Going on exchange to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, was one of the greatest and most eye opening experiences! Montreal is an incredible, bilingual city which has both the audacity of North America and European charm.

The most striking things about Montreal are the French language, the sub-zero temperatures and the snow; all of which make for an excellent exchange. 

McGill University is one of the best in Canada so the standards are high and the lecturers are world class. I was in Montreal for the beginning of my second year of science and at McGill I took five 3XX level subjects which were equivalent to 2nd year subjects at UQ. Unlike at UQ, most science courses don’t have practicals but the practicals I did have were smaller and more personal. Students at McGill tend to study more intensely and the thirteen libraries, most of which are open 24 hours, and the large number of 24 hour cafes around campus attest to this! Studying at McGill was an amazing opportunity and I loved my exchange almost as much for the course work as for the amazing people I met and the different culture.

McGill attracts many interstate and international students and most live in apartments in an area adjacent to the university campus, which is lovingly dubbed ‘the McGill ghetto’. Residences or ‘Rez’ in the McGill ghetto are where many students stay in first year and staying in Rez is an experience in itself. I lived in Rez and contending with a roommate and college food definitely added an extra dimension to my exchange.

Finally, it is so important to embrace opportunities when you are away because it goes by so quickly! My semester at McGill was incredible and I couldn’t recommend it more.
Some tips:

  • To make the most of the Canadian winter you will need a down jacket and ‘Canada Goose’ is the most popular choice. While you don’t need a ‘Canada Goose’ make sure your jacket will keep you warm in –20 degree temperatures and is at least mid-thigh length. Other than flights and rent, a warm jacket can easily be the most expensive item on your exchange setting you back anywhere from $300-800 (including tax). Warm boots and wool socks are also good.
  • Joining the SSMU Ski and Snowboard Club is the best way to get up to the mountains for students! They run trips every Saturday and some Sundays to resorts in Quebec and stateside to Vermont.
  • The cold doesn’t keep Montrealers from their music festivals; Igloofest runs over four weekends in January and February.
  • McGill’s International Students Network (MISN) have a ski trip, events and also run French classes for those who can’t take French subjects while at McGill.
  • McGill Classifieds and McGill Housing are great places to find off-campus accommodation.


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