The Orientation Week

Foreword: 
As said in the previous article, I will not write about my problems (which affect my accomodation and which cloud over the overall feelings about the 3A); I prefer to tell you what I have done (finished events).
You will find the French version of this post here | Vous trouverez cet article en français ici : L’orientation week
[PW]

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Class will begin on September 5 in McGill University, but the campus was very busy this week. Indeed, the Orientation Week has been running in McGill since August 27.

My first task in McGill was not really related to the Orientation Week: I had to get my McGill ID card. Thus on Friday 25th August, I went to the Service Point and I waited… for two hours and a quarter! The receptionist gave me the ticket A-150 at 10 a.m.; meanwhile the office was dealing with A-49! The most noticeable thing was the predominance of parents who were waiting for the McGill ID of their child (in Sciences Po, very few no parents would do that for their children…). Nevertheless, the wait was less long than I could expect: many people gave up, so that the counter crossed from A-121 to A-138 in a few minutes! My turn came and the secretary dealt with my documents (passport, study permit, CAQ, acceptation letter…); then a ‘working-student’ (how to call a student who works for its university?) took picture and printed my McGill ID card. Though the wait was very long, I think that the Service Point remains pretty efficient; all students and parents stay calm and wait for their turn peacefully. 8)

Then, I registered online to several events of the Orientation Week. But I could not check whether I was really registered or not (my online schedule was empty); so I had to go to the International Students Service of McGill in order to confirm my registration. This coming let me visit the very large building in McTavish Street (only for student services!) and get many gifts for new students (I was given another bag and there are a lot of bags at home now).

This building hosts the SSMU, several food retail places, a Daycare, a Advocate office, the Orientation Centre, the International Student Services. One building for students services only!

A specific article will detail the events hosted by the International Student Service: an Underground City Walking Tour, a Breakfast in the Tent, a Bus Tour and a Boat Tour.

On Monday 27th August, I came to McGill for an office hour. I planed to study Chinese in McGill but I had to pass a placement interview with a Chinese professor, Mr. Wang, in order to know in which level I should register. Mr Wang’s reply will come in the next week.

Then, I went to the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, which is very, very, very large and practical (especially the Cyberthèque).

This picture is not mine and comes from mcgill.ca. There are also a lot of computers provided by the library, and some small work spaces.

On Monday evening, I met the other exchange students from Sciences Po in McGill. Not all the 3A: there were:

  • Amina and Jules (from the Paris campus and in the Desautels Faculty of Management);
  • Charlotte, Carolin and Aloïs (from the Reims campus and in the Faculty of Arts);
  • Anna Carla (from the Nancy campus and in the Faculty of Arts);
  • Julia (from the Paris campus and in the Faculties of Arts and Science);
  • Noémie, Aurélie, Anne-Sophie, Paulina, Victor and Théo (from the Paris campus and in the Faculty of Arts, like me).

We took part to the Open Air Pub. The OAP is a kind of barbecue which takes place in a field of McGill (Three Bares Fountain); there was no admission charge, and we could buy burgers and drinks for less than $2.50 (but you should know that the brand was Sans Nom, that may indicate you how the quality of food was…). The place was nice but the music awful; anyway, it was a wonderful moment to share experiences between 3As (and to tell problems each other). Noémie talked about the OAP in this article: De la solitude – ou pas.

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Discover McGill took place on Tuesday 28th August, in order to welcome U0, U1 and exchange students. I was enrolled in the Arts Group #48, with around ten other students; most of them were exchange students, and we were 5 students from Sciences Po! (Anna Carla, Carolin, Aloïs; and Kaspar who is from the Paris campus); and me. I met a Japanese student, Yohei, who planed to study economics and political science.

This « Discover McGill day » was not really interesting, and a former 3A told me on Facebook:

Attention c’est un petit peu bizarre … surtout le truc sur le stade du Discover McGill … enfin tu verras …

Be careful; it’s a bit strange… especially on the stadium… anyway you’ll see…

During the morning, we had first a meeting with a Faculty Advisor from the OASIS (Office of Advising Student Information Service). She asked us if we had questions, but we did not know what kind of questions we had to ask. She showed us the schedule of departmental orientation sessions; though there were not mandatory she highly recommended us to take part to them. At the end I asked her if I had to attend to these sessions. Her answer was the following: departmental advising are very useful in order to get answers about specific courses and I should attend to them; but as an exchange student, I might attend to 4, or 5 sessions because I am not enrolled in a major; that is why she said that faculty advising might be more appropriate.

Then, we moved to a (very large) lecture hall with other new Arts students. We got presentations of the Arts OASIS; the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (and its workshops in order to get started with library resources); the Student Services. Two other presentations need to be detailed:

  • Des Sitaras (OASIS Faculty advisor) talked about the abroad opportunities. Although I was not concerned at all, I was very delighted by her presentation. In McGill, exchange year is not mandatory but recommended. Ms Sitaras gave only one example and she gave it several times: Sciences Po. Her overall message was: If you want to study in Europe – especially in Paris, let’s consider Sciences Po. If you have deeper interests in political science and European studies, Sciences Po will be the right place. 🙂
  • The chairman and the vice-chairman of the Arts Undergraduate Society were presenting their services when I heard ‘puppies’. If I understand well, that means that I will be able to play with puppies during the semester whether I feel stressed or anxious. What a funny service!

