Campus stories

In August, the Tribune met with nine different students, who will each go through a year’s worth of experiences in Montreal. Each was asked to describe something important to him or her. In April, we will revisit their stories.

Eric Mitchell, U2
Faculty of Science, neuroscience

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

What’s really important to me is music. I’ve been playing violin for 15 years. It’s something that has been very constant my entire life [and] has kind of marked my growth as a person [….]However much I enjoy practicing, or what kind of music I am into, or whether I am preparing for playing exams [have changed as I have grown]. I haven’t been practicing that much here, but I play at the [Royal Victoria Hospital] for a couple hours a week [for] a volunteer program that [involves] all the hospitals around here. [The violin] has been a pretty darn good reflection of how I have evolved.

What type of first impression do you think you make?

I’m not extremely bold when I first meet people. I also don’t really like small talk. One thing I try [to] do [avoid] offending anyone. I like living by [the] motto, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you” [….] I try to let [people] know that I am interested [in them], and I think that every person [possesses] something unique. I think I can learn something from every person.

Has anything surprised you about Montreal?

I think a lot of kids come [to Montreal] thinking they are going to be using their French, but I haven’t used my French at all, really. The only time I’ve used my French is to talk to my neighbours who tell us to turn off the music at 10 p.m.

What are you looking forward to experiencing at McGill this year?

I got onto two councils [this year]. I’m VP External for neuroscience undergraduates and for a club called Rotoract [….] It’s a big corporation that is involved in a lot of charity work, like working on eradicating polio [and implementing] sanitation projects in India. I’m psyched for those because I’ve only been in one council in high school and it was a minor role. 

Roma Nadeem, U2
Faculty of Arts, psychology

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

Enthusiasm is really important to me. I guess it sounds sort of cheesy, [but] I try to be enthusiastic in everything that I do [….] I feel like it makes everything more enjoyable [….] I’m a part of this amazing initiative called The Enthusiasm Experiment, [where] researchers help this autistic child overcome barriers by being kind, enthusiastic, and thoughtful. I guess that’s why enthusiasm means so much to me.

Can you tell me about someone who is important to you?

My baby sister Rita has always been a very important person in my life; she will always be number one. This March or April though, I met someone who I’m pretty sure is my soul mate—like one hundred per cent. Even now, just thinking of him makes me happy and just talking to him gives me butterflies. Unfortunately, it’s not a romantic relationship, but that doesn’t matter because […] we’ve both grown to love each other so much.

What’s one fun thing you did this week?

I climbed a tree recently. It was during [floor fellow] orientation and we all went to the Douglas courtyard. I do this thing where I put my friends on my shoulders, and when I say ‘friends’ I mean large male friends. I’m not even 4’11” [….] I got kind of scratchy and bruised [while climbing], and I didn’t know how to come down, but it was some of the most fun I’ve had in forever. 

What are you looking forward to experiencing at McGill this year?

I’m looking forward to the relationships I want to build. So many people filter in and out through our lives—even this encounter! I guess I’m really excited to form new connections and new relationships, [and] see how I as a person have also changed.

Kareem Ibrahim, U2
Faculty of Arts, international development

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

It’s not super straight forward, but my Blackberry [is important to me]. Everyone kind of hates on Blackberry, but I don’t really mind it at all. I’ve had it since grade 12. So many important parts of my life feed off of it, which […] really adds to how it defines me.  

I am a very practical person in terms of the stuff that I need: music, and a bad camera that I can use to capture memories, [both of which I have on my Blackberry]. I always find myself taking pictures of people [….] I definitely see so much value in being able to go home and look at my photos for the past month­­—it’s kind of like a timeline of my life. [I love] the music aspect [of my Blackberry] too because I love dancing all the time [….] The best days are when I wake up and I’m just blasting the music in the shower. Shameless dancing is one of my [favourite] things.

[My Blackberry] is also where I keep my journal [….] It’s sweet because there are moments in my life where I will be experiencing a lot of things, [and] it’s those moments that I really want to capture. 

What’s something that you have really enjoyed about Montreal or McGill?

It’s hard to generalize a feeling [toward] a whole city, [but] I do feel like we are lucky for the community we have here at McGill and in Montreal. Everyone is super, super accepting [of others] and passionate about [their work], which is super, super awesome. It’s great that you can be yourself, and I feel like Montreal has that vibe. 

What are you looking forward to experiencing at McGill this year?

I am really excited [….] to be a floor fellow [and] accompany students on their journey of growth, self-discovery and self-fulfillment. I am super grateful [for my community in first year]—I always tell people that I had the resources and support to make me comfortable—[so] helping others [is important to me]. It’s going to be a really big part of my life and I’m excited to see how well equipped I am to help [students] grow.

Abigail Liu, U0
Faculty of Arts, undeclared

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

I have no idea if one thing can define me—or anyone—but if it was one material thing [that is important to me] it would probably be my stuffed polar bear that I got when I was six from my godfather. [My polar bear’s] name is Snowball. He’s literally gone everywhere with me, like when I travelled, and now he’s here with me in my dorm. I guess he grounds me, but more so I just take him everywhere because that’s what I’m used to. It’s comforting.

