Before your plane lands in Canada, you need to fill out a Declaration Card. Most of the card is easy to fill out but it is very important that you answer ALL questions honestly. For instance, if you have brought any food with you – this can be an apple, a chocolate bar or some food from home – you MUST declare this on the card.
As you are probably arriving only a couple of days prior to the start of school you will need to take care of several issues. You will be meeting and getting to know your new family. As much as you are nervous and excited, so is your homestay family. You will get a tour of the home, and be shown where everything is and how everything works. Please respect everyone’s right to privacy and quiet. Always knock, announce yourself, and wait until you are acknowledged before entering someone else’s room. Don’t forget to be considerate when using common areas (living room, kitchen, etc.).
Depending on where you are travelling from, you will probably pass through several time zones before you arrive in Montreal.
Most people who travel far experience a condition called jet lag. When you suffer from jet lag you will feel tired and sleepy during the day, you might not be very hungry and it can be very difficult to fall asleep at night.
Jet lag affects people differently and you might not feel it very much. But generally, it takes 1 day to adjust for each time zone you have travelled. This means if you have travelled from Asia, it can take over a week for your body to fully adjust to being in Canada.
The best cure is to take it easy and try to get up and go to bed on “Montreal time” – even if this means you sometimes feel very tired during the day. It is also recommended to set your watch to Montreal time on the plane to ease the time zone change process.
Culture shock is a common way to describe the confusing and nervous feelings you may experience after leaving your familiar culture to live on your own in a new country and with a new family. This can be exciting and stimulating, but it can also be overwhelming. You may feel sad, anxious, frustrated, lonely, and you may even want to go home.
It is worth noting that the host family may have had little or no experience in another culture, so they may experience some culture shock themselves.
As a newcomer to Canada, give yourself time to adjust, adapt and experience your new environment. It is entirely normal to go through these overwhelming phases but we encourage you to remain positive.
Montreal, which is the largest city in the Province of Quebec, is a safe, clean, friendly, vibrant, multi-cultural city with old European world charm and amazing historical architecture and heritage landmarks. Montreal is an enriching and versatile place for students of all ages to broaden their horizons, while learning about language, art, science, and history.
Québec City is proud of its French heritage, as it should be.
As part of the province of Quebec, Montreal’s official language is French, however, English is widely used in all parts of the city, especially in tourist areas.
Discover your “joie de vivre” in Canada’s bilingual city.
Learn English or French in Montréal, the largest French-speaking city in the world outside of Paris, and enjoy culture around the clock, in both official languages. If you’re into the arts, film, food and fashion, you’ll fall in love with the city as soon as you arrive. Montréal offers a captivating mix of culture and diversity shaped by the French, the English, and immigrants from more than 80 countries.
Learn a couple French words before you arrive although you will learn French at school. Many locals working in the old city will speak English, but learning a few French words is always helpful. Here are a couple everyone should know:
- Hello - Bonjour
- Thank You - Merci
- I speak a little French - Je parle un peu français
- How much? – Combien?
- Do you speak English? - Parlez-vous anglais?
Montreal has a clean, safe, and efficient transportation system (STM). It is very easy to get around using the public transportation system, subway (known as the Metro) and bus.
The most cost effective method is to purchase a monthly student pass. This will give you unlimited and full access to the bus and Metro system on the island of Montreal.
Firstly, you will need to purchase an “Opus” card for approximately $15. The Opus card is a smart card that has your photo and is reloadable with monthly passes.
The monthly rate to reload the Opus card is approximately $50 for students and it can be done at any Metro station or even at your closest convenience store and pharmacy. For more details on the convenience stores that offer this service please click here.
Below is a short list of activities which will give you an idea of everything that can be experienced in vibrant Montreal.
All Year – Biodome, Botanical Gardens, Science Center, Atrium Le 1000 (indoor ice skating rink), Cosmodome, Old Port, Notre Dame Basilica, Mount Royal, downtown Montreal, indoor rock climbing, Bell Centre for concerts and hockey games, etc.
Fall – Apple picking, Parc Exalto (urban acrobatic park), pumpkin picking, Halloween preparation activities, Arbraska (zip lining), etc.
Winter – Fête des Neiges, tobogganing, skiing, skating, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Santa Claus Parade, etc.
Spring – Sugar Shack (maple syrup factory and meal), La Ronde (amusement park), Arbraska (zip lining), Montreal Museum Day (free admission to most museums).
Summer – Water Park, Movies in the Park, Parc Jean Drapeau, Hot Air Balloon Festival, St Jean Baptiste Parade (June 24), Canada Day Parade (July 1), Rogers Cup (Tennis matches), Grand Prix weekend, e-formula, La Ronde and fireworks.
Montreal has 4 very distinct seasons:
- Fall: September to November
- Winter: December to March
- Spring: April to May
- Summer: June to August
Canada’s temperatures are in Celsius. Summers are usually hot and humid. Daily temperatures can range from warm (24C) to a very uncomfortable (40C). Winter usually brings cold, snowy, windy, and at times, icy weather, with temperatures ranging from–10C to –33C.
Snow usually arrives at the end of November, and lasts until the end of March. The average yearly snowfall is 225 cm. January and February are the coldest months. Spring and Fall are pleasantly mild and sunny most of the time. April and May can bring showers and even thundershowers.
In Canada, the sales tax is added to the price at the cash register when you go to pay.
In Quebec, there are 2 taxes that are added to your purchase. The first tax is the GST (Goods and Services Tax), at a rate of 5% on the selling price. The second tax is the QST (Quebec Sales Tax), at a rate of 9.975% on the selling price excluding the GST.
Combined, the 2 taxes add approximately 15% more to your purchase price.
Taxes are added on to most purchases except basic groceries, most medical services, and prescription medication.
When going to dine at a sit down restaurant the bill normally does not include a tip for the server. It is customary to leave 10-15% of your bill as a tip. Usually, people in Canada also tip hairdressers and taxi drivers.
It would be a good idea to set up a bank account when you arrive in Montreal. It will make it easier for your parents to transfer money to you, and will make it easier to pay for purchases. All the major Canadian banks serve Montreal, including:
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) - RBC Banque Royale
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) - Banque Canadienne Imperiale de Commerce
- Bank of Montreal (BMO) - Banque de Montreal • Scotia Bank - Banque Scotia
- TD Canada Trust - Banque TD Canada Trust
- National Bank of Canada (NBC) - Banque Nationale
In Canada, unlike other countries; addresses are written in the following order:
|6000||Fielding Avenue||Montreal||(QC)||H3X 1T4|