One thing I’ve quickly learned in the month or so we’ve been in Montréal is there is always something happening in this city! As evidenced by all the posts on this blog- we like to get out and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Every week our marvelous activities coordinator, Gigi, posts various happenings about town and activities she’s arranged for us to join if we so choose. It also seems that our group likes to eat… a lot! And luckily Montréal is filled to the brim with all sorts of different eateries. The staff is always more than happy to share new and different places to eat with us, whether it be the best samosas, new bagel place on the way to the Academic Center, or hand-made local ice cream. Learning where the locals eat and trying to avoid flashy tourist traps really help with feeling that we’re actually beginning to settle in and are no longer “fresh off the boat.” The staff here aid us in feeling immersed in the Quebecois culture.
But enough about food! Events and happenings! This blog chronicles most of our Champlain sponsored outings, whether it be for class or recreation. One neat thing about class outings is that any student on the Montreal campus can join a class outing, even if they are not enrolled in that class! This past week I happily took advantage of that by joining the graphic design class’ outing to the Musée des Beaux Arts for an exhibit by glass artist Chihuly. The professor was elated other students wanted to join the outing. Excursions outside of the classroom are extremely common here in Montréal. What is the point of studying in this amazing city if we’re not using it to our full advantage to further educate ourselves? The city is full of fascinating museums. From art, archeology, science, biodiversity, to history. You can formally learn from these museums which are meant to educate, or you can learn about the many cultures through food, festivals, sports, and art!
Outside of the classroom and sponsored activities, there are a multitude of other happenings. It seems there isn’t a day that passes in Montréal without a festival of some sort. There are street festivals, cultural festivals, food truck festivals, and every type of film festival you can imagine! Every Sunday people gather on Mont Royal to play tam-tams (a type of hand drums). The city is also full of various types of art and artists and music and musicians. There are gallery openings and concerts galore! Gigi alerted us to a super secret Arcade Fire concert one Monday night in early September. They had advertised under a false band name for a super small venue tucked away off of rue St. Catherine and stated concert-goers should either come dressed formally or in costume. A few of us figured it was worth a shot to try and get into the $9 show, so we threw on fanciest outfits and unsuccessfully stood in a line three city blocks line for a venue we later found out held 200 people. But, it was something to do and we got out of the residence hall for the night!
I was lucky enough to receive Canadians-Bruins tickets. Although they were for a pre-season game, I was still able to get a taste of the passion this nation has for hockey. I grew up a Bruins fan, so I know of the history between the two teams and knew the game wouldn’t bore. The fans got loud, the players got into a few small fights, and the Bruins kept on scoring! Things really started getting interesting when the star Habs player’s brother was put into the goal…for the Bruins! Fans were trying to boo him, but it just ended up sounding like they were booing their own beloved star. I am generally fascinated by the bilingualism of this city, but it caught me off guard at the hockey game. Not only are all the announcements made in French and English, the advertisements in either French or English, but the NHL is called the LNH, or the Ligue Nationale de Hockey. The logo alongside the boards, on the players’ jerseys, and everywhere else within the Bell Centre read “LNH.”
All of these activities are helping us get out and immerse ourselves in the culture of Montréal. With so many different interests within our student group here, Montréal is diverse enough to cater to our diverse interests. Video game companies, hockey games, street art murals, dubstep concerts, European inspired architecture, markets with local produce, meats, and cheeses. There’s something for everyone and we’re all slowly finding out favorite hangouts, eateries, and neighborhoods in this culturally diverse city.