ESG UQAM UNIVERSITÉ DE QUEBEC À MONTRÉAL. Fall

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1 ESG UQAM UNIVERSITÉ DE QUEBEC À MONTRÉAL Fall

2 1. Preparing for the exchange The following documents were needed for the application to UQAM: Copy of the individual record of civil status (e.g. birth certificate) attesting to the identity of the person and including the names of both parents (magistrate, costs 13 euros) Official transcript of all courses completed to date by the candidate in his/her current program Application form approved and signed by the home institution and signed by the student (exchange student coordinator Minna Pekkanen and the dean of ones major) List of all courses taken by the candidate during the two semesters preceding his/her arrival at ESG UQAM If planning to take courses in French a certificate attesting to French language skills People from Finland staying less than 6 months do not need a visa to enter the country. Upon arrival the acceptance letter from UQAM is enough to show that one came to study to Montréal. All the necessary information about the arrival and legal steps in the host country will come through e- mail from the coordinator at UQAM before the departure so it is pretty easy to just follow the instructions. An important thing before leaving is to obtain a document called SF/Q4. This document can be applied from KELA. I suggest everybody to order this document well in advance because in Canada, everybody is required to have a health insurance, and therefore, there will be a health insurance fee of around $ 600 CAD received that one should pay. However, the Finnish KELA has a contract with the government of Quebec and with the SF/Q4 document the health insurance can be repealed. The University provides all the information regarding the repeal after the arrival. The important part is that without this document from KELA the amount of the insurance have to be paid and there is nothing UQAM can do about it. Hence, it is really recommended to get the document well in advance and call back to KELA to

3 make sure that the document is received on time. When arriving to Montréal there were some things that had to be done in order to have all legal things in order. Our school s coordinators were really helpful and during the orientation we did almost everything together. Therefore it was pretty easy to get everything done well before school started. 2. Exchange studies The semester started on the 7 th of September and I had the last exam on the 21 st of December. We had only one- day break during the whole semester and it was the day of Canadian Thanksgiving on the 21 st of October. It was recommended to arrive to Montréal one week before the orientation day so I arrived on the 30 th of August. UQAM is probably the most Québécois University in the whole city, and therefore most of the courses in UQAM are offered in French. Decent knowledge of French definitely helps to survive in this school even though it is not necessary. There are also various courses offered in English and it is not a problem to do the whole exchange program in English. In French one just has more to choose from. For those who are interested there are also a variety of French language courses from really basic to more advance level. Since you can include one language course in the exchange program it is a good choice to do a language course among other studies. However, when choosing a French language course one has to be quick in the very beginning of the semester because before choosing a appropriate level there is a language proficiency test to be done. More information about this is provided before leaving to exchange. Each course was held once a week three hours in a row. The lecture times were 9:30-12:30, 14:00-17:00 and 18:00-21:00. Most of the English courses were in

4 the evening. ESG UQAM offers both undergraduate and graduate courses in various programs, like administration, economics and marketing. The schoolbooks are pretty expensive in Canada. All the professors were underlining that is really important to obtain the books before the courses so I spent over $ 200 CAD for them. In the end I did not need any of them and there were some books that I did not even open. So, I recommend not buying any schoolbooks whatever the teacher says. The courses DSR International Business Management and Culture, Undergraduate, 3 credits = 6 ECTS Lecturer: Hanan Smidi This course was the easiest one that I had. The content was all about international business and how culture affects to it around the world. We were divided into small groups in the first class. With this group we worked on some small case studies and did the mid- term together. Additionally, we had one individual assignment to hand in about a current news event and its development in time. In the end of the semester we had a final exam that was done individually. Overall, even though the course was not very serious I enjoyed it a lot. Also, the teacher was amazing. There were a lot of good discussions about current things that were happening, consequently really broadening my horizons about how differently people perceive things that are going on in the world and how culture affects to our opinions. MKG International Marketing, Undergraduate, 3 credits = 6 ECTS Lecturer: Andre Richelieu This course offered look into product management, distribution channels, pricing and promotion in the international context. The content was really interesting and the professor was enthusiastic about the topic. He really cared about his students and wanted us to learn and participate during the class. Ms. Richelieu had experience and good stories to tell even though sometimes I felt like I am back in

5 elementary school because of the strict policies during the class. We had two group assignments, a mid- term and a final exam. One of the assignments was a video ad project that was fun to work on. The level of the course was quite easy even though it required quite much work compared to other ones. ORH Introduction to Human Resources Management, Undergraduate, 3 credits = 6 ECTS Lecturer: Nathalie Awad This course was about Job Analysis, Job Design and its different elements. This course I liked the least. I did not find the content really interesting and the teacher did not make it much better. She was basically reading from the slides and not giving an impression that she was really into teaching. For me this course was not very useful and I felt like it did not offer me anything else than some obvious facts about how to manage people. I would not recommend this course to anyone unless you are really into the subject. The course consisted of a group project where we had to interview a HR specialist in an organization, a mid- term and a final- exam. MKG5305 Consumer Behaviour, Undergraduate, 3 credits = 6 ECTS Lecturer: Thomas Verzar This course was one of the best courses that I have had during my University life. The professor was basically the funniest guy on Earth and the classes were really entertaining. Also, the topic was very interesting and it went deep into how consumers make their purchasing decisions and how customers can be guided into certain direction. It was a mix of marketing and psychology offering a lot of new and interesting facts that I did not know in advance. I recommend this course to everyone. DSR2010 Business Social Responsibility, Undergraduate, 3 credits = 6 ECTS Lecturer: Caterina Bettin This course offered a brief introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility and how it should be managed in an organization. We talked about the ethical

