When I finished high school, I took a year off to travel Europe, Asia and North America. Having travelled through countless countries and major cities, I can safely say that Montreal is the coolest city I have ever been to. Why? Tuesday night Café Campus, Thursday night Fitzroy, Friday night Apartment 200, cheap drinks, genius professors, your local dépanneur and of course, bottomless brunch. Montreal is a city like none other and within it lies the unparalleled McGill University.
My exchange started in the Montreal winter, which if you don’t know is quite extreme. Within a week of arriving, the temperature dropped to below -20° with the wind chill nearing -30°. I immediately questioned why anyone would ever settle in such a harsh environment (and I still wonder this) however once I purchased an overly expensive jacket and acclimatised to the freezing cold, I somehow got used to the arctic lifestyle. But don’t let the cold put you off, Montreal has much more to offer. There are countless cafes to study in, bars to drink in and students to party with (Montreal is ranked 7th best student city in the world). And to make things better, McGill is the most international of all of Montreal universities, with a renowned work hard play hard culture. The students are high achieving and will help you excel, and then when the weekend arrives they drink and party harder than even the heartiest Australian. They know how to find the balance and you will quickly learn how they do it and slip into the mad McGill culture.
If you’re not already sold, Montreal is situated in the perfect location. Six hours from New York City, five hours from Boston, six hours from Toronto and surrounded by multiple ski slopes. Every weekend you can go to a new destination via a cheap greyhound bus, which is exactly what I did. And when spring break arrives, the McGill International Student Network organises an all included trip to Cuba which is as amazing as you think. After six weeks of the harsh Montreal winter, nothing feels better than lying on the white Cuban sands, sipping a Bucanero and hanging out with your newly made exchange friends.
As you can see, I loved my exchange to McGill and would recommend it without hesitation. I went to Montreal barely knowing anything about the city and left feeling adamant that it’s the greatest city in the world for under 25 year olds. The weather might be harsh but the nightlife, people, cafes, beautiful campuses and its perfect location makes it worth it 100 times over. You will come out of the semester having made friendships that will last forever, having experienced cultures from all around the world and maybe even having an improved chug time.