In the weeks leading up to the submission deadline for UQ Abroad applications I was still apprehensive about committing to six months away from friends, familiar environments and the comforts of home. So, I would like to echo the words of previous exchangers that finally convinced me to take the plunge: studying abroad is truly a unique opportunity to grow as a person, and to expose yourself to a range of unforgettable experiences. You will always look back on your time spent abroad with an incomparable fondness.

I am currently in my second year of a BSc/MBBS program (bachelors of science, medicine and surgery). Since this doesn’t allow any electives, I know too well how painful it is trying to get approval for courses towards your major; however it is possible, and it is worth it. The five science courses I took at McGill had a similar workload to UQ, but seemed to weight mid-term and final exams significantly higher than assignments. Just a heads up, McGill doesn’t have a swotvac period, and spring break might fall after your mid-terms have already happened – so it might be worth figuring out when to fit in some study amidst all those road trips and late nights.

A great way to throw yourself into Canadian and college life is to attend the activities night that takes place during the first week of classes. All the student groups and societies are on show and I guarantee there is a club for everyone. Signing up to MISN, the McGill International Student Network, is an easy way to meet fellow exchangers who will want to do all the touristy things that local Quebecers have done to death. I also recommend the McGill Outdoors Club if you’re looking for adventures into the wilderness with some of the most friendly and enthusiastic people you will ever meet (seriously, they were super friendly even by Canadian standards). With the help of the Outdoors Club I managed to tick ice climbing, dog sledding and building and sleeping in a quinzee (think igloo, but with snow instead of ice) off my bucket list.

Top 5 Tips

  • Feeling homesick? – There is an Australian-themed pie shop called ‘Ta’ in the plateau where you can stock up on all the vegemite, milo and violet crumbles you could possibly need.
  • Embrace the Chill – Take advantage of all the nearby ski fields and ice-skating rinks; they’re your reward for braving a Montreal winter (all the locals will say you’re crazy for not coming during the fall semester).
  • Go Habs Go! – Experience the sensory overload that is ice hockey at the Bell Centre during a Montreal Canadiens home game (Canadiens -> Les Habitants -> Habs).
  • So you’ve caught Ski Fever... – La Poubelle du Ski is an incredibly affordable ski/snowboard shop that also rents gear. Only a 15 minute metro ride from McGill.
  • No food in the fridge? No Problem – Take a stroll along Saint-Denis street and sample some of the best cafes and restaurants Montreal has to offer.

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