Last Friday my mother & I headed to Montreal to visit McGill & get a sense of the city. While admittedly MTL is no NYC (I am currently faced with choosing between McGill & NYU), the city had a lot to offer.
Our hotel was beautiful. Of course, that has no relevance to what living there as a student would be like, but I hope I will get to stay in that particular Ritz again - they seemed to think of everything, including leaving cookies and a card wishing me a wonderful tour of McGill and stay at the hotel.
The food was incredible - almost too incredible! Returning to a regular diet post-Montreal has been very, very difficult. I would gain the freshman 15 in no time if I were to go to McGill. For the most part, it was also very inexpensive. The first restaurant we went to, L’Evidence, gave us more beautiful food than we could eat - and our total was around $20! We ate our first dinner at Milos where we had some of the best Greek food I’ve ever been served, and our second at Le Chien Fumant, where the food was yummy and the wine was yummier (and incredibly cheap). We were consistently floored when our bills were around $100 for dinner.
The shopping was mixed in terms of pricing and quality. Oglivy and Holt Renfrew were in need of some cleaning and polishing, which is ridiculous considering the designers they are selling and the reputations they aim to maintain. Tiffany’s was a pleasure as usual, although we have a great location in Toronto too, and the necklace my mom bought me for my birthday wasn’t in stock so it has to be shipped to my dad’s office.
McGill itself was a bit overwhelming, a little exciting and a little disappointing. Our tour guide was sweet and knowledgable, but the buildings themselves were kind of gloomy, the students didn’t seem especially friendly, and the on-campus food options weren’t the best. The residence we visited was also kind of a let-down and is apparently not one of the more social, party-oriented ones. It is a serious priority for me that I be around other people who want to go out regularly, meet new people, and don’t mind being up late on weekends. The rooms themselves were also smaller and more poorly-maintained than I expected. I understand some of the hotel-style dorms are nicer, but also slightly less social. I am conflicted - I thought I was going to fall in love immediately!
Overall, there is still a lot to consider with regards to making the decision about school next year. McGill is convenient for boyfriend visits, family visits and is a small, student-oriented city, making it easy for me to learn how to navigate and settle into, and maybe that is enough to make the decision. We’ll see how the NYU visit goes!
I personally find bucket lists motivating and inspiring - they keep your eye on the prize and give you a reason to keep working and dreaming. After seeing this one on one of my favourite blogs, I decided it was time to create my own.
1. Visit all 7 continents.
Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to visit many different places around the world with my friends and family, but there is still so much left to see. I can cross off Europe, North America, and South America (though there are still plenty of places to visit in all of those, too). Remaining are Africa, Antarctica, Australia and Asia.
2. Find “the one”.
I know a lot of people don’t believe in there being a person for everyone - someone who’ll stick with you until the end, love you for your good qualities and your bad, and who you’ll always be passionate about - but I am confident that a combination of effort and luck can bring two such people together. I’m still young, but that is how I feel about my boyfriend now. I’d feel ridiculous saying that I’m sure that this is ‘it’, but it has at the very least reassured me that an ‘it’ exists. Growing up around a not-so-blissful marriage made it hard to believe in, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong in keeping the faith and a lookout for that person.
3. Learn to speak another language fluently.
The closest I’ve ever gotten was with French, which I took from grades 1 through 9. I can still hold basic conversations, but I have lost most of my grasp on the grammar and certainly couldn’t write it anymore. I’m not sure that French is the language I want to focus on, but I think that learning a second language would be deeply fulfilling and interesting, regardless of how useful it is (…Swedish is a pipe dream).
4. Make a huge difference in someone less fortunate’s life.
Volunteering has been a vital part of my life since grade 7. I spend a week each summer at a camp for low-income earning single mothers and their children, and volunteer tutor a girl who’s mother is not able to give her the help with her education she needs because she works full-time and is the sole provider for her three children. All of my pets are rescues. I am not listing these things as examples of how good of a person I am - most of my friends devote a lot of their time to volunteering at schools and hospitals. Rather, these are to remind myself of how good it feels, and how rewarding it is to help others. Everyone says this, but the people I have met through these positions have made more of a difference in my life than I theirs. I want to, within my lifetime, do something really, really, big for someone in need without receiving anything in return, and I want to do it by myself, without encouragement from a supervisor, friend, or parent. I cannot imagine anything more rewarding.
