Gone are the days when the image of summer school was a punishment to keep free-spirited kids away from their dreams of sweet summertime. In university, the reasons for choosing to enroll in summer classes can range from lightening the course load during the traditional school year, keeping up with a scheduled graduation date after setbacks, or even an attempt to fast-track one’s degree. Whatever the motivation may be, summer school at McGill is not to be dreaded, but cherished.
The classes that McGill offers in the summer are almost all one month long, so class hours are significantly longer than they would be during a normal semester. Classes can actually become more enjoyable and engaging when you are able to allot them more time and attention.
The greater amount of daylight also makes waking up and getting to classes much less of a burden. These sunny days are also great for exploring new study spots that simply are not accessible during most of the year, most notably the Lower Field lawn.
Summer in Montreal is not just for school. Although most students spend a large portion of the year in Montreal trying to avoid being outside for extended periods of time, the summer scene in Montreal offers some outdoor activities that will shed a whole new light on the city. A greater inclination to explore the city by foot or bike in the warmer weather provide numerous opportunities to find very cool areas that may otherwise have gone unexplored during your time at McGill.
While the snow can be pretty, the view from Mont Royal is undeniably more beautiful with some foliage on the trees. Aside from Parc Mont-Royal, Montreal boasts some other beautiful parks slightly further outside the McGill bubble that are definitely worth the visit. Parc La Fontaine is still relatively close to campus, and is often the location of outdoor yoga classes in the summer. For a more extended day activity, rent a bike on the Canal Lachine and travel west to arrive at Parc René Lévesque, which juts out into the Saint-Lawrence River at the end of the canal—a far point of the city that few students get the chance to visit. Although the Atwater and Jean-Talon markets are open year-round, they have a more lively vibe in the summer that makes market shopping a more enjoyable activity.
Another noticeable difference in the summer is the chance to enjoy the patio experience of some of Montreal’s best restaurants or bars, because happy hour—or lunch hour—truly is much better on a patio. In terms of nightlife and entertainment, summer also tends to be the time of year that a lot of big concert tours travel through Montreal. This year’s big names include Tori Kelly, Justin Bieber, Janet Jackson, and Ellie Goulding—and these are just some of the shows that can be attended. Last minute tickets can be purchased on the website Vivid Seats. While there is no guarantee that tickets can be snagged, on the off chance they are purchased, the website can be a great, affordable option.
While they can go unnoticed, a small feature that adds to the summer experience is the proliferation of beautiful gardens downtown. Last summer, a short stroll west on Rue Sherbrooke from McGill exposed passersby to rows upon rows of beautiful tulips.
While most students often try to get away from McGill following their last Winter final, the summer months in Montreal are patiently waiting to display all they have to offer. From the very little changes that summer brings to the city’s energy, to the chance to enjoy a class on a deeper level and the opportunity to gain a more holistic view of Montreal, working in at least one summer month into your time studying at McGill is something every student should consider.