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Software Engineering, University of Waterloo

First Month of Waterloo Engineering

Oh man, it’s October already? Time really does fly in university…

My first month in university was incredible. Without a doubt, it was one of the best months of my life. You guys are probably wondering right now: “Bo, what made your month so special?” My response would be: “Everything.”

Academics

First thing’s first, we go to university to learn and indulge in the world of academics. I’m studying Software Engineering, one of the most competitive and rigorous programs in Canada. I am taking six courses: linear algebra, calculus, linear circuits, physics, computer science and a Software Engineering course. This approximates to about 30 hours of class each week. I’ve attached my schedule below, and you can see that from Monday-Thursday I have class from 8:30AM-6:00PM. On Friday, it’s only 8:30AM-1:30PM. The blue represent my lectures, tutorials, labs and seminars. The purple represent due dates, office hours, and other miscellaneous events.

engineering schedule

In each course, we either have weekly assignments, quizzes, labs, or a combination of the above. Fortunately, they’re only worth up to 20% of your mark, so doing poorly on one of them won’t kill your mark. They definitely teach you to properly manage your time and prepare you for the big midterm and final exams. As you can imagine, waking up to morning classes every single day is quite tiring. It’s important to get as much sleep as you can, but sometimes it’s quite difficult (unless you have a great work ethic). It’s essential to review your notes and do the assignments to ensure a good understanding of concepts.

To be honest, I started off the year with a poor work ethic, worrying more about my social life than homework. I have slowly been improving my work ethic and have almost caught up! Falling behind in a course is NOT recommended. My advice is to finish your assignments and work well before they are due. DO NOT start your assignment the night before it’s due. Speaking from my personal experience, it’s a horrible idea. This isn’t high school anymore, where you can breeze through homework and assignments in under an hour.

In first-year engineering, students have this week called “Hell Week”, where they have an entire week dedicated for midterms. I don’t have any classes during this week, but the thought of having 5 midterm exams in 5 days is quite intimidating. For the next two weeks, I’m going to be working super hard to get the best marks I can. Hopefully, when I blog about my midterms in two weeks from now, I’ll be in a happy mood.

Extracurriculars

I LOVE extracurriculars and doing stuff outside of the classroom. Actually, I think I like them a bit too much because they’re eating up a big chunk of my time. In high school, I was involved in this awesome club called “SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship.” Basically, students team up to create and implement entrepreneurial projects that addresses a social problem within the community. Joining SAGE was probably one of the best decisions I made in high school.

Because of my involvement with SAGE, I decided to start and lead an Enactus chapter at Waterloo. The logistics involved with starting a club was quite time consuming, but we are now officially a registered club at the University of Waterloo and are affiliated with Enactus Canada. We managed to find an incredible and experienced Faculty Advisor.

The purpose of our club is to utilize the power of social entrepreneurship to transform lives and shape a better world. We will create and implement community projects that empower the lives of individuals to improve their standard of living and quality of life. We will present our projects at the Enactus regional and national competitions where we will be evaluated by global leaders and executives serving as judges. Club members will have the opportunity to attend conferences, competitions, and workshops to enhance their professional development. I will start recruiting members and executives after my “Hell Week” ends. Enactus Waterloo is going to be one heck of a ride!

In addition to starting my own club, I’m involved in a bunch of other clubs. I was elected to be the Engineering Society representative of my Software Engineering class. Check out our class’s website. I’ve only attended two meetings so far, but I can confidently say EngSoc meetings are hilarious! I am going to be attending their events on a regular basis and also volunteer for them. In the future, I’m looking forward to obtaining director and executive roles in Engineering Society.

I am also a Waterloo Engineering Ambassador. I would recommend checking out the Waterloo Engineering Shadow Program. You’ll get to experience a day-in-the-life of an Engineering student! I went on two shadow days last year, and it was two great learning experiences. As an Engineering Ambassador now, it feels like a full circle.

Social Life

Too many stories. Too many awesome moments. I’m compiling a big list of memorable moments at Waterloo and it’s quite long already. I’ll definitely share some of these moments with you guys later. I just want to make it clear that Waterloo is not anti-social. To be more exact, no place is anti-social, it all depends on the person. Let’s just say that I’ve partied at least once every single weekend and that they’re EPICLY FUN. I would say that my social life is superb right now, and I’m having the time of my life. I’m going to have to sacrifice some aspects of my social life over the next two weeks to focus on exams.

Sleep

The magic number is 49. How did I get that number? 7 days * 7 hours per day. You should aim for that many hours of sleep each week. Personally, I’m falling a bit under 49 hours/ week of sleep due to academics and social life.

Fun fact.

There was one week where I got free dinner every single night. How did I pull this off?

Club meetings, employer info sessions, tech talks always have free food!