Bachelors of Business Management/Arts with Diploma in Languages (French)
Bachelors of Business Management/Arts with Diploma in Languages (French)

Academic experiences

At McGill I studied:

• Three psychology courses: "Principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy" (PSYC 408), "Human Motivation" (PSYC 471), and "Inter-group Relations" (PSYC 331)
• One French course: "Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression 1" (FRSL 302)
• One marketing course from McGill’s prestigious Desautels Faculty of Management: "Consumer Behaviour" (MRKT 452)

Niagara Falls- Canadian border side

I highly recommend PSYC 408, PSYC 471, and MRKT 452.
All three were fascinating subjects and were taught in really engaging ways that made you think about the material not just from a purely theoretical perspective but also how it could be applied creatively in practise.
The professor who taught PSYC 408 especially really helped me learn to think outside the box when it comes to therapies, and the lessons I learned from him can be applied to so many areas of my everyday life, and not just psychological disorders.
However, FRSL 302 was my least favourite course because compared to the French courses I have taken at UQ, the material was rather limited and repetitive, and I unfortunately do not feel like I took much away from it.
Generally, for the vast majority of the semester I did not feel overwhelmed or stressed by the workload, even though I was taking 5 courses instead of the usual 4 at UQ.
I still had plenty of time to do things I enjoyed so it was very manageable.
One word of warning though, at McGill when books are assigned as readings, do not neglect them because, unlike at UQ, at least 1/3 of questions on the midterms/final exams will come from these readings.
Also the professors often select questions that students would not be able to infer the answer by just having understood the lecture material, so make sure you do them!
One academic challenge I experienced was managing my time and prioritising which assessments to work on when because the midterm period at McGill stretches for a ridiculously long amount of time, so it is possible to be still needing to complete a midterm for one subject when a major final assignment is due for another.

Personal experiences

When I first arrived in Montreal I felt overwhelmed by just how different it was to Australia. Although I knew it was meant to be a predominantly French-speaking city, which was the main reason why I chose to go there, I was still surprised by just how European it really was.
Initially the foreignness intimidated me but quickly I learnt to embrace it and enjoy the new perspectives it gave me on life.
The French spoken in Québec is different to the French spoken in France, so I initially had trouble understanding people when they spoke to me and would get flustered, although as time passed I got more used to it and did not have the same difficulties.
I think overcoming this made me more confident and resilient in the face of obstacles.
McGill is known as its own little “bubble” in Montreal.
For instance, you can be on campus all day surrounded by English-speakers and then as soon as you step out onto the street you are back in a French-speaking, European-inspired city.
The change can be disorientating initially but it can also be very comforting.
McGill is like its own little community and there is a lot of school spirit, which is contagious and really makes you feel like you belong no matter where you come from.
I made some amazing friends at McGill, who I still keep in contact with regularly.
Funnily enough, I met more American students at McGill than Canadians, but people from both nationalities love Australians and are fascinated by us and our country.
Going overseas made me a lot more proud to be Australian and really appreciate what a generous and fortunate country I come from.
Whilst on exchange, I travelled to Québec City, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Vermont, not to mention other small towns in Québec.
Niagara Falls and Boston were highlights for me, and I would recommend seeing both of them if you get a chance.
Travelling and living abroad really gives you a new sense of independence and freedom as well as teaching you numerous life skills and giving you experiences that words just cannot describe.

McGill Lower Campus

Accommodation

For my first two months in Montreal, I lived in a “homestay” located in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal that I had found through a popular homestay website.
I chose to do this in the hopes of improving my French by living in a predominantly French-speaking neighbourhood.
However, to my disappointment, I found that most of the people listing their places for homestays were not families and so it became just like any other rental situation.
Le Plateau is a beautiful and really cool, cultured part of the city to live in, although it can take at least 40 minutes to get between campus and there later in the day.
So as winter approached and the days began to get a lot shorter, I decided to move closer to campus for the remainder of my stay in Montreal.
I think this was a very good decision for me though because I ended up living in an apartment literally 1 minutes walk away from the top part of the campus, which was incredibly convenient, and meant that I had more time to spend with my friends and made doing things after class easier in general.
The only downside was that living so close to McGill limited my French exposure.

