By Amelia Payne (Game Programmer ’21)
Canada is a unique country, as beautiful as it is diverse. Whether you crave an exciting nightlife, beautiful hiking and wildlife or anything in between, Canada delivers. Metropolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver offer job opportunities, thriving nightlife, and a high standard of living.
Outside the big cities, you’ll find friendly people, beautiful natural environments, and plenty of room to stretch out. There are so many reasons to start learning Oh Canada!
Although I love Canada, I will admit that Montreal has a special place in my heart. After only a few short months of studying here I already never want to leave. I love walking through the bustling streets, catching snatches of conversation in every language under the sun. I love eating brunch in tiny Parisian style cafes and watching the sunset from the mountain. Montreal is so full of life, it is easy to imagine building a life here.
There are plenty of practical reasons to consider making Canada your permanent home. In Montreal, you will find a thriving game industry with many top companies including Ubisoft and Behaviour Interactive as well as a thriving indie scene. Canada is also one of the safest countries in the world. Best of all, you will find a community of Champlain alumni in every major city. Whether you are in the game studio or another creative field, Canada is a great place to build your career.
In Montreal you’ll find a great standard of living for a lower price than in Burlington. The city consistently rates highly on quality of life indicators—last year it was #4 in North America! It is famous for its international festivals meaning that even in the dead of winter there is always something to do.
For example, during the Festival de Lumiere in the winter, you can warm up around blazing fires while you listen to live music, ride a giant ice slide and eat some classic winter treats like sugar on snow.
I spoke to two Champlain college alumni Scott Barrett and Mike Loscocco at the recent alumni pizza party (so many great networking opportunities abroad!) who graduated Champlain in 2016 and found jobs in Montreal.
“The best thing about moving to Montreal is the culture,” Scott told me, “ it’s one of the most bilingual cities on the entire planet. I feel like I moved somewhere that is so unbelievable foreign but is still comfortable enough to feel like home.”
Scott advises immigrants to remember that Canada is a different country: “It’s not so far off from the US, but it also is. Don’t treat it as an extension of America. It’s not. There is a surprising amount of patriotism here.”
Eva, a designer at Ubisoft told me that the legal process was painless: “The bigger studios just take care of everything for you.” Life at indie studios is a little more difficult but it is still doable. You can get an open working holiday visa and come find a job in Canada. The Champlain Abroad staff can point you in the right direction and help you connect with other alumni.
Moving to Canada As An American
Getting a visa
You can get a visa to move to Canada with or without a job offer. Many Champlain College Alumni have successfully found jobs in Montreal and relocated.
Even if you don’t have a job offer you can apply for permanent residency. Quebec has its own entry program for skilled workers which favors French speakers, but English will work just fine in the rest of the country. You can find information about visas on the Canadian government’s website. Luckily, most Champlain College alumni are just the kind of young, skilled workers that Canada wants to recruit.
If your goal is to become a permanent resident in Quebec you should start learning French. Although it’s possible to get around Montreal with no French knowledge, proficiency will be a big help when applying for visas. Many game companies, including Ubisoft, offer free lessons to their employees. French may not be necessary for business, but it is much easier to make local friends if you speak the language. If you plan to move elsewhere in Canada, there is no need to learn a new language.
Building a Canuck Life
Canada is a great place to start a new life but you’ll need to get out there and live it. Moving to a new country can be really hard so it’s important that you get out and make new friends as soon as you can. One alumni told me that “My first winter in Montreal I got really bad seasonal depression. I eventually realized that I had to just get outside and do things anyway!”
Going out and socializing with your coworkers is a great way to make friends. All the alumni that I talked to had made friends with the people they worked with: “Eventually, my work friends became my friend friends” one alumni told me.
The Randolph board game bar in Montreal is right around the corner from the Academic Center
Finding a hobby is a great way to make new friends with similar interests. Whether you love board game cafes, manga or adopting rescue kittens you’ll find people who share your passion.