Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

I am in my third year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Anthropology and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. I recently went on a semester-long exchange to McGill University in Montreal and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I found it challenging and valuable, as well as a lot of fun. I took five courses at McGill: Theories of Culture and Society, Anthropology of the Animal, Anthropology of Social Change in Modern Africa, Natives of the Americas and Native Issues. While at times I found the university system a little frustrating at McGill (there were very few tutorials, much larger classes than I am used to, and less access to lecturers), I found my classes to be rewarding and (in some cases) a departure from anything I could study at home.

Aside from study, living in Montreal offered it’s own challenges and experiences. It was my first time in a cold place, and the winter in Montreal is a fairly intense thing to go through! However, despite the cold, the city was thriving and there was always something to do. It was also very exciting to go through the seasonal changes, and the first touches of green on the trees were a cause for celebration. Montreal has so much to offer in terms of culture, with the beautiful European-style facades of Saint-Joseph, a number of independent art galleries tucked away in the semi-abandoned industrial district along the river, the very Jewish streets of Mile End and a diverse array of decadent culinary options. I was especially interested to be visiting during the time of a Quebec election, and enjoyed listening to the discussions about Quebec politics among my Montreal-native friends. I found it fascinating to see the different ways that Anglophones and Francophones who had been living in Montreal for generations perceived politics in their province. Upon initially arriving in Montreal, I was surprised at how French the place appeared to be. I had done very little research into Montreal previously, preferring to throw myself into the situation and figure it out day by day. While my French seemed to improve very little over the course of my stay (people in Montreal are more than happy to revert to English at the first sign of struggle), I felt that I was able to soak up the feel of the place through the little French that I was able to pick up. I made friends through my flat-mates, my classes and various other connections during my time, and I’m confident that many of those relationships will endure and provide opportunities for further travel.

I decided to live off-campus. At McGill, most people tend to live on-campus for their first year, but there isn’t really an opportunity to remain living in the residences after that. I found a room through craigslist, and after a brief Skype conversation with the three other girls living there (all McGill students) I locked it in. I’ve been living out of home for the past few years, so it didn’t feel all that different to my previous living experiences. A friend had recommended that I look for accommodation in Mile End or Plateau, and my apartment ended up being on the cusp between those two areas. I was living fairly close the Metro line – which was great for those colder days – but when the weather warmed a little I took the opportunity to walk to school. The area I was living in was full of cafes, organic grocery stores, bookshops, boutiques and bars. I found the cost of living in Canada fairly comparable to Australia, especially after you consider the extra costs of tip and tax.

Overall I found the experience of exchange really valuable and important to my growth as both a student and a person.

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