My Québec journey
I was often asked why I left France, and why I came to Québec. In face of such a seemingly simple question, no answer naturally came to mind. An immigrant to some, an expat to others, my cultural identity was turned upside down. However, serenity washed over me.
I discovered a facet of the French language in Montréal that I was unfamiliar with until then. It has an accent, a musical quality that can catch you by surprise at first. The accent of kings in France according to the history books, combined with an English influence added to a French translation – that’s Québec French.
After earning my high school diploma, in 2015 I started at the faculty of arts and science at Université de Montréal, with an introduction to economics and political science.
As the crossroads for students from around the world, Montréal is full of fascinating diversity. I found out about the back-to-school frenzy, people going fast, not necessarily taking the time and rushing to their classroom. As the year progresses, the hallways become popular spots for students to stop for a chat. Calm and serenity gradually settle in, camaraderie and friendships are formed.
Then there are the professors, those we sometimes try to forget, and especially those who we will never forget. Some courses provoke deeper thought, some courses disrupt us, some change us and others bore us. That’s student life: sometimes a battle but oftentimes an easy stroll.
Far from being the stereotypical perfect diligent and strict student, I found myself more in contemplation, analysis and reserve. I gradually started to get more involved, take what I learned to heart and understand that my studies were necessary to get into the professional world.
What struck me immediately was how open the professors were and how important their students’ achievements were to them, paying special attention to diverse and varied points of view, and the satisfaction with the teaching methods.
Professors have some latitude in developing their courses, and thus allows students to choose the teaching method that best suits them, when possible. Whether out of simple professional ethical duty or genuine concern, this willingness to listen is greatly appreciated. This may show just how important students are to the faculty and perfectly illustrates the value of transferring knowledge.
Montréal had already won me over.
Towards a work life
The story of my student life, related above, has been similar in terms of values and transferring knowledge in the professional world that has opened up to me. Youth is a strength to be developed and not competition for the previous generation. That’s the feeling I had when I started my career. My nationality was never an impediment to my being hired.
My internship supervisors and first employers pushed me to work and succeed, but they always provided a sound, respectful and motivating environment. Of course, this story is my personal experience and that of my friends and acquaintances.
It was over coffee and pastries that I got my in-company master’s project (a doubly supervised experience with one foot in a company and the other in the university). Trust was established during the verbal rapport, in discussion, and that made my résumé secondary in importance.
During various job interviews, both sides tried to determine whether there was an affinity to work together. The ability to grow at work seems to be a key value, but does not guarantee productivity.
My first job experience in an organization that provides AI products and services opened my eyes to a field that was still foreign to me. I encountered imaginative and creative individuals from all over the world. I had the opportunity to meet colourful personalities who made me better and questioned me.
Montréal had then convinced me.
Montréal is part of the French-speaking world. People from France, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Polynesia all speak French. English is not left out, it opens up all four corners of the world.
I found my home between Park Extension and Little Italy. There are Italian neighbours on the side, a Greek grandmother above, Indian and North African grocery stores, a Chilean bakery and an Italian pastry shop. Just so much potential that makes the neighbourhood so charming. So many languages can be heard on the streets.
Montréal, the city where the collective intelligence is not artificial. Art and science try to make progress together. Entrepreneurs and artists let their creativity take over the offices and the facades of the city. Dynamic entrepreneurs keep challenging industrial and societal needs. Artists question themselves when they activate their creativity and show their personality to Montrealers and travellers.
The beauty of this city lies in the harmony between work, leisure, seriousness and playfulness.
Montréal is just as beautiful night or day. It’s a city with so many different facets.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.