As holds true for most people moving to a new city, one of the most intimidating parts of coming to Montreal for me was learning to navigate my way through the city. I was scared of many things: for one, being that lost girl wandering the streets for hours. Secondly, it freaked me out that I may not be able to communicate with the native francophone population in order to get directions to my destination. Oh and of course, my third most worry was looking like a tourist in the city that I would call home for the next semester (because who wants that?) Thus, no maps were to be carried and I was set on knowing where I was going to the best of my ability at all times.
So how did it end up going? I did it! Yes, I must admit I once got so lost I had to take a taxi to my internship! But that was the worst of it. The majority of Montreal residents do speak English, even if it’s not their first language, so it is not hard to get be guided home if you do end up being that lost person wandering the streets. I think that I owe not being that “lost girl” more often to one primary reason.
It was especially hard not having data on my smart phone (I never realized how much I relied on it), but it forced me to learn the city because I couldn’t rely on it all the time. When I moved to New York City to do an internship there last summer, I could at least have maps and navigation applications to fall back on if I were to get lost. And get lost I did, many times—but I was always led home by my trusty smart phone from strange random locations.
Okay, I’m being a little dramatic here though; I do have access to Wi-Fi as long as I connect to it, so all I have to do in Montreal is stop in a Starbucks or something. But—wait for it—I have not once had to do that! Now I actually resort back to using some old school pen and paper and writing down my own directions before I leave my room if I don’t know where I’m going beforehand.
Now that it’s springtime, I walk as much as I can. But over the cold winter months (that is up until this past week or two), I became an expert at directing myself through the metro. In order to get to my internship, I have to transfer metro lines three times, so I’ve become familiar with three of the four metro lines in Montreal. The Montreal metro system is fairly simple, especially compared to other major metropolitan cities such as New York and Paris. Once it clicks, you’re all set to go.
It ended up being pretty easy learning my way around Montreal after a few weeks time. Now that I know where I’m going (for the most part), I have the freedom to go on long walks in this beautiful spring weather, which I do almost every day. Figuring out my way around has really allowed me to see more of and experience the city without worrying too much that I won’t be able to make it back to my room.
– Written by Lindsey Berry, Graphic Design major & Montreal blogger spring 2013