When the opportunity to carry out my 3rd year research in Montreal arose, I was not hesitant to seize it! It is rare that you are presented with an occasion that provides an endless supply of new experiences in parallel with your work, and this is exactly what the overseas research program has to offer. Montreal is the largest city in Quebec, the predominantly French-speaking province of Canada, however both French and English can be heard amongst the people here. It has been a great place to practice and improve my French skills, while still being able to universally use English when I have needed to. There is plenty to see and do in Montreal and the surrounding areas of Canada, with trips to the metropolis of Toronto and the historical Quebec City also easily achievable. If you can brave the cold winter (-20C!), you will be rewarded by the diverse activities on offer such as skiing and festivals as well as the impressive scenery of the downtown district and Mount Royal.
École Polytechnique is the partner university that Bath’s students will work at. It is a solely engineering-based university, wide varieties of facilities and resources. As a chemical engineering student, I have been working amongst a team of postgraduates on my research project for my degree back home. I have found the cross-cultural experience to be highly enjoyable and have appreciated the challenges that I have been presented during my time here. I have visited several different universities across Quebec, taken part in engineering conferences with nationally-leading researchers, attended multiple industrial site visits and have presented my work to my research team on a regular basis. I also really feel like I have been a valuable member of the research group. This exposure to professional research, as well as industrial application of my own project, are indescribably valuable advantages of signing up for the abroad research program.
Along with the many huge advantages of this opportunity, there are also some things that took some getting used to. The first being the language. At first, it can feel like there is a huge language barrier, however once you realize that most people are very patient and don’t expect foreigners to speak both French and English, this becomes an opportunity to practice your French! Secondly, as in north America, tipping is expected along with all food orders, the roads are arranged in grids and the city buildings are very tall. However, after time you don’t notice the different customs and they become part of the great experience that you will remember coming home (except tipping maybe!).