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2016 Scholar update from McGill University Political Science Masters

2016 Scholar: McGill PoliSci

First Term Update from Montreal

It has now been over 2 months since I arrived in Montreal to start my Masters in Political Science at McGill and what an eventful 2 months that has been!

Montreal itself has revealed itself to be a city of many surprises. Arriving in the summer heat, experiencing the beauty of autumn and now beginning to feel the bitter winds of winter. The city itself is beautiful and with four family members already having visited, I have been lucky enough to see all the tourist sites at least four times or more! It has so much to offer; restaurants, bars, shops, museums, beautiful hikes right in the middle of the city and my new favourite Canadian sport – axe throwing! However, I think my favourite part so far has been perfecting my ‘franglish’ – relearning French to incorporate phrases such as ‘bon brunch’ and ‘je suis tired’.

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Sightseeing with my mum in the summer

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Summer hikes up Mont-Royal

I have also ventured outside of Montreal with family and friends – to Vermont, Quebec City, Eastern Townships like Magog and Granby and even New York! Part of the wonderful experience of being this side of the pond is being so close to so many new and exciting places. Now that I have finally mastered driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, I can see more and more of this fascinating and beautiful country.

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Montmorency Falls, Quebec City

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Cycling in Vermont                                                           

McGill itself is an incredible university. My professors and advisors are second to none, my courses have been challenging but really stimulating and I am really enjoying working on my thesis. I am also working as a Teaching Assistant to a Political Theory undergraduate class. I teach 80 students over 4 conferences a week. It is a lot of work but I love doing it – I get to relearn what I learned in the UK, expand on it and see how these different theoretical perspectives are understood in a different culture. I also teach one of my four conferences in French which has been challenging but thoroughly rewarding. One of my favourite moments this term was when I began teaching my first class in French and a pair of bright eyes gleamed up at me and a surprised voice exclaimed ‘but I’ve never heard a Brit speaking French?!’. The bilingualism is certainly one of my favourite aspects of the city even though learning French Quebecois is much more complex than I expected!

One of the more surprising aspects to my academic life here is that I am the only Brit in the European studies subset of Political Science. I wasn’t really expecting to walk into my first day of classes and hear the words ‘Brexit’ and then all eyes to turn to me but the experience of studying Europe from a totally different part of the world has been fascinating.

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Fall in Yamaska National Park

The two months thus far have been incredible and I am really excited for the next few months. Winter will be an interesting experience I am sure but I am looking forward to it (perhaps naively!). I am excited to see the city change and to experience more of the Canadian lifestyle – it is just a shame I don’t ski!

I am really grateful to the Canada Memorial Foundation for this opportunity – it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so thrilled to be experiencing it.

Rachel