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.
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.
- Always keep an emergency stock of chocolate in your desk at the lab
- Wait times for dim sum on a Sunday in Chinatown are astronomical but the food is divine
- You can drink wine anywhere in Montreal as long as you bring along a picnic
- Montrealers love to dance and hate going to bed early
- 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
- Graduate students love free food. If you hear about an event that will serve free food, go early
- Committee meetings are really not as terrifying as they seem
- 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
- 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
- Montrealers will not let bitter cold get in the way of an outdoor electronic dance party
- The best restaurants are often holes-in-the-wall that are neighborhood secrets with 10 tables
- Some of the most beautiful art in the city are on the walls of buildings
- The best produce in town is always at the Jean Talon Market, open year-round
- Summer in Montreal is defined by street festivals and free outdoor concerts
- Sword fighting with foam weapons on Mont Royal on a Sunday afternoon is perfectly acceptable
- The graduate school learning curve is steeper than you think, but it is most definitely surmountable.