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In less than a month, I will be returning to my home country, the Netherlands. Therefore, this is a recap of the 10 things I will miss the most about living in Montréal.
10) My favourite hotspot: the anti-café. This is a place where you pay per minute, rather than per drink. What this means is that you pay 3 dollars for the first hour you are there, and 2 dollars for the following hours (with a maximum of 9$). Basically, during your time at this cafe you can consume as many cups of tea and coffee as you would like, in addition to unlimited cookies and snacks. If you know me, you know that I drink a crazy amount of tea every day and that I hope to have a huge tea corner in my future dream house. Therefore, this place completely suits me.
Also, I enjoy studying or writing blogs in cafés, rather than always sitting at home or in the library. The anti-café is ideal for at-home workers or students, as it’s decorated like a cozy living room with big study tables. Everyone is quietly working on his or her stuff, but if you need a break, you can play chess or go to the TV-room. You need to know about this café through word of mouth as they don’t have a proper sign outside and you have to ring the bell to enter the building. After my friend told me about it, I went to the anti-café three days in a row from morning ‘til evening. It’s my little paradise, where I have written quite a few of my blogs.
9) The rental prices in this city and specifically our lovely home. We couldn’t have dreamt of a better place to live together for these 6 months. Considering the amount of money that we paid, we could have only gotten a tiny room in the centre of Amsterdam, not a 2-½ apartment with garden in the trendiest part of town. It was a joy to be at home; especially because my boyfriend prepared home-cooked meals almost every night and we got our first real Christmas tree together!
8) Ice hockey. This is a sport I completely discovered here in Canada and quite frankly, I don’t understand why it’s not as huge in the Netherlands, as we are an ice-skating country… I went to see two games and completely fell in love with the sport. I like the fact that ice hockey is fast-paced due to the field being a lot smaller than for example in soccer (obviously the skates also help!). Therefore, you’re on the edge of your seat all of the time. It’s also very well thought-through. For example, instead of punishing the players with a yellow or red card, they are ‘expelled’ for 30 seconds from the current came. Thirty seconds is a lot in ice hockey and since there are only 6 players on the field for each team, you can’t really afford to lose someone. Moreover, when the game ends in a tie, there is extra-time in which just 3 players go up against 3 other players. This is insanely intense and makes the crowd cheer like madmen.
Ice hockey is really rough though, which we were quite surprised about but secretly enjoyed quite a bit. At least three fights happened during the first match we watched. One of those times, the players actually took off their helmets and started literally punching each other in the face. I thought this was an unbelievable thing to happen, so I figured it was going to be all over the news the next day. However, when I checked, I saw nothing about it online whatsoever! Surprised, I told the story to my colleagues, who all laughed at my innocence… apparently fights happen during every single ice hockey match.
7) Trips to the USA! Montréal is only 45-minutes away from the US border so it’s easy to explore this neighboring country as well. We’ve spent a weekend in Boston, visited North Hero in Vermont twice and will be spending some time in NYC soon as well. I’ve always had a soft spot for the USA when it comes to traveling, so this was pretty convenient!
6) My favorite street the St-Denis; and specifically the all-you-can-eat sushi places. St-Denis is a trendy street, which has lots and lots of restaurants and is popular amongst students. My boyfriend and I made it a tradition to eat here together every Monday evening before my French class at UQAM. We’ve tried every single sushi place in this street, as it’s incredibly cheap for Dutch standards. Going to a sushi restaurant is a rather fancy thing to do in the Netherlands and usually only happens on special occasions, when there is something to celebrate. Sushi is my favorite food in the world, thus I couldn’t believe it when I first saw that we could have unlimited sushi for an equivalent of 10 euros.
Another restaurant I should mention in the St-Denis is Végo. This is an all-vegetarian restaurant with really tasty healthy foods and sugar free desserts. The concept of this restaurant is that you pay for as much as your plate weighs, with a maximum of 15 dollars. It’s quite easy to reach the 15 dollars, but from that point on you can stuff your plate with as much more as you would like. You can imagine that the St Denis is not the best place to stay in shape…
5) Free water everywhere! In Holland, you basically pay as much for a tiny bottle of water as for any other soft drink. It felt like such a luxury to me that whenever I would go out to eat in Canada, I got free water and the waiter kept pouring my glass. Perfect.
4) The French language. I must say that I am not very fond of the Quebecois accent, but I really enjoyed living in a city whose language is ‘exotic’ to me. I feel like I picked it up quite a bit, even though people speak perfect English and would generally approach me in English. All the stores have their signs in French and people take pride in the language too.
3) To feel safe and be far away from all the conflicts going on in Europe. I still watched the Dutch news during my stay here, so I did get all the headlines regarding the Paris-attacks and refugee crisis. Nevertheless, I felt like I was worlds away. I empathised from a distance and felt very powerless, but I also felt safe. I’ve been told that the people back home are on edge and that the innocence is gone, something I have not noticed whatsoever in the Canadian society nor myself.
2) The volunteering culture. I have been to a number of volunteer fairs at different colleges and universities and I really appreciate that volunteering is very much encouraged here in Canada. I believe that volunteering is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. It’s a great way to spend your time and will make you grow as a human being as well. It makes you realize what you have and what you don’t have, and what you can mean for another person. I think we are way too under-involved in the Netherlands. I work for a non-profit organisation called Big Brothers Big Sisters that brings together children from difficult backgrounds with enthusiastic volunteers. How many times I’ve heard them say that they wanted to give back to society and contribute… I find this incredibly heart warming. One of the things I’ll obviously miss the most about my stay here is the internship itself and my colleagues: a team of amazing power-women and men who stand for a cause.
1) The number one thing I will miss most about Canada must be the incredible landscape. Canada’s nature is what makes Canada Canada… if that sentence makes sense ; ) The stunning nature and wildlife is what really defines the country and what attracted me to it in the first place. The silence. The wilderness. The scenic lakes. I could stare for hours at the unruffled surfaces reflecting the rock walls and trees in the water. So far, I would consider Canada to be the most beautiful country I have visited. Pictures describe it better than words: