Why I chose to study and work in Montréal
I came to Montréal as an international student to complete a master’s degree in Economics at Concordia. As a native mandarin speaker, I was always interested in learning French, which made Montréal, a city with bilingualism and a reasonable cost of living, a great option. I had doubts; I was worried about the cultural differences; whether I would have access to the food I am used to, whether the city is safe, etc., but Montréal mitigated these doubts by being a welcoming multicultural society, by having great Chinese restaurants and by being a city where you can safely walk outside at night. Montréal was the right choice and I have never regretted it.
Learning French is important
Learning French is not only fun but very useful in Montréal. There are many ways to learn with classes available in almost every educational institution. I personally love learning history, so not only did I learn the language, but I also learned the history of Québec by visiting Québec City. If you were to test my knowledge on that, I would answer: “Samuel de Champlain a fondé la ville de Québec.”
Speaking French also helped me make friends. It is always intimidating to speak a new language, but a big smile and “bonjour” will always start a good conversation with others. It is important to remember that Montréaler’s are nice and more than happy to help you practice French if they can see you are trying. So, don’t be afraid and enjoy speaking French with those around you! It will help you understand more about Québec’s history and make new connections.
My experiences with I choose Montréal
I discovered I choose Montréal by attending their French conversation events, “Francolunch”, in 2019. The vibe was always welcoming, friendly, and fun. I improved my speaking skills and made new friends there. The facilitators were always very friendly and happy to answer all my French questions. They provided pizza, offered gifts, but most importantly, practiced French by playing board games. We played a game called “Taboo” where each player had an object card on their head, and we had to figure out what the word was by asking questions in French. Yes, it was challenging, but yes, it was a convivial way to practice and my French truly improved. I became less afraid of speaking with others because practicing while playing a game was a blast.
I choose Montréal also offered opportunities to bridge new graduates with companies in the Greater Montréal area. If you have the necessary skills and are willing to work in Montréal, you will get to experience the work-life balance that makes Montréal such a great place to have a career. I attended several open house activities held by I choose Montréal, where we got the chance to visit different companies and discover different industries in Greater Montréal.
Initially, it was difficult for me to find a job and I felt a bit discouraged, but I received a lot of encouragement from the team. I still vividly remember Lucia, who was the event organizer, encouraging me to keep looking and not give up hope. Fortunately, I found my first job after attending one of the open house activities. There are lots of opportunities in Montréal so please, take advantage of that.
The transition from being an international student to an international worker, and from being an international worker to a permanent resident of Canada, really taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice. I believe that holding on to good values and trusting what Greater Montréal can provide is the key to being successful in this city. Moving forward, I can say without a doubt that I want to stay in Montréal. Should you come and live in Montréal? Well, your life is a blank page, and it is up to you to write your story.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.