Why I Chose Western
Written by: Hanbi Lee, SASAH and Computer Sciences, Class of 2021
Photo by: Student Experience
Five years ago, as I anxiously waited for my university applications to get approved, I remember shuffling through all the brochures I had picked up from the University Fair downtown. I have never been much of an ambitious student, but I’ve always been surrounded by people who seemed very sure of their future plans. Naturally, I tagged along to these things to start collecting information and ponder on where I might go for my undergrad education.
Frankly, Western and Queens caught my eye from the start, mostly because of their beautiful campus, lined with limestone buildings covered in ivy vines. These were the schools I had envisioned when daydreaming about what my life might look like in university. Especially on the brochures, they looked straight out of a coming-of-age film. Between the two, I was particularly more drawn to Western because it was my best friend’s parents’ alma mater, and they always spoke very highly of their experience there. They had met as Western students and eventually gotten married and always jokingly urged my friend to follow their footsteps in attending Western. We even ended up taking a little trip to London for an open house when I was in the 11thgrade to check out the campus. It felt pretty surreal to me to see students living so independently in their own little campus world, which at the time seemed unfathomably expensive and full of facilities. This solidified my desire to attend Western even more because of how independent everyone looked, coupled with the realization that Western was 3 whole hours away from home. In my angsty high school days, I was itching to leave home and experience life away from my parents.
It was not surprising then, that I was pretty excited to hear back from Western. I was accepted into both their Medical Sciences program and their School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities. In the end, I think the biggest reason I ended up choosing Western was because of my acceptance to both these programs. At the time, I was incredibly confused about my future and what I wanted to do with my life. Because I had followed the majority of my friends in the science pathway in high school, science was really all I knew at that point. In addition, most of my peers seemed to be going to a STEM program, and I felt that I too had to go into STEM if I wanted to accomplish something meaningful. (Looking back, I now realize that that was pretty childish of me to believe and in fact, I promptly switched out of Medical Sciences after my first semester.) Because my actual interests lay elsewhere, I had applied to several different programs at a lot of Ontarian schools, but Western was the only school where I had applied to both a science and arts program. I figured I would try my hand at science, and if I really disliked it as I anticipated I would, I could then switch into the arts and humanities program. And that’s pretty much exactly what ended up happening. Eventually, I did return to STEM, though in a completely different area (I began my second major in Computer Sciences in my third year of school), but I’m thankful that Western gave me the opportunities to explore my interests and pursue the disciplines that I am passionate about. Without that encouragement, I probably would never have discovered my interest in CS, nor would I have been able to receive such an interdisciplinary learning experience consisting of both STEM and Arts and Humanities.
And even though I chose Western because of my concerns for the future, as well as its aesthetic campus, I got much more than I expected from my time here. I made amazing lifelong friends, tried so many new things, and thoroughly experienced the full package that entails campus life.
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