Are there many research opportunities?
For a McGill Life Sciences Graduate...
Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?
Given my love of the undifferentiated, I chose the next best thing for my second degree. I majored in Life Sciences, and chose the multidisciplinary stream, which afforded me access to nearly every science course that MacDonald campus had to
offer. It was slightly different for me, as it was compacted into two years, so I did not have very much room for non-program-based electives; I lovingly refer to this as the “-ology” degree when describing it to anyone who is not familiar with
the program. The campus is home to the
McGill is CHOCK FULL of research opportunities. University professors are not like high school teachers, and are most often chosen by the university on the basis of their research, not because they have completed teaching degrees. If you find yourself interested in something that you’ve encountered in class, speaking to the professor will more often than not net you a project (or two). If they don’t have something going on, then they will know someone who will. It might be tricky to land yourself a big spot with a big name right from the get-go, but I find that it’s more about good timing and persistence than it is about anything else.
What's the workload like in your program?
Work-life balance is what you make of it. In university, it’s entirely up to you how you spend your time. No one makes you go to class, no one makes sure you’ve done the recommended homework… you need to keep on top of these things yourself. It’s also wildly variable depending on how you choose to build your program: if you’re planning on taking five heavy courses in one semester (which I would seriously recommend against, as there is no reason why you would ever need to), then you’ll have to spend a bit more time studying than if you take two or three andtwo or three lighter courses. Researching the courses you’re taking and the professors teaching them can be a great help, as can speaking with your academic advisor at least a couple of times a year. I personally love hosting study groups and cooking for my friends, some love to study in cafes, and if you’re staying in residence or living close to campus, people are never more than a few minutes away if you want to meet for a study break. Transition to university was definitely a big academic shock for me, coming from a small town, but as long as you find what sort of studying works for you, and make sure to do it consistently throughout the year, you’ll find that any program can have a great work-life balance.
What is some
advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?
My number one recommendation is to choose a program that you love! Neither one of my programs led directly to employment in the way that engineering or management would, so there was no reason to be in either one of them just for the sake of a job. If you are similarly looking to complete a degree with the intention of post-graduate studies, or a job in a field that doesn’t require a hyper-regimented education, I would whole recommend taking the time to think about what you like (and hopefully you’ve already thought about that if you’re going for the other). Not only that, it is shamefully easy to switch programs if you find yourself drawn somewhere else. An extra 6 months or a year (or five) seems like the absolute end of the world when you’re living it – speaking from experience – but it is absolutely inconsequential in the long run. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, then you’ll feel more like you’re living your life and less like you’re working through a burdensome checklist of tasks before you can start being happy.
nutrition and dietetics programs, bioresource
engineering, plant and animal sciences, and there are always a whole host of fun on-campus activities (not to mention the on-campus pub, the Ceilidh, where both students and professors can enjoy a pint together after classes). Studying at Mac is something that I highly recommend for anyone interested in a smaller university feel, within a big city. I chose the program ultimately because massive, impersonal classes had not been conducive to my academic success. In Life Sciences, I was on a first name basis with several of my professors, and often had the option to take their “second course” (many of the professors out there teach one basic and one more specialized course) if I found that their teaching style resonated with me. Class environment and a good instructor are ultimately the things that I value the most. With a smaller, more close-knit group, I was able to run a lot of study groups, something which I also really enjoy. You also have full
access to courses on the downtown campus (with a connection via a direct shuttle bus), so you are never limited between the two campuses.
What kinds of things are there to do in your schools hometown?
A better question would be what can’t you do in Montreal.It’s a very small big city, and different areas have different sort of vibes. It’s a pretty safe place to walk, and there’s a metro system and bus system that does
a good job of connecting the core areas (public transit gets a little crappier the farther you get from the epicenter). Old Montreal has lots of beautiful historical buildings and fancy pants restaurants and clubs, with tons of festivals on the water in the summertime. The plateau is more of an artsy vibe, with lots of pubs for happy hour – called 5 à 7 in this neck of the woods – shows, hipster restaurants, a big fringe/LGBTQ community (it’s just north of the area known as the Gay Village, which is full of outdoor art shows, burlesque/cabaret and affordable rent) and very accessible green spaces. Downtown boasts yet more amazing restaurants – fantastic food is a very recurrent theme in this city – as well as several big shopping malls, the Montreal Musée des Beaux Arts, and Crescent street, which has a great bar scene. You can walk up the path to the top of Mount Royal and overlook the city, take a graffiti tour (with beautiful new art popping up every summer), hit up one of the many board game cafes, escape rooms, axe throwing or archery locales, attend the free music festivals, circus shows, parades, and food festivals that take place every year, check out Nuit Blanche and Igloofest in the winter or Piknic Electronik in the summer… and that’s if you’re lucky to ever get the chance to attend activities off-campus! McGill has a wildly active campus life, with tons of clubs, faculty-based wine and cheese events, bars and social events on campus and even if you’re downtown, you’re free to attend the amazing events put on out at Mac Campus, which has fantastic events for Chinese New Year, a yearly chocolate festival and rocking parties every Thursday night at the Ceilidh. The best part is that there’s very little pressure to drink here, so while the drinking age is 18, it’s very acceptable to go to any and all of these places/events and grab a soda.
A very special thank you to our interviewee...
I came to Montreal from a big old farm in Ontario about a decade ago, and I just never left! I love sci fi, which is probably why I love medicine - we might not have the diagnostic and regerative med of the future, but we're working on it. I cook daily and bake about twice a week, play a whole whack of board games, and figure skate/roller skate when I can find the time. When I grow up, I'd like to be a polyglot (right now, I'm really more of a trylingual), have at least a horse or two, and have a really organized partner that keeps my future walk-in closet under control. Reach out with any questions - I'm especially helpful with budgeting, transition to city life and med school planning.