A Year in Montreal
Buried in amongst our daily life and the preparations for our apartment move this summer was the passing of a milestone that was barely acknowledged – even though it’s something I’ve often thought about since we arrived in Montréal and started our new life.
Regularly people would ask how long we planned to stay here for. It seemed naive and foolhardy to say anything other than that we would see how things went for a year. After all, Montréal is known for its bitterly cold winters and hot humid summers. You can’t judge a place as your home without having experienced it in the glory of all its different seasons. At least once.
We did it. We made it. We survived a whole year. More specifically we struggled through the winter – and it was not a mild one! It was reassuring to know that we could cope with the extreme negative temperatures. We figured out how to dress for real winter weather, and learnt of things that didn’t exist in Ireland… gigantic snow ploughs, snow dumps and ice rain. It was a long and intense season. I longed for the freedom of walking the streets unburdened. As April dragged past it felt like warmer temperatures would never arrive.
But they did. No more frozen fingers. The cumbersome winter boots and coats were stowed at the back of the wardrobe. All of a sudden it was back to sweltering heat and hot air hanging over the city, thick and heavy in your lungs. The city shook off the shackles of winter and started the frenzy of parties and festivals that are crammed into these warm lazy days. Montréal makes the most of its summers with the knowledge that it won’t be that long before winter is coming once more.
Like all new experiences that are worth having, things have been both harder and better than we could have imagined. It’s strange and difficult to leave the homeland you’ve lived in for half your life, but it offers countless opportunities to seek out new adventures and grow in unexpected ways.
It wasn’t a perfect first year, and we still have much to learn about living in a foreign country. However now that this first milestone has passed, I feel more confident in our ability to adapt to the challenges that have been thrown at us. For us, it’s been an easy decision to continue our adventure. We will get to see the city change once more as the seasons cycle through. Now that we’ve settled into our new(est) home here, it’s time to start making plans for all the things we will see and do in our second year.
I often wonder what life would be like if we had gone with our alternative option of moving to the US instead of Canada. This Canadian expat moved to California and is living the life we could have had there.