Student blog: A year abroad

Jess Batty is a third year MEng Student on the Mechanical Engineering with a year in North America programme. Jess chose McGill University in Montreal, Canada for her year abroad and has written in to tell us all about her experience so far. We’re kind of jealous.

Jess Batty - a year abroadMy first semester on exchange has almost ended, with midterms drawing to an end and finals looming, but I cannot believe how fast it has gone. Any doubts that I had before arriving in Montreal have been quashed; I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else at the minute (but that doesn’t mean to say I won’t be excited to return to Sheffield!!)

My first experiences of McGill University were Discover McGill, Rez Fest and Frosh (very similar to Fresher’s week but here we were split into faculties). Discover McGill introduced us to the University and the faculty, whereas Frosh allowed us to socialise with our peers. As part of the faculty of Engineering, I took part in “Frosher Heroes”, where we had a range of activities planned, including a hard hat challenge, where we earned our own hats! There was also a secret location party, a bar crawl, beach day and finale concert.

During my first semester I have immersed myself in a range of activities. As a member of Sheffield Formula Racing (SFR) back home, one of the reasons I wanted to go on exchange at McGill was because they have an FSAE design team (McGill Racing Team) and I have been fortunate enough to join the team here. I am currently working on the mid-region aerodynamics of the car as part of a group design class, and I am also looking into the manufacture of the full car aerodynamics.

Additionally, as part of McGill International Student’s Network (MISN) I have taken up weekly French classes, which are taught by another international student. Furthermore, I recently helped out at McGill’s ‘Open House’, volunteering with International Students in the Faculty of Engineering, to promote study abroad as part of a degree to prospective students. I also gave a short presentation during International Education week at McGill, on my exchange experience and promoted the University of Sheffield to students in the Faculty of Engineering.

Living back in residence feels a bit strange after living in a shared house for a year, but it has been the best decision! I have made so many new friends in Rez, that I would have never had chance to meet, and there are lots of residence events on offer throughout the semester, including a Halloween party, pumpkin carving, movie nights and a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, that have ensured I don’t have time to feel homesick.

In a typical week I have 9.5 hours of lectures, 2 hours of tutorials, and 2 hours of labs, as well as group meetings for a group design class, MRT team and sub team meetings and an hour of French class. During the week days in between lectures, labs and tutorials, much of my time is spent in the Shulich Science and Engineering library on campus where I complete any assignments and lab reports, as well as revising for my upcoming midterm exams (and finals that aren’t so far away!!). On Tuesday evenings MRT has a full team meeting with all members to give out progress updates and weekly tasks, and on Thursday evenings I have my French class.

With MRT, Progress Design Reviews are held at certain intervals throughout the semester, where each sub team presents the work that has been carried out to date and their next steps. This ensures that we are on time with our deadlines and that we make good progress. After this and a busy week of studying, there is no better place to relax than Blue’s Pub, which is held in the common room of the Engineering building, and serves beer and grilled cheese (cheese toasties).

On weekends (once studying is out of the way!) I have been trying to explore the different areas of Montreal. So far I have climbed Mount Royal to see the breathtaking views of the city; I have been to Atwater market and along the Lachine Canal, I went to watch my first Canadian Football game, I visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens which hosts the Gardens of Light exhibition, and Ile Sainte-Helene, on which there is; Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Biodome and the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve (the Grand Prix track).