After more than two years of pandemic restrictions, we are back to fully in-person activities on our campuses. For those of you who are new to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill or Montreal/Gatineau, your fellow faculty, staff and learners have shared their pearls of wisdom and suggestions to help you settle in – including pro tips on how to juggle your workload while making time for self-care, best spots to grab a bite and lovely getaways a stone’s throw from our Montreal and Gatineau campuses.
Top tips for a terrific transition to Team FMHS
- Plan your week ahead! This will give you an overview of the upcoming few days, to plan experiments, prepare for meetings, and allocate time for personal care.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially when it comes to new experimental techniques to help you optimize your own protocol and scientific writing during award application season.
- Get to know the resources around you: GCI has many facilities and external collaborations to offer us the most advanced platforms and techniques supported by knowledgeable and friendly staff. – Yu Gu, third year PhD candidate in Biochemistry at the Goodman Cancer Institute
- Remember that everyone at McGill wants you to succeed! This is a supportive community. Don’t be shy. There are no dumb questions.
- When people at McGill do you a favour, and you express thanks, the response is often “My pleasure.” I suggest adding this little gem to your vocabulary. – Elizabeth ‘Anne’ Kinsella, PhD, Director of the Institute for Health Sciences Education
- Everyone says learn a winter sport, like cross-country skiing.
- Learn to be grateful for sequential sunny days of -15C when there is no rain to freeze into ice on the sidewalks.
- Get a Bixi membership for exploring the city in the warmer months.
- Also be stubborn about speaking French – but don’t feel bad when people switch to English on you. It’s part of the joy of living in Montreal to hear kids speaking to each other effortlessly in both languages, sometimes in the same sentence. – Ed Ruthazer, PhD, Professor in the Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery and researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
- READ YOUR SYLLABUS AND PAY ATTENTION TO MYCOURSES! Things can change with unfortunately little notice, and you do not want to suffer because you missed something the professor clarified in a post.
- A healthy body is a healthy mind and vice versa so try to keep a balance. University is as awesome as you make it and the stars are the limit. However, just like stars you can burn out. Sooooo work hard, play hard, sleep a lot, and eat a lot, but most of all, have fun! – Lenardo Miguel S. Dadulla, third year BSc in Nursing student, Ingram School of Nursing
- Do not hesitate to ask for help! McGillians are friendly and happy to help out. – Mélanie Mondou, MD, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education
- Take time to exercise and explore nature. These two make a great combination and there are so many marvellous places to discover. For those who are less familiar with the Outaouais region, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like some recommendations. -Patrice Boileau, Fundamentals of Medicine and Dentistry (FMD) component administrator, Campus Outaouais
As our program attracts students from many different backgrounds, a lot of our students feel like imposters when they come in. They should all remember that each and every one of them is meant to be in our program: five reviewers saw something special in their application!
- It’s not about the grades anymore, it’s about learning what they need to become the best speech-language pathologists (SLPs) that they can become.
- Students should make time for themselves every day, even if it’s just five minutes to do something that brings them joy. – Sophie Vaillancourt, S-LP, Coordinator of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor (Professional) in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders
- Carve out time for self-care. It is often one of the first things we neglect when we get busy, but it is essential for everything else. Going for a walk, going to the gym, petting a dog, or even just taking the time to breathe every now and then can have a huge impact. -Samantha Gruenheid, PhD, Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Biomedical Sciences
- Get to know the other students in your year, and other years if possible. Organize social outings. In my medicine class, we had a group that organized social outings and those are my best memories. By getting to know each other, we were also ready to help one another when we came up against challenges in our studies and our clinical rotations. Getting involved as a class rep or other types of student representation is very gratifying as well. – Cléo Mavriplis, MD, Assistant Dean, Faculty development, Campus Outaouais
- Taking breaks is just as important as studying when it comes to being the best prepared you can be throughout the semester. I would recommend to plan pauses as part of your studying/working strategy. These pauses should ideally include going outdoors and/or physical activity. You may, at times, be tight on time for a break. However, even five-minute breaks throughout the day would most likely be beneficial to your success and well-being. – Frederik Roth, B.Sc. Microbiology & Immunology, U3
- Plan your leisure activities and make them a priority. – Guylène Thériault, MD, Physicianship Component Director, Campus Outaouais
- Keep to the basics. Everything will be new so try to keep a routine that keeps sleep and healthy eating in your schedule. I love the old adage, “If you feel like you are mad at everyone, eat something and if you feel like everyone is mad at you, get some sleep.”
