Tarique’s ex­pe­ri­ence at Wil­frid Lau­rier Uni­ver­sity


IAM Tarique Plum­mer. I am a third-year BSc hon­ours bio­chem­istry and biotech­nol­ogy stu­dent at Wil­frid Lau­rier Uni­ver­sity (WLU), lo­cated in On­tario, Canada. Born and raised in Wind­sor Cas­tle, Port­land, and a proud St Mary High School alumni, I had never been to North Amer­ica, nor had I even heard of WLU un­til I started my re­search.

It all be­gan at the end of Au­gust 2012, af­ter I re­ceived my Caribbean Se­condary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate re­sults. I knew that ma­tric­u­lat­ing to my school’s sixth-form pro­gramme was a must, but I was look­ing fur­ther down the line. I wanted to at­tend a uni­ver­sity over­seas, not be­cause of how I might be per­ceived when I say I am study­ing abroad, but sim­ply be­cause I craved in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, in­de­pen­dence, a new en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture, the pos­si­bil­ity to start anew and, most of all, I wanted to ex­pe­dite my self­ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion process.

I chose Canada for three pri­mary rea­sons: favourable im­mi­gra­tion laws, qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem and a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing quite wel­com­ing and safe. My dilemma was that I had no fam­ily in Canada and I had never been there be­fore, so how would I know which uni­ver­sity to at­tend? There­fore, I viewed the rank­ings and, based on aca­demics, stu­dent in­volve­ment, ex­pe­ri­ences and re­views, I iden­ti­fied over 35 schools (at the top, mid­dle and bot­tom of the rank­ings).

My so­lu­tion was to be as an­noy­ing as pos­si­ble. I called, emailed, Skyped and even sent let­ters to the schools with ques­tions on top of ques­tions. I did this be­cause I wanted to be seen and treated as an in­di­vid­ual with po­ten­tial rather than just a stu­dent num­ber or dol­lar sign. Some schools re­ally seemed to have be­come an­noyed since quite a few stopped re­spond­ing to me, but the one which never stopped and even called and emailed me when I did not ex­pect it was Wil­frid Lau­rier Uni­ver­sity. As a re­sult of that, I said my search was over and I de­cided to at­tend a school I had never heard about in my life, in a coun­try I had never vis­ited. Thank­fully, they made the de­ci­sion eas­ier when they of­fered me a schol­ar­ship for my years, al­though it was still tough con­vinc­ing my mother.

First year was in­ter­est­ing, in a good way. The cul­ture shock was sig­nif­i­cant, but I woke up ev­ery day with the mind­set that I would learn some­thing new, but only in the class­room. The aca­demic part was chal­leng­ing; it re­quired time to de­velop an ef­fi­cient ap­proach. The so­cial at­mos­phere was ex­actly like I had seen on tele­vi­sion about stu­dents in North Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties, so I felt like I was in a movie. The cul­ture was so dif­fer­ent from Ja­maica’s, as the so­ci­ety is more in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic and re­la­tion­ships are more on the sur­face, so ad­just­ing to that took time as well.

The hard­est ad­just­ment I had to make, as you guessed, was to the cli­mate. I saw snow for the first time but that feel­ing of ex­cite­ment quickly dis­si­pated when, later, I could not feel my hands or face. The weather, for a lit­tle more than half of the year, tested my strength, en­durance, abil­ity to dress and maybe even my be­lief in God. On a se­ri­ous note, it took me a year to get used to it. While at St Mary High, I would join all the clubs, do all the com­pe­ti­tions, and even ran­domly help around be­cause I loved the idea of be­ing pro­duc­tively oc­cu­pied. When I ar­rived at WLU, I con­tin­ued that, which cul­mi­nated in me be­ing the club gov­er­nance co­or­di­na­tor of the uni­ver­sity, and in that role I was re­spon­si­ble di­rectly for the ad­min­is­tra­tion and op­er­a­tions of over 160 clubs. It was tough but fun. I worked both on cam­pus and off. For­tu­nately for me, my uni­ver­sity is stu­den-run, which means that there are nu­mer­ous stu­dent jobs avail­able on cam­pus. I worked in the din­ing hall, the chem­istry lab, the res­i­dence de­part­ment, the In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Recruitment and Ad­mis­sions of­fice, the ath­let­ics and re­cre­ation de­part­ment, and even off cam­pus at a mar­ket re­search firm. Ad­di­tion­ally, I vol­un­teer with the ra­dio sta­tion, a few news­pa­pers, and one or two not-for-profit com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions. If one should ask me where I see my­self in ... let’s say ... a decade, I would tell the per­son that I see my­self as the head of the Cana­dian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Ser­vices, which is Canada’s ver­sion of the CIA. Af­ter that, I am hop­ing to ven­ture into the world of pol­i­tics with the ul­ti­mate aim of be­com­ing the prime min­is­ter of Ja­maica. Gen­eral in­ter­na­tional school fee range: Ap­prox­i­mately CDN$22,000. Cost for ac­com­mo­da­tion: On cam­pus – $6,000; off cam­pus – $4,000-$6,000 Size of cam­pus, stu­dent pop­u­la­tion: 19,000 stu­dents across five cam­puses with Water­loo be­ing the main cam­pus and Brant­ford, its se­cond. Stu­dent-teacher ra­tio: 1:25 Ma­tric­u­la­tion for Caribbean stu­dents: Both units of CAPE; how­ever, a stu­dent should ap­ply within the first three months of com­menc­ing up­per-sixt. Con­tact in­for­ma­tion: in­ter­na­tional@wlu.ca, 519884-1970, ext 4684


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