For many Singaporeans, an overseas exchange program will probably be your first time that you will be living away from your family for a prolonged period of time. As such, a support system in Waterloo will be extremely important for you. Thankfully, such a system is already in place for university students from Singapore that are on exchange at University of Waterloo.
Meet the Tang family – they will be your lifesavers on this exchange.
Verlisa (second from right) with her family.
One of the most important things to do once you are accepted into University of Waterloo (UW) for exchange will be to look up and connect with Verlisa Tang on Facebook. Verlisa is a school teacher in Canada. Her family has roots in Malaysia and Singapore and both their sons are currently studying in UW as well. Their family has been hosting and assisting exchange students from Singapore for the past few years.
There are no words that we have that will be sufficient to express our gratitude for what Verlisa and her family has done for us. Verlisa has personally shuttled a few of us from UW to our accommodations once we arrived in town for the first time from the airport. Before the start of term, the Tang family organized a gathering for all of us to get acquainted with one another and make new friends.
Her son, Wesley, has so kindly set up a website/app that allowed us to reserve and pick up useful items that were left behind by previous exchange students. They had also personally cleaned some of the items such as beddings and housewares before passing it to us.
One of the highlights of our exchange would be attending Feeding Frenzi. The church that the Tang family attends provides free hot meals for university and college students in Waterloo every Thursday, and Verlisa had kindly invited all of us to be a part of this Feeding Frenzi. At Feeding Frenzi, they usually serve a hot entree with salad, dessert and a beverage. They also encourage you to bring a container to take out the leftovers to bring home. You could just feel how much like a family they all are that one of the couples even did their baby’s gender reveal during one of the Feeding Frenzi week!
All of us exchange students from Singapore remained a close-knit community throughout the duration of the exchange through a Facebook group and we would constantly give tips or advice to one another such as fun events to attend in UW. One of the houses even organised our own Christmas party and we really had a lot of fun.
I believe that I speak on behalf of all of us that went to UW that we feel extremely fortunate and thankful for the Tang family for making our exchange a much more pleasurable experience, and for giving us a home away from home.
-Lee Ze Bin