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Throughout this past year, I’ve attended my first (and perhaps last) set of SKILLS21 workshops. For those not familiar with this undergraduate program, SKILLS21 “aims to provide students with opportunities to become contributing global citizens in the 21st century.” (Um, woah there.) It includes workshops from five different areas (Citizenship, Collaboration, Discovery, Leadership and Wellbeing).

After completing the “Wellbeing” stream in addition to attending several workshops from other streams, I’ve put together an honest review of my participation experience.

  • First off, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the program “my opportunity to become a contributing global citizen.” Were certain workshops useful? 100%. However, prior to attending one, I think it’s important to be aware that you will likely come away with only one or two pieces of beneficial information. You probably already know the majority of what you will hear/find it extremely irrelevant to what you were hoping to learn, but I can guarantee that you will end up with at least something that is somewhat helpful. Although I don’t believe it to be the way to becoming a “contributing blah blah blah,” I still consider them worth attending because of the fact that it only takes one line/slide/video/etc. presented by your facilitator to improve your week, or even your semester.
  • Second, different workshops are hosted by various units. In my opinion, the Scholarships and Student Aid ones are only useful to international students. Those offered by Counseling Services are the ones where you are likely to pick up one really useful piece of information. (Don’t expect to get any serious help by attending them, instead, make a one-on-one appointment with a counselor). The ones hosted by Teaching and Learning Services are, by far, my favorite. I strongly recommend them to any student, as they are truly the perfect compliment to the academic experience of the classroom. Lastly, the Campus Life & Engagement ones are absolutely horrible — they are hosted by undergraduate students, many of whom do not seem to understand how to lead an effective discussion and have zero presentation/communication skills.
  • Third, in order for your workshop attendance to be recognized in your “path” on myInvolvement, and in order for your completion of a stream to be recognized on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR), you may have to chase after these “Skills Development Officers” — in person, as well as via email. Often times, the chase could drag on for several months. For example, when they finally got back to me, they didn’t seem to believe that I was actually at the workshop (despite the fact that I did indeed sign the attendance sheet), so I found myself writing a small paragraph regarding what the workshop was about, (three months after it had ended).
  • Note: What I particularly love about this program is the level of flexibility it offers to all participants. You could complete all of the workshops during your first year of college, spread them throughout your undergraduate degree, or only try one every once in a while. Essentially, the schedule is entirely up to you. Can you get any more convenient?
  • Note: Unfortunately, at least according to my experience as a very friendly and talkative member of SKILLS21, these workshops were not designed to be a friend-making activity, so don’t expect to meet people through your attendance. 
  • Otherwise: Be sure to double check the room location, because the person at the front desk of the Brown Student Services Building (where the majority of them are held) will not know what you’re referring to when you’re running into the building after class and inquiring about the workshop whereabouts.
  • Lastly, for some reason, facilitators rarely share the PowerPoint presentation following the workshop. So, if something sticks out to you as interesting, be sure to write it down immediately.

Personally, the most worthwhile workshops at McGill are those hosted by CaPS!


Dear diary….

Just kidding!!

As a child, I always enjoyed writing down my experiences and my thoughts. As a professional and as a teacher-in-training during my Undergrad at Mcgill, we were required to keep journals. Journaling has always been present in my life and I believe that it has contributed to my success throughout the years.


Adieu School Year 2018-2019 and Summer is Coming

Source: https://reporter.mcgill.ca/mcgill-named-of-one-canadas-greenest-employers-for-2019/

I felt really bad for stopping posting for a while since the life has become really crazy involving all the courses and research you need to do as a second-year PhD student. It’s also a fruitful year that I got a project finished and started working on the second one intensively. I’m glad that so far my School Year 2018-2019 has gone well. (more…)

Work, School and Self-Care

I am no stranger to stress and anxiety. In fact, neither are my classmates.  I have seen my colleagues crack under the pressure of having to balance the many different responsibilities in life while trying to maintain good academic standing.

