Bachelor of Science/Arts, 3rd year
Bachelor of Science/Arts, 3rd year

Academic Experiences 

I study Maths and Physics at the University of Queensland, and while at McGill I took three mathematics courses and two physics courses. The maths courses had quite a different teaching style to UQ, they were all taught solely through lectures (no tutorials), which were much more focused on proofs and continuous note-taking. The physics courses also didn't have weekly tutorials, but were more similar to UQ than the maths ones in that the lectures involved some interactivity. It was difficult adjusting to such content-heavy lectures, especially because none of them were recorded, but it definitely helped to make friends in courses to revise material with and to share notes.

One of the physics courses I took was in particle physics, which was great because it's not offered at UQ. However, this was a graduate level course, which was a bit of a challenge.
Again, it was made more manageable by making friends in the course to study with.

Personal Experiences

I met a lot of fellow exchange students (including one from UQ!), and really enjoyed seeing bits of lots of different cultures. The McGill International Students Network (MISN) is great, and I met a lot of these friends on an MISN ski trip and a trip to Quebec city. This was my first time skiing, and I got to try snowboarding as well! We also went to New York and Boston over spring break, which was probably a higlight of the trip!

I also met and hung out with a lot of the fellow physics students who were at McGill for their whole degree. A lot of this was in the Physics Lounge at the Rutherford Physics Building, where lots of study sessions and fun conversations and procrastination foosball games took place.

While I was hoping to practice my French over there, McGill being an English-speaking university causes its community to form a distinct "anglophone bubble" in an otherwise more francophone city. This means that you really have to push yourself if you want to learn or improve your French, and find French-speaking roommates or other friends.

Accommodation

I lived off campus, which is the default option for most exchange students at McGill - the on-campus residences or "Rezzes" are almost exclusively for first year students. I stayed in a hostel for my first week in Montreal while I was visiting places I was interested in (which I had researched before leaving, which I would totally recommend). I found an apartment a few blocks from campus and moved in with a fellow UQ exchange student. We subleased from McGill students who were themselves on exchange away from Montreal, and the place was great. I would advise against staying in 'Evo', or perhaps similar off-campus student-specific housing, because the people I knew who stayed there found the really small rooms just not worth the steep rent, even including the nice facilities.

Budget 

Transport wasn't an issue for me, because uni and most friends' houses were within walking distance. If I did need to go further, BIXI bikes were really useful in warmer months ($3 for a single ride, $5 for a day pass), and the buses or metro in the cold ($3 a ride).

Food was overall pretty similar to Australian costs, perhaps a little bit cheaper overall.
On campus food was certainly cheaper.
Often it looked a lot cheaper than it was, because listed prices don't include the tax and tip that you pay, which are usually an extra 15% each.

Rent was $600CAD/week for me, which is pretty average for the area I was in. Cheaper areas are a bit further away, like the plateau.

I'd recommend saving money towards big trips, because lots of great places (New York, Toronto, Quebec, Boston) are close enough for a week or long weekend stay. Lots of people even went to Cuba for spring break!

Academic Development and Employability 

I helped out with the McGill Students Physics Society, MSPS, which was a lot of fun and has encouraged me to get involved with my physics club back at home. The more content-heavy lecture style also forced me to improve my rote learning abilities, which are important in addition to the problem-solving approach that I'm used to.

Highlight 

The highlight was definitely the chance to go on trips with friends. I went on about seven total, ranging from overnight to a full two weeks at the end of semester. All of them were amazingly fun - getting to know new people and new places at the same time is great.

Top Tips

Remember to meet not just fellow exchange students but also locals, it can really be nice to have friends who know the area. It's useful to find a common room for people in your field of study, or just to talk to the people in your classes early on. Some of my exchange friends didn't know anyone in their classes, which apart from missing out on a great opportunity to meet people, also made the academic side of exchange a lot harder for them. Also, try to say yes to things when they come up! Being spontaneous led to some of the best experiences of my trip.

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