Surviving “Final Destination McGill”


My four years at McGill offered me a lot of first experiences: first time stepping in vomit on the metro (not mine, November 2011), first time I discovered a mysterious cat in my apartment (also not mine, January 2014),  first time that I destroyed a clothes dryer (the fault was, unfortunately, mine. September 2012.)  But, what did I really learn? Mostly, to watch where you step, to keep your doors locked when you’re making a tuna… sandwich, and not to put comforters in the dryer. Beyond that, here are a few other kernels of wisdom:

  • “Required” readings are optional.

  • “Optional” readings are for suckers.

  • There is nothing wrong with crossing the street or ducking behind a building or hiding in a garbage can to avoid making eye contact with an acquaintance from high school.

  • For the cost of a drink in “da club,” you can pay for an entire month of Netflix. For the cost of one drink plus cover, you can pay for Netflix and a bottle of dep wine and a family-sized bag of Doritos. Think carefully.

  • If you decide to live in the McGill Ghetto, you’ll have to dodge smashed beer bottles, ominously stained t-shirts, and discarded toilets in the streets on a daily basis.

  • If you decide to live further away from campus, you’ll have to deal with metro delays, bus delays, and the ubiquity of urban barf.

  • Sure, Chef on Call is okay if you’re in first year or only want a sandwich… But the best delivery service is A La Carte Express ( Depending on your location, you can have up to 40 restaurants to choose from.

  • Contrary to popular belief, Faculty Advising is not an advising service but actually an elaborate performance art piece about the futility of bureaucracy. A memorable encounter was when I was told, without a trace of irony, that, “you can’t just drop-in for drop-in advising!”

  • Complaining about the weather face-to-face is a beloved ritual of Canadian life; complaining about the weather via Facebook status is absolutely unacceptable under any and all circumstances. Note for Americans: writing a weather-related Facebook status with temperatures in Fahrenheit is actually a misdemeanour under Canada’s Criminal Code.

  • There’s a loudmouth, pretentious person in every conference and tutorial. If you can’t immediately identify said person, then it’s probably you. (Sorry. It hit me hard when I realized this too.)

  • “You can retake a test, re-enroll in a class, or redo a semester, but you will never get to relive a night,” said a person who dropped out first semester of second year and is now…?

  • McGill is in downtown Montreal, a classy city full of grown-ups living their actual real lives. If you walk around campus rocking McGill-print sweatpants or pyjama pants, you are bad and you should feel bad. Where do you think you are, huh? Your parents’ rec room? A grade 8 slumber party? Queen’s?

  • You’re probably going to cry in Service Point at least once.

Essentially, over the course of my undergraduate career at McGill, I learned that university is a surrealist hellscape where only the strong survive. Oh, and a few things about political science too, I guess.