McGill athletic centre

McGill athletic centre exterior
McGill athletic centre exterior

The McGill athletic centre is a maze. I went there on Friday for the first time, and again on Monday, to go for a swim and to use the weight room. To get to the pool, you go through the main entrance off Pins Ouest, and then turn right. You go down the hall until you see a sign on the right with a diagram of a man on a diving board, which says “vestiaire masculin” (men’s change room) and “follow me.” You open the door, then go down a set of stairs, open another door, and follow a winding path of doorways and corridors with low-set pipes running above your head. If I was much taller, I would run into them, I think.

A sign that leads through a labyrinth of hallways with low ceilings and exposed pipes to the men's locker room
A sign that leads through a labyrinth of hallways with low ceilings and exposed pipes to the men's locker room

After my swim, I checked out the weight room. It was very busy, but there were a lot of cardio machines there. I got lost on the way out and had to ask someone coming out of the football team office how to find the men’s change room that adjoins the pool. They pointed me in the direction of a completely different set of twisty hallways that went by a rather large set of loudly humming electrical panels and did eventually lead to the change room where I had left my things.

Sketchy hallway on the way to the McGill Memorial Pool
Sketchy hallway on the way to the McGill Memorial Pool

Oh, and by the way, they’re strangely insistent that you bring your towel to the fitness centre. When I paid for access to the school gym on Thursday, the gentleman who was helping me made mention of it at least 4 times while selling me the gym membership. Not only that, but there is a big sign, saying that you need a towel for entry, just outside the fitness centre doors. Maybe it’s a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference or something.

How to get a Métro pass in Montréal at the student rate

A Métro station in Montréal
A Métro station in Montréal
  • Submit your legal documentation to McGill.
  • Wait for your Québec Permanent Code. This number is generated by the government of Québec, and there’s nothing the school can do to speed up this process. This may take over a month. Your permanent code can be found in Minerva, under Student Menu > Student Records Menu > View Your Unofficial Transcript. If the box next to “Permanent Code” is blank, it hasn’t been provided yet.
  • Go to the James Administration Building. You can get a confirmation of enrolment for the OPUS card there.
  • You will need $13, your Permanent Code, confirmation of enrolment and a pen for this step. Go to the OPUS centre at McGill Station and fill out a form to request an OPUS card. Buy a card. They will take your photograph at this point, so maybe have a shower that day.
  • Put enough money on your OPUS card to buy a monthly student pass. For one month, it costs $37.
  • Buy a monthly pass, and use the OPUS card as your Métro fare.
  • Finally, get on the subway at your nearest Métro stop and reminisce about the days at UWO where your student government literally handed you a public transit pass on your first day of school. (Then again, the transit in London is nowhere near as good as it is in Montréal, so it’s best not to romanticise your memories of it too much.)

Right now, I’m on step two – waiting for my Québec Permanent Code. I eagerly check on the McGill student services site daily, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Edit: I finally got my Québec Permanent Code on August 5th. (I submitted my legal documentation on June 19th.) And yes, I did rush out to get a Métro pass. And yes it is everything I could have dreamed it would be. :)

Another edit: If you are moving to Montréal, consider downloading the iPhone app for the Montréal Métro that I wrote!

… during …

Here's Pickles, painting a wall green
Here's Pickles, painting a wall green

Pickles says that the new paint, in her mind, changes this place from a random apartment into our home. I’m just glad that I don’t have to put up any more primer. :) Pickles has a lot more patience for this sort of thing than I do. But painting a white primer onto an already-white wall is a little demotivating. In all seriousness, though, the new paint does look good. I even picked out the shade of yellow that we’re using.

The colours that we’ve chosen are “Cabbage Patch” and “Luminary Yellow.” And I still can’t express how happy I am that our building’s maintenance man will be doing the cutting for us.

The apartment is still in disarray, as we can’t really unpack anything, which is a bit of a frustration, but I believe that all the painting will be done after this weekend, so I should be able to survive until then.

By the way, it’s really hot here in Montréal. There’s lots of windows in the apartment, which brings the temperature down nicely, but it can still get stinkin’ hot during the day. That might also be contributing to why I get cranky while painting the walls with primer.

You can even make a paint can look artistic
You can even make a paint can look artistic

A nice thing about the apartment is that there’s a lot more light here than in our old place. Our old apartment had two big balconies, sure, but not much by way of windows. And the windows there weren’t very nice to look at, either. Here, it’s a lot nicer. Just check out this picture! It’s a picture of a paint-can and it still looks nice!

Weird things that my parents forgot

Here are a few of the weird things that my parents left behind
Here are a few of the weird things that my parents left behind

I am very thankful for the help that I received from my parents. They rented a U-Haul truck for us, they helped us to carry all our stuff from our old apartment to the truck, they helped us to set up the kitchen in the new apartment, and they hired movers to carry our stuff from the truck to the new apartment. This would have been a much bigger pain without them.

That said, they left some weird things behind when they left. Here are a few of the things that my parents forgot when they went back to Stratford: A box of Passion Flakies, a pair of reading glasses, a black notebook and pen, and a napkin with “Tyrannosaurus Rex/King of the Tyrant lizards” written on it. The napkin is our favourite.

Edit: After writing this post, I noticed that my parents also left a squeeze-bottle of salsa, and a bag of tortilla chips. Also, my dad said that he left a pair of gigantic sunglasses that he wears over his regular glasses, but we haven’t found it yet.

My parents are hilarious.

Before …

The rollers that we used to paint our apartment
The rollers that we used to paint our apartment

One of the terms of our lease that we negotiated was that the maintenance man from our building would help us to paint our apartment. This guy is great. He’s very helpful and friendly, and he’s good at what he does, too.

