My first few weeks in Montreal were really amazing, fortunately. I got to meet people I now call my friends and adjusted to a completely new life. But this transition (smooth in some cases and rough in others) was possible mostly because I planned a few things beforehand. I did that knowing I’d have to take in as much as possible before courses start and, maybe most importantly, because I knew that fully immersing myself in a new city would help with any potential homesickness. This was a lesson I learnt whilst accommodating to Edinburgh when I first started university and it’s been invaluable. Thus, here are a few things I did in Montreal during the late summer which helped me call the city my new home.
During my first full day in Montreal, I met up with a current McGill student, Fei. We both signed up for the International Buddy Programme which McGill ISS set up, and we kept in touch throughout the summer. After we met up, she kindly showed me around campus and helped me find my classrooms for all the courses I had originally signed up for. This was quite important, as I did not need to walk around confused during the first day of classes! We’ve become really great friends as of since and we actually have classes together.
Surprisingly, the downtown campus is actually more compact than I had previously thought, but then again, nothing compares to having to go back and forth Kings Buildings and George Square.
Walking towards class. You can see the Macdonald Engineering and the McConnell Engineering Building.
Shifted the camera just a bit to the right, and you can see Dawson Hall.
The next weekend, I took part in my first MTL Bitesize trip to Chinatown and Old Port. I had an amazing time and although we walked quite a bit, I felt that this was the best way to discover the new city. We first stopped in Chinatown where we had some amazing bubble tea and dumplings, and then we headed to Old Town, where we got to see the Notre Dame basilica. Not long after, we reached Old Port (see the first picture) and got to enjoy some amazing views. Most people ended up climbing the White Tower and got some even better views of the Biodome! I made some friends which I hang out with, both exchange and regular McGill students, so I’d definitely recommend checking those events out.
On another MTL Bitesize trip, we went to Mile End. Nothing much to say about it though, since I didn’t actually spend much time there. But one thing which I would definitely recommend is trying a bagel from Fairmount Bagels. Had to wait in line for like 10-15 min on a Sunday but maybe it’s not that busy during the week.
I also took a bit of time to explore downtown. For some people it may look like just a collection of buildings, but I found it quite relaxing to just walk in every direction possible. At first, I didn’t know how to feel about it since it was quite the contrast between the historical buildings I was used to back home and in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, it’s an area I’ve grown to love- the multitude of shops and the hustle and bustle of the city can easily capture your heart.
Walking around the city at night can also be quite the adventure. The first time I walked through the city streets at night I decided to go back to Old Port with one another exchange student. The city itself is amazingly beautiful at night and one thing which surprised me most: quite empty! Friday, Saturday, you name it. The streets of the city looked quite deserted to me actually, so it felt as if I had the entire town to myself.
All in all, these few weeks have given me the opportunity to see a different side of Montreal, going beyond what I could read online. I hope this posts gave you some ideas if you find yourself in Montreal for your exchange or if you’re generally just visiting for fun!