Henry - McGill University

Bachelor of Business Management/Arts
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

While on exchange I studied a diverse range of Arts Courses; two history subjects centred around Europe, a course providing a background on the origins of political theory through texts and a Philosophy course that explored the moral issues facing our contemporary society. I was unsure as to which direction I wanted to go with my Arts degree and took advantage of this prestigious institution to explore the options available to me. 

Some of the challenges I faced included key differences with the course structure, in particular the online presence of courses, or rather the lack thereof. At least for the courses I was doing, assignments were handed in as hard copies, lectures were not recorded and there was very little interaction with professors save for in person. I found these differences tricky at first, but by the end of the semester and through adjustments to my routine they were ultimately manageable. 

The enrolment process was easy enough for me, as a result of the flexibility I had with choosing courses. However, friends of mine looking to get in to specific courses had trouble (especially in the Management faculty).

Personal experience

My exchange experience was absolutely amazing for my personal development and some of the friends I made and places I visited I will treasure forever. Throwing yourself into this exciting experience on the other side of the world can be a terrifying prospect. However, upon arriving and realising there are hundreds of others all in the same boat as you living out this once in a lifetime experience, those initial fears are quickly replaced with immense excitement. 

One of the biggest surprises for me was just how quickly you can develop lifelong friendships with people while on exchange. I was terrified about the prospect of leaving my friends behind for a semester before I left, but the people you meet will go from being strangers to your best mates in a matter of weeks. 

Montreal is just about as far away from Brisbane as you can go, and while the city itself is amazing, I took full advantage of the location and explored a good deal of North America. Places such as Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec City within Canada are very accessible, while even New York City is only a bus ride away! Spring break and an escape from the freezing cold winter can be a very appealing prospect, and I managed to duck away to Cuba for a week which was an amazing experience.

Accommodation

I lived in on-campus accommodation with 29 other exchange students at 3653 rue University. Choosing this option is a little on the pricey side but I would say it is well worth the cost. The location is perfect for both Uni and experiencing Montreal and getting the chance to live with so many people from all around the world is truly special.

Costs

Rent was the biggest expense for me, coming in at $765 a month. Other than that living costs were comparable to Brisbane prices for the most part. Drinks were quite a bit cheaper but specific food items were more expensive (cheese?!). Depending on the amount of travel you intend to do I would budget between $12000-$14000 for a single semester.

Professional Development

I would say the biggest change I experienced while on exchange was developing the ability to approach uncertainty with excitement rather than trepidation. I was nervous to go across the world, leaving my safety net and comfort zone. But, going into a difficult and intimidating situation such as exchange and coming out the other side unscathed has provided me with the confidence that I can achieve anything I set my mind to in life.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was undoubtedly the people I met along the way. I met some great Canadians, but I didn't anticipate the international network of friends I would have the pleasure of calling my own. After the semester ended I have had the pleasure of visiting friends in the UK, France, Mexico and Colombia!

Top tips

Exchange at McGill has been the highlight of my life, go for it and don't look back!

- It is COLD! If you are arriving in January be prepared for temperatures as low as -30 with windchill. A good winter coat, a hat, a scarf, gloves, thermals and boots are essential! Purchasing these items when you get there is often cheaper, but make sure you have some decent clothes to arrive in (learn from my mistakes, RM's are glorified skis in the snow). Having said that, as long as you dress appropriately, I found experiencing a proper winter to be great. The snow is lots of fun, the temperature gets warmer and your body adjusts anyway. 

- Take advantage of your location in the world while on exchange, but don't underestimate Montreal! One of the main advantages to deciding to go to McGill is the fact that you will be living right in the middle of an amazing city. There is lots to do and take in in the city, and a walk up Mont Royal is always a treat. There are plenty of great restaurants and cafes and the nightlife is a lot of fun (go to cafe campus on Tuesdays!). 

- Do everything you can! Say yes to new experiences and don't be afraid to give things a go. You'll be exposed to people from all over the world who have various interests and hobbies that are often dissimilar to your own. View this as the perfect opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Just do it!