Exchange semester at HEC Montreal, Canada- Joel Görgen

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1 Exchange semester at HEC Montreal, Canada- Joel Görgen During the fall semester of 2014, I spent my exchange semester at the École des hautes études commerciales in Montreal, Canada- shortly HEC Montreal. I wanted to go to this university for exchange, as I wanted to use the chance of spending one semester at a North American university. Besides, I was interested in exploring Canada and its culture and nature. Coming back to Sweden now I am very happy that I chose this spot for my exchange since I had an amazing time there and made many new friends. The following report shall give you a basic idea about my experiences abroad and shall help you in deciding if HEC Montreal could also be an exchange spot for you. Montreal Montreal is the second biggest city in Canada and the biggest one in the province of Quebec. The city of Montreal has a populations of circa 1,6 Million people and the entire Metropolitan area is inhabited by 4,1 Million people. The city itself is located on an island that is surrounded by the Saint Lawrence River and the Ottawa River. Besides, Montreal is- for North American standards- very closely situated to other important cities like Toronto, Boston or New York City. Since Montreal lies within the province of Quebec, the main language spoken is French. This can be a shock to many exchange students who believe that in North America everyone must speak English, just to realize then, that a lot of Montrealers solely speak French. However, it is possible to survive in Montreal without speaking French and a lot of people still speak English and will be able to understand you. The interesting thing about Montreal is that it is like a mix between North America and Europe. On the one side you clearly feel that you are on a different continent and you see typical American streets and skylines, on the other side you sense that Montreal holds a long and intensive Colonial past and was influenced by the culture of both France and the UK. This unique combination makes living in Montreal a fun and exciting experience. In addition, the nature around Montreal is great and gives a lot of opportunities for hiking tours and trips. The weather in Montreal is not as cold as one could imagine when thinking about Canada. In fact, the beginning months of my semester were extremely warm with 30 C or more in the month of August and September. During autumn, Canadians have something which is called Indian summer a short period in October or November

2 where the temperatures are also rising high again. Only December was really cold in my opinion. It was snowing and we sometimes had temperatures around - 15 C. HEC Montreal HEC Montreal is the oldest business university in entire Canada and highly ranked since several years. It has a very good reputation and is especially known to have expertise in the field of management studies. The campus consists of two main buildings, which are located a little outside of downtown and the city center. HEC Montreal has students. The buildings are very modern and light and offer students a great space for their studies. Besides, HEC owns a big library, which is though not as well equipped as one might think when seeing it first. A very good thing about HEC Montreal is that its stuff is extremely helpful to exchange students. The international office is very competent in giving advice and offering support in various situations. Student s needs and wants are taken care of and at least I never da the feeling that I would be left alone in case I had a problem. The only thing I really did not like about Montreal was the public transport. Even though it was good for North American standards, you could not reach all parts of the city easily and efficiently. Courses at HEC Typically, each exchange student takes five courses at HEC Montreal. I chose to pic courses that would specialize me in the field of management. These courses were Operations Management, Management Skills, Management Accounting, Conflict Management and Small Business Management. All of these courses were quite demanding and consisted of a lot of work. In general, it must be said, that all courses that are chosen at HEC Montreal are run simultaneously which is a big difference to Sweden. Each course usually consists of a midterm and a final exam. Besides, students need to do many assignments and a lot of group works. In addition, some courses require students to do big projects, like my course in Small Business Management did. The final grade for each course will therefore not only consist of the results achieved in the midterm and the final exam but also of all the grades that have been achieved in the various assignments and projects of this course.

3 Even though the teachers at HEC are generally quite strict and very demanding, they are also very helpful and supportive and besides that extremely motivated in teaching their students. There are a variety of courses to choose from which are offered in the English, French or Spanish language. From the courses that I chose I would definitely recommend Management Skills, Operations Management and Conflict Management which were taught by very good teachers and were extremely informative. Management Accounting was a very difficult course and the teacher was very strict and unfriendly. Students taking this course should in my opinion be aware of that. Though, I would say I learned a lot from the course. Small Business Management, however, was a course that was extremely time consuming while being not that informative at the same time. The teacher was not really competent and the subject of entrepreneurship and small businesses was not really covered convincingly. Therefore, this is the only course I would not recommend to future exchange students- at least the English version of the course. Finally, it must be said here that all exchange students agreed that especially the Accounting and Finance courses were very challenging and demanding at HEC Montreal. Students taking those courses must be aware of that fact and should ask themselves if they are interested enough in the subject for putting the required amount of energy in it. Housing Most exchange students will find housing in Montreal through GetYourPlace. This website offers student dorms to exchange students which almost all are very central. However, there are not enough spots for all exchange students and there is one day where you can register for this housing offers- which is why the website usually breaks down. Besides, students should have a PayPal account since one is required to make a payment. Unfortunately, I was not lucky in the housing by GetYourPlace and needed therefore to find accommodation on my own. The university was helping me though in finding possible announcements and calling landlords. In the end, I could move together in a collective with two other exchange students, which was very nice. The quality of housing is not as nice as in Stockholm or Sweden and many exchange students were quite shocked when they saw what was offered to them. That goes for

4 both the houses of GetYourPlace and those on the private market. Nevertheless, I was very lucky and got an apartment that had a comparable standard to those in Sweden. In general, it is easier to find accommodation in Montreal (even just for four months) than for example in Stockholm. Talking about where in Montreal one should live I would definitely recommend the district le Plateau. It is quite a nice neighborhood with many bars, shops, cafés, boutiques and restaurants and many students live in this part of the city. It is a calm area but at the same time you are quickly in the party districts or in downtown. However, the way to school can be a little longer with minutes. But that is totally worth it. Cost of living In general, the money needed for one month is about the same for Montreal than it is for Stockholm. In Montreal, it is much more expensive to buy in the supermarkets whereas going out for dinner is slightly cheaper than in Sweden, which is why my friends and me basically ate out at restaurants for half a year. The rents are a little cheaper than in Stockholm, unless you decide to live in downtown or Old Montreal. Shopping is also not that much cheaper as many people would think. Mobile Sim cards and Internet is extremely expensive compared to Sweden and you should not be shocked when you see the high prices of the various providers. Buddy Program I highly and warmly recommend taking part in the Buddy Program and in the official welcome week. During this time you will meet a lot of amazing new people and make the essential first friendships in your new home. Besides, it gives you the unique opportunity to explore Montreal and its surrounding right from the beginning and to take part in many fun activities in the Canadian nature. You really miss a lot if you do not participate in this first week so I think the money you invest in registering for it and buying your ticket is the best money you can invest for your start in Montreal. Traveling A nice thing about Montreal is that it offers you the opportunity to travel around East Canada and the East coast of the USA. During my exchange I travelled Quebec and made trips to Quebec City, Toronto, Boston and New York City. Besides, I and a many other exchange students organized a trip to Cuba for one week, which was truly one of my

5 best weeks of the exchange. Students usually get really good deals for such a trip to Cuba and I would recommend in arranging something similar for the exchange students that will go to Montreal in the future. Conclusion In conclusion I would highly recommend in choosing Montreal as a spot for your exchange. It was a truly unique and awesome experience with many great people for which I am very thankful.

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