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Now that the fun of admissions is out of the way, those of you who are a part of or considering being a part of McGill c/o 2009 are probably wondering about the next step, housing. So here is my exam-stupor attempt at summerizing what you need to know about housing at McGill.
Which Residence should I choose?
Each Residence or residence group at McGill is quite unique and offers a lot of different features. There are traditional residences, which are dorm style with cafeteria food, suite residences, where you live in a university owned apartment and cook for yourself, and houses, where you live in an actual house with a group of students. Some residences are single sex, some are co-ed. Some have girls wings and guys wings. So here is a list of the residences and their defining characteristics.
rideltrain can tell all about this one, as it's his. I've only been there a couple of times, so I'll tell what I can and he can verify/contradict what I say.
This rez has been a McGill residence since 2003/2004 school year. It's a converted hotel building, located on Av. du parc and Prince Arthur. Good location, between Saint-Laurent and Mcgill. It's about..I dunno, a 7-10 minute walk to campus? Around 5 short blocks. It's pretty much all flat too, which is a big perk. The outside is seriously not as ugly as it looks in the picture on the website.
It's a very nice building. The lobby is nice, the ballroom/study room is gorgeous, and the rooms are arguably the nicest McGill has to offer. There are largely double rooms but there are a few single rooms (some of these even have queen beds). Each room comes with it's own bathroom. This can be nice, but then you have to clean it too. The floors tend to be large, 50 or so people/floor or so I've heard. This doesn't foster as much floor community as in some of the other residences with a lot smaller floors. I've heard people complain about the level of partying that goes on at New Rez, as well as the feeling of being in a hotel constantly. The security to get in the place is very tight. The rez is also the most expensive of all the McGill residences..probably because of it's niceness. I've heard that there are a lot of "spoiled rich kids" in New Rez, but I would definitely take that with a grain of salt. Sure there are, but there are a few of those in every rez I'd imagine.
The meal plan is different from the other traditional residences. It's a declining-balance type, which means you get a certain number of "meal points" at the beginning of the year, and you can use those however you see fit but once they're gone, they're gone. The food I've heard is better at the New rez cafeteria, more options. Plus you can use the card at any of the Chartwell's sponsored places on campus, such as the restaurants under the library.
Major Plusses: Nice rooms, flat walk, nice mealplan
Major minuses: Cost, not as much "community", not exactly with the rest of the campus, "party atmosphere?"
Royal Victoria College
McGill's all womens dorm. I say that, and I watch everyone scroll down to read the next residence report. No! Wait!! RVC isn't anywhere near as bad as the "all girls residence" stereotype. And it also happens to be my rez, so perhaps I have a soft spot for it ;)
The major perk to RVC is it's location. It's the closest McGill residence to campus, within a ten minute walk to anywhere on campus. Also it's connected to the music building, so if you have any courses there, you don't even have to go outside to go to class. Basically, location wise it's amazing because it's in the downtown on the corner of University and Sherbrooke, so you're near shopping and everything too.
RVC is divided up into two parts, the west wing and the tower. The west wing (whenever I say this, I think Beauty and the Beast...) is the older part of the dorm and the rooms in this part are bigger than any residence other than New Rez. My friend's room has a walk in closet, too. The tower rooms are all singles except for 2nd floor, and though they're smaller than the west rooms they're about the size of the other singles in the traditional residences. They come with more storage than a human being could ever need--the desk unit is pretty cool. Compared to the other residence rooms, they are longer and narrower. You have a lot of wall space. All the rooms, like the other McGill rooms, come with a mini fridge. On every other floor there are little kitchenettes and laundry is every 4 floors in the tower. Given the choice if you were applying to RVC I would probably request West Wing.
People tend to be very deterred by the words "Girl's residence". I hear all sorts of reasons why people don't like girls residences and a lot of them are based on misunderstandings. The atmosphere is a lot of fun. For one thing, it's nice to be able to stumble down to breakfast in pajamas and no makeup andnot have to worry about that hot guy you like seeing you. Bathrooms are always kept clean. Floors are small, the sense of community is good. OK, you will have to look to other places to meet guys, this is true, and the ones you see inside RVC are usually taken ;) There are plenty of places to meet guys though. And the residence isn't as catty as you'd think for it being all girls. It's not as big a party place as some of the others. Only a couple floors get drunk on a regular basis...most are quiet and more studious.
