Experience report ANR: Name: E-mail: Exchange semester: Academic year: Host University: Country: 730363 Thomas de Bie [email protected] Autumn 2014-2015 HEC Montréal Canada TOPIC: Admission, arrival, housing I personnally decided to go earlier to travel, therefore my arrival wasn’t organized by any one except myself. I had found an apartment online 3 month before arrival though the site : http://montreal.en.craigslist.ca/. Beeing the first one from the 3 roomates, I made contact with the owner (who, by the way, could speak all languages and was very welcoming). I didn’t go through the organized housing from the university, and in my opinion I was located in the best part of Montréal, one min away from the metro station and bus station. So I do recommend to find an apartment online. The week before starting all courses the “Hechange” (exchange student association) organized a welcoming week where I got to know most of the exchange thoughout several activities, which were pretty fun ! TOPIC: Location of university/city I directly felt at home in Montréal, maybe it comes from my French background. In my opinion, the city represents a mixture between Arts, Culture, English/French, Open-Mindedness. We can observe a real meltingpot in the city which creates an atmosphere who is very French/Occidental but with an interesting American touch. The city is filled with impressive universities, therefore most of the citizen has a young age. HEC Montréal is part of the biggest campus in Montréal “Université de Montréal” and located in the noth part of the Mont-Royal hill, but it isn’t far from the center. Best places to go to are : the club Stereo (with the best sound system in all North America), concert at SAT, best brunch at L’avenue, Best burger at l’Entrepôt, best poutine at ‘La Banquise’, ‘Les picnik Electronik’ for amazing techno outdoor festival every week-end in summer. It could write 3 pages on the best place to go because each time it was an experience, so original and sophisticated at the same time. And I have done maybe 8% of all the things to do there. It is a big city, which change your experience completely from Tilburg, and keeps on moving and surprising you. TOPIC: Academics Most of my courses were taught in French, all lectures are held in smaller classes, which make it much more interactive and interesting. I enjoyed all my courses without any exeption. I personally recommend ‘Creation d’entreprise’ (New-Venture) cause we needed to create a company and take part in an Entreprenarial exhition to present it. I followed Conflict Management, Entrepreneurship, Management Skills and Marketing in Cultural and Artistic Entreprise. All courses required a lot of assignment which represent most of the grade. So it requires continuous study, and an important workload in some period. Grades are defined compared to the level of the class which bring a competitive atmosphere and pushes you to study more and have better grade than the rest of the class (in order to have good personal grades). Tilburg differs on the fact that HEC is informal and the practice part is highlighted. I personally loved my courses, and was happy to wake up and go to school ! HEC represent two big buildings within the huge UDM campus. TOPIC: Social life There was a lot of social activity organized by the Exchange Student association, every week there was something to do. Personally as soon as I got along with my group of friend in Montreal, we were going out to as much places as possible. My friends were from the exchange student and local student from different university in the city. One of the best memory from the exchange is when we (HEC exchange community) went to Cuba for a week. It was one of the best holiday I had ! I travelled to New-York, Toronto, Quebec city and up in Gespesia. Travel were also organized by the exchange commity to Boston, Chicago, New-York, Detroit, ect… TOPIC: Living costs I didn’t receive any grant from Tilburg University, and it would have helped for sure. I stopped my OV-chipcart that permit a refund every month. The currency conversion is tricky, it seems that everything is more expensive, because prices are higher, but at the end, it isn’t really the case. Regarding housing, I was paying 600 CAD$ everything included (425€) and I located in one of the best neighbourhood of Montréal. On the other hand cheese, wine and cigarets are super expensive ! For a french person like me, it was really hard ! Most of my money was going into traveling, restaurant and discoteque. Traveling is a lot cheaper comparing to Europe and restaurant can be aswell. On average, I approximatley spent 1400 – 1600 $ a month (1000-1140 €) with everything included. And I travelled and partied a lot ! TOPIC: Culture Absolutely no culture shock ! On the contrary I experience a culture love ! Montréal city atmosphere is very occidental, European with a slight American touch. People are welcoming, bilingual, very proud of French Quebecois culture and would do everything to preserve it. Life style is based on art, fashionable clothes, music concert and festivals, painting, graffiti, museum, theatre, technological art, original brunches, restaurant, ‘out of the box’ Bars conception, hockey culture, Maple Syrup and Poutines. What more do you want ? Personnally I am in the techno scene for couple of years, and for techno lovers, Montreal is the place to be, I have seen too many DJ performing in the craziest place here. Quebec city is less moving and very French ! I had the chance to go travel up in the North of Canada during the autumn falling leaves, I have to admit it was one of the most beautiful colors I have seen, I saw six types of wales and dolphins. Thus, for Nature lovers, Canada is the place to be ! I also had the chance to travelle to Toronto and New-York, must see cities ! Had a great time, but you could feel the American culture which is very present, especially in Toronto. Finally Cuba was another planet to me, great experience, and a true and real communism that is omnipresent in the day to day life basis. TOPIC: Personal development I met so many different nationalities, my friends were from all over the world, and in a way it did broaden my mind. So many point of views, so many discussions, so many passions that were shared and so many common understandings. I got to know a lot about myself, the environnement of the exchange could be described as real freedom. I felt free and I felt joyfull everyday, it is the best situation to sit down and ask yourself some questions. In Montréal, I actually found what I want to do in life and the master that would prepare me to do so. Courses helped a lot, but the environnement and the people I’ve met also played an important part. My best memory was Cuba, 100 exchange students in Cuba, it was one of the craziest vacation I had. Worse memory was when I had to bring a drunk friend of mine to the hospital after she broke her arm falling down the stairs, but we kept the smile on our face. Everything is so easygoing and sophisticated at the same time. One lesson I have learn is that distance is relative. Everything is so far away from everything in the hugeness of Canada, I learned patience and that 7 hours in a bus to go to the place to are willing to visit is worth it. TOPIC: Tips for future students You should definitively go in the autumn session because you get to know the three seasons. Summer is really hot, try to go earlier, because Montreal in Summer is one of the best cities in the world, a lot of festival, especially the Piknik Electronik. Autumn is beautiful, and winter comes in December and you miss the big snow storm in January and February. Don’t bring to much, the city will impress you with everything you need, and leave some space in our luggage to take back all purchased items back to Europe. If you can practice your French, it is a big big PLUS. I am French so I didn’t have that issue, but courses in French are more interestin, most of the people speak French, everyone speak English aswell, but you will fell more integrated with the French language. TOPIC: A picture is worth a thousand words If you took any pictures or made any videos that you would like to share with future exchange students, please include them (or e-mail them separately). Pictures that show your daily life or symbolize your exchange period are especially interesting for future exchange students.