- The other thing to realize is that you are capable of adjusting and learning just about anything. If you get a poor grade or don’t perform as well as you wanted, remember you have a lifetime to perfect it, we were never intended to be good at things the first time. We go to University to learn, otherwise you wouldn’t need to be here. Let the journey surprise you and it will be a lot more fun. – Trina Johnson, PhD, Deputy Director, Goodman Cancer Institute
- I’d say communication. Since we’re a small campus, it’s easy to take our colleagues and staff for granted. Make sure to use the established means of communication in order to help ensure you get answers, services, etc. – Olivier Larocque, Technician, Projects & Logistics, Campus Outaouais
Mmmmmmm! Best eateries, cafés, venues, late night hangouts…
Yu Gu recommends:
- Sammi & Soupe Dumpling – the best soup dumplings for great price ($)
- Boulangerie Le Marquis – delicious gluten-free baked goods ($$)
- Damas – authentic Syrian fine dining with breathtaking décor ($$$)
Ed Ruthazer recommends:
There are so many options in Montreal, and I have to confess that the restaurant landscape has changed so much in the last two years that I hardly recognize it. My three favourite places for relatively inexpensive meals are:
For more upscale dining I love:
Sophie Vaillancourt recommends:
- I love La Capitale Tacos. Funnily, the best tacos in town are located in… Chinatown! I recommend their wonderful appetizers (chicharron de queso, frijoles refritos, guacamole), their cool drinks, and, of course, their tacos. Another big plus for me, it’s quite allergy friendly.
Lenardo Miguel S. Dadulla recommends:
- I can’t speak on authenticity, but I am Pho near Guy-Concordia station is a comfort place of mine.
- Before it starts to get really cold, picnics at Parc Jeanne-Mance hit hard.
Samantha Gruenheid recommends:
- I love the Jean Talon market.
Frederik Roth, B.Sc. Microbiology & Immunology, U3 recommends:
- In particular for those that are new to Canada, Tim Hortons is a classic place to get coffee.
- In terms of Montreal-specific places to go, Schwartz’s Deli is a highly popular spot for Montreal smoked meat.
Trina Johnson recommends:
- So many! For bistros, I love l’Express for a special occasion.
- For cheaper eats I love Patati Patata.
- For cocktails I love Bar Renard.
Melanie Mondou recommends:
- For a full gluten-free bakery and pastry shop, I recommend Le Marquis on de Castelnau.
- For a gluten free friendly restaurant (and nice view of the Place des Festivals), try out Caribbean restaurant Kamuy.
Olivier Larocque suggests:
- There are so many! One I recently discovered is the restaurant and microbrewery La Dérive.
Get outta town! Awesome outings not too far away….
Elizabeth Anne Kinsella suggests:
- Check out the Laurentians (Laurentides): Due to the pandemic, I’ve been hanging out a little more in the Laurentians. I’d encourage those new to Montreal to try and make their way up north for a visit. There are a number of charming communities – St. Sauveur, Morin-Heights, St. Adele, Val-David – with incredible opportunities for hiking, cycling, skiing and paddling.
- The Saturday farmers market in Val-David is delightful.
- The P’tit train du nord trail is excellent for biking, walking, or a cross country ski. One of my favourite stops on the trail is a charming café at the Ste. Adèle juncture, I enjoy the roasted vegetable tofu wrap.
Patrice Boileau suggests:
- Near Campus Outaouais, I recommend the little path that begins at Parc de l’Oasis. A bit farther, there’s a multiuse trail that runs along rue Jacques-Cartier and the Chelsea Community Trail, which follows the old steam engine route. There are several starting off points for both, but here’s a nice one for the trail in Chelsea and one for the Parc de l’Oasis path. For a more urban experience, I recommend visiting Zibi, the waterfront neighbourhood in this area.
Guylène Thériault suggests:
- Open water swimming.
Cléo Mavriplis suggests:
- Meet up with friends for cross countrying skiing or snowshoeing in one of the shelters in Gatineau Park.
Olivier Larocque suggests:
A huge thank you to all who contributed! Have a great academic year, everyone!
Related story: A warm welcome to the new academic year!