Out of all things in this world that I could do, why did I choose to give up my beautiful Australian Summer and suffer through a Montreal Winter?
I’ve been asked varieties of that question many a time during my stay here. After establishing that indeed, Australia is FAR from Canada, people are baffled as to why I’m here.
So, why am I here and not say, in France? (I was one of the biggest Francophiles on the ANU campus before jet-setting here.)
I’m actually not just ‘on exchange’ – while yes I’m an exchange student, I also have an ulterior motive which decided my exchange destination long before the application process started. I’m here as part of my French Honours year. My thesis topic is “The use of religious profanities in Québécois French” so instinctively; where else would be the best place to be but Montreal itself?! I had also never been to the Americas before and I figured that this would be a good excuse to make the trek.
I just finished the winter semester at the Université de Montréal. It is the largest university in Quebec and the top university in the Francophone world. It is located in the Côte-des-Neiges area of Montreal. Everything you need to live is nearby and since I live on campus, I could have spent the whole semester here without catching public transport! However, that would just be silly since as beautiful as the UdeM campus is, there’s so much more to see in Montreal than just a university.
Living on campus has been great. To my surprise, it didn’t take me too long to get used to shared bathroom and cooking facilities – I definitely I embraced my newfound independence. Additionally, it’s here in the residences where I made the greatest of friends.
Montreal is a beautiful city; from January when I woke up every day to negative temperatures and sometimes snow falling from my window, to April – where…Montreal being Montreal, I still sometimes woke up to a snow covered campus, to finally now in May where the snow has melted and the grass is green.
Montreal is also the most bilingual city that I’ve ever been to. For example, when you’re on the Metro, the further away from the ‘Blue Line’ you go, the less French and the more English you will hear! Nevertheless, if I’m still in a French mood by the time I arrive Downtown, I can still waltz into shops and achieve all that I want, en français. I will admit, the Québécois accent took me some time to get used to but now I’m well accustomed to it and am even find myself adding little Québéqisms to my own speech là!
Although all my peers are now enjoying their vacances and I won’t be free until my thesis is submitted; I think that in my last few weeks here I’ll be able to love this city even more than I already do.