Study Abroad in Québec

Matthew Davies – BSc (Hons) Business Management

I’m Matthew and I completed a semester abroad at HEC Montréal in Quebec, Canada. Participating in an exchange has been one of the best decisions I’ve made and I’d recommend every student to sign up for one! Participating in this has taught me so much about different cultures and meeting students from different backgrounds all over the world!

Being a bilingual Business School, HEC offers most of its courses in French and English, with some even in Spanish! This was fantastic for me as a native English speaker, as well as internationals who may not speak French. I would however recommend taking a language course wherever you go, as it enables you to experience the local culture a bit easier. Montréalers are immensely proud of their French heritage, giving the city an exceptionally unique culture, mixing North American and European culture. Being located near the west coast of North America, there were plenty of opportunities to visit nearby cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Mont Tremblant, or even New York!

The local exchange committee HEChange looked after over 200 exchange students, meaning it was easy to make friends and enjoy the city! Our welcome week consisted of events such as a city rally, embracing the impressive night-life on multiple nights out and even attending Piknic Elektroniq – a local music festival that runs every weekend in the summer! One of my best memories was going on a road trip with 4 French-speaking Europeans I met a couple of nights before, where we went whale watching and climbed one of the province’s tallest mountains. Even if you’re not as into nature, there’s plenty to do in the city with the different festivals, exploring some of the most beautiful and unique cafés in the world or watching the Canadiens, Canada’s finest Hockey team (sorry Leafs fans).

The main advice I would give to anybody considering an exchange is to embrace the local city as much as possible. There’s no hiding that Canada gets ridiculously cold, so investing in winter gear certainly helps. Montréal’s metro system is extensive and fantastic for anybody wishing to go downtown quickly. My apartment was in the beautiful neighbourhood of Rosemont, but if I were to change anything about my exchange, I would’ve lived closer to campus to save time on travel or money on late-night Ubers. 

One of the main reasons I chose to study at the University of Surrey was the opportunity to complete a semester abroad, as I’ve always dreamt of living in a different country. Moving to Canada was something I had no idea I’d ever do, particularly French Canada. After those four months it truly became my second home. My exchange in Montréal created memories I will always cherish, and I could never recommend the city enough to anybody else!