So I have been in Montreal for nearly 2 weeks, and I have only just about figured out what I am doing here. It has been such an emotional roller-coaster, and certainly not the dream experience of moving to a new city, country, and university.
I had no accommodation when I moved here so I had to start flat-hunting as soon as I arrived. No time for jet-lag or being home sick, I was homeless, and very aware that if I didn’t find somewhere quickly then, well, I wouldn’t. I was extremely lucky with the place that I am in now; I took a risk by not agreeing to a flat that would have been great in all aspects other than the location. It was so far away from my campus and any sort of social scene, which really put me off. But it was a room and at that point I was faced with the very real prospect of spending the year in a hostel. I ended up finding a flat with 6 other people in a great area of downtown Montreal. I think for once I had some luck on my side!
The thing I found most difficult about my first week in Montreal was having to do all of my “admin”- so health insurance, setting up a bank account, getting a local SIM card, finding accommodation- whilst trying to go to orientation events at McGill and Fresher events (here called Frosh). And deal with a serious bout of home-sickness. I felt like I was just flailing around; a demented, frenzied mad-woman legging it around the city.
Frosh was an incredible experience. I did Fresher’s week back in Edinburgh, but this was very different. In true North American style it was about as over-the-top as you could wish for. We were led around in a group by our assigned leaders (students in their later years at McGill) to do all of the activities, such as pub crawls, picnics and the notorious ‘Beach Day’. The leaders were what really made the experience so much fun. I have no idea where they got their boundless energy from, but it was infectious. Partying with a bunch of 17-18 year olds was hilarious, and I’m massively glad I ‘froshed’, even if it meant I had about 15 hours sleep in 5 days.
Once the madness of Frosh was over, it was time to start getting serious about my third year studies. And serious it is. The work load is very different from Edinburgh, with there being a lot more course work and mid-term exams on top of the final exam. It’s safe to say I am nervous about this year because it is a very different set up to what I am used to at Edinburgh and the work will be significantly harder. Which, to be fair, is what it should be in third year. So I am now trying to find the balance between experiencing this new and exciting city, and keeping on top of my work load. It should make for a very interesting, albeit exhausting, year. Bring it on.