McGill University boasted an impressive 40,036 student population as of Fall 2018. On any given day, at any given moment, there are 40,036 lives in the close proximity that only a university campus can provide; 40,036 schedules, routines, habits, strangers. Although the number can be daunting, I have found that my time at McGill was shaped by the fact that no two students’ lives are the same, a comforting idea that mitigates a socially isolating atmosphere. McGill students lives are diverse, but that does not mean that they do not share any relatable experiences.
Not only does the excessive construction on campus contradict the aesthetic presented in of the school’s brochures, it also infringes on my usual path to class. I have to rely on my quick-thinking skills to navigate a sea of students and unfamiliar territory to travel to my next lecture.
By mid-morning, McGill has already gifted me with two things. The first, a professor that is a genuine expert in their field. They are the type of person that appears as the reference point when searching keywords related to their research. And second, it builds up an overconfidence in my abilities that, more often than not, is destructive. I start every semester excessively confident taking a course that I should have most definitely taken pass-fail. In this next hour, this truth becomes clear.
I failed the midterm of said class. Never one to downplay its own generosity, McGoll has ingrained in me the expectation of ice cream as compensation for poor performance. As I trek to McConnell Engineering to wallow in pity and free ice cream as a result of my ‘F’ grade, I can’t help but wonder if indulging in this post-failure ritual is only going to condition me to accept defeat. In the meantime, there’s ice cream.
On my way to meet a professor during their office hours in Leacock, I am distracted by the overwhelming fragrance of a samosa sale. McGill has given me an appreciation for the little things—prismatic, pocket-sized, potato-filled, one-dollar morsel things.
During my second class of the day, McGill brings out my tendency to tell white lies. That one I time I asked for an extension for my paper was not necessarily because my grandmother was ill, nor because my mother broke her toe, and definitely not because the dog I have had since I was four years old died. Rather, I got a really good deal for a flight to New York and spent the weekend sans laptop. It happens.
McGill, at around this hour every day has gifted me with the phenomenon that I have named the ‘studious step’: the walk that students take on their way to the library. I approach the library with a calm facade, while inside, my stomach coils, my heart rate increases, and beads of sweat slowly form on my forehead, before, I realize that I left my computer charger at home.
I have learned a lot about bad financial decisions during my time at McGill. I usually do not last half an hour in McLennan before hurrying down to Première Moisson to order an overpriced coffee or an even more ridiculously-priced box consisting of two grapes, a four-by-four centimeter block of cheese, and three crackers. What I really learned from this experience is to make the most out of a bad situation. Exhibit A: I can neither confirm nor deny whether I have usually eaten my cookie in line before paying, but I would prefer if the cashiers didn’t check the security footage.
Finally, an adequate hour to leave the library after some ‘productive’ studying. As I walk past the Arts Building and down through the Roddick Gates, the wind carries a whisper past my ear: ‘Study, samosa, studious step, ‘spend’, Suwu, sleep, repeat.’