So on Monday afternoon, he stopped by and showed me and Pickles how to start to paint our new apartment. What a great deal! Especially considering that neither Pickles nor I know how to paint. At all. Seriously. One of those skills that I never learned how to do when growing up.

The study, before painting
The study, before painting

When he came to give us our instructions, he told us that he wants us to do the “rolling,” and then he’ll do all the “cutting” on Friday. What that means, for the non-initiate (like me), is that we will be priming and applying paint to all the big surfaces of the apartment, and then he will come along and fix up all the edges and the small details that we can’t get with paint-rollers.

Our apartment is starting to look like a real-people home!

New student card!

My new McGill card and my old UWO card
My new McGill card and my old UWO card

Today I got my new McGill student card. I woke up this morning, and made sure to put on my nice white t-shirt and my nice white collared shirt, and I went to campus and they took my picture.

Look at the photo attached to this post. The first thing you’ll note is that the hair is gone, but then I also want to draw attention to the fact that even though these student card photos were taken 6 years apart (summer of 2003 and summer of 2009), I am wearing exactly the same clothes. Not just clothes that are the same style, but the very same shirts that I was wearing on my Summer Academic Orientation day in 2003 are the shirts that I wore today. And I’m okay with that.

When Pickles noticed, she said, “Guess what you’re getting for Christmas this year!”

Chilli

Making chilli in our new kitchen
Making chilli in our new kitchen

When we moved, the cooler opened itself up in the back of the truck. We had packed in there all the unused food that we had in London and planned to bring to Montréal. So when we arrived, opened the back door of the truck and saw a single jar of freezer jam fall out and smash on the street, we were initially very concerned about rest of the contents of the cooler – where had they gone? Were they oozing into our mattress?

Fortunately, the spill was very local, but all the meats that we had packed were thawed. That sounds like bad news, but what it meant is that Pickles has been busy for the past day or so cooking up lots and lots of chilli. This is good news indeed.

Our new kitchen is a bit smaller than the old one, but as you can see in the photo, we can fit our chest freezer inside it, which we couldn’t do in our old place. Also, we have a brand-new stove here, and a reasonably new and clean refrigerator. There is a little pantry just to the side of our kitchen, where we can keep food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, before we eat it, and so the fact that it’s a little smaller doesn’t mean that we’ll be too cramped in it or anything.

The movers

The top of the stairs at our new apartment
The top of the stairs at our new apartment

You wouldn’t think that our small apartment back in London would be able to hold very much stuff, but it turns out we filled a whole 17′ truck full of boxes, shelves, furniture, etc. I am very thankful that we started earlier than we had originally planned to. Not only that, but Nitro and the Mortons came to help out, which made the job of loading the truck in London do-able.

Our new apartment is on the 4th floor of an apartment building with no elevator. That’s a lot of stairs. Especially after loading everything into the truck, and driving the 8 hours from London to Stratford to Montréal.

So when we got here, and took stock of just how long it would take us to move everything up to the apartment, we decided we needed some help. My parents hired movers to carry our stuff up the stairs. Best investment of money yet. These guys had so much energy. They literally jumped up our stairs, two or more at a time, and slid down the bannister on the way back down. They carried all our boxes, furniture – everything up the stairs in about 2 hours. And they mentioned that they had already done one job that day, and were hoping for another.

We were marvelling at how intense the movers were for hours after they were gone. It was really something quite spectacular to see. Now, all we have to do is get all the stuff out of the boxes and put away.

Count your blessings

The courtyard for our apartment
The courtyard for our apartment

These past few days have been busy! We made it to Montréal, and at the request of many friends and family, I think I’m going to blog about it. I’m dead-tired right now, so I’m going to give a summary of a bunch of things that went really right, that easily could have gone otherwise. I will fill you in later with more of the details of what has happened recently.

  • We found our apartment in Montréal very quickly. We had allotted a week for apartment-hunting, but we ended up taking the 2nd one that we saw.
  • We negotiated a great deal on our apartment. And I mean a great deal. So good that our landlord called us back and called our demands “brutal.”
  • Our new apartment is right across the street from the Métro station, which puts us about 20 mins away from McGill.
  • When we got here, we discovered that we can actually see a grocery store from our apartment window. It’s just down the street from us.
  • We rented a truck to move our stuff to Montréal. On the U-Haul website, for an apartment, they recommended the 14′ truck for an apartment. Fortunately, the U-Haul people on Erie Street in Stratford were all out of 14′ trucks, so we rented a 17′ truck instead. This was good, because there was no way that all our stuff would have fit into a 14′ truck. No way at all.
  • I had a job interview the very day after we arrived in Montréal. (It was today, Friday, at 11h. I’ll write a post about how that went.)
  • When we arrived, we arrived a little bit before my parents, and the doorknob on the door wasn’t working, but we just happened to arrive at the exact same time as the man who does maintenance work in our building, and he helped us get into our apartment right then.
  • Just yesterday, when we stopped by Stratford to drop off some stuff, I got an email from McGill – I was offered a position as a Teacher’s Assistant!
  • We were originally planning on having my parents come by at 10h30 on Thursday to begin packing. Fortunately for us, they got the truck a day early, which meant that a bunch of friends could help us pack everything into the truck. There was a lot of stuff. It would have taken a long time to do it ourselves, and we would not likely have been able to do it all, and get to Montréal in time for my job interview.
  • Nicole had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the morning that we left.
  • The weather was overcast and cool, but it didn’t rain.

There are a lot of other things that went right when they could have easily gone wrong, but those are the things that come to mind right now. Post below if you can think of any yourself.