International Perspectives – Interviews with International Students

17 February 2020

In her second blog Isobel interviews two international students.


Tell me a bit about yourselves!


Anna-Lena: I’m Anna-Lena and I’m from Munich in Germany. I’ve spent the last four months here on an exchange programme.


Youssef: My name is Youssef, I’m from Morocco and I’m doing my master’s here. I did my undergraduate in Meknes and then I worked for two and a half years in a bank in Casablanca.


Why did you choose Montreal?

Anna-Lena: I’ve been to France several times, but I had never been to Canada before. Since I left school, I haven’t had many opportunities to speak French, and so I thought Montreal would be the ideal place to go.

Youssef: I’m Moroccan so my second language is French. However, most people in Montreal are bilingual, so I have the opportunity to practice my English.


Anna-Lena: That’s true, I think most exchange students here are French speakers. It can sometimes be a bit daunting for us non-native speakers!


Youssef: Also, Montreal is consistently ranked as one of the best student cities in the world.


What do you do in your free time?

Anna-Lena: I love exploring the city. When I first arrived, there were lots of street festivals, art installations and events going on. Also, I’ve made the most of being in North America by visiting New York, Chicago and Toronto.

Youssef: The fact that I’m studying and doing a part time job means that unfortunately I don’t have a lot of free time. I work in an Italian restaurant to earn some extra money because international fees are quite high. However, we all make time every Tuesday to go to an ‘80s-themed club night downtown!


Anna-Lena: Every time we go out, we always find ourselves eating a 3am poutine in La Banquise, Montreal’s most famous poutine restaurant. It’s open 24 hours!


Has Montreal lived up to your expectations?

Anna-Lena: It’s as great as I hoped! Also, I was delighted to discover that Canadians really are as nuts about ice hockey as I thought. And it snowed earlier than I thought it would! However, when we arrived in August it was over thirty degrees for two weeks or so. I didn’t pack enough summer clothes!

Youssef: I had braced myself for it to be freezing all year, but it isn’t actually that cold yet. Also, the city is more international than I thought it would be, and I’ve enjoyed meeting people from all around the world.


What are the downsides to living in Montreal?

Youssef: I don’t think there are any!


Anna-Lena: Food is pretty expensive compared to home. Shopping can be difficult because tips and taxes aren’t included, so you think you’ve got a good deal but then you’re surprised by extra charges. 


Would you recommend living and studying here?

Anna-Lena: As long as the weather isn’t a total deal breaker for you! People in Montreal are extremely open and friendly, as long as you can understand their accents.

Youssef: Absolutely! Montreal is like a crossover between Europe and North America, so you get to experience the best of both worlds. It’s the best place to practice French and English because most people are bilingual. Also, the fact that there are multiple universities here means that the city is full of students, so there are always events and people to go with.


Anna-Lena: That is definitely true. I’ve made wonderful friends from not just Canada but around the world. It’s so important to make the most of your time by going out, meeting new people and experiencing new things, because the term really has flown by.