A week in Montreal

Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Population as of 2016: 1,704,694 - the second largest city in Canada after Toronto.
The birthplace of poutine, a savoury dish that consists of french fries, gravy, and poutine. It is also known for its bagels and smoked meat sandwiches.
Host of Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics.
McGill University was founded in 1821. It has been described as the "Harvard of Canada" by numerous outlets and publications.

Things to do in Montreal? 
Hit up a festival - there are tons of festivals that happen in the city, especially during the Summer. Food, cultural, musical, family and kid-friendly, the list goes on... it never ends.
Go for a hike up Mount Royal, immerse yourself in history at the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Olympic Stadium, or go back in time at Vieux-Montreal.
Catch a hockey game at Bell Centre - home of the 24 Stanley Cup winning champions since 1909, the Montreal Canadiens. 

And of course, Montreal is the only city in Canada in which French is mostly spoken instead of English. However, more than 60% of its population can speak both languages fluently. Contrary to popular belief, Montrealers won't be rude to you if you cannot speak French. In fact, if you can even speak basic French, they'll appreciate the effort.

Montreal is 4,735.4 km apart from Vancouver. 

So why am I talking about Montreal?

On Monday, July 22, 2019, I was in my PUB 231 class, and break had already ended. The Summer 2019 semester was a period in which I was exhausted from applying to endless internship positions, all in Toronto or Montreal. For the past year, it has been a dream of mine to move east of Canada - to work in either one of the two largest and dynamic cities in the country, and to live it up in the East coast.

I check my email, and behold the subject line - "[ACTION REQUIRED] Internship Offer". At first, I was in shock. Then I was in disbelief. Disbelief because after countless nights perfecting my resume and cover letter, applying for internship positions found on Indeed and Glassdoor, and even going so far as to cold-calling recruiters on LinkedIn, I finally got an offer at my dream company and dream industry - SAP. You can read more about my internship hunt experience here. And disbelief because I, your typical university student who was looking to complete her first-ever internship work placement, was selected for this job position.

Is this really real life? Yes, it was.

Friday, August 16
I'll fast forward to this day because I accepted the internship offer at the end of the week that I got my email. But that day was kind of emotional cause I would be departing Vancouver and starting my new life in Montreal, for the rest of 2019. It was tough saying goodbye to my family at the airport, even if I would be away for 4 months and I would be resuming my studies in January 2020, since I have six more semesters until I earn my bachelor's degree. It was tough holding in my emotions during the 5 hour plane ride, and again, once I got to my Airbnb. I remember phoning my mom once I got settled in, and she said, "Your voice sounds different." I simply said, "I'm tired," but I was really holding in my tears from finally moving out of Vancouver for the first time in my entire life. I remember getting errands from Pharmaprix (Quebec name for Shoppers Drug Mart), buying a gyro at this Greek restaurant down the street from my Airbnb, and eating the gyro for dinner inside my room, just contemplating life. During the whole plane ride and as I was stuffing my face with carbs and sour cream, my voice to myself said, "I really did it. I accomplished my year-long goal and I got out of Vancouver, after complaining about the city for so long. I just hope I can enjoy my time here in Montreal."

Overall, my first night was... tough to take in. But it gets better.

Saturday, August 17
First thing in the morning was an apartment viewing east of town, cause obviously I wouldn't be living in my Airbnb for the entire 4 months that I'm in Montreal. This was also my first time using public transit, as my Airbnb host picked me up from the airport when I landed. Being me, having no sense of direction whatsoever, I thought I arrived at the closest Metro station near my Airbnb, which was at Vendôme.

It was actually the train station that was going out of Montreal. And I already bought my weekend pass at the train station.

Luckily, that weekend pass worked when I eventually found my way to the Metro station some 10 minutes later, and it was literally right next to the train station too. Well, at least the turnstiles were similar to how you enter the Skytrain stations back in Vancouver, so that I didn't have trouble with using.

Another mistake I made was taking the long way, instead of a shorter way. The station I had to get off at, called Jean-Talon station, is on two lines - orange and blue. Vendôme is only on the orange line. However, I could head two stops opposite, to Snowdon station which is on the orange and blue line, and transfer to the blue line to Jean Talon, cause the blue line doesn't have that much stops to start off with - I would have only taken 8 stops. Instead, with the long way, I had taken 15 stops.

