I thought I would update you all on my life at McGill University since the last blog update until now, because I have done a lot and seen a lot and you might like to read about it.
In terms of academics, I’ve just completed a flurry of mid terms and the accompanying stress. The modules cover so much more content, as I have two lectures a week for each, but then the content is handed to you more here. There’s only two or three readings a week and the lecturers- ‘profs’ – wouldn’t dream of asking for wider reading beyond the stated list. I do find this surprises my mindset of never being ‘done’ at Manchester with reading. There’s more continuous assessment here, so each piece is worth less in total- I had a preliminary mid which was worth 5%. It does mean that if you’re feeling rough or under the weather, you cannot easily take a few days off work, without it coming back to bite you. Two of my modules are really interesting and I’m always engaged in the lectures, but then my other two are interesting in content, but aren’t presented in the most inviting or captivating ways. I definitely think Manchester audits their courses and lecturers’ teaching ability far more rigorously, through the end of unit surveys, than here. Whilst I can find the requests to complete them onerous, I can appreciate their worth now. This is not to say the McGill lecturers and respective modules are inferior – they’re absolutely not, I just think they would have been over viewed more.
Now I shall give you a rundown of what I have been doing when not in University and I have been busy:
Very early on after school started I went on a solo trip to Ottawa, as I had a weird feeling that I wasn’t properly settled in a country until I had seen the capital, especially as I was so close – in Canada terms (2 hours). I was very much a tourist and hit all the key sites- Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall etc, and walked a lot. I stayed in a hostel that up until 1972 was a jailhouse and still has a working hanging contraption (out of bounds for obvious reasons). It’s apparently haunted and some ghost hunters were there searching for evidence. I tried my utmost to reserve judgment. That Saturday night I went to the Canadian Tyre centre to watch USA vs Canada Ice Hockey in the World Cup, which was amazing. I quickly picked up the rules of the game and loved the atmosphere. I was also called ‘Honey’ by a Canadian mom which was also amazing.
Also during September my brother came over for a week to visit. We went to Quebec City over the weekend, looking at various historical places and wandering round the old streets. I also felt a bit like a tour guide in Montreal and was surprised just how much it feels like home now. To ensure he’d done all things Canadian, we went to watch Montreal Canadiens play a team from Washington at Ice hockey too.
The next weekend I went Canoe-camping with the McGill Outdoors Club. We went to Parc regional du Poisson Blanc, about 3 hours from Montreal. It’s a very extensive lake with numerous islands of varying sizes within it. Two to a canoe, we paddled 15km or so to our island we were camping on. The landscape was just incredible, island after island untouched by humans. We had 3 different camp sites on our island and had to paddle between them, not walking through the island. We camped on the beach, so it meant we had a beautiful view looking out the tent in the morning. Our island was called L’Ille Mystérieuse, which translates as ‘The Mysterious Island’. Real name. The paddling between campsites was cool until it was 10pm, pitch black, with essentially useless headtorches, trying to find our way around a rocky headland back into our bay. Saturday was ideal weather but it rained most of Sunday, but then that made everything look much different again. I loved this weekend but my muscles were very much in disagreement with me after paddling 30km.
That week I went to another ice hockey game in Montreal- Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs. ‘Toronto Maple Leafs’ is very frustrating for all the grammar fans.
The weekend after was Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s clearly not as much of a big thing as it is in the US- there didn’t seem to be particularly strong, obvious traditions nor hype around it. It was just another bank holiday really.
The weekend after that I flew to Boston, Massachusetts. My Dad had a conference there, my Mum tagged along too, so I went down to meet them. Partly due to my parents’ work, we are a family quite keen on universities, so explored Harvard University and the town of Cambridge, as well as passing by MIT. We went to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Government Center too; it was a very brief weekend trip but wonderful all the so. Another city and another weekend trip ticked off. It also meant my parents could pass me over the thickest jumper I own as the temperatures here are falling faster than the value of the pound.
The past two weeks I’ve had mid terms so have had to concentrate on them. I’ve enjoyed being in an intermediate basketball team for intermural sport, despite not attempting to play since secondary school. I’m getting the hang of the rules and trying not to disrupt play in any way. It was McGill Homecoming this weekend, so we went to the Redmen’s football game – in the drizzle and cold. It was fun but I have concluded that I prefer ice hockey, partly as it’s inside.
I’ve been to a showing of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film about climate change-Before the Flood, before it’s even come out in Canadian cinemas. I’ve also been to a talk by the international President of Medicin Sans Frontiers on the Ebola crisis, and this upcoming week there’s an Edward Snowden talk- he’s presenting via video link (for obvious reasons), that I hope to be able to get into. I’m a ‘Global Reporter’ for McGill Students for UNICEF, focusing on the Syrian Crisis. I’m trying to take every opportunity that arises, be it recreational or talks/events like these mentioned that interest me more academically. I’m starting to realise the definite advantages of being at McGill and in Montreal- big things and events happen here. The international conference/event for Global Fund, which aims to tackle global poverty, happened about 3 blocks down my road in a hotel I can see from my window- Trudeau, Bill Gates, Bono, the ultimate combination all in Montreal. I saw Ben Stiller filming for a new movie on campus last weekend.
This is a rundown of my life up until now and so far I am loving study abroad.
This is the article I wrote for McGill Students for UNICEF about the Syrian civil war: http://ssmu.mcgill.ca/unicef/news/global-crisis-news/syrian-civil-war/