favorite parts, I would say that the transition was hard. Especially from high school to first semester, and mainly studying. It’s just all very different and it takes time to figure out what works and to see what doesn't. It’s good to plan ahead and really understand what you're learning, so yeah, that took some time, but by second semester I was getting the hang of it.
Do you have any tips on making friends, considering that people usually have classes that are in big groups?
One way that I met a lot of my friends was by meeting people on the same floor as me in residence. I met a lot of people that weren't in my program, and because you're always in your class surrounded by people in similar programs, it’s nice to meet new people as well. I also made a lot of good friends from working in my labs, because you work one-on-one and you work with partners. It's really easy to start a conversation and get really close to people around you and just get to know people. I also found that tutorials were a great place to meet people, because you get to work and learn together, and it’s a great way to spend time with others while getting work done. Some people also were able to make their friends with on campus groups and resources, for example FLG, which are like student learning groups. You can go and get help with any questions you have or do exam prep, and a lot of people made friends that way as well. Lastly, clubs are a great way to meet like minded individuals and make friends, and also a great opportunity to get involved on campus.
How did you find residence life, and how was the experience overall?
Overall I really liked residence life. Res was big! But after a while I started to get used to it. It was also really nice to meet new people, those who were staying in my building and others as well. And there was a good sense of community, people would be hanging out, or studying together, and there would be activities and socials from time to time, which were lots of fun, and overall there was a nice atmosphere. In terms of food, they had a lot of variety and they switched up meals and menus pretty often. I also thought it was really interesting when it was the election season in November of 2019. There was a voting centre set up on campus, and it was a cool experience to be able to vote and have that type of atmosphere on campus.
What kind of tools and skills do you think are important to succeed in a program like this?
So the first one is time management. It’s really important and it’s something that you need to practice. You're going to have a lot of work to do in the same week, so you have to learn how to manage your time properly. I would really suggest having some type of planner or having some type of like daily routine that you follow just to help you. Also, I would say to utilize your prof's office hours, because even though it's kind of scary to approach them, they'll help you out a lot. Don’t be afraid to go to your profs and ask for their help, because they’re there to support and help you! Also, clubs are a great way to meet people and also learn. Don't be scared to try new things, because you're not alone. You'll benefit the most out of meeting new people and trying new experiences.
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