Eventually I found my way to the apartment, and was only a couple of minutes late. Later on during my stay in Montreal, I learned that you don't view the city on Google Maps like most major cities, which really confused me. This is what a typical map of Montreal looks like.

South is actually east, and west is actually north.
I met up with my sublet owner, and she gave me a physical tour of her apartment. We had been talking over Facebook and Skype prior to meeting up. I felt like I seriously lucked out on her place after posting on just two Facebook groups and responding to merely a handful of ads on Kijiji. The apartment hunt can be really stressful to some people, and for some of my friends living in Montreal, it even took them more than a month before they were able to secure a place. With the apartment I'm living in until the first week of January 2020, my sublet owner actually reached out to me on Facebook Messenger and we started chatting from there. I'm really glad she reached out to me in no time, cause it turns out, she was frantically looking for someone to sublet her place too, ASAP.

After some agreements and signing the lease (hooray!), she gave me a tour of the neighbourhood and showed me some trendy cafés, stores, and restaurants nearly. We also walked through Jean-Talon Market, the largest outdoor farmer's market in North America. We made our way to a Rona nearby, where I got my set of keys for the apartment. The place is finally mine! All I needed to do now was move my stuff from my Airbnb, to the apartment. Bless Uber.

I was slated to meet up with one of my friends later in the day, but I had a gap in-between. I thought of stopping by Fairmount Bakery and grabbing a bagel, which I'm super happy I did.

My first Montreal food!

My friend texted me saying to meet at Plamondon station on the orange line, as that was where he was located at the time. As I got on the Metro, I kept texting him, letting him know where I was.

It just so happened that we were on the same Metro train. I believe he was in the tail of the train, while I was in the middle. So he told me to meet at Namur station instead. We met up for the first time, where he took me to Orange Julep, one of the tourist attractions here in Montreal. Known for its creamy orange juice and poutine, that was when it felt like I was going to get immersed into the city. After we were done, we took the Metro and walked by Chinatown and Vieux-Montreal, before happening to bump into my workplace, SAP. I would be starting on Monday.


Poutine and orange juice from Orange Julep.

The SAP office near Vieux-Montreal! I would later find out that there is a second SAP office in Montreal, near Peel station on the green line.

Sunday, August 18
Pride, or Fierté Montreal, was the main highlight of the day. I was looking forward to attending Pride in Montreal cause I couldn't attend Vancouver Pride earlier in August - I had a brutal paper that was due that weekend that I desperately needed to finish on. On top, some of my Vancouver friends marched in Pride from their work, so that made me want to come out to Montreal Pride more.

I met up with my friend from Saturday, his mutual friend that I've been talking to via Facebook. She was happy to show me around the city before Summer would come to an end. The parade was scheduled to start around 1:30 PM, but it started probably 20 mins late. Also, it just so happened that I bumped into my SFU CAC friends at Pride!

Geronie and I :3

The parade was filled with marchers from various corporate companies (eg. The Big 4 Banks, L'Oreal, Ikea, Airbnb, Montreal Canadiens). Corporate pride is a double-edged sword though...

Once pride ended, I went to Vieux-Montreal with my CAC friends, where we ate a late lunch. We went to this boujee AF restaurant called La Sauvagine, where I ordered the salade de saumon fumé au chèvre frais, or the goat cheese and smoked salmon on baby greens.

Bon appétit 🤪

I was still feeling a bit uneasy during this weekend, so trying to catch up with my Vancouver friends was a bit tough. My personality wasn't showing through after Pride. Nonetheless, it was still very great to have bumped into them randomly - I definitely wouldn't have gotten the chance to explore throughout Vieux-Montreal if it wasn't for that moment. We parted ways at Champ-de-Mars station, where I went back to my Airbnb and started to prepare myself for my first day at work the following day.

All weekend I had been thinking about work, but I was nervous as to how my first day would turn out. Would I be given work to do on the first day? Who will my co-workers and colleagues be? Most importantly, coming from ENFJ me, will I meet other interns at work?

Monday, August 19
I had to get to work by 9:15 AM, so I set my alarm for 7:20 AM. When it's the summer, I tend to wake up before my alarm goes off. I think it's because since the sun rises super duper early and since it peeks through my blinds, I just happen to wake up beforehand. That, and maybe my circadian rhythm.

