So I leave Montreal in eight days, which I’m struggling to get my head around. After nearly ten months away from home, I’m obviously ecstatic to go home and see my beloved family and friends again, but at the same time I will be enormously sad to leave Montreal. This has been a life-changing year for me and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to have this experience. I feel so blessed and privileged to have been able to study abroad, which I know not everyone can do.
What’s also hard is writing about this year without bombarding you with clichés and tropes. The thing is, they’re true. You do grow up a bit and mature, discover more about yourself, experience new things that make you reconsider your worldview, beliefs and values, get a taste for a new culture that helps you think of your own in a different way, you make wonderful friends, meet fantastic people, see incredible places and learn about the meaning of the word ‘home.’
There’s also the academic side that I’ve harped on about before; it really is fascinating studying in a different country. Specifically, the art history department at McGill is way more progressive than the one at Glasgow. I got to study things that I wouldn’t be exposed to at Glasgow and from a different perspective. It was also interesting being part of an institution that has a lot more money; McGill has amazing resources and most professors are leaders in their field, which is true of Glasgow to an extent but it’s on another level. However, I cannot wait to be back at Glasgow uni, as I think it has a healthier and happier work ethic. The free time I’ll have! I’ll actually be able to think about and research an essay in ample time! Bliss.
Being away from Britain for ten months has only increased my love for it, especially for London and Glasgow, both of which I miss dearly and can’t wait to go back to. Of course there are aspects of Canada that I wish I could bring back, but Britain really is Great (badoom tsh). For example, there is a more ambitious and aspirational attitude in North America and aiming high is encouraged if not expected, which I find lacking in the UK. In Britain there is the attitude that you mustn’t get above your station, which is borne of our messed up class system. Living and studying here for a year as given me a lot more confidence and belief in my abilities, which I am grateful for.
I heard someone say that when you go to a new place, you are prepared for the culture shock to an extent, because you are expecting it. But what is hardest, is going home expecting everything to be the same, but things will have inevitably changed, be they friendships, places or the voice of the lady on the tube (that threw me so much when I came home from uni and realised this). This is neither a good of bad thing, it just is. When I was missing home greatly, I found it hard not to dwell on the things that I was ‘missing out’ on. This never lasted long, because I would tell myself that one day I would miss Montreal and I didn’t want to then miss out on the present, when longing for an imagined alternate reality. I will admit that I’m gutted about missing certain exhibitions, plays and the life events of friends, but it’s ok. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.
Good byes are always difficult, and I have a feeling that my homesickness will make it easier to leave, but I just know that once all is fairly normal at home, I’ll be longing for Montreal. It has been an incredible experience, and it has shaped me in ways known and unknown to me at the moment. I can’t wait to see you lovely people at home, and I will dearly miss the great friends that I have made here. Now it’s time to say so long to my life here.