You have just begun your studies at UW as an international student, you find yourself in a completely new environment, facing new challenges that you may have not encountered before.
Fortunately, UW has various programs, clubs, services and bursaries aimed at making your university experience smoother. To start off, it is recommended that all international students sign up for the monthly newsletter dedicated exclusively to them:
The International Student Connection Letter, which is available on UW’s Student Success Portal. This will help keep you up-to-date with various issues, events, and opportunities aimed at the international student community, and it’s also a great way to network.
Apart from this newsletter, there are various other services, and some of them lesser known than others, which can be extremely useful in times of need.
International Student Undergraduate Emergency Bursary
Where: The Centre, Needles Hall (older building)
Who: Linda Jajko (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s well understood that a lot of us come from lower-income countries, and it takes the whole family to contribute towards our education due to the high costs. We do pay significantly higher fees, after all, so it is perfectly normal to find yourselves in situations where you’re cash-strapped. There are solutions to that, through the university’s International Student Undergraduate Emergency Bursary program. It is led by Linda Jajko, who is extremely helpful and would go out of her way to guide you on how to fill out the forms needed for this bursary. You would be required to submit your past bank statements, passport scans, visa scans, your parent’s income, and six month’s worth of bank statements. The finance office is quick to respond to the bursary applications. The bursary is taxable income; therefore, you would be required to file for it in your tax forms.
Where: Turnkey Desk OR Third floor, Student Life Centre
Food packages are available for students facing a cash-crunch from our university’s food bank.
There is a limit of 30 pounds a month, and with choices between the vegetarian and meat hamper.
They also provide toiletries, such as tampons and anti-perspirants.
Where: SCH (2nd floor)
Who: Various consultants
Being an international student myself, I have approached this service multiple times during my period of study here at UW. The service is free of charge and can help you with things such as visa extensions, terms of stay, and even post-graduate work permits upon graduation. They can also guide you towards attaining permanent residency in Ontario through their years of expertise. Make sure to fill out the appointment form before visiting as they are usually busy.
The availability form can be found on UWaterloo’s Student Success Office Portal, under the category “immigration consulting”.
(Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity, and Equity)
Where: Student Life Centre, 2nd floor, 2141 Who: Rep. on duty
There are times you may perceive or experience various sorts of microaggressions such as covert racism, “exotification,” etc. by your peers or staff. UW addresses these issues through its Equity Office along with RAISE. Not only does RAISE offer peer support, learning resources, and great events, but they also have an incident report mechanism. I always encourage students to approach the Equity Office through RAISE as their representatives are very experienced and can provide reliable advice in terms of how to represent your case. Nada Abouelnaga, a key executive and a third-year biomedical science student, has been very active at RAISE and WUSA, so don’t hesitate to contact her.
Tiffin Services Delivery
Who: Gurpal Singh (and many others) (647-686-4344: Gurpal)
A lot of us international students, including myself, are not equipped with cooking skills due to cultural differences in terms of expectations. Luckily for us, various Tiffin delivery services serve students and office goers alike. These are usually home-cooked foods that you would receive on a day to day basis and are reasonably priced. The cuisines generally range between Indian (vegetarian and/or meat-based), Pakistani, Chinese, Iranian and occasionally Arab (depending on the caterer’s availability). They can be found on Kijiji.ca, or by simply googling “Tiffin services Waterloo”. An added benefit is the fact that they often deliver for free, usually upon monthly subscription. I personally have been using a service that involves an Indian couple who specialize in vegetarian food, so I can attest that I’ve been extremely satisfied and am always looking forward to my daily delivery. I pay $160 for 22 meals, which essentially means that I don’t have to worry about cooking my lunches and can get right to the grind.
They also offer specials on the weekends for an additional price. Gurpal is very punctual with food delivery and great to chat with, so give him a call, especially if you crave home-cooked Indian food.
UW Counselling Services
Where: Ira Needles Hall, 2nd floor
Mental health is, unfortunately, not given enough consideration in various communities and cultures, including my own. However, being international students, we must realize that we are exposed to different stimuli, environments and the challenges that come along with it. All of this can be really overwhelming, and we may not even realize the gravitas of our struggles until it’s too late. Always take the time to go to counselling services when you feel overwhelmed with the campus or personal issues. The counsellors are extremely helpful, and I had a very refreshing experience with the intake counsellor Sanam Rezai. She and all of the other counsellors recognize the struggles of students, especially international students, and provide a listening ear and even solutions to problems that may seem unsolvable.