McGill University: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more

Claire Grenier, 22
Western religions and political science

Claire Grenier (Courtesy of Claire Grenier)

Why did you choose McGill?
Being someone who grew up in a small town, I was attracted to Montreal as a lively and artistic city. McGill itself is legendary, and in my four years here I have never regretted my choice. Studying at McGill has pushed me to be a critical and independent thinker, something that has been of benefit to me both in and outside of the classroom.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.
In 2019, I took a course in Rome as part of a partnership between McGill and Sapienza University. Through this opportunity, I was able to travel abroad for the first time in my life.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
I am involved in student governance. The Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU) has many voluntary and paid roles for students. Throughout the years, my involvement in SSMU has included working as a community advocate, spearheading the student guidebook and developing my own podcast to explore issues of truth and reconciliation on the campus radio station.

What do you think of your professors?
I have found that when students take the initiative and reach out to professors with questions or start discussions about course material, the professors are very responsive. There are many opportunities to take on research projects under a professor’s guidance or to work as a research assistant—you just have to ask.

What do you think of the school’s administration?
Perhaps the most frustrating part of McGill is its administration. While the university does have resources available to help you choose and get into your classes, you’re more likely to find answers to your questions about registration, program requirements and which classes are worth taking from the McGill Reddit. Throughout my time at McGill, one of the nicest things has been the solidarity between students; we do the best we can to make it easier for each other.

What is off-campus life like in Montreal?
I love Montréal; you get the experience of big-city living without the expense of Toronto or Vancouver. Each Montreal neighborhood has its own character and advantages. From the sprawling parks and famous bagels of the Plateau and Mile End to the cobbled streets and river views of Old Port to the bustling nightlife and shopping scene of Ville-Marie, Montreal has something for everyone. In the summer, the city really comes alive.

PROFILE: McGill University | Montreal, Que. | Founded 1821

Best place to live: Anywhere on the metro’s green line
Best place to study: Gerts Campus Bar & Cafe
Weirdest tradition: The Open Air Pub (OAP), which usually runs the first week of fall semester and the last week of winter semester
Best campus food: Vinh’s Cafe in the Strathcona Music Building
Best cheap lunch: Super Sandwich on the corner of Sherbrooke and Peel—can’t beat $5 for a sub
best pizza: Pizza Bouquet in Little Italy
Best place for a fancy dinner: The Diving Bell Social Club on Boulevard Saint-Laurent
Best bar for hanging out: Gerts (after 5 pm, the café becomes a bar)
Best live music venue: The Diving Bell Social Club on Boulevard Saint-Laurent
Best hangover breakfast: McGill’s Pizza
Best place for a nap: The old couches in the Birks lounge
Best activity weekend: The monthly plateau bazaars at Église Saint-Denis
The thing that surprised me most about the school: The breadth and beauty of campus
If I could change one thing about the school: I would make Gerts Campus Bar & Café open 24/7 for all my studying and socializing needs

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