The week before coming to Montreal for this semester was like freshman year all over again. I am from New Jersey so going to Vermont for school seemed like a whole new world. There was all the same excitement and fear before coming to Montreal that I had leading up to my first semester at Champlain College. While packing for Montreal my head was all over the place trying to make lists of everything I needed and how much space I had in actuality to pack. I was also just so excited to be in a new place and be able to explore. In this excitement, my sense of organization seemed to go out the window and stay that way for the first couple of weeks while here.
I don’t pride myself on my navigation skills. In fact, I have the worst sense of direction of anyone I’ve ever met. Just this past summer, I was headed for Rockefeller Center in New York City. I live an hour away from NYC, so I’ve been visiting the city for years. I figured that, by this point, I could navigate it pretty easily. I looked at Google Maps, nodded to myself, and walked in the exact opposite direction of the center for about half an hour before I realized that I may have taken a wrong turn somewhere.
I was thus a bit worried when I realized I would have to navigate around Montreal—a city I had no prior experience with—for four months. Would I end up walking off of the island when I only meant to go to class? Would I walk to the top of Mount Royal before I realized something was wrong? The possibilities were endless!
Summer Program Participants (l-r) Kenya Cummins & Julia Lenoard in Old Montreal
I had always wanted to study abroad, so when I got the opportunity to attend Champlain College’s Montreal Summer Culture Program I immediately took the chance. I had traveled many times to cities both in and outside the United States before; I had even traveled to Montreal in the past for weekend trips. I always thought that Montreal was similar to other major North American cities. But after living in the city for over a month, my opinion of the city has changed; Montreal does not fall into the typical mold of the US or Canadian city. Its bilingualism and mix of cultures offers residents and visitors a one-of-a-kind living situation. Anyone who tells you that Montreal is more similar to the United States than different is wrong, but you can only learn that from spending a good amount of time here. Montreal is a valid and excellent study abroad option; you get to experience a different language being spoken around you while being in a truly foreign place. The culture of Montreal, and Canada in general, is also unique because there is not an emphasis on assimilation of “different” groups; each ethnicity found here is fully represented, whether that be through food or art. Continue reading →
[Throughout the Spring ’18 semester, Social Media Ambassador Amanda has explored Montreal and its many hidden corners. Here she gives her best reasons as to why students should consider coming up here with the Champlain Abroad program]
It’s to no one’s surprise that college students tend to run short of cash. The hunt for the cheapest deals is an ongoing personal battle during every hour of the day. The most important survival factor is of course, food, but clothing comes in as a close second. In a city where fashion is so prevalent, how and where can students keep up?
Thrift is a great answer to a lot of problems. Need something cheap or want something unique? Perfect. Need to get out of your room or go on a new adventure? Also a good choice. A glance at the past isn’t always for the museums and Montreal provides great opportunities to find it elsewhere. Throughout the year, Montreal hosts a variety of different thrift events all across the city. No one sale is the same, and better yet, every find is unique. Tons of people have found crazy items and insane brand deals at the cost of almost nothing. So, it was my time to find something of my own! Continue reading →
Have you ever felt like exploring beneath the city streets? To your luck, the entrance to one of Montreal’s very own Narnia’s is right at your fingertips. For what feels like miles throughout the downtown core, a series of malls and tunnels connect the above to the below. The adventures and discoveries double with the existence of this underground city, and while sometimes difficult to find and navigate around, the easiest first step to get there begins at the McGill metro station. Continue reading →
The sun was just rising, the car packed like Tetris, and Montreal, Canada written into Waze on the dashboard from Concord, Massachusetts. The whole family was stuffed into the handy dandy Buick SUV, papers ready and a plan set. Our dog Pepper content in his bed on my brother’s lap, and our cat left at home as the king of the house for the weekend. It felt like vacation, yet it wasn’t. Nerves tangled and butterflies wild, I was excited, but absolutely terrified. Three hours later we were in Vermont, dropping my brother’s luggage off at McDonald Hall, and another hour later we crossed the border into Canada. They say the biggest cultural difference in the shortest amount of time is the leap from Burlington, Vermont to Montreal, Quebec, and they’re not wrong. It was little city to mini New York (with a bit of Paris thrown in for good measure).
Montreal is a city of art, something you don’t really see unless you wander out of the port area. While the Old City is stunning in its own historical sense ─ with spiraling architecture and the sheer magnificence that is Notre Dame ─ the bustling pop-culture overtake in the rest of the city is pretty amazing too.
The first time I wandered randomly from the dorms and the Older City was also the first time I wandered into a forest of art. Boulevard de Maisonneuve displays so many beautiful walls of art that can’t fall into the category of “graffiti” and its negative connotations. Continue reading →
After an unexpected heatwave that rivaled Florida, the weather finally cooled off enough to enjoy fully the outdoors. Without the boiling heat, a Friday trip to the Botanical Garden’s annual Garden of Lights was actually something to look forward to. While I’ve been to the famous Garden many times, I had never been there when the light festival was held. Needless to say, already a fan of the Garden, the event was something I anticipated.
The breeze was cool and the metro bearable as the group made their way from the academic center to the Garden with a noticeable mass of others. Many people streamed from the sidewalks and joined together on the walk to the gardens, and excitement that many felt could be shared by everyone.
There is no question that a city is inexplicably different from the countryside. There is more noise, more people, more activity; the city is entirely non-stop while the countryside’s rolling hills and mountains move as slowly as the cows that graze on them.
It was far from my first time in Montreal ─ living a mere two hours away made the city a popular day-trip spot for my family ─ but it was my first time going up and down the streets where I would be living, learning and memorizing the ins and outs and shortcuts to the metro. Despite the fear that settled with the move from silent no-where to loud somewhere, Montreal’s prospect of exploration and new experiences overcame that quickly.