Welcome to the jungle

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. I’m Manjari, a second year Master’s student, returned Montreal ex-pat, sometimes jogger, sporadic DIY enthusiast – by all accounts, a typical grad student. I came to Montreal for two reasons: first, to pursue a Master’s degree, and second, to begin my foray into adult life in one of my favorite cities in the world.

Montreal, the city of lights. Photo credit: City Photos

But entering graduate school I was, as many graduate students are, overwhelmed. The combination of new city, new school, new colleagues and new way of thinking were all murkily muddled in my mind and, although I was excited, I was also quite frankly a bit terrified. So, as I began to embark on this second leg of my journey through grad school, I asked myself, what would I have wanted to know a year ago, as a new graduate student and Montréalaise?

Below is a short list of tips, information and advice on how to transition smoothly into your graduate career and how to make the best of your time in Montreal.

  1. Always keep an emergency stock of chocolate in your desk at the lab
  2. Wait times for dim sum on a Sunday in Chinatown are astronomical but the food is divine
  3. You can drink wine anywhere in Montreal as long as you bring along a picnic
  4. Montrealers love to dance and hate going to bed early
  5. Keep your eyes out for small shows by local and up-and-coming artists playing all genres of music; their energy rivals that of big-ticket stars
  6. Graduate students love free food. If you hear about an event that will serve free food, go early
  7. Committee meetings are really not as terrifying as they seem
  8. Prices for a yearly membership to the Museum of Fine Art are the same as those for special exhibitions, if you are under 25 years of age
  9. Always, always take the time to pursue your hobbies, even if it is for just a few minutes every day. Your research will thank you
  10.  Montrealers will not let bitter cold get in the way of an outdoor electronic dance party
  11. The best restaurants are often holes-in-the-wall that are neighborhood secrets with 10 tables
  12. Some of the most beautiful art in the city are on the walls of buildings
  13. The best produce in town is always at the Jean Talon Market, open year-round
  14.  Summer in Montreal is defined by street festivals and free outdoor concerts
  15. Sword fighting with foam weapons on Mont Royal on a Sunday afternoon is perfectly acceptable
  16. The graduate school learning curve is steeper than you think, but it is most definitely surmountable.


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