How I adjusted to life in Montréal

January 25, 2022

Deciding to leave

It’s been almost five months since I came to Montréal. How time flies!

I got here by chance, really, trying to find my way through the health crisis.

I wanted to get away from it all and just get on with my life.

So, I started looking for a Working Holiday Program and that’s how I came across the Québec métiers d’avenir website, which features an extensive list of vocational training programs offered in Québec and available to all.

I had always heard good things about Canada, about Québec, and about the people living here. As a student, I even tried to do an end-of-year internship in Canada, but things didn’t work out. So, when I finally found the right training program here, in Montréal, I just went for it.

I submitted my application and, a few months later, I was on a plane to Montréal.


Montréal is a true North American city, but it’s also a very livable and affordable city. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

There are differences compared to France, of course, but nothing you can’t handle. Québec is culturally different, for sure, but not culturally shocking. I quickly got my bearings by building a routine around my classes, my job, and my weekend outings.

Just to give you an idea, here are some of the differences I noticed.

Québec politeness

Montrealers are generally nice—you see fewer instances of rude behaviour here than what you might expect in some big cities in France. In Montréal, for instance, people line up to get on the bus. This is a basic example, but I find that it says a lot about the mentality of the people here.

The city is clean, and there’s hardly any litter in the streets.

It’s basic courtesy to ask people how they are, whether you’re at a store checkout, at a restaurant or on the street asking for directions. Quebecers also tend to use the informal pronoun “tu” even when addressing strangers, so don’t be surprised if that happens to you.

It’s easy to feel right at home here because Quebecers are so welcoming and friendly.

Québec French

I find it fascinating that, despite being an ocean apart, we speak the same language, albeit with local variations. In the beginning, you don’t always understand everything, but you get it eventually, you learn new words and expressions, and just like that, you’re on a roll!

Tips and taxes

On another note, remember that at restaurants and bars, service is not included. That means you must add a tip to your bill depending on how satisfied you were with the service. I learned that the hard way.

Having spent a year in the U.S., I was used to product prices that didn’t include tax. So it didn’t strike me as odd when I saw the same thing here. It can be surprising at first, though.

The public health crisis

Just a quick word about the current health situation. I was shocked to see that there is a lot less anxiety about the pandemic here. In Paris, I was used to seeing pop-up testing sites in the street, at subway stations, or in malls. When I got here, I saw none of that. There were no tents scattered all over town. You need to show proof of vaccination, wear a mask, and take other precautions, of course, but here I felt like I could finally breathe and find relief from the pandemic.

Taking the plunge

I will wrap up by saying that, as an international student, you can’t go wrong coming to Québec.

Especially if you haven’t travelled much and if you’re going to live abroad for the first time. I think Montréal is the perfect place for that.

It’s big, it’s safe, it’s vibrant, and there’s no language barrier. All in all, a great place to live. In normal times, it’s the kind of city where there’s always something to do, an exhibition to see or a restaurant to try.

I’m only about one third of the way through my Montréal adventure, so I don’t know what the future holds—but one thing’s for sure: I feel like I am where I belong. I feel at home.

So, if you’re still undecided, leave your doubts behind and come start a new adventure!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.