Author: Amy Clarke, 3rd Year MEng Chemical Engineering
This semester, I chose to complete my research project at Polytechnique Montreal in Canada – and four months have flown by!
When I and the other Bath students arrived in February, there was a few feet of snow on the ground, and temperatures were often below -15°C. Very quickly you learn to put on your thermals and layers! There were lots of winter activities to do, including ice skating on lakes, skiing, and the ‘Montreal En Lumiere’ winter lights festival. It was also fun to experience a hockey match while it was in season.
There were plenty of other interns from across the world also completing projects at the university, from places like Australia, Ireland and Asia. The society for international students, PolyExplore, was also a great way of making friends, mainly from France. This society also offered great opportunities at subsidised student prices, such as a weekend trip to a chalet and spa in the Quebec mountains, and a weekend in Washington DC and Philadelphia. Montreal is very well located for travelling in North America - just a 50-minute flight away is New York City, and Boston is also nearby. Within Canada, we were able to travel to places such as Toronto, Niagara Falls, Quebec City, and Ottawa very easily.
Montreal is a fantastic city for students. It is easy and safe to get around, and the combination of French and English cultures means each area of the city is unique and offers something different. It takes some time to get used to using French greetings, the cars driving on the wrong side of the road and the controversial bags of milk; but they are all part of the experience. With landmarks, shopping, nightlife, culture, and history, every person can enjoy the city. It is also easy to practise your French if you like, though as most people are bilingual, it is not problematic to speak English all of the time.
Now the summer has arrived, it can be as warm as 30°C, and it feels like a different place to the winter. Summer festivals have started, and many of the open-air markets and rooftop terraces are open. This weekend is the Canadian Grand Prix, and the tulip festival is taking place at the Jardin Botanique. While it will be sad to leave soon, I am still grateful to have had such a wonderful opportunity in such a great country! I would highly recommend Montreal for anyone considering applying for the semester abroad.