A friend of mine once ran out of class mid-sentence during a presentation. We found her crying and hyperventilating in another room down the hall. She explained that she had been at work all weekend, she lost sleep because she used the remaining time she had to prepare for her presentation, and she simply became overwhelmed with pressure by the time she was up at the front of the class. Luckily, our professor was understanding of the situation and gave her a second chance.

Situations like this are completely unnecessary to experience, and completely avoidable. It simply takes personal commitment to achieve the work-school balance that we all so desperately need to master.


Why I ❤️ McGill

Below you’ll find the two simple reasons that seriously make my experience here 1000 times more enjoyable. These two student matching programs have not only made making friends 1000 times easier since I began my studies here last year, but they have taught me that no matter how different from each other we may seem to be (ethnically/politically/personality wise), we are all students in the exact same situation.

This program matches you with an incoming international student, and it is then your responsibility to help them with their transition to their new life in Montreal. In just one year of volunteering with the program, I’ve met, and even become close friends with kids from Peru, the Philippines, Australia (Adelaide and Melbourne), China, France, South Korea, and Pakistan. Oh, and did I forget to say Kentucky? The program also hosts events throughout the school year, all of which are just as fun as your individual buddy meetups.


Bucket List

Increase your Worldliness, Save Money, and Check in with Yourself

  • Attend an advance movie screening. Back in December, I sat in on the Montreal premier of On the Basis of Sex. I got my tickets through the History Students’ Association of McGill, but if you keep an eye on this page, it won’t be long before you’ll have experienced viewing a film before its Canadian release date.
  • Send a message/suggestion/opinion/remark to the Mayor of Montreal. Whether this has only been your city for one year or twenty-one years, you can’t not have ANYTHING to say to her. Back in November, I proposed an idea pertaining to our public transport system, and I received a response within a month’s time. Express yourself!



Last summer, I worked at a retail store. From April to the start of Orientation Week, I held the position of a sales associate at the first location of a chain that had just come to the city.

My favorite aspects about working in retail were the group of people that I worked with — many of whom I eventually become friends with, the fact that I mastered — and ultimately became a pro at using the POS system, but most significantly, the fact that I learned plenty of transferable customer service skills from my daily interactions with clients — skills that, as Marie points out in her post, are not necessarily learned through prestigious internships (but are rather an asset to have when applying for them).


Studying Abroad

For my first semester of college, I studied at a remote castle in Southern England. ????

“Bad experiences are good experiences too,” was literally the only thought that kept me going throughout the year following my return to Montreal — yup, it took me a FULL YEAR to finally stop listening to that voice inside my head saying “Tessa, you shouldn’t have went.”

Although I no longer regret my decision to study abroad, (in fact I probably learned more that semester than I will learn during all my years at McGill), I wanted to share the factors I wish I would have paid a little more attention to prior to saying yes to what seemed to be, (and what I guess was), an opportunity of a lifetime. ✈


Straight to the Heart

For this post, I sat down with pop artist Jim Dine, the man behind the two red hearts ❤️ ❤️ that stand at the entrance and welcome visitors to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

KIDDING! Although I certainly wish.

Anyhow, this beloved piece, Twin 6’ Hearts, has been located in the MMFA’s “Sculpture Garden” since 1999. Dine is a universally known artist who falls in the same category as Liechtenstein and Johns. And because the fourteenth is approaching, it would be nice to appreciate his distinctive works of art that are filled with the symbol of love. ♡


I Bet Half Of You Haven’t Heard Of…

They’ll match you up with a student who has mastered the course you’re currently in. Think you’re acing the class and the idea of someone helping you for $18 is silly? Think again. The mere act of sitting down to discuss and review even the material that you feel comfortable with is exactly what you’ll thank yourself for when you get to your final exam.

*Newly admitted undergraduate students have their first session free.


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