Lachlan - McGill University

Bachelor of International Studies
Semester 1, 2018
It might have been -20, but it was always worth taking on the cold to explore!

Academic experience

I studied a Japanese elective, a course in political economy, a security studies course, and a course in political philosophy. I really enjoyed that McGill combines many strands of Political Science in their program. This meant that despite being an International Relations major, I had the opportunity to take the previously mentioned Political Economy and Philosophy courses. They really improved my overall knowledge and understanding. It was challenging to not have the SWOTVAC break before finals that we have at UQ, but I found that the lecturers really assisted in the last week of semester to make up for us not having a study week. The enrolment process was entirely online through a service very similar to si-net at UQ. As an international student dropping into third year courses I had to also seek some personal approval from faculties for me to take a couple of my classes.

Personal experience

I gained many friends in Canada, particularly those that lived in my student accommodation building with me. It was awesome to explore a city, and to learn how to live with snow for almost my entire trip. I definitely developed my personal skills and feel much more confident living and working out of home in Australia.

Accommodation

I lived off campus in a student focused apartment building open to students from many universities. I most enjoyed the large apartments and the social facilities (games rooms, study rooms, lounges) in the building's lobby. I would advise to future students to seek out buildings that offer discounts for referring friends. It can help to save on rent if you have others travelling with you, or you know someone coming to the city for the following semester. In terms of housing, McGill had a dedicated office to assist in locating me somewhere to stay, though I did not use it. 

Costs

I walked to campus every day and used public transport. Through my rent, school, travel and living expenses for a little over 5 months I spent $14000 AUD. I believe this is a good budget amount, at times I was a little careless with my money.

Professional Development

I think the two biggest skills I have developed are my ability to live on my own, and my ability to interact and live with people from a variety of cultures and language backgrounds. Because my area of study is International Relations, I may well have many more international experiences in my professional life. Therefore, I think these are essential skills.

Highlight

The highlight of my trip was making home-made sleds from household items and sledding down slopes that were usually hiking trails on the beautiful Mount Royal during my first ever blizzard. It was brutally cold but a lot of fun and a night I won't ever forget.

Top tips

Budget a little more than you think you need, join many clubs, and make sure you travel outside of your host city.