Fiena (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
The main reason that I picked this institute is because the program that I got accepted into is very reputable, and is known to be one of the better science programs. In addition, I've been to Western prior to accepting my offer, and I thought the campus was just absolutely stunning and relaxing. After I've entered Western, I started to like the campus even more, because there is just a variety of facilities that can fulfill your needs. Overall, my first year experience was amazing as I've made so many good memories.
Do you have any lingering thoughts or regrets in your year as a whole (ex; application process, mistakes going into first year). If so, describe them.
One of my biggest regrets is taking a 8:30am course, because I thought I was able to wake up like I did for high school. However, it got harder to wake up as the year went on and as my workload built up. In the end, I didn't end up going to that many classes, because I would always end up staying up till 3 A.M. studying. But, everyone is different, so this really depends on how your schedule usually is, such as if you are a morning person or not. Another mistake that I made was running to the bookstore to get books on the first day of class, because the line was absolutely massive. There is no point in rushing to get the books, the profs usually give you enough time, so take your time to look for these materials online (Facebook groups), and if necessary, go in store. Lastly, I strongly suggest that you research all the prerequisites you need for grad schools (med schools, pharm schools), and plan out your electives accordingly. I took whatever most med sci students took, and that was definitely a big mistake, because I could've taken some of my prerequisites in first year.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
The courses are quite difficult in general, but as long as you put in some effort, it is for sure manageable. I would say the exams usually bring your overall mark down, because it's a lot of critical thinking, and application type of questions. So you would really have to understand the material, instead of having it memorized (this is especially important for biology courses). Do as many past exams as possible, because they actually recycle some questions. Labs and assignments are mark boosters, so make sure to do those. They are usually not too hard, and they are more knowledge based. Profs are generally pretty good, however, I felt like that's a different story for physics and calculus. Those two courses really require you to do practice questions on your own, as I didn't find the lectures too helpful.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
I had an amazing social life, and you've probably expected that from someone who goes to Western as it's known to be a party school. One thing I would tell you is to make sure to join clubs, because you meet the most amazing people there. I'm on Caisa (Canadian Asian International Students Association), and everyone that's a part of the club is so friendly and they are family to me. Joining clubs is only the first step, you should definitely go out to their events, because that is how you expand your social circle. For people living on res, make sure to get to know your floor, because that will determine if you will have a good time or not in first year as you are in res a lot of the time. Don't be shy, and just try to talk to everyone, and ask your Sophs for help if you need; they are always there for you. In addition, there are always some sort of parties happening every holiday, so take some time and go to those, since school can really stress you out a lot sometimes.
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
The best part of my experience so far is getting to meet so many people that I enjoy being around with, and having those people really change your entire first year experience. They are the ones that will get you through tough times, and that will have fun with you as well. Also, being able to be an executive member of a club in first year is truly life changing. I developed so many different skills, such as communication, responsibility, and of course, leadership. With that being said, apply for an exec position for clubs that interest you, don't be scared, because all of you are amazing. However, some worst parts definitely happened during exam seasons, because I would study non-stop, and it was just exam after exam. You will get through that time for sure, so don't ever give up on yourself.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
Time management (make an exam study schedule, list out daily tasks, etc)
Do the readings
Study with your friends and have discussions
List advice for first-year students:
Don't be afraid to talk to new people
Make sure to go out and have fun
Join facebook groups
Don't be too tough on yourself
Having breakdowns is normal