University of Waterloo: student tips for surviving life on campus

Where to live, the best place for a nap, cheap lunch and more

Verity Martin
University of Waterloo student working on an equation on a whiteboard

PhD student Cathy Wang works on math problems in the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) building at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario on Friday, October 13, 2017. (Photograph by Hannah Yoon)

PhD student Cathy Wang works on math problems in the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) building at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario on Friday, October 13, 2017. (Photograph by Hannah Yoon)

University Insider: Verity Martin, 22, Speech Communication and Political Science

Best place for a nap: MC Comfy
Best cheap lunch: Grad House $7 daily special
Best hangover breakfast: Mel’s Diner (they deliver)
Favourite campus food: ML’s Diner
Favourite watering hole: White Rabbit
Best late-night bite: Cheeses Murphy: a late-night gourmet grilled cheese joint located in uptown Waterloo and open from midnight to 3 a.m. every Friday and Saturday
Perks of living in this town: Small and student-centric; nightlife, cafés and everything else are easily accessible
Where to live: Lots of houses for rent on Erb Street if you can rally a big group of friends. Student housing is also readily available between University and Columbia.
Best place to study: All the huge empty classrooms in the Science Teaching Complex
Worst place to study: The Student Life Centre
Coolest electives: The Harry Potter course and the Beyoncé course
Best campus events: Sex Toy Bingo
Best live music venue: Maxwell’s
Weirdest tradition: Anything that happens during Engineering Orientation Week
Unofficial school motto: ‘#Innovative,’ which is only to be used with a heavy dose of sarcasm
School rivalries: We have to beat Laurier at everything. Except football, and that’s only because we can’t.

PROFILE: University of Alberta | Edmonton, Alta. | Founded 1908

The University of Waterloo is a special place. Located about an hour west of Toronto in the burgeoning Canadian tech hub of Kitchener-Waterloo, it has established itself as one of Canada’s reigning STEM schools. I won’t deny it, we are a studious bunch. And we’re ambitious, too. Programs like Velocity have helped students from all over campus launch start-ups. Our massive and highly connected co-op program can land you jobs with Silicon Valley giants. There are incredible research opportunities in every faculty. UW is a place where your ideas can thrive. It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all.

The campus is enormous. On one side of Laurel Creek lies the main campus, with the arts and environment faculties situated in the south, engineering to the east, and math, computer science and applied health science located to the north. There are endless coffee shops, study spaces and secret spots located all over campus. A four-year undergraduate degree is hardly long enough to discover them all.

Aside from academics and incubators, UW is home to hundreds of active student organizations. There are newsletters and councils, dance teams and a cappella groups. No matter what your interests are, there is a place for you at Waterloo.

Local Vibe
Waterloo is a city overrun with students. It’s home to not only UW but also Wilfrid Laurier University, Balsillie School of International Affairs and Conestoga College. It isn’t a big place, but the huge student population has brought plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs into the area. Nightlife in Waterloo operates on a calendar, with a student deal at a different club or bar almost every night of the week. Everything is centred around uptown Waterloo, which is within easy walking distance from most student neighbourhoods. Waterloo puts on great events like Winterloo and Open Streets. Kitchener—which is right next door—hosts the biggest Oktoberfest celebration in Canada, as well as music festivals such as the Kitchener Blues Fest, KOI Music Festival and Ever After EDM festival.

We are a school full of tech lovers and therefore we have a lot of apps: UWaterloo Portal is great for locating empty classrooms to study in, keeping your deadlines in order and staying up-to-date on campus events. The unofficial—but equally valuable—WATisRain will tell you how to get from one part of campus to another with the least amount of time spent outside. Given how huge the campus is and how much it can snow in the winter, overpasses and underpasses are worth finding.

The Skinny
The campus newspaper Imprint is a great place to get campus news, as is