Natasha Hirata-Smith: “Making the Most of Montreal”

Posted on January 31, 2015 by



This is Natasha’s second guest post on Manchet. Let’s read about all the exciting things she has done in the past month since she moved to Montreal!


As I sit here writing my second blog post for Manchet, there’s something on my mind that I can’t quite accept; apparently I have been in the North American continent for just over a month now, and yet it feels like only yesterday I was putting my suitcase in the back of the car to begin my journey to Canada.

There are only 12 weeks to go and already I have been thrown into the continuously assessed academic system of McGill with the first assignments graded and midterm exams in a matter of weeks. Unfortunately, my birthday is bombarded with assessments, but on the other hand I have been fortunate enough to have all my midterms before reading week, which gives me some free time to visit Niagara Falls.

There is plenty for me to say about academic life, and it is true that it has been challenging, inspiring and thought-provoking, but I want to devote this particular blog post to what’s been happening beyond the lecture hall.

Since my arrival I have had plenty of visits to the underground city, hot drinks at Tim Horton’s and Second Cup (whilst avoiding Starbucks!) and have even had my first poutine – a dish consisting of chips, gravy and cheese curds. McGill has been very good at organising events for international students and I spend a lot of time with friends from many parts of the world.

One of my most memorable days involves visiting Old Montreal with friends from England and Australia. Despite the snow it wasn’t too difficult to access the cobbled streets and visit the many historical sites. If my updates are not quite frequent enough, you can catch up with the adventures of my Australian friend, Roger, on his personal blog here: http://theguywhorambles.blogspot.ca/ . I’m sure we’ll be off to visit many other parts of Canada in the near future!

Another benefit of making friends whilst studying abroad – whether they be international or relatively local – is that they are very useful for postcard writing inspiration. I never quite realised how difficult writing a postcard home to friends and family could be. Fortunately, many people were happy to give me advice from what interesting facts to tell (I had no idea, for example, that Montreal is twinned with Hiroshima, Japan), to drawings, jokes and poems (involving maple syrup apocalypse).

Within the university, I have signed up to volunteer to raise awareness for students with disabilities and I am currently preparing to compete for the McGill Iron Chef competition – if I make it, my team will represent McGill against other university teams in Boston. These are things that I often think about doing, but never really would go out and do back in Manchester.

I’m looking forward to sending future updates, and I especially enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. Stay safe in the snow and have a great second semester!

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