Montréal can be your second home if …
In case you’ve just came here or you plan to move, you know in many cases we – as international students – can get homesick easily. Thinking about where we came from, and what we left behind is disturbing and sometimes disappointing. However, have this in mind: Montréal can easily be your second home if you let it be. Mostly we resist it, we reject the idea to accept another place as our home, but eventually, this city finds its way to our hearts. It is cold, but the people are warm in heart, they help you whenever they can.
As an international student, I have never felt left out or on my own. To you, my dear reader, I want to start from the very beginning, where I can guide you to let this city be the part of who you are now.
Get to know Montréal
The sooner, the better. Montréal has many new things you may have never seen before if you, just like me, came from some place warm, put you warm clothes on and let the sightseeing begin.
You can start with Mont-Royal. It has a fantastic view of the whole city, and you can maybe see a few gray squirrels if you are lucky enough.
If you are interested in the history of Montréal, there are places in which you can listen and watch videos about the remarkable history of the city and Québec in general. Also, make sure you do not miss the picture of Leonard Cohen on the wall, which is clear from Mont-Royal.
Notre-Dame Basilica, the oldest church in Montréal, is another place I recommend you to visit. Take a one-hour tour if you are interested in knowing more about the history of the church and visiting the frightening – yet stunning – crypts. Make sure you pay attention to the outstanding carved pulpit and glass windows demonstrating the story of the Montréal foundation.
After knowing much about the city and its rich history, maybe it is time for something fun and exhilarating: ice skating. The one thing I am certain – you will enjoy it and thank me later for. Do not hesitate to rent a skate and enjoy learning how to do it. It can be a painful experience for certain parts of your body but the thrill will definitely be worth the pain, so do not give up and keep trying.
Also, if you are an art enthusiast, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is one of a kind. And for people who are interested in automobiles, Montréal Auto Show is highly recommended and should not be missed.
What I want to say is, it does not matter where you are from and what interests you, Montréal is where you can easily find what you are passionate about, whether it is art or technology.
Communicate with people
We, humans, are sociable, which means for being comfortable, we need to talk. We need to communicate with people. Trust me when I tell you this would never be your problem in Montréal.
As an international student, I am surrounded by myriads of organizations in university, asking students to talk and to consult them about their issues. This is one of the reasons I like this city; they care about your mental health, your communications, and you in general. They offer condolences when you are in grief. They welcome you when you’ve just arrived in their city. Their hospitality is distinctive in many ways; that is why I never felt like an alien in this community.
People in Montréal are genuinely friendly, from the bus driver who greets you every day to a woman who smiles at you when you pet her dog. They show you their respect when you try to speak French, and they even help you with that; as I have seen many times in churches and busses when a young foreigner sits next to an elderly, they try to talk slowly and admire the forigner’s efforts to learn French. They love it when you show them you respect their culture and their language because they respect you the way you are.
Furthermore, I assure you will never walk alone in Montréal.
Be who you are
In the first couple of days, I felt I missed my hometown; but then I realized I could be in Montréal and my hometown at the same time. Montréal is a cosmopolitan city. It means no matter where you are from, you can always find individual shops or restaurants offering your hometown food and products. Do not worry if you miss home. It happens to everyone. Just go to a restaurant, enjoy your hometown meal and let it pass. It always will.
Another contributing factor is that if you want to get to know other cultures, Montréal gives you this opportunity to meet people from all around the globe. You can gather information from other nations, their culture, their legends and stories all in one place. From the Middle East to the USA you can find friends. No matter what your religion or your political views are. Because we are all equal as human beings, and that is what I see in Montréal, and I could not see it in many other cities in the world.
It is hard to say farewell to your loved ones and move to another country. However, Montréal is a place to achieve your dreams, reach out to your goals, find happiness, and thrive if you are determined. Do not worry, you are in the right place, and you are not alone.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.