A Resource Kit for New and Returning Students

Another school year has begun! The skirt and shorts season is coming to a close, switched for the coats and course packs of another knowledge-packed semester.

As a recent graduate, walking by the downtown campus, captivated by its newfound novelty, reminded me of my first impressions of McGill.

During my visit to McGill as a high-school student, I remember thinking to myself: “Why would anyone want to come here? Everyone is so stressed!” — the coffee mugs, the speed walks, the lack of eye contact, the tension held in everyone’s bodies. And five years later, I made it to the other side of that (beautiful and nourishing) ordeal, but it would have been much more difficult if it were not for the numerous resources and services available to students on campus.

University life can get busy very fast, so here is a compilation of resources and services to make your life a little more manageable. This directory along with this facebook community are everything you need to know. To make this information more digestible, I will highlight a few resources and services that I found particularly helpful during my university experience.

Safety and Security

WalkSafe & DriveSafe
When it’s dark, and you’re tired, drunk, or feel unsafe and need a buddy to walk or drive you home, give WalkSafe or DriveSafe a call, and they will be at your service (for FREE).

Campus Security 
I try to prepare for emergencies. I have Campus Security’s number (downtown: 514-398-3000, Macdonald: 514-398-7777) saved on my phone, with a ‘#’ in front of the name so that it appears on the top of my contacts list.

Health, Wellness & Personal Support

Mental Health Services   
Everyone needs support. Especially with the academic demands of McGill, it is good to know that there are free counseling services available to students. There’s no shame in getting help. And honestly, a happier and mentally healthier YOU translate to a healthier community. I have used this service in the past and found it very helpful. I saw a counselor on a weekly basis and found it more accessible than finding counseling outside McGill, where fees and travel time quickly add up.

Healthy McGill – The Shag Shop  
The Shag Shop provided students with sexual health necessities at a discount. The store does not have a physical location, so you can conveniently order online and pick-up your order at the Browns Building. Available from their online store is a full range of contraceptive options, reusable menstruation products (because we are conscious consumers!), and even candles.

Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL) – Meditation Room
You may be like me – the camel type. Camels rarely show signs of fatigue and can work hard continuously for years, and suddenly die without warning. In a less dramatic version, I find myself investing and doing many activities with few signs of fatigue or stress, and then suddenly, even talking tires me. Meditation is a practice that re-centers me by simply allowing me the space to acknowledge myself again. Some of my friends have witnessed the transformation that happens to me after a short 15-minute meditation. It sparks conversations on how we can use ancient practices like meditation to be more aware, present, and available to the world around us and what’s happening within us. Luckily, there’s a space on campus for this (Yes, naps are allowed too)! Do check out vipassana mediation (donation based) if you’re interested in learning more. It’s a great skill to have and will serve you well for life!
P.S. MORSL, located in the Browns Building, has free hot drinks and an intimately lit study space.

Midnight Kitchen
Bless the Midnight Kitchen! Offering pay-what-you-can vegan lunches AND desert since my tummy can remember! Located in the SSMU building (specific spot changes between the 3rd and 4th floor), serving from 12:30 pm (i.e. right after noon) until when food is gone, EVERY weekday. Bring your own container and utensils!

Getting Involved

Student Clubs and Associations  
The motherboard of possibilities on campus.

The McGill Tribune Newspaper
Writing for the Tribune (or any other student-run paper and publications) is a great way to get involved with the wider McGill community. Learning, researching, and interviewing various people on different current topics opened my mind to what’s presently happening around me. The Tribune team is so supportive of all their contributors, and it’s super easy to get involved! Simply show up at their weekly meetings.

McGill Student Street Dancers (MSSD)
Another group of passionate and supportive people that added a very enriching dimension to my university experience. There is a real sense of community surrounding MSSD as they introduce students to the larger Montreal dance scene. University is a time to explore new possibilities, so why not take advantage of accessible and affordable street dance lessons? You never know what you’ll find until you try.

Facebook Groups
Some notable groups that will come in handy: McGill Studies for Cash, Free & For Sale, Textbook Exchange, Free Food on Campus, Exchange Subletters.

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Workshops – Counselling Services, Career Planning Services (CaPS)
Characteristic of my university years was an enveloping and intense sense of searching. Consequently, these workshops, with their breadth of topic matter, highly appealed to me. AND they’re mostly free. I learned about mindfulness, overcoming perfectionism, and how to find a career that suits my interests and personality, just to name a few.

SSMU Mini Courses
The courses offers change every semester. The advantage of Mini Courses is that they are typically on campus and are offered at a much lower rate than classes offered elsewhere. The registration deadline is September 22nd.

Take this unique season of learning and growth to indulge in what you’re interested in, and don’t forget to take care of your health too!

I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to share my experiences on a larger platform than my personal blog. Sharing is a way to extend and preserve my experiences, and I want this sharing to be as helpful as possible! If there is anything I touched upon that you would like to read more on, please leave a  note in the comments, and I will try to make it happen.


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