Letter from the EditorCailin Hillier - 3B Geological
Posted on: January 19, 2011
Happy Winter 2011! Happy New Year! Everyone excited to be back? I really am. I just never feel at home when I am away from Waterloo anymore, so welcome back and I hope you all had a wonderful break. I would also like to say an extra special welcome to the first years, B-Soc is excited to meet you! And to the 4B students, I hope you have a terrific final term at UW, we will certainly miss you all after you graduate.
Before I go into my editorial topic for the issue, I just want to mention how excited I am to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Iron Warrior for the term. This team is fantastic! Thank you to everyone for helping with the first issue and bringing coffee. Erin, Angelo, and Jon – you are wonderful! What a fun production weekend! If you would like to be part of the Iron Warrior team, stop by the office: E2 – 2349A. Meetings are Mondays at 5pm, extremely casual, and laughs are guaranteed. Even if you only want to listen or offer suggestions, we would love to see you there! Seriously, I promise you will laugh – if not with us, at least at us.
So just to briefly introduce myself, I am a 3B student in Geological Engineering. I am actually the first editor from Geological Engineering in at least the past ten years. I have been involved on campus with The Iron Warrior and EngSoc since I was in 1B. As editor, I have several goals for the term. To continue from Angelo’s term as editor in Spring 2010, I want to bring forward a variety of real news stories in order to captivate a wide audience. This ties in with my second goal: to see The Iron Warrior team involve more students. The students who are currently involved with the paper get a great deal out of working on it and sharing this opportunity with more students would be amazing. Let’s see the IW draw a crowd! I would like to increase staff appreciation and put the spring back into the step of production weekends, when we put this thing together. After all, the more the merrier! This will also ensure that a collection of writers is available on staff to cover the stories that interest them, and subsequently you.
My final goal: I really want to make the most of the editorial space this term. Editorials are meant to involve a large viewership. Since they take up an entire page in each issue, I hope I can write something that large numbers of people will find interesting, informative, and perhaps even discussion provoking. If you have anything you want to say in an editorial form, I would love to read it and potentially publish it. Simply drop me a line at email@example.com.
For my first, hopefully interesting, editorial, I would like to discuss international exchange. I am going to roughly outline the exchange process and talk about my experience in hopes to motivate others into checking out this fantastic opportunity. After attending the two week long Joint Event on Education in the Czech Republic in August 2009, I had a fairly good idea about what an international experience might be like and that it was something I was interested in doing. Meeting new people, seeing new places and gaining a new perspective on things, what more could I want, but the process of applying on exchange initially appeared daunting. After wrestling with the idea of applying for some time, I finally decided to go for it and am I ever glad that I did.
Let’s start at the beginning. The application process is very straight forward, starting with a trip to see Cindy Howe in the Engineering Undergraduate Office. The paper work was simple to complete and department approval was easy to obtain. Step one down. The only tricky part can be in deciding where in the world you want to go. For me, I just looked at the list of schools that Geological Engineering students had attended in the past and knew I wanted to be somewhere in Europe for traveling purposes. By process of elimination I eventually chose my destination. From there, I selected courses, figured out residence permits and the logistics of my exchange. This process took place over roughly four months, from submitting my application to having all of my plans in place.
Finally the time came for my exchange. Last term, I was lucky enough to study in Sweden at Lund University and gain that unique adventure I had been seeking. Now, since I am enrolled in the International Studies in Engineering option, I opted to take a variety of courses that would fulfill both my engineering and international studies requirements. Most notably, I was able to study prehistory by taking Dawn of European Culture… in the place where all of this actually happened! I actually saw ancient sites that my textbook referred to and to museums with artifacts found in southern Sweden, right where I was living. This was a completely new experience, actually living the history that I was learning.
I also took a course in glaciation and got to climb glaciers in Finse, Norway! This had definitely been one of those bucket list items for me and I was thrilled to have the chance to see those earth processes in action after all of these years. One huge difference I really noticed in the academic sector in Sweden was the stress that was placed on presentations. Every class I took required a presentation of the information we learned. It was common to have to do presentations and answer perplexing questions on the spot in front of an audience. This is something I haven’t experienced a great deal while studying in Canada, however the value of having to work on my public speaking abilities has continued to be very valuable since my return.
Now, I have really only heard good things about going on exchange from people. I mean, you come back and remember the awesome things that happened while you were away and tell those stories, but there are also challenges to the experience that are good to be made aware of before leaving home. I was not really prepared for the feeling of loneliness I encounter while in Sweden. I had a co-op placement in Labrador City that was rather isolating, however there was something different this time. It was the cultural adjustment. Being in Sweden was fantastic, but there are those subtle differences from Canada that served as a constant reminder of just how far I was from home. For example, in Sweden people can be somewhat cold in public settings, like you generally do not smile at strangers on the train or in passing around town. This was completely new to me and something I never really got used to. To all of my friends, I blame this for my being so affectionate now and I am sorry for bothering you all – I am just ridiculously happy to be back! Hugs!
This challenge was like a life experiment for me. I was able to see how I functioned on my own and learned what was important to me. I also had free time, which was a new concept for me that I think many of you can understand. I mean, when was the last time you had an empty to do list? So what exactly did I do with this newfound time? I traveled. A lot. Those mystically inexpensive flights throughout Europe do in fact exist. I feel bad about my carbon footprint, but I figure that I did need to take advantage being so close to all of those places I had always dreamed of visiting. I went to Amsterdam and saw the Van Gogh Museum, saw the Paris lights during Fashion Week, went to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I on opening day in London, visited the Stockholm Christmas markets and so much more. Hostels and couch surfing FTW.
Going on exchange was amazing, challenging and ridiculously rewarding. I definitely have a new perspective on the world that has opened my mind to different lifestyles and ideas. I wholeheartedly recommend that you look into exchange if it even remotely interests you. The application paper work is well, well worth it. For more information, consult Professor Roe’s article on page ____. Applications for exchanges for the Fall 2011 term are due by the end of January 2011. I would also be willing to tell you more about my experience or answer any questions about exchange that you might have. Find me in person or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.