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arturodiaz's avatar

What would you recommend a exchange student going to Quebec?

Asked by arturodiaz (553points) May 10th, 2009

Im going to Quebec, Quebec next semester. I would like to know some tips and suggestions. I live in Hermosillo, Mexico were the normal temperature is above 110ºF or 45 celsius, so Im afraid Canada is too cold for me :S. Also would like to know places I must see and things I should do. What gear should I bring with me. How expensive is food there? What can I do to save a couple dollars? Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks :D

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13 Answers

Jude's avatar

I’m sure that Mlt zack will be able to help you with that. :)

Darwin's avatar

All I can tell you is that in the winter Quebec gets plenty cold, but in the summer it gets plenty hot. One summer I was in Montreal attending a meeting at McGill University, and the daytime temperature reached the upper 90’s. However, most buildings had no air conditioning. This shows the temperature changes you should expect in Quebec City (aka Quebec, Quebec). I suggest layering, so you can add or subtract clothing to adjust to the current conditions.

Also would like to know places I must see and things I should do.

I am a museum fan, so I suggest any or all museums, including:

* Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
* Musée de la civilisation
* Musée de l’Amérique française
* Espace Félix Leclerc
* Musée naval de Québec
* Choco-Musée Erico
* Musée des Ursulines de Québec (See Ursulines of Quebec)
* La Citadelle de Québec/The Royal 22e Régiment Museum
* Musée de l’Abeille
* Plains of Abraham Exhibition Center

Also “Old Quebec,” the aquarium, Montmorency Falls and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, and just about any professional sport you might wish to see.

What gear should I bring with me.

I would suspect cold weather gear would be more available in Quebec than it would be in Hermosillo, so I would wait to purchase that in Quebec. However, warm weather clothing would be what I would bring, planning to purchase heavier clothing there.

How expensive is food there?

That I cannot tell you, except that in Canada, as is the case everywhere, there are less expensive eateries and more expensive ones, but the least expensive food will be what you make yourself. Be prepared not to find much in the way of Mexican food there, but be prepared to find a number of Canadian goodies. These include Poutine (french fries, gravy and melted cheese), Tarte au Sucre (sugar or maple pie), Tourtiere (a meat pie) and Chien Chaud or Steamie (a hot dog with everything, inexpensive but tasty).

What can I do to save a couple dollars?

I would suspect using the bus to get around will help. Also, buying groceries and preparing your own food. You might consider bringing some little gifts with you from Hermosillo to give to people to say thank you for hospitality or friendship, things that wouldn’t be available in Quebec. That can be an inexpensive but memorable way to say thank you. When I played host to two Mayan Indian women from Chiapas, they brought little dolls they made for tourists and handed them out as their way of saying thanks, and it was a very nice touch.

Mtl_zack's avatar


Here are some things you should know:

Everything is in french. Every sign, product or label must define itself in french writing. Perhaps if you know spanish you might have a head start because the two languages are very similar.

Taxes are always added on everything you buy in Quebec. Yes, anything. Taxes here are 15%, so never trust the price on the label, it’s always more. Tip for most things is an additional 15%.

The drinking age is 18!! However, in Quebec, we say that the drinking age is just a suggestion lol.

Never turn right on a red light on the island of Montreal. It is the only place in North America where you cannot do so. This only applies to the geographical island of Montreal, so this rule doesn’t apply in Laval and the South Shore.

If you’re coming in the winter, it will be freezing, but in the summer it will be fine. So far this year we’ve been having a mix of sunshine and rain.

Use the Metro in Montreal. It goes almost all over the city and the STM is a great public transport system. However, you might have to purchase an OPUS card because they’re changing to a new, greener card that has electronic tickets.

There are student rates almost everywhere, and if you have a student ID, you can discounts on museums and other attractions.

Food isn’t that expensive. It’s pretty much the same as in the United States. Just remember that the taxes add 15%.

Places to visit:
Botanical Gardens
Habs game (during the winter, of course)
Montreal Museum Of Fine Art
There’s an exhibit called Imagine that’s about John Lennon and Yoko Ono on right now because of the 40th anniversary of the Bed In in Montreal.
Old Montreal or the Old Port
La Ronde (during the summer)
St. Joseph’s Oratory
Crescent street or St. Laurent just to party, but it’s expensive for a night of mayhem
There are many, many more things to do.

