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. ✈

Below you will find my personal recommendations — concerns that can make or break your experience, but that aren’t at the top of what you’re told to consider upon making your study abroad choices.

So, BEFORE making that first non-refundable deposit, please be wary of the following:

  1. You may want to seriously take into account the physical environment in which you’ll be spending most of your time. No matter how certain you are that a 17th century rural college (or 15th century castle, in my case) is your definition of beautiful, it may turn out to not be for you. Especially if you’ve grown up in the city or are used to the McGill scene, where drugstores, clothing stores, grocery stores, and almost every store you name, are a block away. Living in a college town, (or in the middle of nowhere in my case), simply isn’t for everyone, even if you REALLY believe to be the type that loves nature and rarely goes shopping anyway. 🏙
  1. You may want to figure out an approximation of the number of people you will have the opportunity to meet. Again, no matter how certain you are that a small class size type of environment with a total student body of less than five thousand kids (or one hundred in my case), is what you need in order to excel, being in a situation where you do not see new faces on a daily basis SERIOUSLY differs from what you are used to here at McGill, even if you had the experience of attending a tiny high school. What I am trying to get at is that no matter how comforting or soothing the nonsensical concept of “a tight-knit-community” may sound, it is actually a bigger risk to take than heading for the “daunting and overwhelming” city life. In other words, the number of people that you have the ability to meet should be a significant factor to consider when making your decision. (The math is quite basic: more people to meet = greater chance of finding your “crew” + making those lasting friendships.) 👥👥👥
  1. You may want to look into the type of people you will likely be staying with/hanging out with/going to classes with/interacting with in general. The internet, and social media specifically has made it incredibly easy for you to (at least partially) pinpoint the people who you will, in all likelihood, be spending most of your time with. What are they passionate about? Where did they grow up? What are their hobbies? Can you see yourself being friends with them? 👩‍🌾
  1. You may want to remind yourself that just because you chose the “random roommate” option and got lucky the first couple of times around, you may not be as lucky this time around when you’re in a foreign country. Sucks, I know. I’m just covering all the bases here. 👯
  1. You may want to rethink that whole “stepping out of your comfort zone” expression. Remind yourself that while attending a school across the universe is obviously admirable, so is showing up to the McGill chess and debate club meetings alone, when you’ve never played chess and have never debated before, and then using a story from your tournament experiences in your grad school application. ⛰
  1. Last but not least, you may want to take a good look at yourself, and call to mind where it is that you stand in relation to the person that you are striving to become. If you feel as though you have achieved a more or less “satisfied” regard toward who you have turned into thus far, just be aware that going away for a semester can reck all that work that went into “discovering” who you are. I generally don’t like to use this term, but if you feel as though you have somewhat “found yourself” in these past couple of years, please note that studying abroad will truly change your entire perception of everything, including yourself. In other words, you are likely going to have to start over when it comes to that path of self-discovery. (Evidently, there is nothing wrong with restarting, but depending on how you feel about where you presently stand in that process, it might simply be a better idea for yourself, to attend that chess meeting in lieu of flying across the pond.) 😌

Again, these are the elements that seemed less obvious to me when I was making my decision — the things I would have appreciated being told to consider a tad more carefully.

But regardless of the amount of advice you get and regardless of the amount of time you spend pondering over the idea of going to school overseas, there is only one way to find out if you would be likely to have an enjoyable time abroad. 🌎

So get on that plane! (And apply to be a CaPS blogger upon your return so you could share your personal unobvious factors that you might have failed to consider before leaving town.)

Hindsight is 20/20! 👍🏻

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. ♡

But of course feel free to purchase for a loved one. 😂

So regardless of whether or not you have someone to take that cute Valentine’s Day picture with in front of the Dine masterpiece located down the street from our campus, I strongly encourage you to head over to 1379 Sherbrooke Street West to have a real-life glance at this beloved sculpture. 

On another note, below you will find some stories, facts, and insights that I hope will be of interest to those counting down the days to the fourteenth, to those who dread the date, as well as to those who could not give a cupid’s arrow about it. 💘


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.

They’ll pair you up with one of their “active listeners” (lol I know, but let me finish 😂) — you’ll meet at a local café where you can talk about whatever you like. For free. Although I don’t know if everyone needs “counseling” per se, I do know that an occasional objective opinion can NEVER hurt.

You will get P-A-I-D to interact with people slash pretend to listen to these researchers. Sit back, relax, and enjoy! 💺😌💰

The EASIEST way to be productive is to get a study partner, I repeat, a study 📚 partner, that is, not a “study session” with your BFFS. CLICK. THAT. LINK. Motivation is literally at your fingertips. By filling out this form, you will get paired with a random student who has that same goal of reducing procrastination levels.⚕

*Although this program is run by the Office for Students with Disabilities, all students are eligible to apply.

Not only does listening to classical music elevate your mood, it may also help you focus on your school work. So next time you plop yourself down in McLennan, give this Montreal station a shot. 🎶 There’s a good chance you’ll improve your French while you’re at it.


REVIEW – SSMU Mini Course: Hatha Yoga

Last semester, I participated in a non-credit course offered by the Student’s Society of McGill University.

As the autumn air was approaching, I found myself browsing the list of mini courses that would be offered in the coming weeks. As soon as my eyes caught sight of the Saturday morning yoga class, I was headed to the SSMU office with my sixty five dollars.

NB: Although one’s experience in any mini course entirely depends on the instructor and the group of individuals taking that course, I thought you might be interested in reading about my adventure in yoga this past Fall term.

Friendly Environment? Check.

