Adventures in Canada

By Rachel So (McGill University, Montréal, Canada).

The semester in McGill ends very early compared to Manchester. My last exam was on the 29th April. I spent May and June travelling around North America. Having spent four months in Montreal, it was great to explore different parts of Canada. Canada is a very diverse country and each city I visited was very different. Here are some of the places I visited.


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Niagara Falls

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Studying at McGill


By Rachel So (McGill University, Montréal, Canada).

I have now finished my semester abroad at McGill. The four months have been both a joy and a challenge. Academically, it has been tough. There are a number of differences between Manchester and McGill:

Firstly, there is more regular assessment throughout the semester at McGill. In Manchester, the majority of your mark is based on the final exam. But in McGill, there are may midterms, essays, presentations and quizzes that need to be completed throughout the semester. This means that you have to stay on top of your work. If you slack off, you’ll find that you are very far behind!

Secondly, the attitude towards studying is very different at McGill. The majority of the people at McGill care a lot about their education. This means that they are willing to work very hard and put in a lot of effort. Students are also willing to help one another out. Students are always willing to email the lecture notes they made in class to other students who have missed lectures.

Thirdly, everything is much more intense at McGill. The semesters are four months long, with one reading week in March. There is no study break before final exams. During the semester, there is more content to learn in lectures. Each lecture is packed with so much information. This means that you end up learning a lot, but it is a very tiring in the process.

Reflecting at my time at McGill, I definitely felt like I learnt here than at my semester at Manchester. The whole attitude towards studying is different and it is clear that people care a lot more about their education. This has pushed me to work harder and has given me to opportunity to learn many new things. However, I am not sure if I would be able to sustain this lifestyle! It was manageable for one semester but I don’t know if I would be able to take four years of this amount of work. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to study at McGill and I know that I have learnt many new things.

One Month Down

By Rachel So (McGill University, Montréal, Canada).

I’ve been in Montreal for a month now but it seems like time has just flown by! I feel like I’m slowly settling down now and am feeling more comfortable in my new home. It was difficult transitioning into a new environment at first because everything is so different, but once classes started, I managed to settle myself into a routine.

In my last post, I mentioned that I didn’t think the cold was too bad. I was definitely mistaken! The temperature drops to -24 degrees sometimes, and if you include wind chill, it actually feels like -30 degrees! This kind of cold is something I have never experienced before! It makes even 5 minute walks so difficult. Thankfully, I live quite close to campus so I’m never outside for too long!


I have managed to do a bit of exploring during my time here. Last weekend, I went to Old Montreal which is a really pretty part of Montreal inspired by Europe. With the cobbled streets and old-style buildings, you could have thought you were walking down the streets of Paris. There was also a river but because it was so cold, the river was completely frozen over! I had never seen anything like it before!


I have also been able to try some Montreal cuisine. Poutine is a Quebec speciality which is made up of fries, gravy and cheese curds. It doesn’t sound that exciting but is certainly very delicious!


I hope to be able to do more exploring over the next few months!

New Year, New Adventure

By Rachel So (McGill University, Montréal, Canada).

The run up to studying abroad has been both exciting and stressful. There are plenty of things to organise and sort out before leaving. For me, getting rid of my room in Manchester has been extremely difficult. I needed to find someone who would be willing to rent out my room from January onwards but I was not able to find anyone for a long time. But after endless advertising on different websites, I found someone. Another challenge that I’ve faced is registering for classes at McGill. Their registering system is very different to the one in Manchester and it took some time to work it out. I had to change a few of the classes I wanted to take because they were full year classes meaning I couldn’t join in in the second semester.  I have realised that studying abroad is a big deal and it requires a lot of time and effort. It’s not a simple task, but I’m sure it will be completely worth it.

There were also a few other practical things I needed to sort out before leaving. Canada is known for being extremely cold and I needed to prepare for the change in climate! I bought plenty of thick jumpers and cosy socks to keep me warm in the sub zero weather. Prior to leaving, I also cancelled my phone contract, exchanged some Canadian dollars, notified my bank I was going abroad and packed my suitcase!


My flight to Montreal is on the 1st of January 2014 making it a new year adventure! My family drove me to the airport and we had a coffee together before I left. I have travelled by myself before, but it feels different this time. Before, I had friends waiting for me on the other side so I knew I would be in safe hands when I arrived. But this time, I feel completely alone. This made me a little anxious but I guess this is all part of the study abroad experience! After the final goodbye hugs, I crossed through security and waited for my flight (which was annoyingly delayed).


My flight was relatively stress free but very tiring. When I touched down in Montreal, I was greeted by snow everywhere! Montreal certainly looks very different to Manchester. It definitely is cold, but it’s actually more manageable than I anticipated. Although, I haven’t been left outside for long periods of time yet so my opinion may change! I took a taxi to the apartment I’m staying at which is right next to the university!

I have an orientation event for new international students tomorrow. I look forward to my first event as a McGill student!