trees

Budget

On the whole I found prices in Montreal to be very similar to Brisbane.
Rent was a lot cheaper than in Brisbane though.
For example, living within a minute’s walk of campus, which is right in the heart of the Montreal CBD, or “Downtown” as they call it, I only paid CA$600 per month including all bills, furniture, and appliances.
Food was similarly priced, but I found supermarkets such as Provigo and Intermarché to be a lot more limited than your average Woolies or Coles.
You will find that a lot of the products that you normally buy at a supermarket you will need to get from a pharmacy, which are far bigger than ours in Australia and often have post offices inside them. If you live anywhere near the Le Plateau, I recommend buying fruit and vegetables from Val-Mont because their prices are generally cheaper than the supermarkets and the produce is very fresh and of good quality.
How much you set for your budget really depends on how much you want to travel and spend on entertainment.
Your basic living costs can stay the same as in Brisbane, if not a bit lower, so really you only have to budget for the extra things you would like to experience on exchange that you would not get the opportunity to do at home.

Academic development and employability

Going on exchange to McGill helped me develop academically as well as personally in countless ways.
For example, it made me more confident in myself and my abilities, made me more curious and open to new experiences, both of which will help me be more flexible when considering job prospects and assist me when faced with challenges in the future.
It exposed me to different culture so that I can now better understand, accommodate for, and embrace differences.
Also attending a university ranked in the top 25 in the world and number one in Canada was a privilege.
I obtained so much new knowledge and learned from some of the best and most highly respected academics in their fields.
Essentially going on exchange made me a more well-rounded individual.
It will provide an excellent talking-point in future job interviews and will help me distinguish myself from other candidates who will be seeking the same sought-after graduate positions.

Apple orchard- Mont Saint-Hilaire, Québec

Highlight

As undramatic as it sounds, the single highlight of my experience was probably seeing snow fall for the first time in my life.
Seeing the trees lose their beautiful red and orange leaves was a bit saddening, but then once the first snow started to fall shortly after, it made the loss (and the cold!) totally worth it.
Opening my curtains and seeing a gentle layer of snow covering everything in sight was magical and I shall cherish the memory forever.

Times Square

Top tips

- Bring an Australian power board with you because you probably will not find one in Canada and that way you can charge multiple items at once and will only have to buy one AU-CA/US adapter.

- Go on “Outdoor Frosh.”
Frosh is a few days set-aside during orientation week for social orientation to campus life, as opposed to the normal academic activities.
All the faculties have their own Froshes too but I would highly recommend Outdoor Frosh if you would like to get a taste of what Canada really has to offer as opposed to Montreal’s clubbing scene. For mine, we went away to a small village higher up in Québec and spent three days doing activities like rock climbing, hiking, and white water rafting.
It was amazing and an excellent way to make friends who will actually remember you once classes start!

- Go on at least one trip with the Concordia International Student Association (CISA).
Concordia is the other major English university in Montreal and McGill students are allowed to attend CISA trips as well.
From my experience, CISA trips were far better organised and a lot better value for money than those run by the McGill International Student Network (MISN).
Plus, CISA do some trips to places like Boston that MISN only run during the winter semester so going with them gives you more travel options too.

- If you use a student Opus card (the equivalent to a GoCard) to get around the city, be aware that if you buy a monthly pass, it will only be valid until the first of the following month, regardless of the day you purchased it on.

- Do not buy textbooks brand new unless you absolutely have to!
Students sell their used books on official university sites like McGill Classifieds, so you can save a lot of money getting them from there.
The McGill Facebook groups “Free & For Sale” and “McGill Clothing Exchange” are also great places for buying books, clothing, and whatever else you may need second-hand.

- Use websites like http://ca.easyroommate.com/ to find a place to rent.
I found this website super useful when searching for a place closer to campus.

- Do Canadian/Montreal things like apple picking, bake a pumpkin or apple pie, drink a pumpkin-spice latte from Starbucks, go skiing, buy a croissant from a quaint little boulangerie, see a hockey game… the list is endless!

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