Students frequent Montreal as nearest international city to campus
Saint Michael’s College is located less than a two-hour drive from the Canadian city of Montreal. Saint Michael’s students travel to Montreal for many reasons including, but not limited to, linguistic immersion, cultural engagement, or just a weekend retreat.
Faith Morgan `23 from Litchfield, CT, is a business major with minors in creative writing and English. She spent a weekend in Montreal during spring break with a group of friends, choosing the city as their destination because “it was so close and so affordable.” Now a senior, Morgan said she had been looking forward to visiting Montreal since her first year at Saint Michael’s. “We were excited about exploring the diverse food options, the nightlife, and the city’s culture,” she said.
Mia Cooper `24 from Gansevoort, NY, is a psychology and public health double major who traveled with a group to Montreal as day trip for a friend’s birthday. She feels that even spending a few hours in the city is worth the drive. “The drive was reasonable,” Cooper said. “For students, the trip is easy, affordable, and a nice way to see a country and culture different from their own.”
Planning trips to Montreal is not difficult, as the city has an abundance of Airbnb options, hotels, and other accommodations for travelers. Morgan shared that in their planning process, it was not difficult to find a nice Airbnb that comfortably housed all nine of the people traveling. Montreal is also a budget friendly destination for students – no airfare, and the aforementioned drive of under two hours from Saint Michael’s campus to the city. “The border was definitely intimidating because it was my first time experiencing the process, but it went smoothly,” Morgan said, emphasizing the practicality of her group’s decision to drive.
Montreal is also a different cultural experience from the United States, being a French-speaking city. “It was fun to see the road signs transition from English to French right across the border,” Cooper said.
Saint Michael’s College French Club travels to Montreal once a year to experience the cultural immersion that the city offers as well as experience a French-speaking city that is more accessible than French-speaking cities overseas. Yet, for the traveler who does not speak French, it is still an accessible place as most Montreal residents speak English as well.
Once in the city, students can find a wide range of activities available for every person’s unique interests. Morgan and her friends spent their days exploring shops, book stores, restaurants and more.
“We spent the day thrift shopping in the area, trying out food around our Airbnb, and just walking around,” she said. “We visited Old Montreal one day and saw the Notre Dame Basilica which was just beautiful!” Morgan also delighted in finding that most of the books in local bookstores had their English printed books in the back of the store. “I ended up picking up a copy of Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion,” Morgan said. Rounding out their nights, the group of friends enjoyed some of the local bars and clubs.
“The city was super walkable and there was a plethora of different restaurants to choose from,” Cooper said about her day trip. “My friends and I ended up at a plant-based sushi restaurant called Bloom that was reasonably priced and very delicious.” The sushi was good enough for the group to continue mentioning it on the car ride home, she said.
Though she enjoyed her time in Montreal, Morgan said, the bonding among friends was the part of the trip that really mattered to her. “My fondest memories of the trip exist in the late hours of the night when we all got home from whatever bar, club, or restaurant we had visited, and we all got to bond,” she said. “It was really nice to all be in an Airbnb together chatting, laughing, and making memories before we graduate.”