Dubbed “Canada’s Cultural Capital” by Monocle and “Best in Travel in 2013” by Lonely Planet, Montreal provides an intriguing blend of cultures. Originally a base for French exploration in North America, Montreal’s history and culture has heavy French influences. From the Canal de Lachine to the Plateau Mont-Royal, you’ll find the 18th-century facades and architecture enchanting. When you study abroad in Montreal, you’ll experience the charming culture in more ways than one, and it’s a perfect place to learn the language of love and explore a unique piece of Canada’s history.
How to Study Abroad in Montreal
Second only to Paris as the largest French-speaking city in the world, Montreal is the perfect place for French immersion programs. Students may take a range of courses at one of Montreal’s top universities or colleges while attending language classes in conjunction.
Popular Subjects to Study. Montreal is known as an important hub for design, art, film, and international business, but French is the most popular. Many of French language programs allow students to study both the French language and culture. Many of the courses include language classes daily in the heart of downtown Montreal with cultural and social activities built into the program to help students apply their language skills in fun, interesting real-life situations.
Short Term vs. Summer vs. Long Term Programs. Some of the programs are as short as a spring break or May term or as long as a season (spring, summer, fall) or full academic year. Many of the programs offer flexible start dates, but if you are interested in learning to speak French or English as a second language, look into staying for a full year (homestay programs are also a good idea).
Attending Universities vs. Other Program Types. You have plenty of options when it comes to studying in Canada — take courses through your own university, enroll in universities in Canada, or sign up for programs with a third-party provider. Some students might choose to directly enroll in McGill University or one of its many other higher education institutions in Montreal. Not sure which direction to go? Consult your university study abroad advisor to figure out which program is the best fit for you.
Student Life in Montreal
As the second-largest city in Canada, Montreal has no shortage of activities. The city offers a myriad of museums, restaurants, bars, and parks to fill your days with fun. It’s an island surrounded by the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers and only a short boat ride away from many other exciting excursions.
You might take a day trip to La Ronde, Quebec’s largest amusement park or have a picnic in Parc du Mont Royal, a beautiful park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed NYC’s Central Park). For a more relaxing getaway, spend the day at Ovarium, a renowned day spa, or lie by the pool at the Complexe Aquatique de L’ile Sainte-Hélène.
The culinary landscape of Montreal is so diverse and exciting. Ranked among the top cities in the world with the most restaurants, Montreal has a wide variety of ethnic foods to choose from and is famous for regional favorites, like poutine (fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy), or the Montreal hot dog (loaded with hot peppers, pickles, or tomatoes).
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Montreal’s primary language is French, so don’t be too surprised to see signs and hear announcements in French everywhere. It’s recommended to learn a few phrases in French to help you navigate the area before you go. Walking, Bixi bikes, and public transportation are the best means to get around, and the Montreal Metro is cost-efficient and easy to use. Montreal is a fairly safe city, but exercise caution with your valuables, and don’t walk alone at night.
Montreal experiences icy, snowy winters, but the 20 miles of underground passageways can help relieve you from the cold every now and then. Just keep in mind that winters can be a bit harsh when deciding when you’d like to study in Montreal. Winters aren’t all drab and depressing: Take ski lessons or dog sled lessons, go ice fishing or skating, or taste good food and listen to music at Montreal en Lumière festival and Nuit Blanche (white night).
With a plethora of restaurants, more than 100 festivals, 50 National Historic Sites of Canada in Montreal, and more adorably cobblestoned streets than you can count, you’ll never be bored when studying in Montreal. The excellent universities here are another fabulous bonus. So pack your syrup and see what all the fuss is about! Study abroad in Montreal — you (and your future self) won’t regret it.