I was pretty lost in preparing for my exchange but with tips from seniors as well as Verlisa and family, I managed to pull through. As such, I thought would pass so here are some tips for the juniors:)
Phone and Data plans
There are quite a few telecommunication companies operating in Kitchener-Waterloo region such as Bells, Rogers and Freedom. Do take note of details such as data coverage (some are restricted to province only which means you lose data access when you travel out of Ontario). However, the data plans do tend to be on the expensive side so another cheaper option would also be using using a local Singapore number with overseas data coverage. However, take note that some bookings and car rentals may require a local Canadian number.
Temperature in Kitchener-Waterloo tends to range in the 10s to 20s during August and but drops to sub-zero temperature by December – beanies and gloves really help you to stay warm then as the amount of skin exposed is reduced. It will also be pretty dry, so moisturizers may be needed. Additionally, WATisRain, an app that helps you navigate the buildings at the university without going outdoors, may be useful so that you do not have to step outside into the freezing cold as much as possible. Weather may also play a part in your travel itinerary as certain places may be more suitable for travel during fall.
Unlimited transport is provided to University of Waterloo undergraduates including exchange students through the student card known as WatCard. There are bus stops outside the school, as well as a light rail stop which was just completed recently.
There are actually quite a lot of different cuisines available, and even an Asian supermarket (T&T) located near school. However, be prepared to cook your own meals frequently as a cheap meal can still cost up to $8.
University of Waterloo is pretty small and usually takes at most 10-15 min of walking from one classroom to another. Being a school with a student population that is more than 8 times greater than that of SUTD, it has a lot more student clubs ranging from dragon boat club to animal rights club which you can join. In addition, the Waterloo Undergraduate Studant Association (WUSA) holds many activities such as carnivals and free breakfast, so keep a lookout! Facilities such as the ice rink are also open for students to use a few hours a week.
There is a CIBC branch in school where you can set up a bank account if you wish. YouTrip may also be useful for converting SGD to CAD.
Hopefully these gives you a better idea of exchange life at UWaterloo!