Christine - McGill University

B Science / B Arts
Semester 1, 2023
The highlight of my experience was making friends with people from all over the world and going on crazy adventures with them.


My motivation was to travel to a location that spoke French as it is one of my majors at university. I also wanted to experience life in a different culture and place in order to grow myself through the independence and open-mindedness that I knew I would gain. I also loved the experience in a completely different climate. One learning curve was adapting to life in the snow as a Queenslander which I thought was an interesting skill that as gained more than just practically, but the understanding of how different people live.

Personal Development

The biggest gain from my experience was the personal growth in terms of confidence and independence. Upon returning, I realised that I have been able to return to a huge improvement in regards to my ability to meet new people and make new connections while I have learnt how to make much deeper connections quickly.  Further, the widening of perspective has been huge specifically for aspects of life in Australia that we always have thought are great, but learning from exchange students across the globe was one of the best aspects of my exchange.

Academic Development

Academically, I found the experience to be quite difficult, particularly because I didn't have the same background knowledge and prerequisites that were required for the courses. Despite this, I felt I learned a lot due to this. I found that I spent a lot more time studying than I have in the past and there were more tests and assessments than I was used to. Additionally, taking five courses (because that was the required full-time requirement) felt like I was doing more classes (ie. 5 classes did not feel equivalent to 4 UQ classes, it felt like 5 UQ classes). However, I felt that there was a lot more engagement from other students and I made more meaningful connections in classes than I have ever experienced at UQ. I had to complete quite a few group assignments that were great learning experiences for me, both because I had different knowledge but also because the university was very international and so the perspectives of my teammates were very valuable to learn from. While the classes were some of the hardest I have taken, they were also some of the most rewarding and insightful. Additionally, as I study geographical sciences and international relations, my degrees are very much based on the world, how it works, and world events. However, often this is taught from a very Australian perspective. Thus, it was very beneficial to learn from a North American perspective and to hear the perspectives of all of the international students in my classes. Specifically, in climatology classes we primarily learn about Australian weather which is very specific whereas learning a northern hemisphere perspective of weather (in a very cold place) was very beneficial, particularly in learning about snow, a phenomenon that is quite prominent in the world but not in Queensland so it was very beneficial to learn about.

Professional Development

The ability to make deep connections and connections with all sorts of people is so helpful in regards to job interviews and networking. This confidence and personability improvement has been so amazing for me to go to job interviews and feel prepared, confident and capable. Additionally, the difficulty of the classes and the experience of going alone to the other side of the world has been so necessary for my confidence and capability for undertaking challenges. I have felt so eager, willing, and able to take on challenges upon returning. It has been particularly interesting talking to my friends about potentially doing various 'scary' things and seeing how unwilling they are to put themselves outside of their comfort zone whilst for me, everything feels relatively easy now. When considering the idea of potentially moving to another city for a job opportunity I have found that many people are very apprehensive and unwilling whereas that seems relatively easy considering other Australian cities are only a short flight away.


Flights: $3,500.

Accommodation: Approx. $4000 for four months.

Food: approx. $60 a week.

Winter clothing: $400.

I would say save up as much as possible because you won't want to skimp on hanging out with your friends and making fun memories. I went on weekend trips, spring break trips, and then travelled afterwards with my new friends. These were the real memories and experiences that were so impactful but they aren't the main thing normally included in budgeting.


The funding was very beneficial in order to allow me to have money to spend on the true experiences that make the trip. Without funding all of my money would have been spent on essentials and I think that the experience would not truly have been worth it without the ability to actually leave and spend time with my friends in local, meaningful ways. For example, one day we hired a car and drive 3 hours to the capital of Canada, where we took a tour of the parliament in Ottawa. Most of us studied international relations and this was an incredibly insightful, educational trip that wouldn't have been possible without funding.


I found my accommodation through a Facebook page specifically for exchange students in Montreal. It was great because the room I lived in was rented by a girl who was going on exchange to Italy and so the timing was perfect for me to sublet the room for the semester. Additionally, most McGill students live in a little suburb right next to the university and so I was literally down the street from the university and all of my friends lived right around the corner. I walked everywhere I needed, the shops were right there and the snow/ cold was never a problem. Some of my friends lived in the exchange student accommodation at the university and while that is a great option, it is more expensive because you have to go on a meal plan so I know they were spending a huge amount on food because of that however, most of my friends lived there and I think it is a great option for ease of making friends and having an exchange student community.


The highlight of my experience was making friends with people from all over the world and going on crazy adventures with them. But specifically, hiring cross-country skis from the university gym and cross-country skiing on the mountain in the middle of the city, next to my university on any random day.

Advice/Top Tips

My biggest advice would be to put yourself out of your comfort zone as much as possible in the first few days/ weeks. I would particularly advise you to go to events specifically for other exchange students at the start, they will be your best friends because they will want to do the same things as you and they will be your biggest support system because no one else will truly understand the challenges.