The RUG gets around
Name: Eva Mulder
Age: 22 years old
Where are you studying?
Concordia University, Montréal
Fourth-year student of economics and business and third-year history student

Montreal, Canada

The mountain of Montreal

Every year, many RUG students decide to do an internship or temporary study abroad. Do they get any work done in sunny Granada? Can they find their way around the giant city of Moscow? And what is it like to dance the tango in Buenos Aires? Part 12: Montreal, Canada.
By Nanette Vellekoop / Translation Sarah van Steenderen

‘Canada’s signature dish is poutine. That’s a funny name for what is essentially French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, but it’s really good. They have poutine restaurants everywhere where you can put together your own special dish any time of day.

There’s also a lot of fast food and other unhealthy stuff here; they have these large billboards everywhere, and everything is about food. Canada is kind of like America in that sense.’

‘Things here aren’t much more expensive than in the Netherlands, but you always pay more than you expect to because taxes are not included in the sales price. And tipping is expected. Beers in the pub are approximately seven dollars, so 4 euros.’

Why Montréal?

‘I really wanted to go to a Western country this semester, and Canada looked good. I was worried that the culture shock would be too great if I went to Asia. Canada was a safe choice. The east of the country seemed most attractive; it’s closer to the United States and less expensive than Western Canada.’

‘The countryside here is amazing. It’s wonderful to walk around the national parks here. I’m going to go on tour to visit them all. I was studying close to the mountain of Montréal, which is a great place for cycling. The semester lasted until 1 May, so now I’m just travelling around.’

Are Canadians as friendly as everyone says?

‘Absolutely. They’re not just friendly, but also really helpful and genuinely interested in you. Canada doesn’t have a history like the American Revolution or Napoleon. They don’t really have one single national identity. All the different provinces came into being separately, and they decided at a conference that it might be a good idea to become a single country. That’s characteristic of Canada; everything is just really easy-going.’

‘Except, that is, during hockey season; that’s when Canadians transform into total hooligans. I went to a game and everyone was running around in hockey shirts, drinking beer and shouting.’

What’s the education like in Montréal?

‘When I went on exchange I thought it would be all fun and games, but I was sorely disappointed. The pressure is a lot higher in Canada, but the level of education is lower. We have to write quite a few papers and do presentations, and then there are midterms and final exams. I had a deadline practically every week. But in the end, the courses were easier. The tests aren’t that difficult and it’s easy to get a good mark.’

Would you recommend spending a semester in Montréal to others?

‘Only to people who enjoy winter. When I first got here, it was -25 degrees Celcius. No one cares about the cold here, life just goes on as usual. It’s not like in the Netherlands at all, where trains stop working at the first sign of snow.’

‘They actually have quite a few activities in the winter, like igloo festivals or cross-country skiing in the parks. It’s given me an enitrely different idea of what constitutes real cold. Up to -10 degrees is fine; anything below -15 and breathing starts to hurt. But right now it’s only 12 degrees Celsius and I’m actually kind of warm.’

Previous episodes

Thom van Amersfoort – Sydney, Australia
Joëlle Blankestijn – Bloemfontein, South-Africa
Georgia Tuhoy – Madrid, Spain
Moniek Smit – Cairo, Egypt
Gabby Rialland – Bogota, Colombia
Marleen Kas – Uppsala, Sweden 
Anton Jongeling – Barcelona, Spain 
Desiree Niezen – Kiel, Germany 
Anton Wuis – Busan, South-Korea 
Juliëtte Eijkelkamp – Yogyakarta, Indonesia 
Iris Groenendijk – Cheltenham, England


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