The Thing No One Tells You About EXCHANGE

So somehow time has flown so quickly that it’s been 3 months since I had to say au revoir to Montreal and finish up my exchange (if you missed what I got up to – you can check it out here). So now uni has started (we’re somehow in Week 4?!), life back in Wollongong is in full motion and exchange feels somewhat of a dream.

Everyone always talks about how amazing exchange is. How it’s the best time of their life. How you’re going to make friends for life, drink too much, see wonders of the world, get your Instagram popping and how it’s going to change your freakin life! And all of this is true, and these are just some of the many reasons that I encourage everyone to seek the opportunity to study abroad and travel.

But in all honesty, I wasn’t prepared for the complete confusion, doubt and insecurity I faced at home and within myself when I returned to Australia. I’ve heard about reverse culture shock before, and I’ve lived away from home before and I knew something like this was coming… but it still smacked me in the face.

Whilst I know the following thoughts are natural and silly, at the time I was dealing with these thoughts, the stress and anxiety was real. My biggest fear was surround my friends.

Was I going to lose my friends that I’d just made in Montreal? Would they still be interested in my life back in Australia? Would they make time to talk to me? Would I make time to talk to them? Would my friends back home accept the new me? Would they even notice that I’ve changed? Would I even have my old friends back home? 

These (thankfully) were all dealt with and overcome when I saw my friends back in Australia again and I was overcome with happiness, gratitude and joy. Plus, being able to FaceTime and Snapchat my friends back in Montreal, it reassured me that these friendships are strong and real. And it actually made me appreciate them even more – the fact that they care about my life over here and they’re willing to put in the effort to keep in touch and keep the friendship alive.

My other concern was about my identity and personality, leaving me asking ‘who am I?’ I slowly saw myself, my ideas and my values change over the course of the time that I was away. I was exposed to problems and issues I’d never heard of, listened to stories of strength, injustice and survival, changed my core values, altered my ideas… all that cheesy stuff associated with going through a life changing experience. And you’re determined to hold on to it all, bring it all to your life back home and just be a freakin awesome changed woman.

But the reality is that you start to adjust back to your old life, old routine and old ways, and you can’t help but let some of those ideas go. You almost get trapped in between 2 versions of yourself, and you’re not really sure which one is the real you, or the one you want to move forward it. I guess everyone has these types of identity crises throughout their lives, but it’s especially apparent when you return from an adventure overseas.

So how do I move forward? Where do we go from here?

I think I’ll continue to romanticise my exchange, always giving me fun, beautiful and exciting memories to look back on. But my goal is to channel that feeling. The feeling that anything is possible, that anyone can be a friend, that your day could take you anywhere and that life is freakin beautiful. And I just need to accept that not everyone shares these ideas, but I can’t hold back who I am or what I want. I’ve got to remember to be fierce and do what sets my soul and heart on fire… chase and create that feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A DRINKER’S GUIDE TO MONTREAL

Let’s be honest, whilst sight seeing is pretty awesome, nothing compares to finding the perfect bar, sipping that perfect beer and munching on some delicious food. And if you’re going to Montreal, you’re in for an absolute treat when it comes to treating yourself. Lucky for you, I’ve spent the past 5 months living, eating, drinking, and drinking some more in this incredible city and I think I’ve just about nailed my list of the best places to eat and drink in the city.

 

COFFEE

Le Moineau Masqué – Rue Marie-Anne

le-moineau-masque
Source

Kawha – Avenue Mont-Royal

img_8818

Myriade – Rue Saint-Denis/Rue Mackay

 

img_9374

Pigeon- Boulevard de Maisonneuve

screenshot-2017-01-27-21-11-47
Source

Cafe Bonita – Rue Viger

img_9932

My friend Dan and I went on a coffee crawl in the Plateau. You can check out how our day went, hyped up on caffeine here.

