Most of the students studying abroad arrived with a set amount of funds. One of the most important things this experience has taught me has been how to budget my money, with a few bumps along the way. Something that has been a complete lifesaver for me has been the OPUS monthly public transportation pass.
To those of you who are planning to travel around Montreal and explore, THIS IS THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD BUY. I repeat, the absolute first thing. Now that you have secured your way to get around the city, look around your area to find reasonably priced grocery markets. Students who live in Montreal during the winter easily understand why the produce is imported. It’s pretty much impossible to live without the food coming in from the warmer places. What this means for us is that everything is really expensive. However, after having a heart-dropping grocery bill, I decided to become a bargain hunter for my food. Don’t think you need to buy all your groceries from the same place. Venture out and find the best deals. Little things like that will make your day.
Now that your tummy is full, you have energy to go out and explore! Do this. You aren’t paying thousands of dollars to live in a foreign country to sit in a room behind a computer screen. Go out simply walk around. Early on in the trip, I chose my days off from classes to walk around blindly in the downtown area. Every step I took surprised me because I came across something new and interesting every where I looked.
Once you get a feel for the land, sit down and plan to go see something that interests you. For those of us living on a budget, have no fear because this city has some amazing free or really inexpensive locations for entertainment. For the art lovers, venture out and go to a museum. My favorite so far has been the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The great thing about these museums is that some have free exhibitions and the rest have discounted prices for students. Embrace being a scholar and go indulge in some type of beauty! Another must see and completely original place to visit is the “Fresh Paint! Gallery” on Saint-Catherine. This gallery will completely blow you away. The artwork is one of a kind and absolutely mind blowing. Art that you would not typically find in a luxurious gallery is put on display in a very unique fashion. What some might call “street art” is displayed in such a way that it pulls the attention of any audience. Would you like a flashback to one of the most historic moments in the last 100 years? Head over to the Montreal World Trade Center and take a picture with the Berlin Wall. Okay, the entire wall isn’t there but you will get to pose next to an actual piece.
For those of us who love a good laugh, make sure to check out the Improv Comedy Show. Grab your friends and go out for a two hour escape from reality that will only cost you a whopping five dollars. Need I say more? One of my favorite things I do a few times a month is sitting on the metro and heading to Old Montreal. Just last week I ended up at Notre Dame Cathedral accidentally. Let me just say, the five dollar entrance fee was not enough to see the inside of that majestic church. Whether you are religious or not, the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral will take your breath away. There is so much culture in every part of this city that it would be a shame to stay away from it. And one final piece of advice: participate in all the Champlain activities!! Don’t waste free opportunities to make memories and enjoy yourself.
– Lucy Dishoian, Public Health Sciences, University of California, Official Blogger, Spring 2014