16 In Expat Life

4 Things I Found Surprising in Montreal

Hi! Happy Wednesday!

I started this post back in June when I was home in Montreal (but with procrastination and a busy schedule, you know…) because there were so many things that truly hit me and surprised me about being home. And what was even more surprising was the fact that they surprised me to begin with!

What I mean is I lived for what about 22 years in Montreal? And I didn’t think moving away for 9 months would have changed my perspective of things that much. But it has!

While I’m heading into my third year living abroad I think it’s easier to compare now because I’m working and have to go through a lot more menial and ordinary things. Life at St Andrews was fabulous and everything was so different that it was tough to compare in an honest fashion.

Now I’m having a similar routine to the one I had in Montreal and when I went home it really hit me how much I’ve gotten used to it. While everything felt so familiar in Montreal, it also felt like a reverse culture shock!

surprising montreal

1. Space

This hit me first as we were flying over Montreal. As we were landing I noticed how much space there was between houses, the width of streets, of sidewalks. Space everywhere. Space for everyone. This is a definite problem in Europe and I hadn’t realised just how much I missed it. I kept repeating it to my family and friends, like a shock victim : ‘there is so much space here!’

2. Diversity

This is nothing against Scotland, because I truly don’t think it’s the country’s fault – but there is a definite lack of diversity here. Growing up in a multicultural family in the middle of Montreal, I was always used to seeing people from different cultures, having food from every country available to me and hearing different languages spoken all around me. While there are many people from across Europe and many Asians in Scotland, there is a lack of diversity in general in the population and also in what is offered to people (find me a Chilean restaurant in Scotland, please anyone?).

3. Taxes

Oh my gosh, this one just frustrated me so much! In the UK, VAT is most often included in the price, so you’ll know how much you’re expected to pay. But in Canada it still isn’t….I don’t know why! The first time I headed out with a friend I ordered a lunch for $12, but in the end, with taxes and tip, it costed me almost $18! What?!

4. What home means

St Andrews was home, but I always knew it was a temporary home (though I’m still hoping the Brit and I retire there one day…one can always dream right?). This time around, when I left my flat and the Brit behind to head to Montreal in June, it suddenly hit me. This is home as well now. Yes my parents’ house will always be home, but now home is also what I have in Scotland. I don’t love Stirling, not even a little, but I love the life I’m building with the Brit. Home truly is where the heart is.

Are there things that surprise you when you go home?xx

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