FOOD

La Banquise – Rue Rachel

L’avenue – Avenue du Mont-Royal

screenshot-2017-01-27-22-35-05
Source

Schwartz’s – Boulevard Saint-Laurent

screenshot-2017-01-27-22-38-19
Source

Sushi Saint Denis – Rue Saint-Denis

screenshot-2017-01-27-22-55-35
Source

Boustans – Rue Crescent

Screenshot 2017-01-27 22.57.52.png
Source

DRINKING

Dieu Du Ciel – Avenue Laurier

0903f2dbe8c131116e1ff89088cfb3d3

La Habenera – Avenue Union

img_9809

Moose Bawr – Rue Sainte-Catherine

timthumb
Source

Reggies – Boulevard de Maisonneuve

Fitzroy – Avenue du Mont-Royal

screenshot-2017-01-27-21-59-27
Source

Kampai – Rue Sainte Catherine

So here are just some of my favourite places to get hyped, feed my tummy and quench my thirst in Montreal. Let me know what gems you discover in Montreal in the comments below! 

 

The 3 BEST CAFES near Mont-Royal

Yep – I’m calling it this early… I’ve been here for nearly 3 weeks and I’ve had plenty of time to explore my awesome, hipster, buzzing neighbourhood of the Mont-Royal Plateau. And I feel that by chance and a little bit of fate, I’ve managed to find the 3 BEST CAFES in the area. Maybe it was chance, but I think my classic Australian coffee-snobbery gift led me to find these little gems. Who knows, but damn I’m happy I’ve found these places.

14302569_1397913863556958_1295565008_n

Kahwa Cafe

To give you my first impression of the cafe – my first experience here went a little something like this. I walked in with my new book ‘The Danish Girl.’ I ordered my Americano (in French). He asked if I wanted milk or sugar and I said no. He looked at my book and said ‘forget the Danish girl, you’re a real girl.’ Apparently you’re tough af if you have your coffee black here. After paying, I grabbed my coffee and sat on a long bench where people were set up with laptops. I then looked around and saw a camera crew and two actors sitting at a table candidly sipping their coffee. I asked if they wanted me to leave – just in case I would be in their way and they insisted I stay. They were making a music clip for a song they were about to release.

So apart from this incredibly cool experience, the coffee was great- and absolutely huge. There’s artwork all over the walls from local artists and apparently they do pretty amazing cous cous. Yep, this cafe does just coffee and cous cous. What an amazing combination?!

kahwa-cafe-montreal-coffee-plateau-mont-royal
Kawha. Mont-Royal. Source

Le Moineau Masqué

This gem is literally 2 mins from my house! *HALLELUJAH* It’s a cute little cafe with AMAZING coffee. The staff are also ridiculously lovely! I speak French with them- when in Montréal- and they always take the time to ask how I am.

The other morning I went down to get my morning coffee and I only took $5. Then I noticed that they had fresh croissants, aka, exactly what you need on a Sunday morning. I asked how much that would cost… $6. I said don’t worry about it because I only had $5. But the guy insisted I take it. I refused and said, no no no it’s fine. And he said please take it, you can make up for it next time. He recognized my face (because I’ve been there my fair share of times over the past few weeks) and I felt like I not only belonged in this cafe, but in this city.

It was at this moment I pledged my loyalty to this cute little cafe for making me feel like a local.

dsc00558
Le Moineau Masqué. Source

La Distributice 

As you walk south along Mont-Royal, you may not even see this cute little cafe. The epitome of ‘hole in the wall,’ this little cafe provides the goods. My absolute fave is a latte glacé (iced latte!) It’s sweet and strong and perfect! Their espresso coffee is superb as well, so next time you find yourself on Mont-Royal, make sure you slow down a little bit so you don’t miss it!

Oh – and one of the barista’s there has red hair, and that’s how you tell if a place is good or not 😉

img_3214_fotor
La Distributrice, Source

What are your favourite cafes in Montréal? Do you have any more recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!