Is there anything that you are nervous about?

I’m super nervous! I’m kind of excited, but I’m more nervous. I know nobody here. I have one friend. She’s my age, but I took a gap year so she’s [actually] a year higher than me. I feel like I’m clinging on to her though, so I’m really scared about if I’m going to make any friends—the usual [nervousness], I guess. 

What extracurricular activities do you hope to get involved in?

I was super involved in high school, [so while] I realize it’s not going to be the same at university […] I really want to do something with music. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I was going to be a music major, [so it would be nice to get involved]. I want to join chamber music, or something like that. 

What are you looking forward to experiencing at McGill this year?

In general, I am excited about living by myself. My mom has always been really protective and she has a hard time letting go. I’m also really excited for the experience to be able to do everything by myself. It’s exciting and scary, but I think there’s an opportunity to learn a lot. 

Erin Liu, U3

Faculty of Arts, history and philosophy

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

[A] sweet potato. It’s cheap, nutritious, tasty, and easy to cook. It’s ‘comfort food.’ How does it define me? In a really boring sense, I’m a vegetarian and [sweet potatoes are] sort of a staple. And yes, while it’s easy to cook, it can still take a lot of time [….] I can be pretty impatient, but when it comes to something that’s important to me, I’m willing to put time into it. I hand in a lot of stuff late—I’m the worst at deadlines. I like sweet potatoes, and I’m fine waiting for it to be baked or roasted nicely, even if it means the other vegetables get a little overcooked. If I’m doing some project I really like—if we’re talking about schoolwork for instance—I’ll work on it until I’m pleased with it. To the dismay of my professors, sometimes this only takes place after [the assignment] is due.

What do you plan on doing after graduating from McGill?

When I first came to McGill, I didn’t have anything specific in mind for what I would do after. I always had the intention of traveling immediately after [graduation] and then perhaps going into a creative field, but beyond that, there was really no plan. Those aspirations, which were once extremely vague, have since developed some form. I won’t be graduating in June. Instead, I’ve spread out my courses and plan to spend my last semester abroad, working and studying in Prague, and perhaps staying there for a year or so. After that, we’ll see. But at the moment, I’m entertaining the idea of getting a master’s [degree] in industrial design.

Do you have a favourite place on campus?

My relationship with campus is hot and cold. Sometimes I spend all my time there, and sometimes I spend as minimal time [there] as possible. I like that room in the Arts building, the one with all the paintings of old white men and leather upholstered chairs with arm rests. It’s also got an elliptical table, like a Harkness table. It’s kind of pompous, but it’s a nice contrast from some of the newer, more sterile buildings that institutions seem to like these days. Also […] the Faculty Club! Now /that/ place is pompous. Honestly, [it] looks like it came out of a Baroque palace.

Tell me about someone important to you.

This summer, one of my dogs got very sick. It was very sudden [….] We were pretty certain his time was up. He turned 12 in April, meaning I had had him since I was nine. After I started at university a few years ago, coming back to see him became this sort of narcissistic metric of how I had or had not changed. In my unusual nuclear family where absence is the norm, due to professional and educational responsibilities, he was the only consistent presence in our home. When he suddenly got sick, this illusion of constancy that he inadvertently maintained was disrupted. [For me], my dog was the one who never changed, the one who was always around.

We found out he had a tumour the size of a tennis ball in his spleen [and] nearly all the experts [thought] it was malignant. [However], a later reading of his blood confirmed that there was no cancer to be found at all. It may seem trivial to others, but to me this was an absolute miracle

Margaret Gordon U3

Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Science, English and chemistry

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

I’m an English major; I’m a chemist; I’m a redhead—there are tons of things [that define me], so I brought something that’s important to me: anti-depressant pills.

It’s not just the [anti-depressants], but what they represent. I think a lot of people at McGill [struggle with depression], and it’s interesting that it’s a big issue but no one talks about it that much. Getting the help that you need is important to me. I think it’s important to take care of yourself [….] It’s hard to do—but it’s important.

What’s your favourite location on campus?

It’s not the nicest place, but the [chemistry] lounge is where I spend most of my time. It’s kind of my second home. There are couches, a fridge, a microwave, and people that have taken the courses I’ve struggled with. It’s nice to find [a place] where you can shout out to see if people know quantum theory or something. That’s what I’m taking this year— I’m scared—but it’s nice to have a place to go where there are actually people who can help.

Could you tell me about someone who is important to you?

A lot of people are important to me, but I guess my boyfriend. He’s starting his master’s here, and he just finished his [undergraduate]. We were friends first for a year, so it’s really nice knowing that I get along with him. Now I get to hang out with him, but [we] also do other fun things [as a couple].

What is special about Montreal to you?

I love Montreal. I was born here and […] half my life I grew up here. I spent the other half in Georgian Bay in Ontario. I guess [I like] how much green space there is [in Montreal]. People read in parks, bike in parks—you don’t just bring your kids to the park for one day. People live in nature here, and there are so many outdoor skating rinks that you can go to.

What gives you the greatest feeling of nostalgia?

