Make the Most of Montreal – February

February has started already, so here are some new ideas to warm your life up during this winter month and to remind yourself for few hours that life is not only about work.

Photo by Lidia Della Venezia

Photo by Lidia Della Venezia

– Sport in great company
I know I have mentioned the idea of going skating before, but wouldn’t it be even nicer if you could share that experience with other graduate students, get to meet new people and possibly make friends? PGSS has organized two skating events, one in Ottawa on the 18th of February and one in the Old Port on the 23rd. If you have never been to the Capital, I would highly recommend joining them, there might also be very original ice sculptures close to the canal.
In addition, you should check out the events that PGSS organizes, they are way more than you expect. For example, if you want to keep fit in company, you can sign up for zumba classes for a more than reasonable price! Keep an eye on the PGSS events webpage!
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International Endurance – Weather Wisdom

A huge part of the typical international student’s experiences consists in facing countless novelties and learning how to deal with them, whether they are good or bad. And given that we are in Montreal and just three days ago we survived one of the (to my mind) worst days ever from a weather point of view, here are a few suggestions for those of you who almost never feel ready.

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @lissa.joy

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @lissa.joy

– Don’t get discouraged.
It is easier than you think. I had no idea I could be affected so much by weather, and especially by the cold. When I lived in Milano, I had a very hard time getting through the extremely humid and hot summer, but winter was never very hard, even though the humidity could make a trivial 0°C feel like a -15°C. Then Montreal became my home and I realized that the length of the bad season here, and particularly the wind, have become my worst enemies. There is little I can do about them though, so I can just suggest you to spend time with friends when you feel blue, and hold on because summer in Montreal is pretty amazing. If it’s your first time, you’ll figure it out, otherwise you know what I am talking about.
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Vaccines, or A history of skepticism

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @kipunsam.daily

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @kipunsam.daily

I would like to spend just a few words to recommend you to take part in an event that I will unfortunately be unable to attend. As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes the Osler Library of the History of Medicine organizes events that are free and open to the general public, and that are of historical and scientific interest.
Whether this winter you followed Nick’s advice and got your flu shot or not, during the next event you will be able to join a vernissage about vaccination and its controversies nowadays and in an historical context. I find this topic extremely interesting, especially in an era in which more and more people seem to become skeptical about common practices like vaccination. Either if you are one of those people or you are strong supporter of this kind of prophylaxis, I am sure there will be a lot to be learnt and a good time to be shared.

If you finally decide to go, let me know how it was, and remember… there will also be wine and cheese!

Make the Most of Montreal – January

It’s the beginning of the year and we all have to give our best to keep up with work and other commitments, but let’s not forget to take some time every now and then to enjoy ourselves and allow us to get through the winter in a better mood and better physical and mental shape!

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @lissajoy

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @lissajoy

– Go skating somewhere cool
I am so excited about skating! I can’t say I am good at it, but I have enjoyed every single time I had the chance to do it with my friends and family. Now, imagine how much more impressive it would be if you could skate in a wood? Well, it turns out that you can! There are two lovely places fairly close to Montreal that I am eager to try out, one in Lac-des-Loups and one in Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, maybe you want to do the same.

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Make the Most of Montreal – December

Also December has passed, but I promise next time I will be more timely with some of the ideas and activities that can let you enjoy Montreal every month of the year. Luckily, a couple of suggestions for this past month are valid for pretty much any cold period, so you can take the chance to try them out at some point during the winter, or next year!

Photo by Lidia Della Venezia

Photo by Lidia Della Venezia

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International Endurance – Roots

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @d_of_echo3

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @d_of_echo3

Christmas is probably the best occasion to talk about roots. And no, I do not mean beets and parsnips, but those inner roots that characterize all of us, whether you recognize or deny them. I mention Christmas because that day, a few years ago, represented the first occasion I had to go back home from Canada. It also fell right in the middle of the period in which I finally realized how deep rooted are some ideas, values, prejudices, stereotypes too, that is, our cultural background. Without even noticing.
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Make the Most of Montreal – November

This post comes a bit late, since we are at the end of the month, but the following suggestions should still be good for December, otherwise well… I guess next year. They are obviously based on what the current month had to offer for me, and I hope they will give you again some ideas about funny activities for your study breaks.
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International Endurance – The Call

I have already started what wants to be a series describing some of the activities you can do in Montreal (October post here), and maybe you could not somewhere else. Which brings me to the reasons why I am here.

I have been asked innumerable times “Why Montreal? Why Canada?”, and to be honest my answer has always been an embarrassed mumble hiding the words “I don’t know”… Of course I know in practice why I have come to Montreal: to continue my studies and pursue my PhD. But why HERE? Well, that is the answer I don’t really know. It has happened a bit by chance and a bit by choice. When I decided to apply for graduate studies, I spent days exploring the possible options in different universities and countries. Canada was not even my favorite choice, since I was dreaming the Down Under, Australia or, even better, New Zealand. The funny thing is that, if you ask me why those two, my answer would still be vague. I guess my idea was going… far!
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Make the Most of Montreal – October

Lately, I have been thinking about which aspects of my life-as-a-grad-student I would like to uncover, and realized how much this life is made up of many small things, so I thought that I would start from those. We share a lot of good and bad feelings, experiences and struggles as grad students, particularly related to work, even if our fields can be very different. But what is it that makes my life-as-a-grad-student always different and more enjoyable, and that I can recommend to other current/future fellow grad students?
I believe that much of the “extra” you can get outside of your daily routine comes from the place where you are living. And there are so many opportunities the city of Montreal offers to graduate students and that I wouldn’t have the chance to experience if I happened to be studying somewhere else. This is exactly what I want to share, and with this post I would love to start a series with suggestions about things to do in/around Montreal each month. Have fun!

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @kipunsam.daily

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @kipunsam.daily

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Write it out!

What better way to start writing in blog form than exploring the reasons I wanted to be a blogger in the first place? So here’s how it all started!

Instagram / @gradlifemcgill by @na0mirlima

Instagram / @gradlifemcgill by @na0mirlima

Once upon a time, when I was still in high school (alright, that was eons ago), I developed this tendency to write. And you might argue: well, we all develop a tendency to write, which is why that skill usually gets taught at the beginning of elementary school. What I mean, though, is Writing for the sake of Writing. I am not talking about being published, not about becoming famous. And not even about being read. That Writing had to be just for myself!

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