I went on exchange to McGill in the third year of my Mechanical Engineering program. It was the greatest five months of my life. Here’s why.

Firstly, McGill is the perfect destination for exchange students. It’s one of the most international schools in North America, so you’ll meet countless interesting and adventurous travellers from all over the world. The McGill International Student Network organizes weekend trips to nearby cities such as New York, Boston and Toronto, and these are a great way to meet your fellow exchangers.

Academically, McGill is outstanding. The courses I took were some of the most interesting of my degree so far and the “professors” far and away the best I have had. A word of caution, though: McGill Engineering is hard, and it can be difficult to find the time to study when you’re eager to see and do everything there is, especially if you’re living on campus (party heaven). Although the workload throughout the semester isn’t too bad, be prepared for some seriously tough and heavily weighted finals.

I had the opportunity to live on campus, in ‘Upper Rez’ (short for residence), which is possibly the most fun and social environment you can be a part of. If this is an option for you, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The McGill community is a thriving hub of super-smart, fun-loving people, and the great friends I met there are ultimately what made my exchange so awesome. There’s an incredible amount of school spirit and team pride that really comes to light during the interuniversity ice hockey matches, which are a must-see. 

In case you’re wondering, you absolutely don’t need to speak any French. Although Montreal is technically a French-speaking city, everyone’s bilingual and the “McGill Bubble” (the campus and adjacent student neighborhood) is almost exclusively English.

White water rafting, canoe camping, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and technical ice climbing are some of the things I was able to tick off my bucket list, and Canada has so much more to offer. One semester is a cruelly short amount of time to spend overseas, so I recommend going for the Fall Semester (UQ’s Semester 2), rather than the Winter one. This way you’ll experience the full spectrum of Canadian weather, watch the world transform from green to white, and get to spend valuable time outdoors seeing and doing as much as possible before the extreme cold hits.

Deciding to go on exchange will be the greatest decision you make in your university career. Don’t miss this opportunity.

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