I lived for 10 years in Georgian Bay, which is a part of the apple country, so you get so many varieties [of the fruit]. When you go to Provigo on Parc Avenue there are three different kinds, maybe. I guess it is nostalgic when I eat a really good apple, or when I go to the store and they have all my least favourite varieties of apples. [It’s nostalgic just] knowing that I have a favourite one.

Samer Al-hadidi U0

Faculty of Science, undeclared

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

I feel like the thing that drives me mainly is my background. [I was born] in Jerusalem, [and] a lot of people [who] I know and friends I grew up with lived in a war zone. They didn’t have any of the opportunities that I have. [When I think about attending McGill], I’m doing it for a lot of those friends and cousins of mine.

What was your first impression of Montreal and McGill?

Overwhelming, I’d say. I think I came here overconfident in my abilities […] You sit down in your room and it all sinks in that you left so much stuff that you have: family, comfort, [and] friends [….] I guess it’s exciting, but at the same time, [coming to a new school] drains you.

What gives you the greatest feeling of nostalgia?

I think [I feel nostalgic] every time I eat. I’m a momma’s boy, and I’m used to eating all my meals cooked by my mother. Here I have to get used to eating out a lot or [eating] whatever stuff I can put together in my kitchen. I think I under-appreciated my mom a bit.

Tell me about something from home that you hope to keep close to you here at McGill.

I think culture [is something that I’d like to keep close]. It’s easy to blend in with everyone else. I like representing where I am from and who I am. It shapes me in a lot of ways.

D.J. Mausner U2

Faculty of Education, primary elementary

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

My family is in the restaurant industry, so I’ve grown up with my dad owning several restaurants [….] Being the youngest of four siblings, [in] a family of hospitality and being interested in comedy [….] I always knew that I wanted to perform. It started out with instruments, and then I took singing lessons, which turned into musical theatre, and musical theatre turned into improv and then comedy.

When people mention, “Oh you’re a musician” or “Oh you’re a comedian,” I tell them I like the word entertainer better [….] I think entertainment should be for everyone, and I think it is very possible for entertainment to be applicable to everyone, whether that is through a really good meal [with] people all sitting around and enjoying it or […] an improv show.

George Carlin has a great quote that is something along the lines of: “If you can entertain someone for just a moment you have the chance to slip in a good notion.”

Why did you decide to attend McGill?

When I was first applying to different universities, I was [considering attending] a lot of schools for things like television and broadcasting. Then I visited the McGill campus and I really felt at home. I was drawn to the campus and I wanted to stay in the city. [While] I am very interested in comedic writing and producing, I decided to go to school to become a teacher because I think [the younger grades are] such an important time in children’s lives. [It] plays a role in whether they stay in school [….] I love working with kids and that kind of stuff, so I decided to go to school as a teacher but pursue comedy on the side.

Tell me about your experience with comedy in Montreal.

I have done stand up [comedy] in Montreal as well as in Toronto, and I am part of a sketch troop that’s called Bring Your Own Juice. I am a part of McGill Improv as well, and I have done some summits and shows with them and all of that fun stuff. I am [also] head of the comedy department at TV McGill (TVM), and last year I headed a project called ‘The Game.’ It’s a satirical news show like the weekend update from Saturday Night Live.

What gives you a feeling of nostalgia?

Something that has been nostalgic recently is seeing a lot of pictures [of fall]. I was remembering Fall [semester] this time last year. It was a little bit of a tough time [….] Every semester, I have this moment where I think should I leave and do comedy, and then I have this other moment and I stay. It’s reminding me of that moment before I found Bring Your Own Juice.

Ashkaan Mohtashami U2

Faculty of Engineering, electrical engineering

(Photo courtesy of McGillography)
(Photo courtesy of McGillography)

Describe something important to you right now.

The funny thing is that I don’t have a material [object] that means a lot to me, but I recently bought this pen. It’s a space pen, as in you could write with it in space. Some gel and ink pens [wouldn’t work] due to the gravity […] so they developed this kind of pen to write in space. I think [the pen] is interesting because it ties in my engineering interests with writing and thinking [….] It brings together so many aspects […] that are important to me.

You’re a floor fellow this year—Is there something you are looking forward to about this job?

I applied for the job and wanted the job because I like meeting new people and being able to support people in social and emotional aspects. I guess I’m excited about that. I’ve met two or three of my students so far, and it’s weird because they’re not mine—they’re their own people—and I didn’t have any part in raising them, but […] who knows, I might change somebody’s life this year. That would be sweet—to be able to go talk to students in five or six years and for them to say that I changed their life.

What type of first impression do you make?

I’ve heard mixed things. I guess it depends on the time of day. In the mornings I think I’m a lot scarier than I actually am after I’ve had coffee and food. A few people find me intimidating—I think it’s the beard and my deep-ish voice—but I like to think that I am a warm and welcoming person. I think most people get that. If not from viewing me, [people get that impression] at least from talking to me. They realize I’m not a grizzly bear but more of a teddy bear.


Share this:


  1. Prospero’s fisher pen is swagger

  2. IRC takeover

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Read the latest issue

Read the latest issue