The transition from Burlington to Montreal was easier than I expected; in fact, if you’ve already smoothly made the transition from living at home to living on campus, you’re halfway there! It’s pretty easy to adjust, as the hardest thing for me was really just finding Canadian stores are parallels to familiar stores in the United States. That being said, if you have never made food for yourself or used public transportation, you’re in for a real treat!
There are a lot of questions people frequently ask, so here are a whole bunch of them answered based on my own experience!
Q: What is the residence like?
A: I went from living at 194 St Paul to living in Evo, which was a bit of a leap. You still have your own bathroom, but the kitchen is shared between lots of people and is on a different floor, and you no longer have your own room. If you lived somewhere like Whiting Hall or Butler Hall, it’s like that in terms of sharing a kitchen and room space. However, the beds are full size instead of twin and the mattress is really soft! Remember to buy full-size sheets before you get here…as well as your own shower curtain/rings and bath mat as they’re not provided!
Q: Do you need to speak French?
A: No, but it would definitely help a lot. Montreal is officially bilingual, so most places also have English speakers and menus for restaurants. If you’re worried about not knowing any French like I was, there’s a survival French class you can take to help you navigate the city and do things like order food and have a casual conversation. I’ve already picked up some bits here and there, at least so I can understand menus or metro stops and announcements!
Q: How do you balance work and fun?
A: My usual schedule is to work for most of the day, have fun by going out to dinner, and play games at night. It’s a great way to cool down, and you won’t feel as burnt out at the end of a long work session if you do something enjoyable afterward. You can also plan out one day of the week to designate as a “no homework” day, which is great for making sure you can recharge before you get back into it.
Q: What are some recommendations about what to do in the city?
A: My friends adore Chinatown for one, and it’s only one stop away from Evo. Noodle shops, ramen, dumplings, sweet buns and more can be found there, and the prices aren’t bad at all. The sweet bun shop, in particular, is a fan favorite, where for 2 CAD or less you can get a huge, delicious sweet or savory bun. Outside of Chinatown however, there are concerts and music festivals happening all the time. Tons of shopping, giant malls, poutine restaurants galore…you won’t be short of activities, and I highly recommend you explore a little while you can (especially before your workload gets to be too much)!
Q: Is it difficult to navigate the metro?
A: Not at all! During orientation, your RA’s will show you how to navigate the metro and everyone memorized it extremely quickly. Plus, the metro stop is right below Evo, so you don’t even have to step outside to get on the train. The academic center is a quick four stops away, but you should plan to leave your room 25-30 minutes before class or a meeting to ensure you make it there on time. Trust me on this one, navigating the metro is not as bad as it seems and you’ll learn it really fast!
Q: If I can’t cook, what do I do?
A: One of the easiest meals to make if you can’t cook or haven’t tried before is stocking up on sandwich ingredients and deli cold cuts. It’s super easy to pull one together quickly and bring it with you for a long day of classes, and you can make them tastier by adding your favorite condiments and fillings. Meal prep is also really helpful, and this can be done by finding a very simple recipe that yields lots of servings, can be put in the fridge, and reheated in the microwave for multiple days. Something like chili is great for this! There are also plenty of convenience stores around, one being at the bottom of Evo, where you can grab food from any day minus the weekends. Jean-Talon Market is a great place to get fresh, local food that can last a while depending on what you buy. And finally, there’s a grocery store called Marche K that’s only a 3 minute’s walk from the academic center. You’ll be fine! (You can also read our other Social Media Ambassador’s blog about budgeting and cooking in Montreal)
Go explore Montreal and don’t be afraid to study abroad! It’s a fantastic experience that will bring bountiful opportunities for your major and allow you to bond with your friends.