John Henry Rumsby, 22
English and French literature
The Université de Montréal is an internationally recognized school set in one of Canada’s biggest cities. Because of this, a lot of people dismiss it as a stereotypical college akin to so many others, but, in reality, U de M remains one of the most unique places I’ve ever been.
U de M prides itself on being the top francophone university in North America, but its true distinction is its diversity. More than 60,000 students from around the world attend; countless ideas clash daily regarding familiar and unfamiliar issues, for an intellectually provocative experience. Student associations are dedicated, organizing frequent events. Passionate professors offer progressive approaches to traditional material and methodic analyses of uncommon subjects.
The campus itself has a “patchwork” quality, as contrast is everywhere. Buildings resemble prisons, but lush greenery emerges come spring. Classrooms are cramped roundtables or cyclopean auditoriums. Libraries seem to belong in fantasy novels, while gyms are sci-fi-esque in design. Nearby Lebanese restaurants serve cheeseburgers and diners have halal selections. A cemetery borders the entrance, exaggerating the weirdness.
And yet this anarchic diversity allows U de M to become an environment that encourages everyone to deeply involve him- or herself, both as scholars and as friends. It feels like a community, a feat few universities can claim to achieve.
U de M is overflowing with things to do outside of class, and I don’t mean just parties where beer comes cheap. Conferences are varied, numerous and thought-provoking, touching on subjects such as the ethics of cloning or Iroquois mythology. Foreign films are screened regularly. Local authors give public readings of their latest works and are interviewed about the creative process behind their projects. Professors from across the continent come to deliver fascinating lectures. And if that weren’t enough, the student associations are always organizing department-exclusive or campus-wide events, such as tours for newer students, concerts, trivia nights and athletic competitions.
Montreal is the kind of place where going for a short walk usually turns into an adventure, since there are always things to see and do. Dozens of museums are open daily. The old port area has a quaint atmosphere, with iconic eateries lining stone-paved streets where musicians perform. Downtown has more bars than you can visit in a lifetime. Magnificent churches decorate every district, regardless of how glib the surroundings seem. The Botanical Garden allows those tired of urbanity to unwind. And, in the summer, there’s even more: the Montreal Jazz Festival, Piknik Eletronik, Comiccon, fireworks displays, poutine cook-offs . . .
Follow MTLBlog.com to stay up-to-date on everything happening in Montreal, and your department’s Facebook page to keep track of special events at school.