When planning for exchange, my primary concern was accommodation.  I knew that once I found a place to live everything else would fall into place. Having lived on residence for 3 years at ANU I’d seen flocks of exchange students come through our doors and I had a pretty good idea of what made their exchange experience positive. Depending on the kind of exchange experience you are after, it might help to talk to students exchanging at the ANU and see what they would/would not change about their situation to make it suit your own goals.

My mental checklist consisted of something like this:

  1. Live with other students – I’m a social person, and while I don’t mind doing things by myself, I knew it would be easiest to make friends and found someone I clicked with if I lived with a lot of people.
  2. Comfortable with sharing a kitchen and bathroom – there are options for self-contained apartments (Greenbriars apartment; La Marq) where you do not have to share amenities.
  3. Live with people my own age – at McGill, Halls of Residence/Colleges are mostly occupied by first year students and then people move out into share-houses.  Because I’d lived on residence for 3 years and am a little older than most first years, I wasn’t too interested in staying in one of these residences.
  4. Live with other Exchange students – some people prefer to live with locals (in which case a share-house off Facebook might be a good route to go down) but I knew I wanted to meet people with a similar agenda to me.  Exchange students are usually keen to explore the country and have the time to travel which was a priority for me.
  5. Affordable and willing to cook for myself – this pretty much ruled out any of the meal plan options offered by the McGill residences

After talking to a few people who had been to McGill on exchange previously I decided on staying at one of the exchange student housing options provided by McGill (https://www.mcgill.ca/students/housing/fees-applying/exchange-students-1).  When first applying to McGill I was able to select an option that said I was interested in housing options offered by the Uni.  Then, in early November I was sent an email asking if I had a preference on where I’d like to stay. My current residence (522 Pine Avenue) goes on and off the market as an exchange house depending on demand, but I replied requesting it and was immediately given a place.

This residence is located across the road from the university and the uni gym ($40 a semester with a free pool).  522 is a beautiful cosy brownstone and houses 15 residents with the cheapest room being a shared double (2 of 13 rooms).  We share a kitchen; living area (including a piano and TV); pool room and dining room between ourselves.  I’m lucky enough to live on the top floor with a balcony and share 2 bathrooms between 4 girls. 

There are also several types of rooms in our house. I opted for a small single ($709 a month) but larger singles can be more expensive.  My small single (pictured below) came with a mattress, mattress protector, desk, chair and shelving. 

I have loved living in my residence, it was easy to make friends, is beautifully located and most importantly a great place to come home to.