Bachelor of Psychological Science
Bachelor of Psychological Science

Academic experiences

I only had one elective, so all my courses were geared towards my degree.
McGill is a well-known university for Psychology so it was really interesting to be taught by professors who were at the forefront of research.
I was surprised by how lax their exam procedures seemed to be - there was much less thorough precautions, and in my final exam the fire alarm even went off!
One disadvantage though was that I struggled with my first lot of mid-semester exams, due to a different style/format of exams and exam proceedings.
After that however, I began to get a feel for how the university worked. It also surprised me that students seemed to participate a lot more in lectures - something that is encouraged but not really seen at UQ.
I found that really beneficial, and it often lead to discussions which helped make the lectures more interesting.

table

Personal experiences

Montreal is a bilingual city, however since I was studying in English there weren't too many opportunities to practice French.
Despite this, I still took a French course, and tried to speak French with my roommates on occasion.
I was really lucky to live in a really international apartment - I lived with a Spanish girl, a Swiss girl, a Turkish guy and a Japanese girl.
Having such a blend of cultures led to a really dynamic apartment and they all became very close friends, as well as affording us opportunities to practice various languages (between the five of us there were 6 languages!).
As for friends other than my roommates, there is truly no better way to meet people than by going on exchange, and I have formed friendships I hope will last for life (it also has the added advantage of having places to stay all over the world!)
I visited places varying from 2 hours away to an Apple Picking Orchard to a 7 hour bus to New York, and it was the people I went with as much as the places that made those experiences memorable.
I was also fortunate enough to spend Christmas over on the east coast of Canada with some family friends, and whilst it was not a white Christmas (to my disappointment) I did get to eat some amazing seafood and have a christmas I never would have experienced otherwise.
Other places I visited included Chicago, Toronto, and Niagara falls (all in 3 days, which was an intense experience) and each place held its own unique adventures and memories.
I went as high as the empire state building and as far east as you can go before setting across the ocean to England.
I also tried skiing on Mont Royal (which was not a success, but it didn't make the view any less beautiful).
In Montreal itself there was also always something to do and see, even in the winter, and the cold and snow itself is enough to be beautiful.
I am not lying when I say there were some truly unforgettable experiences.

Halloween dressed as the minions!

Accommodation

I lived off campus, however it was only a 15 minute walk to campus. I really loved that, as at home I live a 40 minute drive!
This also made it easier to participate in on campus activities. It was a little expensive, but I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.
My building has a lot of international students, so I got to meet a lot of people, and there was always something happening (including playing a game of pool, renting out the movie room, or even just working out with a friend at the gym).
It was also my first time living out of home, and living with such a dynamic group of people really taught me a lot.
I learned different styles of food as well as customs, and phrases from different languages.
My room didn’t have a window which kind of messed with my sleeping pattern a little, but that was only a minor inconvenience.
The only other con I can think of was that it might have been nice to live with other Canadians/Montrealers to really experience the culture, but as it is I really loved where I was living.

McGill photo frame

Budget

Overall things were pretty similarly priced to Australia. Rent was a bit cheaper (I paid $700/month).
Food was about the same as well, though beware when dining out since prices go up quite a bit when you factor in taxes and tips (that's another thing, tax isn't included in prices and is added on at the checkout).
There was a company called Interstude which organises cheap trips for exchange students, however they are quite intense and exhausting, so it depends what kind of travel you're looking to do. Transport was quite good and cheap, you can buy a student opus card unlimited for 4 months for around $200, however I would only recommend this if you don't live within walking distance to uni. Montreal is pretty central and I walked most places which was really convenient.
As for entertainment, it really depends what you like to do, McGill has an outdoors club which is really good for renting snow equipment and organising trips if you're into that.
In general I found clubs/alcohol a bit cheaper (they're also allowed to advertise free drinks and stuff there as well).
Phone plans were ridiculously expensive, I would recommend going for one without data as they're way cheaper and Canada has free Wi-Fi everywhere anyway.
Kudo and Fido are both good companies to look into. All in all I spent around $15 000, including flights and accommodation and everything, but it really depends on what you want to do.
The only thing I would really recommend is to definitely make and keep track of a budget, as it will make things a lot easier for you.

On the top of Mont Royal in the snow

Academic development and employability

I found that since McGill is a very research oriented university (especially when it came to my field of study, psychology) so it was really awesome being around so many passionate students.
As I already mentioned students tended to participate more, which really helped to enhance the learning and encourage critical thinking.
They were also a lot more focussed on reading journal articles and papers, which also taught me how to analyse and extract vital information.
I also feel like no matter where you go, having participated in an exchange looks good on a resume and helps to make you stand out, even more so if you succeed in getting into one of the top universities. So, if possible, look into universities which employ a specific focus on your field of study.

Highlight

There were so many of them it’s hard to narrow down just one.
I really loved the snow, and living in a city where it snowed on the streets was just unbelievable for me, and this fed onto many experiences.
I walked up Mont Royal in the snow, and tried skiing, participated in a snowball fight and generally did all the things you're meant to do with snow (and yes, that includes falling down in it).
I also went apple picking in the autumn (or 'fall') which was absolutely gorgeous (and yummy!) as Montreal really has the colour changing leaves.
Quebec City as well was absolutely beautiful and I had a fantastic time there.
I got to experience my first proper Halloween as well (we dressed as the minions!) and thanksgiving. It’s so hard to pick a single defining moment as just all of it was so amazing.

In Quebec City with friends

Top tips

Don't stress about your study plan, once you're there and able to enrol in courses you're much more able to get a feel for them and the faculties are usually accommodating of any changes.
Say yes to any opportunity you have, even if it’s not something you would usually consider, because you will meet more people and gain the most memories that way.
However, you are still studying and you should probably dedicate some time to that (I got a nice reality check after my midsems) and not get too carried away by the exchange lifestyle.
Try to live somewhere central, it just makes everything so much easier, especially if you're only there for a short time.
As a said earlier as well, budget, budget, budget, you can have more fun if you're not stressing about money the whole time!
And last of all, try not to stress or overthink things.
Being away from home is scary, and you will have moments where you feel overwhelmed (I got my breakdown out of the way nice and early - at LAX on my layover, before I even reached Montreal!) but everyone else is going through the same thing and you will undoubtedly have people to support you.
 

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