To me, communication is the single most important tool to progress in life. Heck, I would even go as far as saying communication is quintessential for survival. This is especially true for me, a Software Engineering student at UWaterloo. I regard my surroundings as ruthless and highly unforgiving. I like to think of myself as Tarzan and UWaterloo as a jungle on the coast of Africa.
So how about I give you a tour of my university life through the eyes of Tarzan? Ready for the adventure?
Communicating with professors
A professor is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of university, it does to mine at least. But professors can often intimidate students, mostly with their attitude, even if they don’t intend to do so.
I had a professor in my third year that came to the class one day with two cardboard boxes. He exclaimed, “I have two boxes here, one containing a copy of Assignment 1, and the other containing a copy of the course drop form for each one of you. By the end of the week, you should have completed one or the other”.
It’s true. Although professors can sometimes be petrifying, they have a nice heart deep inside. They want to see you succeed. They want to see you win. They are not exactly villains. Some look resentful from the outside, like Kerchak, the gorilla who eventually becomes Tarzan’s adoptive father. Some are overly caring, like Kala, Tarzan’s adoptive mother.
My main form of communication with professors usually happens when I listen to them impart their worldly knowledge, while pretending to be awake of course. They often use assignments to ensure that you are troubled throughout the term, and not just at the end.
Oh, and don’t forget the exams, aka the final hurdle. Professors wait with gatorade and a towel as you cross the finish line. They hold office hours throughout the term and are always happy to help you reach your goal.
Communicating with friends
It’s easy to form bonds with my fellow classmates. After all, they are in the same boat as me. Being in a cohort program has ensured that I am stuck with the same group of friends for the five years I am here. We have formed a tight knit group and have been close since first year. The tone of communication is pretty informal tinged with a moderate use of expletives.
Being an international student at UWaterloo, I miss having face-to-face conversations with my parents. Here is where my friends step up the friendship game. This is exactly like Kala going above and beyond to take care of Tarzan. Or like the playful Terk who manages keep the mood light-hearted with her pranks. I rarely feel homesick now, it’s wonderful.
I am also extremely lucky to have friends that are smarter than me. They are one of my greatest sources of inspiration. We take the same classes together, struggle through the same assignments together and have almost identical student lives. We overcome our shortcomings by learning from each other. We are motivated to reach the same goal. And we all have the finish line in sight.
Deciding to come to UWaterloo has been one of the defining moments of my life. Moving to a foreign country half-way across the globe has given me immense freedom. I am a better person now. I have never been so motivated in my life before. And improving my communication skills has played a pivotal role in my progress. I have transformed from a timid and shy teenager to someone that is less shy. I can talk, and more importantly, I can listen.