Sandrine Champigny, 23
You may never have heard of the Université du Québec à Montréal, but you can’t miss it if you’ve ever walked through Montreal’s Latin quarter. With its multiple buildings spread out between bookshops and Asian fast-food restaurants, it can be quite hard to find your way around the school at first. But, as soon as you start getting to know UQAM, you realize how practical it is to go from one building to another using the underground tunnels that connect most of them. You can easily earn your bachelor’s degree without ever having to go outside.
When I got out of CEGEP and visited the university, its appearance didn’t appeal to me. But I soon discovered that within these brown walls was a burgeoning, rich, cultural life, as well as a community spirit that’s characteristic of what we call l’Université du peuple— the people’s university. Everyone has a place and can find his or her own way, and partygoers as well as protesters contribute to UQAM’s special place in the francophone educational landscape.
The variety of clubs you can join is pretty wide: From the Intrépides choir to the Scrabble club, you can surely find a place where you belong. There is also a community kitchen, staffed by volunteer students, that takes place every semester—a great way to feed students who can’t always afford good-quality food. With many sports teams running under the banner of the Citadins, UQAM is a good place for those with athletic ambitions. Otherwise, there are a number of print and broadcast media outlets where you can make your debut: CHOQ.ca, SeizeNeuf.tv, and the newspaper Montréal Campus.
Since the university is set in the heart of Montreal, it’s common to leave your class and get stuck in the middle of a festival. The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales is right next to the main campus, so if you need a break from the bustle of the city, you’ve found your haven. Bixi bicycle stations all around help you move from one place to another. Bars and restaurants are everywhere—the hardest part is choosing one. Montreal never sleeps, and neither does UQAM.
Check out Nightlife.ca for the best of Montreal.