MSc in Materials Engineering – University of Alberta

My name is Angelica Aguilar. I’m from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and I study an MSc in Materials Engineering- Chemical and Materials Department. Canada offers a lot of opportunities for international students, starting with a world-class education, health insurance, breathtaking nature, and the kindness of people wherever you go is widely perceived.

The University of Alberta is one of the top 5 Canadian universities, offering the program and research area that I’m interested to study. Also, this university collaborates with the National Research Council of Canada Nanotechnology Research Centre which is located on-campus.

1. Did you receive any scholarships to help fund your studies?

a. If so, can you tell us more about the scholarship you received? The CALDO consortium is part of the collaboration program with CONACyT, a government agency that supports Mexican students that fulfill the requirements to be granted with a scholarship. In my case, I requested the scholarship “Becas Al Extranjero-Noroeste” which covers all tuition and fees and supports you with a monthly deposit for living expenses and an annual deposit for medical insurance.

2. What did you enjoy the most about the University?

Since this is my first time abroad, there is nothing I cannot say that I don’t love from U of A. All the facilities provided for all students (the U-pass! for example), the writing boot camp by FGSR, all the engineering wellness events for faculty students, the commitment to constantly touch base with international students by means of events and one-to-one meetings, especially during these difficult times due to COVID-19 pandemic, keeping us informed about all the changes in the university.

3. How was your experience as an International Student?

If English is not your native tongue, and you don’t spend too much time speaking in this language before coming, maybe the first month will be a little bit difficult. For me, that was the case. I remember the first week I could barely understand when people were talking to me or even what I was learning in classes. Later on, everything came better and now I’m able to have fluent conversations. It’s all about practice and losing fear to fail in the process. Another very important thing is the culture shock where all the things I got used to finding back in Mexico weren’t even available in local grocery stores, but you can find lots of stores from Latin America. At UofA, there is a very friendly and small Latin American student community ready to help you with your concerns and what to do when you arrive in Edmonton.

4. How was student life like on and off-campus?

Student life on campus is great, there are lots of activities to improve your professional and academic skills, such as the Professional Development program, guiding you to build and know your options for work opportunities. Also, for graduate students, we were assigned to have space in one of the offices depending on the department, giving us a workplace to perform both our coursework and research properly, including all the equipment and necessary materials. One of the most remarkable things as a graduate student is the communication between you and your supervisor. I am very grateful to be accepted in Dr. Anastasia Elias’ research group and the way she leads it, always encouraging us to give the best.

If you enjoy beautiful landscapes and quiet but friendly cities, maybe Edmonton is the right place for you.

5. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies?

A piece of very helpful advice given to me was: don’t hesitate too long. The next thing would be to plan everything you need to do to reach your goal (documents, permits, travel expenses) and look for contacts on campus that are very happy to help you!