Why did I decide to move back to Montréal?

On January 2, 2020, I decided to move back to Canada. When I moved back to France in April 2017, I promised I would return (a promise that’s now been kept). But why did I decide to move back to Montréal? Why not try somewhere new or move to a different Canadian city?

While I was studying in France at Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye, I had the opportunity to study off campus for my third year—with the option of either studying abroad or enrolling in a professional internship program. So in August 2016, I decided to make the move to Montréal.

While others opted for more “exotic” destinations like Brazil, China, Germany and Turkey, I chose to attend the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), a French-speaking university. My school had entered into a partnership with UQAM in International Relations and International Law, two subjects that interested me. But other exchange programs were offering similar subjects, so what made me choose UQAM and Montréal? Because I wanted to try a different educational approach and, most importantly, to try a new and more balanced way of life.

A new and successful academic experience

As evidenced by my return to Montréal, my first experience as a student in the city went well. And UQAM played a big role in this. My first two years studying in the Parisian suburbs were intense, involving hours of classes and homework every week. I was juggling oral presentations and essays, not to mention my final exams. While this experience definitely helped me to forge a strong work ethic, I didn’t have the maturity at the time to maintain any kind of balance in my life. I wasn’t carving out time in my packed schedule to enjoy extracurricular activities as I would feel guilty spending time on anything other than my studies.

At UQAM, I learned to manage my time better, finding a balance between my academic life and private life. I still worked a lot, especially for an “off” year. But because I only had to attend classes a few hours each week, I was able to better organize my time and prepare for my classes. I found the teachers at UQAM were really invested in their students’ success—not only in terms of getting good grades, but always in terms of understanding the coursework and building real knowledge.

A lot of the academic assignments at UQAM involve group work, which really helps students grow as they’re exposed to different perspectives. This style of teaching puts students in charge of their own learning, which I found to be a really enriching experience.

As you can tell, UQAM taught me a great deal. So much so that when it was time for me to decide where to continue my studies, I decided to apply to the same school to further explore the subject of human rights. I decided to apply there once more to explore the subject of human rights. And aside from the courses, the way international students are so well received, the integration activities, UQAM’s sports complex and its location in the city centre make it all the more attractive for international students.

A world of possibilities in Montréal

If you’re thinking of moving to Montréal to study, you’ve no doubt read that the city offers an incredible quality of life. It has all the benefits of a big city but with a small-town, human feel. It’s a city where you can find soaring skyscrapers next to residential neighbourhoods, with charming houses and green spaces to spare (Parc Mont-Royal and Parc Lafontaine being my two favourites). It’s a city where there’s always something going on. Even winter can’t slow it down, and the people not only adapt to the cold climate but thrive on it.

Montréal is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city, where you can sample African or Mexican cuisine one day, and poutine or Asian food the next. The island offers a host of activities to enjoy year-round, from hiking to the top of Mont-Royal to trying beaver tails or dancing your frozen feet off at Igloofest, billed as the coldest electronic music festival in the world. Plus the city is surrounded by mountains and national parks, so it’s easy to escape for the weekend to relax in nature.

The city’s vibrant culture and diversity of people, activities and environments makes you feel like there are more possibilities here than elsewhere in the world, which is what I love most about Montréal.

I’ve been back here for a few days now and I’m slowly falling back into the Montréal way of life. Moving here comes with sacrifices, like being far away from my family in France and feeling a little disconnected from my roots—if only because of the jetlag! But I know that Montréal still has so much to offer me, both professionally and personally. Let the adventure begin!

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