Being me, I absolutely suck at directions. The night before, I googled the directions from my Airbnb to my workplace. Walk 20 mins to Vendôme station, take the orange line up to Square-Victoria-OACI, and I have a few options when it comes to taking the bus. Either the 74, 168, or 178. The 178 is the most efficient out of all the three.

Once I entered the SAP office, I took the elevator to reception on the 9th floor. Since I don't have my work badge yet, the receptionist had to open the door for me. I was warmly greeted by the receptionist, and I signed my name in this binder so that they knew I attended my orientation. I was given a glass of water, and waited to the side until my manager came in. Once I met my manager, we were given a tour of the Robert-Bourassa office (SAP Montreal has two offices - the second one is on de Maisonneuve, just walking distance to Peel station on the green line), then an IT tour. From there, I was given my work laptop, and I was shown the programs I would be using at SAP, such as Microsoft Office, Skype for Business, and our company internal portal called SAP Jam.

This day was quite short. Lunch started after, and lucky for me since I'm in the RB office, it is the only office where we get catered lunches every single day. The food options are pretty bomb - your choice of one (1) main dish (hot meal, pizza, or sandwich), and two (2) side dishes (salad, fruit, or dessert). I had lunch with my manager in the cafeteria, where we got to know each other and I shared with her, my journey from coming to Montreal from Vancouver. I was actually given the choice to work at the Vancouver office when I received my job offer, but for obvious reasons, I chose Montreal instead. My manager is a wonderful person, and I knew right when I had my phone interview with her, that we would get along perfectly - she loved the responses I gave to her during my interview, and we both shared our educational and career journeys together. She could relate how I went abroad to start my career, as she did a study abroad to Australia during her undergrad to practice her English. As I automatically thought I would be given work to do on my first day, this wasn't the case thankfully.

Friday, August 23
The whole week is onboarding, where I had to watch a series of videos on SAP and learn more about the company itself and its history. The boring part was that since it took the whole week, that's what I had to do for the next few days. I was also required to watch some mandatory videos on work safety and security, as I would be handling confidential information in my internship. That's why I fast forwarded to the end of the work week.

On Wednesday, I received a newsletter in my inbox from the SAP Montreal office. The Communications Specialist publishes the newsletter to be sent every week. This was when I learned about iXp Montreal, also known as the Internship Experience Project, in tiny print font at the bottom of the newsletter. Good thing I read the newsletter in its entirety before trashing it! I joined the iXp Montreal Slack channel, and the rest is history. That, and I was given my first work assignment to do. Hooray!

If you know me, as soon as an event has occurred, I immediately post about it on social media at least 24h after it happened. Throughout the past year, a serious of events occurred, in which you can read more about it here.

I really wanted to make this blog post AS SOON AS my first week in Montreal was done. I really did, as I enjoy writing and blogging. And hey, guess what I'm doing in my internship at SAP? Writing and blogging!

But I guess I'm fine with not making social media a huge priority anymore as it once was, and to really enjoy the things in life that come and go. If I was still the crazy Instagram addict that I was from 2015-mid 2018, probably six of my latest Instagram posts would just entirely be about SAP. Really. It's October 15, 2019, nearly two months since I started my internship, and the only SAP related posts I've been making can be found in my Instagram stories. And I'm fine with that. I'll definitely have an actual Instagram post up before my internship ends in late December though, just so I have something in my feed I can look at back at permanently.

Now that I think about it, part of the reason why I was so prolific on social media before was mostly for self-gratification and for others to be aware of my existence, like the average Millennial. But over the past year, I've come to realize to really appreciate myself and why I'm on this planet. Of course, I still want to document things that I might not get to experience ever again, and to create something cool or memorable out of it, such as a blog post or vlog. But now, I'm okay with moving on from that stage of excessively being on social media and posting the highlights on my Instagram account once or twice a week - but instead, posting on Instagram maybe twice a month or blogging whenever I can, even if it'll take me an eternity to upload - just like this blog post you're reading right now.

As SAP CEO Bill McDermott once said, "Sometimes we’re all so excited for the big finish, we forget to enjoy a thoughtful beginning." And honestly, that "big finish" for me when it came to social media - the reception I would get when making posts - was only temporary, every single time.

Enjoy more of your "thoughtful beginnings", everyone.