Photo from Fagstein
I have been wanting for a while to write a blog post on what it’s like to live in Montreal, but frankly, it could so easily get controversial I am not sure if I have the stomach for it. Montreal is charged with emotions on so many issues (language, politics, etc.) that I’m just not sure I’m ready to go there.
But, a recent article on Thrillist called 21 Things You Have To Explain To Out-Of-Towners about Montreal hit the nail on the head. So many of them I’ve had to explain to visitors (#1 – Montreal revolves around it’s own compass, #9 Terrasse refers to a Patio, #15 The Confusing Bonjour/Hi Greeting) that I thought it would be worth mentioning it here. Plus, of course, I have a few to add of my own.
1. Paté Chinois translates to chinese paté but is actually what most of us know as shepherd’s pie…
2. Sometimes on English news radio or TV they won’t bother to translate a French language interview. Whether this is oversight or because they just assume everyone understands French is tbd.
3. There’s no high school. Instead school ends at ‘Grade 11’ which I believe is actually called Secondary 5 (I could be completely wrong). Students then move on to two years of CEGEP. This means that university is only three years. It’s all very confusing and I still need to figure it out.
4. Speaking of school, you have options of English Public school (if you qualify), French Public School, French Private school which is subsidized by the government, and English Private school which is not subsidized and runs upwards of $20k.
5. People get really uptight about bagels around here. I mean they are good and all, but they are almost a religion to Montrealers. Ditto with poutine and smoked meat. Maybe you have to grow up with these foods, I don’t really get it. (For the record I don’t see what the big deal is about Tim Hortons either).
6. It’s custom to say goodbye to everyone in the room when you leave. If you are at a party goodbyes take a very long time…. I usually just ignore that custom and slip out.
7. Female to Female or Male to Female greet each other with two kisses on the cheek. Male to males make it a handshake. This is done pretty much every time after the first time you meet someone.
8. Quebec loves it’s French wine. You’ll find fewer wines from elsewhere in the stores or on restaurant menus (although you will find it – stop the hate mail saying I’m wrong).
9. BYOW restaurants are plentiful and there are no corkage fees.
10. Quebecers tend not to get married. It’s very acceptable to have children without getting married here, although I might add that most of my friends have tied the knot.
11. Politics is prickly. Never bring it up. People are very passionate here. I have no clue if our friends and family are separatists or federalists and I’m very happy with that.
12. I usually start a conversation in French and let the person decide if my French is better or worse than their English and in which language to continue the conversation. If I hear a hint of an English accent in the greeting I speak in English.
13. Women do not change their name after marriage. Quebec banned a woman from taking her husband’s name in 1981 and the logic is that by taking her husband’s name it makes her seem like her husband’s property. So no one takes their husbands name, and no one really seems to care. I have to explain this when I go out west and people always ask what my last name now is. Personally, perhaps because I’m used to no one changing their name here, I always wonder what the big deal is. As well, because no one has the last name of their kids, it’s not a big deal and no questions are asked at say the hospital or when travelling. I do carry my sons birth certificate when we travel just in case though which lists me as the mother, but US border guards are so used to it the situation has never been questioned.
Did I miss anything?