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I Moved From A French Island In Africa To Quebec — Here's What Surprised Me The Most

From heat waves 🥵 to snow storms ❄️

Staff Writer
My life in Reunion Island. Right: My first days living in rural Quebec.

My life in Reunion Island. Right: My first days living in rural Quebec.

Times flies! Almost one year ago, I was embarking on the journey of a lifetime, boarding a plane and leaving my family, beloved childhood friends and tropical French island of Réunion behind to finally realize my dream of moving to Canada.

Many people, including friends from my hometown, as well as Quebecers, told me my decision to give up the paradisiac island lifestyle was misguided.

But after six months spent in rural Quebec and another six living in Montreal, I can confirm that I was right to follow my instinct and choose adventure over comfort.

Of course, I miss the beach and my life back home, but I enjoy the new experiences — that was the whole point of coming here.

Here are the seven things that have surprised me the most so far in Quebec.

Poutine Is A Religion & I Still Need To Convert

My first poutine eaten in Quebec. Right: A hot chocolate in a Quebec mug.

My first poutine eaten in Quebec. Right: A hot chocolate in a Quebec mug.

Charlotte Hoareau | MTL Blog

Typical Réunionese cuisine is very spicy, with Madagascan, Asian and Indian influences. We eat lots of rice and beans paired with creole curries, often tomato-based, with ginger, turmeric and chilli playing a leading role.

And because we are French, we never say no to cheese, baguettes and good wine.

You can imagine my face when I was told Quebec's national dish was just a mix of fries, gravy and cheese curds. It sounded like a joke until I tried one for the first time.

Poutines are definitely a great hangover cure, but I prefer my chips with ketchup... sorry.

A&W Was A Revelation

Now we're talking! I don't know who is the genius who invented it but A&W is now my favourite fast food chain in the whole world.

And it's all thanks to their plant-based, cheap AF vegan burger that could mislead any meat lover.

Now every time a friend flies to Montreal for the first time, I make going to A&W a priority, followed by a box of Timbits for dessert.

Crime Is Low But Sh*t Happens

A SPVM police car in Montreal.

A SPVM police car in Montreal.

Meunierd | Dreamstime

Montreal is one of the safest big cities in the world.

As a woman, I definitely feel safer walking here solo at night than I felt during my undergraduate years.

But as a journalist working in news media, I am shocked by the amount of local crime that occurs on a daily basis.

Though I am aware that there is no crimeless city, I certainly feel privileged to not be exposed to such incidents in my corner of the city.

It's Hard To Make Friends With Locals 

Of course, this statement is valid outside Quebec, too.

Expats move around a lot so it's no wonder that we struggle to bond with locals, no matter where in the world.

And before me, most Montrealers had probably already met another one of the thousands of Frenchies who come here temporarily and move back home eventually, so it's only fair that they're reluctant to make lasting connections.

I found a greater sense of community when I stayed in rural Quebec.

People Should Warn You About Quebec Summers Too

A hot summer day at Montreal's Beachclub. Right: Quebec City's Summer Festival.

A hot summer day at Montreal's Beachclub. Right: Quebec City's Summer Festival.

Charlotte Hoareau | MTL Blog

I was given so many winter warnings and anecdotes on arrival that I almost forgot that, sometimes, it does get boiling hot here.

Though the heat doesn't last long in Quebec, I was pleasantly surprised to go through summer temps as high as the ones in my tropical hometown.

All Montreal apartments have a thermostat, but not all of them come with air conditioning — I recommend you invest in a fan, it's much needed in June, July and August.

There's Little Privacy

The walls have ears, but who's to blame when the walls are paper-thin?

I can hear my neighbours argue and then make up, and no need to open my bedroom door to hear my roommates conversing in the kitchen.

Maybe I'll get used to the lack of privacy at some point, or just move to a newer flat.

It's Affordable, But It Depends What You Buy

Like in mainland France, Euro is the official currency in Reunion Island. Right: Canadian dollars.

Like in mainland France, Euro is the official currency in Reunion Island. Right: Canadian dollars.

Arenaphotouk | Dreamstime, Dreammediapeel | Dreamstime

Between France and Quebec, there are big disparities in prices for specific items, though I get the sense that the overall cost of living is similar (unless you live in fancy Paris).

In my opinion, renting in Quebec is cheaper. So is gas.

Eating out at a restaurant is expensive in both countries, though it can sometimes seem pricier in Quebec because tipping is not customary in France.

Quebec's provincial taxes are also exorbitant.

Perhaps what I miss the most is affordable booze. Though the SAQ's rising prices don't stop me from spoiling myself with a bottle of French wine occasionally.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

    Charlotte Hoareau
    Staff Writer
    Charlotte Hoareau is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused in things to do in Montreal and Montreal weather. She is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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