The meal plan is traditional, there is a cafeteria in the building that has a better selection of food than the cafs also on the traditional mealplan. RVC students also have the ability to eat in the BMH or the Douglas Hall cafeterias if they so choose. The only difference is that RVC we get meals 7 days a week while BMH/Douglas only get meals 5 days a week (no weekend meals). Caf hours are limited, not open all the time like New Rez but you are guaranteed your meals for the semester, you don't have to worry about running out of minutes at the end.
Major plusses: Location!, nice rooms, nice food for trad. style, good sense of community, can usually have quiet to study if you want
Major minuses: all girls dorm (though I personally see this as a plus, I didn't when I applied), rooms older, not as flexible a meal plan.
Upper Residences (McConnell Hall, Molson Hall, and Gardner Hall)
These are called the BMH residences, for Bishop Mountain Hall, which is the name of the central round structure that the residences surround. All these halls are virtually identical, which is why they are grouped together
They are located up the infamous hill. However, this hill isn't as bad as some make it out to be in summer. In winter, there is a period of time where it can be pretty darn nasty because of ice. However, living there is a great way to ward off the freshman 15! McConnell is the first one you come to, then Molson. Gardner is a little bit further up the hill (1 staircase further). BMH is the cafeteria and it's located in the center between those three buildings (on level with Molson, up a staircase from McConnell, down a staircase from Gardner) so you have to go outside, albeit not by very much, in order to eat.
All rooms are singles except for a few doubles (I believe the ratio is 80/20), and are your most traditional dormitory styles, sqarish shaped, twin bed, closet, desk unit, dresser, yep. If you've seen a dorm room you probably have a pretty good idea of what the residence rooms look like. Most of the rooms have beautiful views, whether overlooking Parc Mont Royal, or the downtown skyline. My (jewish) friend has a teriffic view of the cross from his window. If that's not irony i don't know what is...but moving on. All three dorms are coed, though McConnell is single sex wings. This means you go up the stairs and there are doors on each side of the stairs. One leads to the "girls side" and the other to the "guys side". There are bathrooms on each side, and one tends to be the girls and the other the guys, though there are no rules about this. There is a kitchenette on every floor, i think and every room comes equipped with a mini fridge.
Meal plan is the standard one. Residents eat at BMH, though a lot of times they'll eat lunch at RVC because it's close to classes. They can also eat at Douglas Hall. They do not get weekend meals.
Major Plusses: Most traditional of residences, coed, great view, cheapest trad. dorms
Major Minuses: The hill in winter, not the nicest of rooms, long lines for lunch/dinner because three residences dump into one cafeteria
The last of the "Traditional" McGill residences, Douglas is very very pretty. It's up the hill, but not as far as Upper Residences. It's right above the stadium. Inside is nice too. Their grand salon is beautiful with a piano. It's divided up into Houses, so you have A house through H house, the houses are connected via tunnels. Each floor has a common room and some floors have study rooms. Rooms are smaller than BMH rooms but tend to be nicer (hardwood floors!). You don't have the large windows that the other dorms do, however. The douglas community is supposed to be very nice and close. Doubles and singles are available though more singles than doubles.
Their cafeteria freaking looks like Hogwarts. I am serious. A high table, with three (OK, so not exactly like hogwarts) long tables stretched out. They have a cappucino machine too, which I am in love with. Food is the same in quality as RVC/BMH, not as big a selection but still pretty good, plus Doug residents can eat at the other two cafs. It's fully coed, girls and guys on the same floor. They have a full kitchen too, in the hall between the houses.
Major Plusses: Nice residence, nice rooms, nice common room, etc, good sense of community
Major Minuses: smaller rooms, kind of a cramped feeling sometimes, darker rooms (some of them)