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Study in Montréal: Why Montréal? A Graduate's Perspective

Wanda, a recent graduate from Concordia University, walks us through various study, lifestyle and career opportunities Montréal offers to international students. 

May 5, 2022

Why Montréal? We asked Wanda, a recently graduated international student.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Wanda and I was born and raised in the city of Recife, Brazil. I’m 24 years old and graduated last semester with a bachelor’s degree in Business Technology Management from Concordia University.

While I was there, I had the opportunity to meet like-minded people and to participate in a range of projects related to my various interests and passions—from an art residency and multiple conferences to researching waste management and taking part in my favourite initiative, CP3 Concordia, which recycles plastic waste on-campus to create new items. Right now, I work full time as a junior project manager at Couche-Tard, where I am able to apply what I learned at university while also learning from the smart and structured team I work with.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends, painting, going to art-related events, customizing clothes and conducting an independent research project that involves growing bioplastics from microbial cellulose in my home. I feel so grateful for all that Montréal has taught me and I hope to continue learning more about the intersection of sustainability and technology.

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Why did you choose to study in Montréal?

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Montréal before coming here in person and experiencing the vibrancy of the city first hand. I graduated high school in California and first came to Montréal to do a one-month French course, which is when I fell in love with the city. I remember feeling amazed by how safe I felt walking on the streets here. I was also impressed by the convenient public transit system, the diverse range of activities and the unique bilingual charm. The deciding factor in me applying to university here was the lower tuition costs compared to the American universities I’d been accepted to. 

How was your student experience in terms of your classes and professors?

I had a really positive experience with my professors at Concordia. I felt comfortable asking them questions and felt that they really cared about the students and whether we were all following the course. Tutorials are offered for certain courses and students have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants, which is a great way to enhance your knowledge while also working part time.  

The staff and various resources on the Concordia campus really helped make my university experience a wonderful one. Some of the resources include a volunteer services office (LIVE CENTRE), an office dedicated to helping students find housing and resolve rental-related issues, career management services to assist in writing resumes and free writing or math tutorials. The resources really helped me navigate university life and also my personal life as a young adult in a foreign city.  

How would you describe Montréal?

Montréal is a city where people and ideas thrive. It’s a multicultural hub where it feels like everyone has a story or project to share that they’re fully invested in, which is a beautiful thing to experience. People come here from all corners of the world, bringing with them a diverse range of knowledge and perspectives that makes the city feel alive with possibilities.

Coming from South America originally, I was so surprised to find how safe it is to walk alone here at any time. You can easily get around and get to any part of the city day or night. In the summertime, you can enjoy the beautiful parks and free cultural festivals that are open to everyone. Plus it’s easy to get around by bike, with more bike lanes being added all the time. In the winter, when the colder temperatures start to take a toll, you can find comfort in the city’s many art events or by having dinner at a friend’s house.

I find Montréal’s bilingual culture charming and not limiting at all. In fact, I find it motivates me to want to learn another language. Here, if you forget a word in French, you can just switch to English, or vice versa. People are open to helping you learn the language and are often in the process of learning it, too.

Do you find there’s a lot to do in winter?

Absolutely! If you love snow like me, Montréal is a winter wonderland. In the city, you can find multiple spots to go ice skating, play ice hockey and go cross-country skiing. Outside of the city, there are ski hills about an hour and a half by car from downtown. And for those who’d prefer to stay indoors, Montréal has a variety of art museums, indoor ice-skating rinks, theatres, movie theatres, comedy shows and coffee shops to choose from. And there are often international film festivals happening or days when museums offer entry at discounted rates.  

What did you enjoy most about studying in Montréal?

As a university city, Montréal is filled with bright minds looking to learn, share and create. That feeling empowered me to join exciting multidisciplinary projects where I was able to learn from other students, including Masters and PhD students, while also sharing the things I was learning in my own program. So my favourite part of studying in Montréal was having the opportunity to learn about information systems and commerce in the classroom, then applying this knowledge by engaging in extracurricular projects that blend my passion for both technology and sustainability. The intellectual freedom of Montréal has always made me feel like I can learn about anything as long as I have the right project, team and motivation in mind.

Do you need to speak French to study in Montréal?

No, not at all. Montréal has anglophone universities where courses are taught exclusively in English. Around the city, you’re often greeted with a “Bonjour, hi!” when you walk into a store or café, which gives you the choice to respond in either English or French. For those who want to learn French, the Québec government has a program called Francisation that offers French classes free of charge.  

Are there a lot of international students in Montréal?

Yes, Montréal is home to four major universities and is a meeting point for students from around the world. Because of that, there are many places that cater specifically to the student population, from great libraries, cafés and art galleries to events hosted by students.  

What are you planning to do now that you’ve graduated?

I graduated in December 2021 and am currently working full time as a junior project manager at Couche-Tard. This role was a great match for me as project management is an area I worked in during my extracurricular experience, and it’s a field I’m constantly looking to improve my skills and knowledge in. I’m grateful to have found the team I work with now because it’s made up of very intelligent people with in-depth knowledge of systems and project management while really valuing the wellbeing of all members of the team.

Can you work in Montréal while you study?

Definitely! International students have a number of hours they can legally work outlined in their study permit. I worked part time on campus from my second semester until I graduated, and in the summer, I did full-time internships.  

Montréal is a city with many different industries, and as an international student, there are multiple opportunities to work on or off campus while you study. When it comes to working on campus, it can be a great way to earn money while contributing to your university community at the same time. You typically have to register for a permit to work on campus, which the international students office or financial services team should be able to advise you on. And from there, you just have to apply for open positions. In terms of working off campus, you usually apply to the company directly via the website or in person. 

How easy is it to find a good job in Montréal?

Montréal has many job opportunities, especially in the technology industry. It’s difficult to say whether it’s easy or hard to find a job as that’s highly subjective. But in my experience, I never felt like it would be impossible to find a good job here given how many companies and opportunities there are.

Finding the job that’s right for you can take time and the process obviously involves some rejection. Personally, I was rejected several times before I was hired for a job I was really interested in. Being rejected, or turning down a position yourself, is a normal part of applying for a job or internship.

My advice is to take a chance with your career path! Create a list of jobs that interest you. Attend workshops and watch videos on how to make a strong CV. Craft a cover letter based on the job you’re interested in. Attend career fair events and meet with your university’s career advisor. And most importantly, remember that there are plenty of resources and people, such as I choose Montréal, that are dedicated to helping international students succeed in the city. 

See Wanda’s LinkedIn Profile

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Why Montréal? A graduate's perspective

This interview with Wanda, a recent graduate from Concordia University, sheds light on the various opportunities for international students in Montréal after graduation.

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.