Montréal for thesis students

October 7, 2019

While I was writing the acknowledgements section of my thesis and I was recalling everyone that contributed and helped me in my research and writing process, I thought that Montréal deserved a special acknowledgement. As my thesis document was not exactly a good place to express my gratitude and explain why the city had been so important in my thesis journey, I will take the opportunity to share it here. 

Writing a thesis as part of an academic program can be a challenging experience. Besides the academic challenges that conducting a research implies, there are other factors that could seem minimal or even superficial but that are as important to consider when being a thesis student. For instance, having a comfortable and suitable space to write or having strategies to organize your time and complete your tasks. 

Luckily, Montréal is a place that helps a lot with these aspects and it made a big difference in my journey in those moments where I was struggling to get things done. From their many agreeable coffee shops, to the groups that get together only to write and support each other, everything contributed to have a pleasant thesis process. 

Coffee, coffee and working companions

Coffee shops with good and affordable coffee and warm environment, are such a distinctive feature of Montréal. When I realized that I was becoming exhausted of writing and reading at home or at the University Library, I decided to explore coffee shops. 

Most of the neighborhoods have more than one enjoyable spot where to sit and work for a couple of hours. For instance, Café Replika around the Plateau, Café Aunja in Downtown Montréal or Crew Collective in Old Montréal. 

The best is that I was not alone. One of the characteristics of some of Montréal’s coffee places is that during the week, it is easy to find plenty of people typing or reading while enjoying a cup of their favourite drink. 

What I called the thesis “therapy” groups

Montréal is the home of many universities, which also means is the home of many thesis students that somehow are experiencing similar challenges. I found many opportunities organized not only by my University, but also by other institutions, to get together for a day or a couple of hours with other thesis students and just… write. Yes, sometimes you don’t need to talk much, you just needed to feel that the person next to you is going through the same and is doing exactly the same as you. 

In these groups you usually work for determined periods of time and take several short breaks. This helped me to keep me focused and gave me the opportunity to get to know other students, the topics they were studying and to feel that I was not alone in the journey. 

Montréal parks

I used to think that Montréal parks were done to enjoy picnics during summer time. However, I found that these green or white spaces, depending on the time of the year, were also the perfect space to have a thesis break. 

A 30 minute walk at least twice per day, was an essential part of my daily routine while I was writing. Walking for a couple of minutes in the parks of the neighbourhoods I used to live as a student, helped me to relax, breath fresh (sometimes too fresh) air and clear my mind. 

The city has plenty of these spaces. I found that many neighbourhoods have even a small park in their surroundings where is just pleasant to pass by and enjoy the colours of each season. Mount Royal Park was my favourite spot for the fall and winter season. In the fall, walking there was one of the most relaxing activities as I enjoyed the many different colours of the trees while feeling the freshness of the fall season. In the winter, the small hikes in the whiteness that the park offers were the perfect activity to recharge energy. 

Life as a thesis student has its peculiarities, luckily enough, Montréal is a supportive city and with its many activities and places, makes the journey easier and enjoyable. 

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