Why I want to stay in Montréal

January 11, 2021

Cold outside and warm inside

I’d been warned. I was told: “Léa, you’ll see. You’ll never want to leave Montréal.” Although I had heard this from several family members, I never believed it until my third and last year of studies at Université de Montréal. I have to admit that I needed a few trips between Belgium, France and Québec to realize how lucky I was to be living in this incredible city, and especially how good life here is. So better late than never, but I needed more than two years (sorry about that!) to realize to what extent Montréal was my new “cocoon.”

At the end of my bachelor’s degree in cognitive neuroscience, I decided to stay in Montréal and take a chance, because I had the opportunity to apply for a three-year post-graduation work permit. How could I refuse this opportunity, which was giving me more time to get to know Montréal and take advantage of active Montréal living?

Nothing is impossible

Over the years and the many people I met in Montréal, whether the owner of the corner coffee shop, university friends, former foreign students who had just graduated in Montréal, or Belgian expatriates in Montréal for several years, I became aware of one thing: the ease with which they all spoke of their dreams and goals. I was raised and grew up around people who said they were realists and had stopped dreaming as soon as their childhood was over, because the society they grew up in did not allow them to imagine that they could one day realize their dreams. I feel that in Québec – in Montréal – we’re told that our dreams can be realized, we’re not only told how difficult it may be.

During my last few years in Québec, I became aware that aside from the support provided by the Montréal community for various projects, there is actual financial assistance provided by the government and the many banks. In fact, a Québec expression that illustrates what I’m saying is “take a chance,” while in Europe they say “take a risk.” This expression sums up the heading of this paragraph: Nothing is impossible. I will never stop saying that I feel that anything is possible and achievable in Montréal, especially in the business world.

I mention business, but there are obviously many areas of opportunity in Montréal, once you have your degree, for entering the work force. In fact, I choose Montréal is a resource that provides numerous tools to students, such as articles on their website that help with preparing a résumé, or articles with tips on finding a job, etc. They also host recruiting events to help international students find a job both during and after their studies.

Montréal: a humane city

Montréal is a cosmopolitan city and it’s easy to fit in here. Everyone is willing to help each other out and get to know one another. There are a lot of different cultures and you learn something every day.

After having told you about the first aspect that I find so fascinating, here is the second: Montréal is not only a very cosmopolitan city but a humane one as well. I found that Montrealers are helpful, polite and talk to one another. This may appear mundane to a Montrealer, but incredible to a newcomer: here, people stand in line to get on a bus and say “Hi, how are you?” when getting on the bus or at the grocery store checkout. We care about the other people we cross paths with in stores, coffee shops, on the bus… When I came here, I was even astonished that I was asked this question at the supermarket checkout, a store entrance or in a coffee shop. Now I’m surprised and almost offended when I don’t have these wonderful exchanges in Montréal.

If I were to describe Montréal in a word, I would say “friendly.” This city has such a friendly quality, which can be seen even more in certain specific neighbourhoods. Every morning, I look forward to going out and seeing people on the street and smiling at them. It may seem trivial, but it’s always just as special and enjoyable for me, even after three years.

All of these points bring me to talk about integration. Integration is a concern when you arrive in a new city, but Montréal is a real cosmopolitan city. I believe that everyone can fit in. This should not even be a concern for you. As I said, I feel alive in Montréal through simple daily gestures: a simple greeting in our neighbourhood helps us feel accepted and at home. In Montréal, I feel alive, important, cared about, and especially supported.

Montréal: A healthy and simple city

I mentioned on my social networks how Montréal is a healthy and simple city that helped me and through which I learned a lot about myself, in terms of self-sufficiency, exchanges, or caring. I feel that Montrealers are very caring in general. I love the initiatives that are taken here, the flow between residents.

The last point I would like to bring up is that of safety. I feel safe in Montréal, both physically and psychologically. I don’t remember having felt in danger here, and being a woman, I know this is a plus. To give you a more concrete example, there are signs in buses that at certain times, you can ask the bus driver to let you off between stops if you don’t feel comfortable. So thank you, Montréal, for this!

Montréal gives you a unique opportunity to reinvent yourself, try new things, and learn to get to know yourself. For all of the above reasons, it’s my turn to warn you: you will end up loving Montréal and will want to call it home.