Kristýna, can you tell us something about yourself? What do you study? Where did you spend your exchange stay?
Hi, I’m Kristýna and I’m currently finishing my master studies in Economic Theory and Modelling at IES. For my semester abroad, I chose McGill University in Montreal.
Where did you learn about the inter-university/inter-faculty programme? Why did you choose this programme?
I remember that this program was presented to us multiple times as a good opportunity to study outside of Europe, which it is. I also learnt about the details myself by simply checking the faculty website with all the info about the inter-university agreements. I had always wanted to visit Canada and when I found the university I liked, I quickly set my mind on going there – that was already almost three years ago, but then I had to apply multiple times because at first, my stay kept being cancelled by McGill because of the pandemic. Anyway, I saw it as a great opportunity to visit the country while continuing with my studies, and also experiencing a new academic environment, so I kept applying until it was finally safe to go in Fall 2022.
Why did you choose McGill University?
I simply liked how the uni presented itself online, and the fact that it was among the top-ranked universities in Canada. I also knew that I wanted to go to Montreal specifically, but didn’t want to study in French, so this option was the best one for me.
Could you tell us something regarding your first days? Any acclimatisation problems or culture shock?
It was my first time going to North America, so definitely everything was a bit new during the first days. But I got used to it very quickly, and it also helped that Montreal has kind of a more European feeling than the rest of Canada. So I don’t remember any big culture shock or major problems.
Would you share with us your favourite experience?
Overall, the whole stay was one huge great experience. I really liked the Canadian mentality and the people in general. It’s hard to choose a favourite experience, but probably the coolest one would be the whale watching I did in Tadoussac, Quebec, in early September – with my friends we rented spots on a small boat, and we actually got to see some whales!
Would you recommend the destination to other students? Would you recommend this type of mobility?
Yes, 100%! This mobility is great for exploring the world outside of Europe and visiting your dream destinations – which was also my case. And as for Montreal, I fell in love with the city so I would recommend it to anyone, even if you don’t speak a word of French!
Sometimes students do not want to go on an exchange as they do not want to leave their comfort zone. What would you tell such students?
I understand it can be challenging and that it simply sounds like too much effort – which it can be, and I also remember not being sure if everything will work out and being a bit anxious about going so far away – I wasn’t even sure if I had enough money to do it. But overall, it was actually much easier than I thought, people are super helpful in general, and if you’re willing to do it even despite some uncertainties, in the end, it’s so much better than what you expect. It’s definitely worth it, and you only fully realize this after you come back – plus, so many other people wouldn’t say the same thing if it wasn’t true!
What’s next? You are in your final year of your Master studies. What are your plans after you finish your studies? Are you thinking of returning to America?
I haven’t made any definitive plans yet, as I first need to focus on finishing my studies. But yes, I think I’d like to go back to Canada for some time. Although I haven’t really started planning anything specific yet.
And the last question: Anything we should do differently or improve to make the preparation for the mobility easier?
I would actually say that the communication with my home university regarding the mobility was in some ways much easier than with the uni abroad, which is the one responsible for giving all the tips and information regarding life and studies. So I can’t think of anything to improve right now.
Thank you for your time.
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