Check out the architecture while you’re there. You can see an old church right next to a modern building. It’s a very traditional place, and it’s very evident in many of the buildings.

Have a great time, and eat lots of poutine!! It may look gross, but it’s so good. GO HABS GO!!!!

arturodiaz's avatar

@Mtl_zack Yeap, im learning french, that is part of why I choose Quebec to go instead of Calgary. Taxes are just like in Mexico, except here all taxes are included on the price by law so that there is no confusion. Good to know about the student ID and about the alcohol drinking age xD. I will be there form august to december. So I guess it would not be so much cold as in january or february for instance. Thanks!

@Darwin same thing here about the climate, just the opposite. We have no trouble with heat, most buildings have air conditioning and people is prepared. The problem is in winter were no one has the appropriate clothes and no heating systems. But since is a desert temperature can get as low as 1 or 2 degrees which if get you unprepared things can get pretty ugly. I think more people die here because of bad heating systems such as gas and wood in poor conditions than of dehidrations. Thanks!

Mtl_zack's avatar

@arturodiaz I personally think that Montreal is so much better in the fall. Lucky you :) but you should still bring warmer clothes because it can frost in September and October and snow has fallen in November and December, but not every year. It could come sooner or later.

Darwin's avatar

Now the question arises – is he going to Montreal or to Quebec City? When he says Quebec, Quebec, I assumed Quebec City.

arturodiaz's avatar

@Darwin Im going to Quebec city that is where my school is, but of course Ill visit Montreal too. If not with school, ill go by myself. Maybe Toronto and the Niagara Falls too. Also I may cross the border and visit New York and Boston, but to be honest im more interested in Canada. I been to Vancouver once and I loved the way of life and how people are there. Their hospitality reminds me of Mexico and makes me feel more like in home.

Im thinking of going earlier so that I can visit some places before school starts. Probably the only limit will be money thats why im asking ways to save it :).

Darwin's avatar

In any case, you should have a great time. Do your best to speak French and folks will be great.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Via rail often has student rates. Also, bus stations offer discounts for students, so traveling wont be that hard. I got a two way bus ticket Montreal-Ottawa full price (my dad bought it) for 80 bucks, so I think a student ticket would be around 60. Maybe into the states it’s a bit different though.

arturodiaz's avatar

Do people in Quebec dislike Americans or anyone talking english? Whats their attitude toward mexicans in general?

dynamicduo's avatar

If you are going in the summertime, Quebec won’t be cold, it’ll be nice and warm although not near 45 degrees unless it’s unluckily hot.

Quebec has a ton of heritage and wonderful things to see and visit. It really depends on what you like to do. It has loads of historic elements, old places, tours, etc. There are cheese factories, awesome museums, etc. I highly recommend you Google for “Quebec tourism” and take a read through the sites to get some ideas about things you want to do. Make sure to look for student specials or rates. Also, your school may have discounts on visiting certain attractions.

Quebecers don’t really have any stereotypes or negative opinions about Mexicans. Many of them do believe that French is the better language and should only be spoken, but you will be accommodated and not hassled (hopefully) speaking English. As for disliking Americans, that’s hit or miss, but no one will confront you about it or discriminate against you or anything like that.

Darwin's avatar

As an American who spoke Spanish and a touch of French I had no problems. Actually, I turned out to be quite useful several times because there were some Spaniards who spoke only Spanish and I was able to help them get drinks. In my experience the people who had problems were those who adamantly refused to speak French, insisting that English was the appropriate language for all of Canada.

Just be a good guest (don’t criticize) and keep an open mind and things should be fine.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Many people in Quebec are are very “with Quebec, not with Canada”. Like they think that Quebec should separate, and that french should be the only language. So they don’t like Americans that much because of the unilinguistic (spelling??) system there. If someone mentions anything about Quebec pride or anything, be respectful and don’t do anything to piss them off. Heated discussions with Quebecois are not that good. They might swear at you, but Quebec swearing is actually quite funny, and you should definitely experience that :P

I don’t think there’s any negative connotations towards Mexicans. Except now with the “swine flu”. People are kinda uptight about that and a friend recalled a story that in the metro car, a mexican guy sneezed and half the train moved to the other side. So there is nervousness, but not hate. Also, Montreal is extremely diverse and people often make racial jokes, but they are usually joking. Because of the diversity, people tend to laugh at themselves and know how to take jokes better than people who are often immersed solely in their own culture.

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