Montreal Study Tour
A weekend with Loyola in the City of Saints
I never imagined that college would give me the opportunity for a guided international excursion… but that is exactly what I found myself doing on a fall weekend during my junior year at Loyola.
For at least 15 years, the French section of Loyola’s Modern Languages and Literatures department has hosted students on a weekend study tour to Montreal, Quebec, each fall.
I loaded my overnight bag into one of four Loyola vans for the first leg of the drive up to Montreal. Five and a half hours later, we pulled up in front of a hotel in Albany, N.Y., bleary-eyed and ready to get some sleep before the weekend’s adventure. The next morning, we woke up bright and early to continue our journey across the border and into Montreal.
We spent our two nights in the city at Brebeuf, a Jesuit preparatory school, just a few metro stops from downtown Montreal.
On Friday afternoon, we were free to explore the city. For most of the students on the trip, this was our first time in Canada.
The first site most people visited was L’Oratoire St. Joseph in the Mont-Royal neighborhood. It is grand and beautiful itself—but it’s also the perfect spot to take remarkable photos of the city.
That night’s dinner was truly an experience. As this was a trip sponsored by the French faculty, we went to a French restaurant named Les Deux Gamins. Dining at such a fancy establishment is a rare treat for college students. That night, my taste buds were able to rediscover flavors they haven’t experienced in a good long while.
It was really fun to practice our conversational French and to learn more about French culture through the context of the City of a Thousand Steeples, a nickname Mark Twain once gave the City of Montreal.
One of the best qualities of Montreal is that there is always something to do—and it is a budget-friendly place (which, for a college student, is a bonus!). I personally enjoyed walking around and taking pictures of the architecture and street art present throughout the city. There were quite a few music, film, and cultural festivals going on—and after dinner, many in our group went to the Garden of Lights festival at the Botanical Garden.
The next day we had the opportunity to explore different neighborhoods and attractions. Admission to the McCord Museum, which has exhibits on the history of Canada, was included in the cost of our study tour. Many of us spent the morning there. We were also given the option to complete a scavenger hunt that led us through many of the city’s points of interest.
It was barely a month into the school year, but I already knew that this trip would be the highlight of my semester.
In the evening, the group reassembled at Montreal’s own Notre-Dame Basilica in the old part of the city. We then walked down the old cobblestone road to Chez Suzette, the restaurant for that night’s dinner. Within a few blocks of where we ate, we came across street performers, musicians, and sculptures tucked into lanes and alleys and projections celebrating Montreal’s 375th anniversary cast onto select buildings. No city embraces public art quite like Montreal!
When Sunday morning came around, I did not want to leave the wonderful city of Montreal and I wasn’t looking forward to the ten-hour drive back to Loyola… but the road trip turned out to be better than I had anticipated. I had a great time getting to know my carmates, and it gave me the opportunity to reflect on the experience I just had.
The study tour included transportation, accommodations, admission to several museums and attractions, breakfast, and dinner. The out-of-pocket cost for students was under $70. Such an inexpensive and comprehensive package would not have been possible if it was not for funding from the Center for the Humanities, Education for Life, and the offices of student activities and international programs. Special thanks to Andre Colombat, Ph.D., Madame Catherine Savell, and Heidi Brown, Ph.D., our fearless leaders and dedicated faculty.
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