Quidditch. With a broom between legs.

At noon, we went to a field close to Park Avenue, where we shared free pizzas. The afternoon of « Discover McGill » was spent in the Percival-Molson Stadium (which belongs to McGill). And indeed, it was very strange. We sit down and simultaneously, a choir sang several songs, there was a cheerleading perfomance and an urban groove performance… and I saw a quidditch match. Let’s write it again: a quidditch match, with players on a broom with several balls. I know that you would not believe me, that is why I uploaded a video (this quidditch team seems to be very active, because they organized several matches the day after).😀

There were also several speeches afterwards: Heather Monroe-Blum (the Principal of McGill), someone from the Office of Sustainability, and the chairman of the Students Society of McGill University (SSMU). The two last-mentioned speeches did not really interest students because most of them left the stadium during speeches. The video which should introduce the SSMU also failed.

Now you know how a martlet looks like.

The final event of the Discover McGill day was also the funniest, the most enjoyable: McGill University wanted to break the Guinness Record of the largest/heaviest fruit salad. And we broke it on August 28! I ate three (free!) cups of fruit which contained water melon, melon, apple, ananas, grapes, orange…🙂🙂🙂 I think that it was a good way to eat more fruits and to promote healthy food.

Free unlimited fruit salad!

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McTavish Street…. when there is no « Discover McGill Street Fest ».

On Wednesday, there was « Discover McGill Street Fest » on McTavish Street. For those who do not know at the campus of McGill, McTavish Street is a pedestrian street in Montreal, and all its buildings belong to McGill (libraries, offices, courses rooms…). A lot of student groups were introducing their activities. Let’s draw a non-exhaustive and deliberately short list up:

  • WalkSafe walks students home on evenings (you only have to call them and they will go with you everywhere in Montreal!)
  • McGill Eating Disorder Program wants to help people to eat healthy food and to avoid both obesity and anorexia
  • a lot of student groups want to « involve students » in social projects such as helping children of underprivileged social families, renovating schools in Africa, raising awareness about First Nations (Aborigenes) or LGBT issues…
  • newspapers of McGill: the anglophone McGill Daily and McGill Tribune, and the francophone Le Délit de McGill (which has a partnership with the McGill Daily)
  • some politically involved student groups, such as The Midnight Kitchen who « serves pay-what-you-can vegan lunches » and « see[s] the current capitalist system of food production & distribution as part of a larger system of oppression and colonialism »
  • some athletics and outdoor clubs (for biking, hiking, gymnastics, swimming, skiing…)
  • a zen meditation club
  • CKUT: 90.3 FM (a student-run radio)
  • etc…

There were also organizations from McGill, such as Active Shooter Training Session (in order to be prepared to live on a campus shooting situation), McGill Food Services, McGill Mental Health Service (which can be useful for me later :-P)…

I got also a STM bag, but I was not really pleased (let’s imagine that I am in Paris… how would you react if I carried a RATP bag?) There was also free food in Discover McGill Street Fest: a free hotdog, a free fruit salad (probably the leftovers of the Record), a free crisps pack and a free non-alcoholic drink. I stayed later with Aurélie, Anne-Sophie and Julia (other students from Sciences Po) in order to talk. It may seem ridiculous but we really need to meet often and to speak.

We saw the moon in the sky from the Leacock building.

*

I registered to the Amazing Library Race and it took place on Thursday 30th August. Indeed, this race was amazing.😀 We were matched by teams of four students: two first-year Science students (Chloe and Hao), a German exchange Arts student (Inka) and me. It was actually a race, since we had to run from a library to another (and don’t laugh, it was really difficult to run in sloping streets between two remote libraries during a hot and sunny afternoon!). We had several tasks, such as finding a book with its title (we had to check its shelf mark), or using a loan machine, or finding very specific informations on mcgill.ca/library in order to complete a crossword puzzle. Eventually we failed to win (and we had no gift token for the Bookstore) but we got refreshments and snacks (another free meal! in a library!).

Actually, I was not able to take photos during the race. But here is a map. There is a library for Life sciences, another for Engineering and Science, another for Education, another for Islamic studies, another for Music…

In dark: the path of the Amazing Library Race.
In yellow: the Redpath Humanities and Social Sciences Library.

Finally, on Friday 31st August, there was a information session for incoming exchange students. Amina, Aurélie and I took part to it. The Service Point gave again several informations, such as the minimum credits load, housing and transportation issues, the transmission of transcripts to the home university. At the end, we asked some questions to the Arts advisor (about language courses)… and after answering, she wanted to know… if students got credits for soccer courses in Sciences Po! (indeed, you get 2 ECTS)

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This very long article draws to a close. Be prepared to have other very long articles.

PW

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