New Year Checklist – a brand new start is always nice

Hello 2018 and Winter semester! It was freezing during Christmas season and I was indeed a little bit reluctant to resume my normal schedule as a busy student. Fortunately, I don’t have classes starting at 8:30 am any more, but I do feel you if you have one – I was in your shoes a few years ago.

Given the fact that the slurry on the road won’t be gone until March or even April, we need to cheer ourselves up by various activities during the long winter. If you are new to Montreal, definitely check out Igloofest (I really like the colorful beanies), which is an outdoor music festival held in mid-January until February. Skating at the Old Port near River St-Laurent is also a lot of fun with beaver tails, hot chocolate and poutine. Various student clubs/societies also organize trips to ski resorts, parties in the chalet, maple syrup tasting in a sugar shack, etc. Keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid of having hot wine in the freezing cold! We are lucky to be in this vibrant city, even in the middle of the winter.

However, it’s also crucial to keep up with your studies, since you have paid your tuition, maybe travelled from warm sweet home thousands of miles away, and returned to McGill as a student. Don’t get too stressed from the beginning, and hibernate properly like a bear because it’s better to follow your inner clock with suitable amount of motivation to push you forward. This semester, we will have one week off (as reading week), so you will have some time to catch up if you start a little bit more slowly than usual.

For some students, this is also an important semester because the positions for internships during the summer will be all gone very soon. Your departmental career services and CaPS office are valuable resources of open posts and potential employers, and you need to get prepared as early as possible. Summer is also the season for conferences, seminars, workshops and summer camps. If you want to know more about a specific area or to broadcast your research to your peers, please check with your supervisors and/or departmental offices for more opportunities. Mobility and travel awards are also available to cover your travel expenses, keep an eye on them so you can enjoy a free trip and learn at the same time.

If you are potential applicants to medical/pharmacy/law/graduate schools and graduating in the coming year, it’s a good time to start preparing your MCAT/PCAT/LSAT/GRE since you always want to have a try before submitting your final score to the institution. Crash courses in summer are also helpful if you need to improve your skills to solve problems quickly, and there are auctions all year round on campus to get discounts or free courses.

It seems that this to-do list never ends, and I just covered a few common bullet points for undergrad and grad students. The key is to set up a goal for the new year and to see what you need to achieve to proceed to the next stage of your life. Time never waits, and we need to plan early!

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