Biomedical Sciences at University of Waterloo
Nasia (Year 3)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
UW was my first choice for universities. Biomedical Sciences was also my first choice for the program. I've always wanted to be a student at UW, especially since they had an Optometry school. I've wanted to go into optometry for the longest time and it was perfect that UW had an optometry school. Although they do not have preference for UW students when selecting future students I wanted to attend UW during my undergrad studies so I could get used to the environment etc. My major struggle with university first year was time management. Although it seemed pretty carefree and seemed like I had a lot of free time, I really didn't. I overlooked how much time I would really need to use to study and get good grades. I would say a really big disadvantage of UW would be that a lot of the time everyone at UW is study, study, study. You do make friends during O-Week but after that it gets harder to meet new friends as everyone else has their own friend circles and during classes you focus on the lecture. There are of course exceptions since some classes may have group work etc. as well you can meet people through the various amounts of clubs. An advantage of UW is the wide variety of courses you can take. There's a course focused on Harry Potter, superheroes etc. I took classical mythology as an elective and it was super interesting and fun!
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
At UW they have these plan outlines for you which provides you all the courses and all the room you have for electives in order to graduate. The plan tells you specifically which courses you need to take and how many credits you need in order to complete your degree. I didn't know about this when I was going into the program and I wish I did because there is this one requirement where you need to take at least 5 courses that are 300-400 level (electives, any faculty) which I did not know about until later on. This was a new addition to the plan requirements which was added because the department realized not many students were taking the higher level courses. The program does have some really heavy courses which are required to get your diploma (organic chemistry, biochemistry, embryology, etc.). However, the program allows you to take a bunch of electives of your choice which I really love. It allows me to take courses in different faculties such as Health, Environmental studies etc. This was really good for me personally because I can get all my optometry prerequisites while also working towards my undergrad degree.
What was your favourite university experience?
One of the clubs at UW, which is called Chinese Students Association had CantoMando, a well known youtube channel host an event which included a meet and greet with the Youtubers. The event involved some performances from students showcasing their talents such as singing, dancing etc. and I got to take pictures with Sheldon, Edward and Mike as well as talk with them briefly.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My winter term in 1st year was one of the most hectic. I was staying up late a lot of the time trying to finish assignments/study. In that term I took MATH 127, CHEM 123, BIOL 239, PHYS 112 and SCCOM100 (course code has been changed to SPCOM100). I was also in a club where I had responsibilities as well as a intramural dodgeball team. I remember being extremely stressed that term and having a bunch of mental breakdowns because I was unable to manage my time properly.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part of my program I would say is staying on top of all your courses. Since there will be terms where you are taking more than 1 hard course (whether it is content heavy or just hard) it is really important to stay on top of your courses and not fall behind. My first year in university was not how I expected it to be. I thought I had all the time in the world to hang out with friends etc. since I saw a lot of my friends doing so from different programs. I learned that just because someone else looks like they have the time doesn't mean you have the time. You always have to know your own schedule and work around your time. Never think that because you have friends that aren't busy all the time that you also have the time. University is a whole learning experience, it takes time to learn what works best for you and how to study effectively etc. I've improved a lot since first year and have learned to manage my time better now. In the past I would always find myself cramming for tests but now I know how to plan ahead and avoid cramming.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
One of my favourite courses that I've taken so far would be Introduction to Applied Microbiology BIOL 240. This is a required course for Biomedical Sciences students and is taken typically in second year. Although the course is a lot of memorization and requires you to stay on top of the content during the school year it was a really fun and enjoyable course. The course like a lot of lower level biology courses does not have assignments or weekly quizzes; it's just lectures and the lab component. Dr. Josh Neufeld taught the course and he was one of the best professors I had in university. He was passionate, fun, and made the course super interesting by using funny analogies and showing fun demonstrations. Although a lot of time was spent studying, I enjoyed it because of all the fun analogies that can be used to remember different concepts. The lab component was quite interesting as well, it followed along with the lectures and was very helpful in giving students a visual on different microbes.