Bachelor of Arts/Major Art History, 3rd year
Bachelor of Arts/Major Art History, 3rd year

Academic experiences

I was in my third year of Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History.
The course load for full time study at McGill is 5 subjects per semester.
I found the workload to be a little more intense than UQ.
Most of my courses entailed more ongoing assessment through the semester rather than just a mid-semester and end of semester paper.
I had at least one piece of assessment due every week.
In some ways I found this intensity better as I felt more engaged with the course material and more assessment meant that each piece had less weight on the final mark so there was an opportunity to really understand the expectations of the lecturer and improve throughout the semester.
McGill is a renowned university for studying Arts and my lecturers were top notch.
There are many interesting subjects to choose from in the Arts School that are not available at UQ so I recommend saving some electives for your exchange.
For the more niche subjects, the classes were tutorial size so there were many opportunities for discussion with classmates and the lecturers.
I studied 2 philosophy subjects as well as 'Religions of East Asia' (which was taught by a professor who was once a Zen Buddhist Monk), 'Cinema and the Visual' and 'Solitude in Literature and Film'.
There is a 24-hour library on campus which is more often than not, packed with students.
It is also common to study in the local cafes that surround the campus and in the plateau area.
I found this custom particularly good in the winter as you can enjoy a warm coffee and study in the company of fellow students.

Outside my house in the Plateau in Montreal

Personal experiences

Montreal is a vibrant, friendly city.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to learn much French.
Most Montrealers are bilingual and will swap to English if they can hear that you are struggling with French.
If you are planning to go for the winter semester, the temperature will not rise above zero for some time.
It was still snowing in March.
However, seeing snow fall walking to university is absolutely beautiful and a totally unique experience for a Brisbane local.
There are many things about snow to enjoy, there are ice skating rinks in the local parks, ice hockey games at McGill and snow tubing on Mont Royal (a mountain behind the campus).
As the semester progresses, it is wonderful to see the transformation of the city as winter turns into a very colourful spring.
There are also cheap package deals available flying from Montreal to Cuba so I was able to visit Havana while on reading week which was both a warm break in the sun and a very unique cultural experience.

In the snow outside a cabin in Cape Breton

Accommodation

I lived off-campus in the Plateau area for the semester.
I found my room on Kijiji which is a listings page for Canada similar to Gumtree in Australia.
I was lucky enough to find a good place with one awesome housemate via a Skype conversation a few days before I left Australia.
It is really common to sublet rooms in Montreal so it is fairly easy to find a place.
The Plateau is a great area for students.
There are many independent cafes, bars, restaurants, cinemas, venues and galleries.
And when the sun comes out, street festivals and outdoors markets pop up everywhere.
It is about a 30 min walk from campus (depending on which part of the Plateau you live in) which is a great way to warm up in the winter and there are also local metro stations for those especially cold days.

Quebec City is a great day trip, only 3 hours drive away

Budget

I found the cost of rent to be slightly cheaper than in Brisbane, I was able to find a really central room including bills for $500 a month.
Everything else was similarly priced.
Eating and drinking out was about the same.
The prices that are on menus/price tags don't include tax or tip.
This is added at the register.
There were deals to be had at cheap supermarkets (Tip: Segals in the Plateau) and there are free vegan lunches at McGill on certain days of the week.
So, there were ways of budgeting and saving those dollars for fun or further travel.
There are student-run McGill groups on Facebook which I recommend joining as soon as you get your McGill email.
There is a For Free/Sale page which has many cheap things for apartment living and there is also a Clothing Exchange page which is a great way to get second-hand winter clothing very cheap.

Snowshoeing around the wilderness

Academic development and employability

Studying at McGill was great for both my educational and personal development.
Being immersed in a totally different learning and living environment I think, will not only be beneficial for employment opportunities but an experience that will inform my future ways of engaging and thinking about the world.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange experience was driving from Montreal to Cape Breton and staying in a cabin in the woods there for a week.
The nature in Canada is amazing and it was great to get out of the city and see the wintry landscape in the Canadian wilderness.

This is the main Arts building at McGill

Top tips

My advice or top tips would for other students would be:

Don't skimp on the winter clothes if you are going to Montreal, you will need to buy a proper winter jacket and boots there as well as gloves and thermals.

Walk everywhere, Montreal is a really walkable city and it is a good way to get acclimatized and familiar with the local areas.

Say 'Yes' to new experiences.
 

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