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The magic of learning, exploring and salsa dancing

Last year, 15 per cent of approximately 4,800 undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering were international, coming from nearly 60 countries. Engineering I student Sana, an Indian citizen from the United Arab Emirates, was one of them.

Lively. Energetic. Busy. These are the words 19-year-old Sana uses to describe her hometown of Dubai, but she may as well be describing herself.

Growing up in the heart of the United Arab Emirates, Sana, an Indian citizen, had plenty of reasons to stay. Close-knit with her family (especially her younger sister, who attached herself to Sana’s leg at the airport until it was time to say goodbye), having a large circle of friends and family to spend time with, and a warm climate is most people’s definition of the ideal life.

Sana with family.

But Sana was never interested in going along with what was comfortable.

“I knew I wanted to be an engineer, and I was always interested in living in Canada,” says Sana. “It didn’t matter that I’d never been before; I just knew.”

Despite being halfway around the world from home, McMaster University was a familiar name in Sana’s circle of friends at school and in her family. Four members of her graduating class in Dubai also came to McMaster, and when her dad’s friends learned it was her top choice, they had plenty of positive things to say: they were alumni.

Both inside and outside of the classroom, Sana is eager to learn and explore. One of her favourite things about McMaster is the proximity to downtown Hamilton, which is “full of things to do, but not overwhelming,” It is different from home, but with hints of familiarity —diverse, growing and chock-full of stunning architecture, she says.

One of her favourite things to do is wander around Westdale, a thriving district steps away from campus with shops, cafés, and most importantly to Sana, restaurants.

“It has some really cute restaurants,” says Sana. “Food is very important to me and there’s a lot of variety in Hamilton.”

When she isn’t immersed in homework or in a meal with friends, Sana takes advantage of the natural beauty Hamilton has to offer. Cascading waterfalls, parks with peaks that overlook the sprawling city and Cootes Paradise, a marsh owned and managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens, are just a handful of sights she enjoys.

Sana Syed.

“I also love dancing,” says Sana. “Right now, I’m learning salsa.”

As she nears her completion of Engineering 1, Sana hopes to pursue either Computer or Electrical Engineering, but if not knowing for sure bothers her, it doesn’t show.

“Things have a way of working out,” says Sana, “if you work hard.”


Want to more Journey to McMaster Engineering stories? Read our feature story.