By Megan Kara
Montréal is a word that probably means something different to each member of our group that went on our spring break trip there. To some it may mean just a city, but to us who have visited there it means much, much more. Montréal is a city where there is not only a mixing of many cultures but also where there are many different and diverse sections in the city itself.
Our trip really began when we were crossing the border into Canada. We learned first hand just how humorless the customs guards truly are. When we were pulling up to the customs station and our driver jokingly asked if our EZ pass would work, the guard (without cracking a smile) said, “Sir, this is Customs.” It was the first of many interesting and funny incidents that happened to us along the way.
After that, the next time that we gained consciousness would be when we arrived at our hostel, in the downtown area of Montréal. Almost immediately after getting there and settling in we decided to look at what activities were listed, and we all purchased tickets to the national past time in Canada: Hockey.
The hockey game—at least for me—was one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole trip. We were split into three groups, with two groups of two and one group of four. Somehow my roommate, Kaitlin, and I ended up being the dividing line between the Canadians (Habs) and the Oiler’s fans, so that was definitely very interesting (and, in some parts, startling). We learned many things from the hockey game, but the one thing that stuck with us is that every time their team was about to shoot the Hab’s fans yelled, “Bien, Bien, Bien!” To this day all that we have to do when we see one another is just say that phrase and everyone laughs.
In the city there are many museums and other attractions that are both interesting and informative. We made it to two museums, and many members in our group made it to see quite a few of the historic buildings and churches, which Montréal is famous for. Our group also made the trip up Mount Royal, from which Montréal gets its name. This mountain was absolutely gorgeous with views of the whole city, including its newest project, the bio-dome.
In the city it was very interesting to hear the people switch between fluent English and Français, or code switching (which is where the sentence is a mixture of English and French). One member of our group who was ordering in a McDonalds (sometimes you just need a piece a home) was commended by the cashier for her wonderful English and how it sounded perfect. She said, “Thanks, because it is the only language that I speak.” While in the city, there tiny stores, such as stores for meats, sweets, breads, and others, but there were virtually no supermarkets or Wal-Marts that we saw.
Another thing that Canada is well known for is its production of maple syrup. We went to a fascinating place called the sugar shack where they make homemade syrup, sugar, candies, and various things. If you ever get a chance to taste real maple syrup, try it, it is wonderful.
On the final morning we went to Niagara Falls and saw the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It was even more beautiful in person than any picture that I have ever seen of it. It is a mixture of blues, greens, and other colors. In short it is just one of the most beautiful things that can ever be seen.
One last thing to give advice on is to not wear the opposing hockey’s team’s jersey (the Habs) in enemy territory (the Maple Leafs). This was something that we found out first hand outside the restaurant Tim Hortons. Needless to say, everyone changed right after that.