Rochelle’s Undergraduate Survival Guide

One student. One writer. Four years at McGill…

I spoke with soon-to-be high school teacher Rochelle Almonte, to capture her journey thus far to graduating with a Bachelor of Education — Teaching English as a Second Language — degree. 

Here are some tips that she picked up along the way throughout her academic career at McGill University. 

  1. 1. “Just Be Yourself”

    The first year at university is about finding your ‘niche.’ For me, that meant finding out where to get the best coffee — Pikolo Espresso Bar on Parc Avenue. They use freshly ground coffee beans and most of the pastries, scones, and croissants are baked on site. I drink coffee a lot, so I tried to nail  down a café with delicious baked goods, as well as one near campus to meet study groups and hang out with friends.

    I think everyone goes to school wanting to meet a solid group of friends you’ll have forever. The best way to find your circle is to embrace who you are — just be yourself. That attracts the kind of people who belong in your life.

    woman looking at her reflection in mirror
  2. 2. “Write Down Your Goals”

    When you start hunkering down to work, your first priority should be to find your favourite study spots.  

    Next, find out how you study best. Do you like to study alone or in groups? Personally, I study best on my own, so my go-to study spots are the Music Library, which has a lot of space and isn’t crowded. Another one of my favourite study spots is the Islamic Studies Library, because it’s so fancy.

    But one of the best things you can do to help with your studies is to stay off Netflix and Facebook. I downloaded a great app called SelfControl to block distracting websites. It really works!

    Lastly, I find that in order to stay on top of everything, I use a bullet journal to do most of my personal planning. There’s something oddly satisfying and motivating about writing  your goals down on paper.

  3. 3. “Hit The Reset Button”

    During university, the best way to recharge your batteries is to change up your routine, and one of those ways can be by changing the scenery around you! I hit the reset button by going to Centre de la Nature park with a book in hand, or by going for a run in Parc Mont-Royal.

    One other thing I do to reset throughout the semester is to go to the gym with a couple of friends and fit a nice workout into my busy schedule.

    Person Wearing Brown Bubble Jacket
  4. 4. “Getting Rid of Exam Stress”

    Exam stress is a real thing! The best way to prepare for exams is to go to all your classes throughout the semester and take detailed notes. Being in class and putting pen to paper makes it easier to remember.

    What I have come to learn is that worrying has a negative effect on your performance. I recommend taking a few deep breaths, praying or thinking positively, it helps me calm down before a stressful exam. 

    I think it's important to switch your  perspective from stressing about getting a good grade to ‘I’ve studied all I can and now it’s time to do my best.’