Despite the cold winds and snowfall, winter in Canada can be one of the most exciting and lively seasons of the year. For international students, winter can present opportunities and challenges in equal measure.
Cities across Canada often plan many exciting activities and winter festivals to get people together. With a good coat and warm pair of boots, anyone can enjoy all the unique activities Canadian cities have to offer.
Montreal in the winter
One of Canada’s most vibrant study destinations is the city of Montreal, which is located in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec. The city, however, is largely bilingual, and many residents can carry a conversation in either English or French.
No wonder the city was named the best student city in the world for 2017!
Among the top-ranking English language institutions in Montreal is Concordia University, which appeared among Maclean’s Top Comprehensive Universities this year.
Concordia is home to students from 150 countries around the world, and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate-level programs.
Recent university data shows there are over 7,000 international students at Concordia, and three of the most popular faculties are Engineering and Computer Science, Arts and Science, and the John Molson School of Business.
Montreal can have some hot summers and mild fall and spring months, but the average temperature in the winter can drop to -9 °C in January.
With winter around the corner, Canada Study News spoke to two international students studying at Concordia to understand the different ways in which students from overseas cope with the cold season.
Raghav Sharda, 20 years old
Raghav moved to Montreal a year ago from the Indian city of Ludhiana after studying mechanical engineering at a local university in India.
He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Science with a co-op program, which gives him the chance to complete paid work for up to 16 weeks.
Canada has always represented itself as a land of opportunities. I really believe that.
Montreal is a good place because it’s cosmopolitan. Fall weather is nice in Montreal. I am a winter person so I like the winter too. Commuting can be difficult sometimes in the winter because I live in the West Island. So, it’s important to plan ahead.
Everything I do has to revolve around my student schedule. So, I like to take early morning classes in the wintertime so I don’t experience snowfall and get stuck somewhere at night.
Last year, I was really focused on my studies, so I did not pursue any winter activities. Now I know the city better so I have more confidence to go and visit new places by myself. Sometimes you have company, other times you don’t, but that doesn’t matter.
This winter, I will start with the basics of doing winter sports like sledging. I have heard there are beautiful places to visit like Mont Tremblant. I have never visited.
For someone coming from a warm country like me, my number one advice is to bring warm clothes with you, and more importantly come with an open mindset.
Find your own pace to do things and learn how system works.
Pauline Faivre, 24 years old
Pauline moved from France to complete a Bachelor of Commerce at Concordia University. Her concentration is in International Business at the John Molson School of Business.
I love Montreal’s winter. There is a beautiful spirit when it is snowing.
I was expecting it to be cold because my best friend was here, so I was ready. I prepared all my clothes to protect me from the cold.
My first winter was pretty intense so I went to buy second hand clothes made of wool, like sweaters or pullovers. I was at UQAM and I was living near the metro, so I didn’t have to step outside in the cold.
If I had one advice is be prepared with clothes and be psychologically prepared. It won’t be as bad as you may expect.
Here I learned to love the seasons. Before I didn’t consider that. Here you experience every season and you get to love and appreciate it.
Everything here is planned underground. You can shop and go around through tunnels. Just try to live somewhere near a metro or bus station so you don’t have to wait too long in the cold.
Montreal’s “Underground City”, as it is popularly known, is a network of malls and food courts connected by walking-friendly tunnels.
These tunnels connect hotspots in downtown Montreal with the underground train, or Montreal’s Metro network. It may even possible to go from your place to work, school, or go out to meet friends without ever stepping outside.
I go to the park and play with snow, maybe even have a snowball fight. With my friends, I can rent a chalet and even enjoy an outdoor jacuzzi. Even if it’s minus 40, you can run to the jacuzzi and stay warm.
I advise you to go to nearby towns, like Val-David and when see the mountains and snow everywhere. It is so beautiful to see. It is simple to organize those trips even with your colleagues at the university. There are usually many bus trips organized to go skiing and take part in different winter activities.
Life in winter continues in Montreal. This is something that surprised me in my first years. There are many outdoor activities, like the Igloofest or Montreal’s Festival of Lights.
The city has a good vibe in the winter. Even if it’s cold you can still experience the human side, which is warm and friendly.
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