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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

I came to Western thinking I wanted to go into Ivey to do business in third year, I had the advanced opportunity entry - AEO - status, and I actually came into Western thinking I was going to do an interdisciplinary program called Politics Philosophy and Economics (PPE) for the first two years. But then I went in, took some business courses, and realized IB wasn’t for me alongside a variety of reasons. I thought it was more in my field of interest, and it played to my strengths to continue in International Relations, with the honours specialization, and a minor in transitional justice. It’s interesting,

fascinating, and the great majority of my classes have less than 50 people; there are a lot of seminars, a lot of discussion, interdisciplinary understandings of politics, history, economics, justice, sociology. It’s very intriguing, and is deeply relevant to the time, and what’s happening around the world.

QUESTIONS

For a UWO International Relations Student...

JUICY

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

If you’re interested in looking at International Relations, don’t stress! When you apply to a program of Social Sciences, you’re admitted as a general student in the faculty. Meaning you can potentially pivot to other honours specializations (majors) depending on the courses you took. If you’re

interested in pursuing International Relations, just know that you should be 100% either interested in writing or a good writer, it’s a core skill. Once you go into third and fourth year, you need to be an excellent speaker, and communicator, as well as willing to stand behind your points, and substantiate what you have to say with research, evidence, and flexibility. I encourage that you look at the prerequisites you have to take for Poli-Sci and History; those are the two mandatory courses you have to take in the first year besides your course load. As well, I recommend staying engaged with the state of the world today, and begin to understand whom the major powers that govern international trade, global politics, and international conflicts are. Read the news, stay up to date! It’s good for you regardless if you want to go into International Relations or not. Rest assured, it’s a very interesting program once you get further into the program, and if you’re interested in Social Sciences, you’ll do just fine.

Are your classes more lecture based or discussion based?

Because I’m a Social Science student, I have courses in politics/history/philosophy/anthropology, almost every class is a combination of lectures and discussions; even in your first year, there’ll be anywhere from 100-300 students in a lecture. As well, you always have a tutorial; you will always be put into a circumstance where you are inclined to, or are forced to participate - participation comes in many forms, either through debating, questioning, or even giving a presentation to the class. In your second, third, and fourth year, you’ll come to understand that international relations will become a prime opportunity to build relationships with your professors! I’ve come to learn that professors in history, political science, etc. really do care about student engagement and making sure that we recognize the diversity prospective, and answering your questions. So don’t be afraid of your profs! No matter what program you’re in, you’ll feel distanced from them in your first year due to the lectures, but you’ll be attending a lot of seminars and will warm up to them; so be ready to do a lot of writing, and speaking!

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What do you think is special about UWO’s campus life?

We are at the cusp of one of the most challenging orientation weeks in Westen’s history since the second world war. I was an orientation leader, someone who would facilitate freshmans’ first year experience; and I truly believe that the orientation experience on the first day you arrive at Western, to the end of Orientation Week, to the end of both semesters is unrivaled anywhere in Canada, if not all of North America. I say that in a regular year, because we meet you literally when you first land at your residence, and we don’t stop taking care of you, and being engaged with every part of your life. Whether it be through academic sophs (faculty sophs), residents, advisors, wellness commissioners, and more. We’re there from the minute you step out of your car and onto campus where we help you move in, until the minute we help you move out. While it may look different this year, I can guarantee that Western will make the smoothest transition out of any university because of how many people are dedicated to orientation. Just sophs, student volunteers who aren’t paid a cent to welcome you to our campus come out in droves of 800-900 every year.

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How would you describe the workload/work-life balance in your program

I would say that international relations is one of the most rigorous programs in Social Science. Usually, in major programs you need 9.0, or 8.0 of requirements in order to graduate, which you need to satisfy in three to four years. In International Relations you need 10.0; and at UWO, you often take 5.0 per year.Though, if you are a student who is confident in their writing skills, did well in English, etc. and attend your tutorials, I have no doubt that you can work and play. We design all of the orientation activities, clubs, and events rooted in the fact that people have classes/projects/work/etc. (school comes first). Activities often begin anywhere between noon, and midnight, and even beyond sometimes; this way, you’re likely to be done class, have time to refresh, then rendezvous with the club/activity/event. Work-life balance is very important at UWO, during orientation week, all the way to the end of the year.

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

LEO XU

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Leo Xu is a third year student and entrepreneur at the University of Western Ontario. He is  currently in the international relations program with a minor in transitional justice, specifically post-conflict reconstruction. Outside of the world of academia,  he is a community activist, and public speaker. He's also co-founded Bridgespace which is a global student engagement platform providing high school and university students with skill-based experience modules, live competitions, and impact projects! He is definitely well accredited, and a young mogul on the rise. Check out Bridgespace here: www.bridgespace.io

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

Initially upon researching university programs, while I was in high school I came across the

Honours in International Relations program at Western University. I did a lot of research on what

the program offered and thought it sounded really interesting and like something that would help

me to reach my goal of working in law and politics. The program

seemed like a unique way to

learn about politics on an international scale, something I am very interested in. Towards the end

of grade eleven, everyone was starting to stress about what programs they would apply for next

year, so I started doing more research on programs I would be interested in. 

QUESTIONS

For another UWO International Relations Student...

JUICY

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

When applying to any program my advice would be to look at the classes you will have to take in each year of university in the program. This will help you get a feel for the program and what you will be learning. On the actual application process, my advice would be to just 

 do your best in school and engage in your community to set yourself apart from other applicants. Make sure you're getting the marks you need to meet the cutoff. Don’t aim to just meet these cut-offs however,

because in competitive programs the admissions average for each year is often above the required average! If you have an idea of what you want to do, I would also suggest looking at the courses required to apply to those fields; a lot of programs require certain courses to be included in your average. Therefore, you might want to put in extra effort, or get extra help in those courses!

Why did you decide to switch from Carleton's public affairs/policy management to Western's international relations?

Although I was really excited about the Public Affairs and Policy Management program at Carleton, once I got there and started to attend my lectures, I knew the program wasn’t the right fit for me. I noticed that most of my classmates were very interested in what we were learning especially in our core Public Affairs and Policy Management course, whereas I was not. However, I loved my Political Science and History courses. When I was researching programs in

grade twelve, I had looked at the International Relations course load, while I had only looked at the opportunities the Public Affairs and Policy Management program provided. I quickly realized I would much rather be taking the IR course load then the Public Affairs course load. The content that the Western program offered interested me so much more than my own program. I was really apprehensive when making the decision to apply to transfer because I was scared it would close opportunities and that my friends and family would think I had failed. I took a lot of time to think about it and didn’t apply until around the end of January. I made the decision because I realized that spending four years in a program I did not enjoy wasn’t beneficial to me or my future. Ultimately, I had to make the decision that was best for me, regardless of my worries about

what anyone else thought. Going into this year I am soooo excited for my classes to start. The content I will be studying is what I want to study, I think this is something really important to students choosing a university program. When applying to law school, medical school, or Master’s degrees, the undergrad program you studied usually does not matter. What matters is that you were active in your community,you 

 achieved good grades and you stood out from the other candidates. Therefore, it is important to choose a program you enjoy because this will help you to achieve the required marks. After all, you will actually want to do the work and learn. And most importantly it will make you happier! To conclude, I made the decision to transfer because it was the decision that is best for my future and my interests. Both programs are great, it just depends on the person!

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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MADISON BINDER

Hey! My name is Madison and I’m about to start my first year at Western University for International Relations! Last year I attended Carleton for Public Affairs and Policy Management! If you have any questions about either school, the transfer process, or university in general please feel free to connect with me through any of my social media!

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