I made it to Montreal and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to study up here. Montreal is a culturally diverse city with an abundance of cute shops, cafes and parks, all easily and affordably accessible through the metro. And Concordia truly is a campus worth attending. Smack in the center of downtown, you instantly feel incorporated into the city walking from class to class. In between classes and you have a break? No problem, grab a crepe!
So, why Montreal?
A Truly Different Culture
I was once told that going to study abroad in Canada would not make for an enriching international experience. “Oh, Canada is not that different from the U.S.” Wrong. Whoever said that had clearly not been to Montreal. The entire province of Quebec distinguishes itself from the rest of Canada through its preservation of francophone culture. All street signs are written in French (with the occasional English sub-title), a majority of the population speaks French as their primary language and the city is replete with boulangeries, patissseries and creperies. In addition to the francophone presence, the city is filled to the brim with immigrants from all over the world. You can stroll over to a Filipino bakery for delicious cheap bread and a couple blocks later, pick up some groceries at the African market. Just sitting in the metro, you overhear (ok, maybe eavesdrop in) conversations in Spanish, French, English, Mandarin, etc.
In Montreal, you can rent a one bedroom apartment for under 700 bucks. And in a great location! Secret: Montreal is actually considered to be much more “low-income” than other cities in Canada. Surprise to me, cause what is considered “run-down” here, looks like San Francisco. But anyhow, this means rent is much cheaper than anywhere else in the country. Personal story: I rent a huge apartment 5 seconds from the metro for just 760, including heating (which here is essential). Mind you, this is overpriced. If you arrive in Montreal early August, (unlike moi) you can get the same deal for like 500. But hey, at least I have a balcony.
Free/ Discounted Services at Concordia:
When you barely get to the city, you’ll need a good wi-fi connection and a Canadian phone to communicate with landlords in order to view apartments. You’ll also need to master the metro as it is the easiest way to get around. Fortunately, Concordia can help with all this. Unlimited use computers can be found at the library, and if you need a phone, the seventh floor of building H has free phones which you can use instead of a pay-phone (which are numerous).
To save money on the metro, just to go to the Birks student center (with a student ID) and there you will receive a stamped form verifying your eligibility for a student metro pass. After that, you just go to the Berri-UQAM metro station to get your Opus card. With one of these passes, you pay 180 bucks for a full semester, unlimited use. Mind you, this is cheaper than what a non-student would pay.
Oh the food, the food! M-F from 12-2, The People’s Potato serves 3 course vegan meals for free on the 7th floor of building H. Completely free, but donations are appreciated. Just bring your tupperware and an empty stomach!
Gators, Montreal is cool. More general, studying abroad is cool. Do not miss out on this opportunity. Now is your only chance, so why not take it?