Arrivals/Settling In.

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

Unfortunately whenever people call or write they expect me to have some massively interesting anecdotes or experiences to share, and I currently find myself dealing with exam work for Manchester, settling into a workload I’d never even fathomed, and working out how to get to the shops without getting frostbite or falling on my ass. So far, it’s going well. I’m keeping pace (albeit at the sacrifice of much of a personal life) and have managed to fall in with the worlds awesome-est flatmates.

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It’s like I finally got into Hogwarts and someone forgot to send me my wand.

That isn’t to say it’s not hard. Settling in is tough, and most labels and signs here are in French (although everyone speaks English). It turns out I can still read most of the French up to roughly GCSE level, which is good. Need to work on my speaking skills though. I also miss Manchester and its familiarity, even more so all the people, but that’s to be expected.

Until I finish this work my bedroom and the library are going to be remain my natural habitats, but once I have stories, you’ll be the first to know.

All love,

R.

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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).

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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!