Studying abroad in Canada, specifically Montreál, was a rewarding experience because of the cultural practices, values, and unique cuisines available. I was able to try staple Canadian/Québécois foods such as timbiebs from Tim Hortons (a doughnut hole named after Justin Bieber), loukoumades from Mr. Puffs (fried pastries smothered in syrup toppings), poutine from La Banquise (french fries with gravy, cheese curds, and many other toppings available), and fresh bagels from Fairmont Bagels (and even food from other cuisines such as handmade noodles from Nouilles de Lan Zhou!). I write about typical Canadian foods because of what I learned in my Canadian food studies course, but I digress. Overall, the food scene in Montreál is impeccable and is a perfect place to venture out and try new things.
Furthermore, I was able to see my first hockey game with the Montreal Canadiens! Unfortunately, we lost that night, but it was a fun experience nevertheless. My friend and I went on a ‘University Night’ which meant the entrance ticket was cheaper, and we received a free beverage. For avid hockey fans, there are even apartment complexes built that are connected to the arena for easy access. Montreál takes its hockey seriously.
Living in Montreál was a unique adventure, as Quebec has a few different laws than the rest of Canada. It was interesting to see the Quebec elections, and learn what the different parties were and what they supported. For example, the Conservative Party is blue, while the Liberal Party is red. Furthermore, language and immigration were prominent issues in the elections. Quebec’s attempts to preserve French culture can be perceived by some as anti-immigrant because of their strict language requirements and implementation of regulations within schools and businesses. I had the chance to feel the impact these laws could have on immigrant families, and I had the opportunity to speak to many fellow students about their opinions as well. It was also interesting to learn that Québécois French sounds very different than the French in France. I am grateful I had the time to develop friendships with other students and learn more about Canada as a whole.
I have always been interested in East Asian Studies, and decided that I wanted to pursue this subject in detail at a university that had a well-established East Asian Studies program. During the Fall 2022 semester, I studied abroad at McGill University and took courses about the history of women in China, East Asian art, Chinese culture and history, and even a Canadian food studies course (which explains my newfound attentiveness to Canadian cuisine). Through these courses, I developed new interests in Canadian history and learned about East Asia more in-depth, which definitely prepared me for writing my departmental thesis.
Lastly, I would not have been able to attend McGill University if it weren’t for the support of the study abroad office with the CGE Critical Issues scholarship, as well as the Killam Fellowship I received. This scholarship allowed me to meet other Killam fellows who were also U.S. students studying abroad in Canada (or Canadian students studying abroad in the U.S.) and I was able to make friends through their fall orientation weekend. Additionally, I was able to travel to Toronto through a travel grant they offer to fellows. I loved Toronto because of its big city vibes, its endless cuisine, and amazing museums. Some highlights of my trip to Toronto include visiting Niagara Falls, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and seeing the Toronto Symphony Orchestra perform at Roy Thompson Hall. I also liked seeing the University of Toronto campus. I love that both Toronto and Montreál are very student-friendly cities with good public transportation. My semester in Canada expanded my knowledge of the country and even beyond. I would definitely recommend visiting both cities and seeing everything they have to offer!
Emma Sprayberry (BA Spanish and BA Humanities: International Studies) spent Fall 2022 studying abroad in Montreal, Canada through a direct enrollment at McGill University. Emma had the following to say about studying abroad, “Cultural experiences are some of the most valuable and impactful opportunities to have at a young age. During university, it is important to venture out and experience new things. There are plenty of ways to study abroad while following a budget. Don’t be afraid to apply!”
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