My group happened to have a range of experience levels. Thankfully, the instructor managed to  create a welcoming environment in which everyone seemed to feel very comfortable. She would always demonstrate the various levels of a given pose, as well as stress that the easiest version would be just as beneficial (for the experienced yogis) and even more beneficial (for the beginners).

Beautiful Environment? Double check.

If you’ve never taken a mini course before, they usually take place in a beautiful building on Peel Street, near the corner of Dr Penfield. Calling the room that would turn into a yoga studio every Saturday morning “a pleasure to practice in” would be an understatement. The space, in my opinion, was absolutely gorgeous — making the yoga class all the more exciting. The majestic looking house in the Golden Square Mile had a very clean, modern interior that became rather cozy as the crisp morning air slowly descended upon the city.

Workout? More like sleepout(side of your bed).

If you’re looking to break even the slightest sweat, then the Hatha Yoga Mini Course is not for you. Unfortunately, I could not come to call this class a good stretching session either. Personally, I would go as far as to classify it as a lazy Saturday morning ritual for people who wish to be in bed during that time. In other words, I would not call it a yoga class but rather a sleeping-with-one’s-eyes-open (actually we would often close them 😂) -whilst-moving-super-slowly-session, all the while hearing people intensely exhale and make strange noises. Relaxing the mind is great (and evidently very important). But If you’re interested in a “workout” in any way, shape, or form, I do not recommend this class.

Making friends? Don’t count on it.

If you’re looking to meet people, then the Hatha Yoga Mini Course is not for you. From my experience, the instructor did not once encourage discussion, nor did she ever leave any time for something like a group reflection, which surprised me given that the required material, besides a yoga mat, was a notebook. It was merely: you walk in, set up in silence, take an alternative version of a nap for two hours, briefly say goodbye, and leave. Very relaxing, but talking to others was not encouraged.

Will I take this mini course again? No, because my personal reason for enrolling in the class was to get a minor amount of exercise while simultaneously meeting new people — both of which were not the instructor’s, nor anyone in the group’s, primary goal.


To Do Before The Dreadful 7th of January










And head into the new year with this commercial in mind. Like seriously, was it made especially for students like us who have “no time for anything” yet spend hours mindlessly scrolling on our phones?

  • Subscribe to a new podcast.

Get hooked! Find one you’ll want listen to on your way to class or on your way home from that long day. You’d be surprised how relaxing it could be and how it could give you the ability to say “Hey, I really didn’t know that!” on a weekly basis.


Christmas in Montreal










I hope everyone checks out Ogilvy’s Christmas window on display outside the McCord Museum before heading home, but for those of you who will be sticking around for the holiday season, voici mes recommandations:




What Stuck With Me This Month










  1.  “No information is useless information.” – Alex Trebek, on a recent episode of Jeopardy

People tend to say “the more you know” with a sarcastic intonation. 

But EVERYTHING YOU LEARN can be pertinent, as long as you know how to apply it.

You also never know what might come up in a conversation, and contributing to discourse is always a plus, not to mention so satisfying.

So next time you find yourself learning about something that has absolutely nothing to do with any of your current classes or your intended career path…

  1. “Those scholarly articles in academic journals are probably read by like seven people in total including the author’s parents.” – My SKILLS21 workshop facilitator 

Let me tell you, I had quite the laugh. AKA don’t freak out when you’re having trouble understanding those peer-reviewed sources — that’s what your TA/prof/the internet is there for! 😁

  1. “Uhhhh….. worth it!” – My squash coach, as she was explaining the benefits of performing a certain shot

Right away, I thought wow, this isn’t the first difficult thing I encounter that happens to be “uhhhhh….. worth it!” 

Which is only funny because the following day in lecture, I heard:

  1. “Everything good in life that’s worth doing is difficult.” – My professor, as he was describing his path that enabled him to do what he loves on a daily basis (teaching us, and further exploring his field of study)

I don’t think there’s any explaining to do here because of the simplicity of this idea.

My only comment would be that it is obviously easier said than done.

After all, as Tom Hanks’ character says in A League of Their Own, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

  1. (Lastly, and on another note:) “Overtime, have we changed at all?” – My mom’s friend, regarding what seems to be the expression and repression of an inherently racist undertone that seem to never completely disappear in this world.

My first instinct was to remind myself that fifty years ago, no one would had ever believed that an African American man would be elected president.

But in light of the tragic events of Squirrel Hill, this question really resonated with me. What do you think, has there been progress? Or have we, as human beings, not changed at all?


First Post Ever — TOP TIPS











  1. Take advantage of the resources here. 

McGill has endless opportunities designed specifically for you to learn new things and meet new people. I can vouch for the fact that there is literally something for every single person sitting in Leacock 132, so be sure to soak up all the benefits you could from your undergrad/graduate experience. Because, as cliche as it may sound, before you know it, it will be too late.

  1. Office hours. Never. A waste. Of time.

Whether it be with your professor or your TA, you will ALWAYS learn something useful… Even if it means learning that emailing might be the better option for next time. 😂


The single most important thing you could do for yourself, because only once you are in a healthy mental and physical state, can you perform your very best and go on to helping others. 

  1. Attendance

A direct determinant of your grade.

(Okay this was a controversial one, I know)

Now I suck at math, but here is a formula based on my personal experience:

f (attendance) = grade

  1. Find what works best for you.

EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, to each their own. That being the case, college is also about learning who you are and how you function as a person — from learning how you study best, and what teaching styles and methods of evaluation (if applicable) work for you, all the way to learning how to dig up your real priority at a given moment. Sounds a little tricky eh?

*Number 5 is only possible through this thing we call experience, so don’t get discouraged and just keep going, but more significantly, remember to LEARN as you go ❤


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