6 problems that arose in today s global society and how they could be handled. The teacher was really young and not really experiences which could definitely be seen. Otherwise, the course was pretty entertaining and we had some really deep discussions about variety of topics during the class. The course consisted of two quizzes, a final exam and two group assignments. Overall, the course was pretty easy and nothing really special either. 3. Free time and other information Overall, cost of living was a little less than in Finland. My apartment was on a really nice location on the Plateau (www.studioamontreal.net) two metro stops away from the school. The rent was $ 980 CAD per month. I had a studio on my own which raised the rent amount quite a bit. Nevertheless, there are a lot of cheaper choices like shared apartments that cost around $ CAD (www.getyourplace.ca) per month. Groceries and transportation are not relatively cheaper but restaurants and cafés are quite cheap. If living in Montréal the Plateau is definitely the place to be. It is near to the bars and the coolest cafés and restaurants. Is a place for young adults and there is something happening all the time. We had two- day official orientation organized by our school. During the weekend we also had some activities with UQAM s student organization that organizes events for international students. UQAM is known for not having a lot of activities for international students but in my opinion it is getting better all the time. The people taking care of us are really trying to improve things and making our time there as good as possible. Also, the coordinators were always really helpful and really taking care of us. I never felt that I was felt alone with even the smallest problems that I had. For me not having activities with school wasn t even a problem since I am quite active to plan things on my own. Even though there are not many events organized by the school it is still pretty easy to get know to people. The fact that in the English courses 90 percent of the

7 people are exchange students makes it easy to see everybody. Also having a lot of group projects during the semester helps to create contacts. It is really important to go and participate as much as possible in the beginning of the semester. Nobody is going to pick anybody from his/her home but once you go out people are really open to get to know to each other. This is especially true with other exchange students who are there to make as much of the semester as they can, but also, in my opinion the Canadians are really interested of people coming from abroad. I have nothing but good things to say about the locals. They are one of the nicest; the most open- minded people that I have ever met so if there is a chance to get to know with locals just go for it! I had school only from Tuesday to Thursday so I had a lot of free time to travel and see the city. Montreal is a student city with a really cool and laid- back atmosphere. I fell in love with everything from the first day. There is so much to do that there is no way of getting bored in Montréal. There are a lot of nice restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs, music festivals and jazz clubs. Basically there is everything if one has enough curiosity to find out about the things that are happening. I was lucky because I came to the city in the end of August when the weather was still nice and warm. The summer lasted several months after I arrived. Montréal is such a different city during summertime so I definitely suggest everybody to visit it then if possible. This fall has been really warm, and basically, we did not have any snow at all. The locals were saying that this has been exceptionally warm autumn, so usually it is already minus degrees in December. Nevertheless, the coldest period is during January and March. The city is covered with snow and people just want to stay inside. Does sound kind of Finnish to me. Montréal is quite European, actually a lot more European than I expected. It definitely stands out from the rest of North America. There is a lot of French influence and the first language for many people is French. Still, there is a unique Montréal kind of atmosphere that I haven t experienced anywhere else in the world. Still, I did not have any cultural chock when going there. In general

8 Canadian people are really nice and welcoming, I fell in love with the whole nation during my stay. I really met some of the most amazing people in Montréal. Anybody who is going to Canada for an exchange I have one tip: Do not stay only with the exchange students. I know that it is easy to just stay with other international student, but making a little effort and getting to know local people is definitely worth it! Travelling in Canada is easy. Renting a car is relatively cheaper than in Finland so it is easy to do a weekend trip to Niagara Falls, Toronto or any of the amazing national parks that are near by. Canada s nature is definitely worth visiting. A lot of my friends rented a chalet for a weekend and just went out to the nature. The pictures and the stories that I heard and saw afterwards Not doing that is one of the only things that I regret about my stay. With buss it is pretty easy to visit cities in the U.S. like Boston, Washington and NYC. For example MegaBuss and Greyhound are pretty good and reliable companies that offers trips almost anywhere. Also, Interstude organizes various cheap trips around North America. 4. Final comments The quality of the studies at UQAM was not really high. Therefore if somebody wants to go abroad and take the most out of the studying experience, in my opinion UQAM is not the place to go. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my time in this specific University and especially in this specific city. The staff taking such a good care of the international students affairs was amazing and I felt welcome from the day one. Also, the teachers really gave their best and the atmosphere among student was really warm despite the fact that the University is really French speaking with a lot of French students. Still as I said earlier not knowing any French is definitely not a problem for going to Montréal. I had many friends who did not speak French at all. It is just good to realize that the first language in Montréal is French before going there so it will not be a chock once arriving.

9 As cliché as it sounds, I learnt a lot about my self. It was the one thing that I came here to look for and I found many new sides of me that I did not know anything about. Travelling alone and starting a new life in a new city on your own was something that has given me a lot of self- confidence and made me stronger. Once stepping out of the comfort zone one starts to see things differently. I got more perspective and deepened my knowledge about the cultural differences, and also, I learned how to cope with them. In addition, I became familiar with working in a multicultural environment. The various group assignments really showed me that working with people from different backgrounds can be challenging sometimes. I had to develop my communication skills and learn to listen more carefully. So, just go out there and discover the world people!

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