5. Run a marathon.
Running and yoga are truly the only forms of exercise I genuinely enjoy. Recently, I have fallen out of the habit of running on a daily or even weakly basis, primarily because of the weather but also in part because I have lost my ability to self-motivate. I hope to get back on track and someday, preferably within the next 10 years, run a marathon. I bet the sense of accomplishment would be incredible!
6. Go on safari.
Beautiful weather, incredible wildlife, stunning scenery and adventure? Sign me up!
7. Explore a rainforest.
I have wanted to visit a tropical rain forest for as long as I can remember. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Of course, they’re stunning and humbling, but there are plenty of places in the world to visit that would no doubt have a similar effect. Rain forests just seem especially magical.
8. Go to a huge, outdoor music festival.
I’m kind of cheating for this one, because I know I’m going to be able to cross this off in just over a month. But this is something I have genuinely wanted to do for a long time! In May I will be attending Soundset in Shakopee, MN with one of my best friends. This is my first time travelling without an adult (although I have flown alone and been on vacation without my own family) and I’m a bit nervous, but also incredibly excited! I expect it to be nothing less than amazing - and the lineup is incredible.
9. Go on a road trip.
Preferably with a boyfriend or some of my best friends. I want to either see more of my home country or explore a part of the states. The idea of fleeing the city and living out of a big car for a few weeks is nothing short of thrilling, though my obsessively clean side worries about how hygienic it is!
10. Learn how to cook something incredible.
I’ve never been especially motivated when it comes to cooking. My mother has been offering to teach me the ins and outs of the kitchen since I was little, and I never expressed any interest. I enjoy baking, but it’s fattening and not very practical. I imagine there is a great sense of pride that comes with making something delicious, and before I settle down I’d like to learn how to make a really phenomenal dish for a special occasion.
11. Create something beautiful.
Art is very important to me, and visiting galleries is a must on all of my vacations. I’ve been taking art since preschool, but I’ve never made anything I’m truly proud of, probably as a result of how easy schools seem to make it to put in minimal effort and get good grades in art classes. I would like to paint, sculpt, or even write something really great.
12. Read the classics. All of them.
I always preach about how sad it is that schools no longer make novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures Huckleberry Finn mandatory reading, but I haven’t even gotten through all of the classics myself! The Bell Jar, the two aforementioned books, In Cold Blood and a ton of others are on the list.
Honestly, even starting this blog post is difficult. As of lately, finding the motivation to complete even the most necessary and basic tasks has felt almost impossible. I have fallen behind in my school work, skipped too many classes, stopped reading almost entirely, ignored most of my texts and emails, and allowed my room to become messy and poorly organized. I haven’t gone for a run in ages and have been overeating and then feeling terrible about it.
I have a history with depression spanning back several years, and a huge loss of motivation is something that usually comes with a “down phase”. However, this time around I am not so blinded by overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and self-hatred that I cannot see all of the things I have to be happy about. This time I am simply in a rut, perhaps spawned by a little bit of sadness, but maintained by a vicious cycle of allowing myself to settle into this life.
The key to working hard is, in my experience, remembering what you truly care about. What there is to work for. You need to remind yourself what you are passionate about and what you need to do to succeed and care for these passions.
So here’s a list of things to put in the effort for:
- Your friends. You love your friends - they’re always there for you, especially Katie. They are ready to listen when you need it, always up to hang out (especially if there’s food involved), and know you like the back of their hands. You owe them for being there for you when the going got tough. You need to get your best friend’s gift wrapped, reserve more time for them on weekends, and TEXT THEM BACK!
- Your boyfriend. You love him more than anything. He’s seen you at your worst, he’s seen you at your best, and he’s been there for you through it all. You owe him texts back, looking your best, words of support & all the time you can give him.
- Your family. Sure, they stress you out a lot of the time. But they care about you, there’s no denying it, and they have given you everything you’ve wanted and needed since you were little. You owe them a better attitude, more gratefulness, and a helping hand around the house when they ask. You also definitely owe them more of your time.
- Your future. You used to be so excited about the future - what happened? Even if you can’t go to your ‘dream’ school, your other options are wonderful and exciting. Meeting new people, taking interesting courses, exploring a new city and trying new things are all in your future, regardless of which university you end up attending. A happy future won’t be in the cards, though, unless you start taking your school work seriously, going to as many classes as possible and giving things your all.