Hey everyone! Ethan here, and today I’m going to be talking about how to balance your life in Montreal between your work for your classes and going out and doing all the fun things that Montreal has to offer. As many of you have already experienced, time management is one of the key skills to being successful at Champlain, and that is pushed even farther in Montreal. So how do you manage all of the challenging work with the exploration of a totally new city? I aim to help everyone figure that out!
In Montreal, nearly every teacher you have is currently already in the field of study your major is tied to. This means late classes (hooray for those of us who aren’t morning people), but it also means a different set of standards to get used to. I believe every student here would argue that the classes here are roughly twice as difficult as they are in Burlington, but don’t let that discourage you! Every teacher here is going to push you, and while the work may seem heavy at times, it will make you a better game designer, social worker, game artist, etc.. You may have heard stories already about people staying overnight (sometimes more than one!) in the labs to get work done, and while that works for some, is not viable for most people. So how do you prevent this from happening?
One of the things you must learn to do is to utilize all the time given for an assignment. This means that if you are given a two-week assignment, you need to begin working on it in the first few days, not in the last week. Not only is this the expectation of your professor, but it is also a great way to begin managing your time. If you take that two-week assignment and you put an hour a day into it, then not only is it less stressful, but it also allows you to take more time to explore the city. And if you are finding that you aren’t getting as much done as you’d like, you can adjust the time per day into something that works for you.
Sometimes, though, your assignments will just give you a bundle of trouble as you try to complete them. If you are having a hard time, try and ask your peers for help. It is likely that one of them has gone through something similar and either found a solution, or a better way of doing it all together. Not only that but there is almost always someone working in the labs, and if you need extra help, working in the labs is an easy way to access your friends or peers for advice.
If all of this fails and you still can’t get something to work or you are still struggling, get in touch with the teacher. Contrary to popular belief, no one wants their students to fail and they will do their best to help you succeed. They do, however, want you to exhaust of all the options I mentioned prior, though, so that they know you are working your hardest, and not just relying on them to solve all of your problems. Do not try to email them at 3 AM the day the assignment is due, they don’t seem to like that; but at the same time, don’t be afraid of them. They want you to do your best and be the best you can be, so let them help you.
So now onto all of the fun stuff that is available to you in Montreal. The number of concerts, festivals, events,
and activities available to you is near endless, but still some people have a difficult time experiencing very much of it. One of the most important things you can do is prioritize what you want to do with your free time, which you will often feel like you have very little.
One of the things that tends to occur is that people say that they have no free time, but then spend two hours in their apartment just diddling their thumbs. This leads into a very important lesson for your study abroad experience: any time you are not working or sleeping could be used exploring the city or participating in a city activity. When I was preparing for coming up to Montreal, I got in touch with some Montrealers over a forum and as I was talking to them, one of the things they stressed was that no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn’t be able to even scratch the surface of the city unless I was here for at least 2 years. They encouraged that I should make the most of my study abroad time by going out and exploring as much as I could, and it is something I recommend to each of you. In my short 2 months here, I have already experienced so much, and it is because I have taken every spare second I have to find something cool to do in the city.
Another important thing I encourage is the taking of breaks while working. It is important to realize when you are not getting anything done and to take steps towards making yourself feel better and refreshing yourself. By taking breaks, you allow yourself to take some time and come back to the problem with a completely different mindset.
To a lucky few of you, this is all just a reminder, but to others they are important lessons of how to make the most of your time in Montreal. In the end, the experiences and memories you have from Montreal will be a combination of the ones that you make, and the ones that you don’t make. And if you are like me, I think that your study abroad experience should be made up of the memories you do make.