International Student Digest – Ruby Hong; 3A Environment & Business

Published: Saturday, December 17, 2022

Hi Waterloo, my name is Ruby, and I am a Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) student (Environment and Business) working at WUSA for the Fall ‘22 term. I’m here to share my story as an international student and why I chose to go to university in Canada. 

I was born and raised in mainland China and came to Canada in 2017 to study at an Ontario high school in Markham. After two years of high school in Canada, I started at the University of Waterloo.  

Why did I choose to study abroad? 

The main reason is that I do not feel safe in China, and its education system needs to be improved. The second reason is to seek a better university experience and Canada offers that for international students. I studied at a Canadian high school so that I could apply to Canadian universities through OUAC 101 instead of OUAC 105.  

Why did you choose UWaterloo?

The main reason is that UW offers the CEE program. Compared to high rankings, co-op opportunities attract me more. It helps me plan for my future career. The other reason was that UW’s tuition is cheaper than the University of Toronto’s.  

What is your favourite attraction, restaurant, experience or event in Canada? Why is it your favourite? 

My favourite experience would be walking a dog in a dog park. I went to Sunny Brook dog park in the winter during the pandemic. I met a lot of dogs there and played with them. I was able to chat with different people about their dogs which helped my English, and I observed many different breeds of dogs. 

What were some barriers you faced?

English –I was not studying at an international school before I studied abroad so my English level is only enough for that exam-oriented education system. For me, listening is not the hardest part, but speaking is. Practice makes perfect, I joined several clubs so that I have more opportunities to practice my speaking.  

Information gap— my speed of reading English is slower than reading Chinese, so sometimes I prefer to read the information in Chinese (maybe not have the mood to read a bunch of English stuff after work/school). This is a bad habit and leads to an information gap for me. Not reading English resources in an English country made me miss some information such as local events, school hiring, local news, and so on. To address this issue, I started to use social media that local people use.  

Adapting to winter in Canada— The winter in Canada is much colder than that in my hometown. After experiencing some winter days here then I had some ideas about what should wear in winter. The picture above shows the winter in Canada and it’s the first Christmas I spent with my cousin in his home in Canada. I have never seen such a big snow until I came to Canada.  

Housing – As a co-op student, housing is always a big challenge for me. Especially if I got an offer in the continuous round, the time left for finding a place to live is too short.  

Transportation— I don’t have a car or an Ontario G license so I’m not qualified to apply for any co-op positions requiring that, which is still quite a few. It is also related to housing considering the commute.  


Now, here are some helpful resources that you can use to over come these barriers: 

Before you arrive:

Services for international students | Undergraduate Programs | University of Waterloo (  

UW services and resources  

International student resources | Student Success Office | University of Waterloo ( 

Home | Renison International Office | University of Waterloo ( 

Waterloo Ready | Welcome Warriors | University of Waterloo (  

Practice makes perfect! Try to communicate with local people to improve your English

Conversation partner program | Renison International Office | University of Waterloo ( 

International Peer Community | Student Success Office | University of Waterloo ( 

UWinterloo | Student Success Office | University of Waterloo ( 

International and Canadian Student Network – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association ( 


Get prepared for winter:

Government of Canada | Be prepared for winter weather  

UWinterloo | Student Success Office | University of Waterloo ( 


Student Legal Protection Program – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association ( 

Renting in Ontario: Your rights | 

Start your search here | Off-Campus Housing ( 

Housing benefit 

One-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit – 

Health & Wellbeing  

Mental Health Support – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (  

Mental Health | Campus Wellness | University of Waterloo (  

Wellness at Renison | Renison Student Experience and Housing | University of Waterloo ( 

Health and Dental Plan – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association ( 

MATES – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (

Feel isolated or homesick? Check this link to find your groups 

Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity, and Equity (RAISE) – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association ( 

Check your UHIP card here  

Cowan | ECard Access Page ( 

Get started – UHIP/RAMU 

Health insurance | International Student Guide | University of Waterloo ( 


GRT UPass – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association ( 

Poparide app and some social media groups have carpool service 

Apply and renew a study permit 

Study permit | Student Success Office | University of Waterloo ( 

Schedule your study plan in advance 

Undergraduate Schedule of Classes ( 

Undergraduate Studies Calendar | University of Waterloo ( 

Meeting new people

Find your classmates through Discord  

A quick google search will usually point you in the right direction. 

Participate in clubs that you are interested in and make local friends  

A quick search can turn up all kinds of WUSA Clubs in the Chinese community. 

Run your own search >> 

Join events and connect with local students:  

Get your campus news from:  

Work in Canada  

As Canada has lifted working hour restrictions for international students, if you are interested in working for WUSA, here is the link to apply jobs 

Jobs & Opportunities – Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (  

Or you can learn how to work as an international student 

Work off campus as an international student – 

Working in Canada | Student Success Office | University of Waterloo ( 

Financial resources:  

Applying for financial assistance | International Student Guide | University of Waterloo ( 

Student Bursaries | Student Awards & Financial Aid | University of Waterloo ( 




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