Jack - HEC Montreal

B. Business Management
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

I studied;
International Management
Internationalisation Strategies
Purchasing Management
Operations Strategies

I really enjoyed the practical aspects of the courses and the smaller class sizes. Each class is like a three hour seminar in small classes where you can interact directly with the class and professor. Working with students from different cultures can be a rewarding and challenging experience. There is prejudice against the work ethic of exchange students as they are normally on a pass / fail grading system. This makes working with locals more difficult but if you show you are committed you can overcome the initial scepticism.

Personal experience

The exchange experience can be the most rewarding aspect of your degree. Living in another city will challenge you to adapt to the language, cultural and economic differences. Studying in this environment opens the door to new and exciting opportunities as you work with students from all over the world. 

Studying at HEC Montréal allowed me to experience another society first hand whilst still completing my degree. Being able to study at another university and experiencing new ways of learning is an invaluable opportunity. It challenged the way I thought in terms of my degree and put much of my theoretical teachings into practice. The professional skills I gained went beyond the university experience as I benefited from exposure to language, culture and extreme climate. (After a winter in Montréal you can be sure you’re prepared for anything.)

Navigating another city with its different culture and language can take you out of your comfort zone and will teach you valuable skills that will stay with you for life. This unique opportunity allows you to engage with your chosen destination in a way no other form of travel can. You do not passively experience the culture as an outsider but you live as part of the society as a student. The experience I gained in Montreal has helped me with transcending through different cultures and engaging with a community. I am now working as a teacher in Colombia and the skills I have gained I now implement every day as make friends and connection both in the school and in the community. The confidence to engage with a new environment is an incredibly valuable skill and one you will gain regardless of where you go.

Accommodation

Accommodation in Montreal is easy to find as it really is a student city. Living close to a metro station is a must and the east side on the Orange line is a beautiful place to live. The parks are amazing in both summer and winter as there is a lake for ice skating lakes in Parc le Fontaine and bike paths and open space. Heating is essential in winter (obviously as it can get to -40°C) so if you can inspect the property check got draughts etc. Also, landlords must legally provide heating at no lower than 21°C and some actually place locks over the thermostat to prevent you making it warmer. 

I lived off campus in an apartment which was perfect for me. My advice would be live in the area you will be spending the most time as opposed to just living near the university. The metro and bus networks are fantastic and getting to university is very easy.

Budget

All prices are in Canadian dollars. I'm also pretty frugal

Unlimited transport for 4 months $190 with opus card (costs $15)
Accommodation (a room) $325 - $800 per month (my room was 2mx1.8m for $325/month with bills)
Food $100 per week
Night ski pass at Bromont with student ID $100-$150
Day ski pass at Jay Peak $50-120
Season pass at Mont Tremblant (with student ID) $300

Professional development and employability

Navigating another city with its different culture and language took me out of my comfort zone and taught me valuable skills that will stay with me for life. This unique opportunity allowed me to engage with Montreal in a way no other form of travel could. You do not passively experience the culture as an outsider but you live as part of the society as a student. The experience I gained in Montreal has helped me with transcending through different cultures and engaging with a community. I am now working as a teacher in Colombia and the skills I have gained I now implement everyday as make friends and connection both in the school and in the community. The confidence to engage with a new environment is an incredibly valuable skill and one you will gain regardless of where you go.

Highlight

Spending the weekend in a cabin on a frozen lake with a group of friends has to be the single highlight. Towards the end of the semester there was still snow everywhere but the weather was warm enough to hike through the mountains and sit on the deck overlooking the lake.

Top tips

Accommodation in Montreal is easy to find as it really is a student city. Living close to a metro station is a must and the east side on the Orange line is a beautiful place to live. The parks are amazing in both summer and winter as there is a lake for ice skating lakes in Parc le Fontaine and bike paths and open space. Heating is essential in winter (obviously as it can get to -40°C) so if you can inspect the property check got draughts etc. Also landlords must legally provide heating at no lower than 21°C and some actually place locks over the thermostat to prevent you making it warmer. 

Websites like kijiji, Craigslist and findaroommate are useful for finding accommodation however you shouldn't commit to a room until you see it. 'Get your place' is a useful service if you wish to reserve accommodation before you arrive but you will be unable to inspect the property before committing. This service is also far more formal and has a contract, bond and cleaning fees which don't exist in other arrangements. Also cleaning fees, forced 2 month advanced payment etc. is common with 'get your place' but is technically illegal for landlords. Also, mtlblog.com (besides looking like Buzzfeed) has great tips on renting and is generally a good score of information on Montreal.

Join a university ski or snowboard club if you like the sport. You can join at any uni. Al, o Montreal Rideshare and Concordia Bromont crew are good facebook pages to hook up a ride to the mountains.

Also go to Cafe Campus on a Tuesday if you like 90s music and $5 jugs of beer (it's like the RE). 

Jack - HEC Montreal