Almas Phangura, 22
Biological sciences and environmental toxicology
Why did you choose SFU?
My main reason for choosing Simon Fraser was that I wanted to be in British Columbia for its beautiful weather. Another reason was the school’s program offerings. I wanted to pursue a degree in biology and take courses in health sciences and toxicology. At SFU, the tri-semester system was well-suited to my previous schooling in India. Some of my family members had studied at SFU in the past, which also influenced my decision.
Describe some of your best experiences so far.
I have been fortunate. I have had opportunities to do research in a toxicology lab and work as a research assistant in an entomology lab. During Welcome Week, I was an orientation leader for new students, and it was such a pleasure to show them around the school, play fun games to help them settle into the new environment and answer questions.
Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
I am currently the vice-president of finance and services at the Simon Fraser Student Society and a student senator for the faculty of science. In the past, I was a program volunteer with the SFU Surrey TD Student Engagement Centre, where I helped young children develop educational skills. I was involved with SFU Tandem, where I assisted students who wanted to learn a new language from their peers. All these experiences helped me develop leadership skills, made me a better problem-solver and instilled in me a sense of civic responsibility.
What do you think of your professors?
Most of the professors I’ve had were super supportive and happy to help. I was able to make meaningful connections with them and seek their advice regarding further education and careers.
What do you think of the school’s administration?
Faculty advisers are extremely helpful, but at peak registration times it can be hard to secure appointments with them. There is only a 75 per cent refund if you drop a class after the second week of classes. I did not find this practice ideal when other classes were full or when little about a course structure and syllabus was discussed in the first week.
What is off-campus life like in Vancouver and Surrey?
SFU’s main campus is located in the lap of nature on top of Burnaby Mountain. The other two campuses are in the bustling cities of Vancouver and Surrey. Students can go hiking, kayaking, cycling and skiing. Vancouver is a paradise for food lovers as it boasts excellent restaurants that offer different types of cuisine.
If I wrote the school motto: Downtown Vancouver or on campus at Burnaby if you like being closer to school
Best place to study: Quiet floors in the Bennett Library or the Student Union Building if you want to meet with a study group
Best campus events: Simon Fraser Student Society’s (SFSS) events
Best campus food: Renaissance Coffee and Guadalupe
Best cheap lunch: Akebono Sushi inside the quay
Best pizza: Bowen Island Pizza Company
Best place for a fancy dinner: Glowbal, Tap & Barrel, Cactus Club Café and the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant
Best giveaway: SFSS’s annual general meeting giveaways
Best bar for hanging out: The Study Pub
Best live music venue: Commodore Ballroom and Guilt & Company
Best hangover breakfast: Red Umbrella Café and Sophie’s Cosmic Café
Best place for a nap: Nap room in the Student Union Building
Best weekend activity: Cycling around Stanley Park, lunch on Granville Island on a sunny day and hiking on the mountains and trails
If I could change one thing about the school: The bleak appearance of the concrete walls across campus
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