Katharine - McGill University

B Business Management/Science
Semester 2, 2018
All it takes is to meet one person or do one thing that can shape your entire experience, say yes to everything and get out and explore!

Academic experience

Despite being enrolled in a dual degree at UQ, it worked out being a lot more straight forward just taking courses from the science part of my degree. I was able to choose any classes from McGill's science faculty however I did manage to end up in classes quite relatable to my area of study back home. McGill's online portals are not as clear and modern as UQ's services so it took a little while to figure out how to navigate those! The only challenges I really encountered with regards to my academic experience was being sure I was in the right courses to gain credit with UQ, however the UQ Abroad staff were super helpful in replying to my emails and putting my mind at ease. Unlike UQ, I didn't have any tutorial or practical classes, all of my classes were just lecture style. As such, I didn't need to enrol in a specific time slot to plan my timetable like we do at UQ, whereas the entry to the courses themselves was the real competition. The professors could choose whether or not to release lecture recordings and all assessment was submitted in class to the professors which was a bit different to what I'm used to!

Personal experience

I have always considered myself quite independent, but I don't think you really realise or appreciate your own strengths until you are put into an environment full of unknowns and you are forced to go at it alone (at least in the beginning). I personally found the challenge of facing exchange alone thrilling and definitely discovered a new independent, outgoing and adventurous side to myself. I was lucky enough to have a friend who is a full-time student at McGill and she introduced me to the most incredible range of people and showed me the true McGill lifestyle. All it takes is to meet one person or do one thing that can shape your entire experience. I built friendships (both full-time McGill students and fellow exchange students) that will last me a lifetime. I already have a friend who has decided to come to UQ for exchange and I have already visited some Dutch friends in Amsterdam! These are truly the ties that you want to hold onto forever. 

I went into my exchange planning on spending every weekend traveling outside of Montreal and doing all of the big 'bucket list' activities. Each week went by quicker than the last and I really never wanted to miss what was going on in Montreal. I ended up doing a few trips away to Toronto, Niagara Falls, a weekend to the snow and Ottawa. There is always something exciting and fun going on in Montreal!

Accommodation

I lived off campus in student, apartment styled accommodation with 4 other people. It wasn't owned by McGill but was mostly international students and students from other Universities around Montreal. It was downtown and a super short walk to McGill. I highly rate the convenience of living in this kind of accommodation as it had a gym and was very centrally located. However, I would definitely recommend finding a share house with other students you will get along with and enjoy sharing a space with. Everything in Montreal is mostly walking distance but the closer to campus, the better!

Costs

Rent was pretty expensive for me due to where I was living but I met a lot of people with super varied rents so there is definitely something out there for everyone. I love eating out A LOT and spent a lot of my social time exploring different cafes and restaurants. Montreal is a massive foodie city so it was hard to avoid eating out a lot - and I wouldn't recommend missing out on this element. Good coffee is EXPENSIVE, think $6 - $7 for a regular latte. On the other hand however, you can get $1 black filter coffee everywhere you go. There are many different supermarkets which range from very cheap to higher end and I tended to bounce between the different stores depending what I was looking for. I spent very little money on travel because I loved walking everywhere. Montreal is so diverse and as long as you're looking up, you're bound to see something exciting. For an entire semester exchange, including travel expenses while you're there I would definitely recommend budgeting at least $10,000. I was not very careful with my spendings and was fortunate enough that I didn't have to be. However, you certainly don't want to have to say no to weekends away or concerts or festivals that might pop up when you don't expect.

Challenge

My biggest challenge during my experience (aside from having to leave and come home) was probably figuring out a routine for my day-to-day life in Montreal. I had a pretty stringent routine at home so taking myself out of the and trying to adapt to anew lifestyle proved pretty challenging at first but I was lucky enough to find wonderful friends that acted as a support system when I needed them to help me out with that.

Professional Development

I think my communication skills definitely enhanced over the duration of my exchange. I gained confidence in speaking with new people, including both my peers and academics.

Highlight

I can't pick just one highlight! I literally had a new highlight every week and thought "this was the best day ever", every week. A weekend away skiing was so fun, McGill's open-air-pub (OAP) was so joyous, meeting Joe Jonas in a club, going to a famous Canadian spa retreat, an outdoor Sunday afternoon electronic music festival and a weekend trip to Mexico are definitely a few of the highlights.

Top tips

SAY YES TO EVERYTHING.