Poutine City: Things to Do in Montreal

Tomorrow, I head home and leave Montreal for a very long time. I’ve lived here for 4 years because of university. It will have a special place in my heart because of that. There were things that I loved and that I hated about this city. But, why spread hate when you could spread love? So, here is a list of things that I think you should do while you’re in Montreal!

1. Brunch 

Montreal has a ton of great brunch places! Brunch is something that can be quick and easy to catch up with friends while eating a delicious meal! I recommend going to: Universel and L’Avenue. At both places, I recommend getting eggs benedict!

2. Old Montreal (Old Port, Vieux Montréal)

It’s beautiful all year round. I love going to visit Old Montreal. There are cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages, small little shops and restaurants and beautiful architecture. If you go, don’t miss the light show and the tour of the Notre-Dame Basilica! There are also several statues located around Old Montreal that tell the history of the founders of Montreal and the history of the city. Lastly, Old Montreal is right by the water. In the winter, you can skate on the water. In the summer, you can take a boat tour and look at the city skyline.

3. Mount Royal

How could I write a list of things to do in Montreal without including Mount Royal? You walk up to the top via lots and lots of stairs but the view is worth it. I’ve been early in the morning, during the sunset and at night. Seeing the city from high above is absolutely breathtaking. I always love being able to point out my old res, my apartment, various McGill buildings I’ve had classes in, etc.

4. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

If you are an art lover, definitely check out the MMFA! They always have visiting exhibitions as well as a very impressive permanent collection. As an Art History major, I’ve frequented the museum several times for assignments and I’ve been there many times for my own enjoyment. Admission is free and it’s a great way to spend a quiet and calm afternoon. I absolutely love the Impressionist artists so I always like to go see those paintings first. But they have something for everyone! They recently revamped their East Asian art collection so if you are a fan of that, go check it out!

5. Jean Talon Market

I’ve been to the Jean Talon Market several times and I love to go in the morning on the weekends to get fresh fruit and to eat from some food stands!

6. Poutine

If you come to Montreal and don’t have poutine, shame on you! The best poutine is from La Banquise. They have a huge menu with so many different kinds of poutine! And if you didn’t already know, poutine is a dish that combines french fries and cheese curds. You might be grossed out by the description, but trust me, it’s heaven in your mouth.

7. Montreal Botanical Garden

I’ve only had a chance to visit the garden once but I absolutely loved it. It’s rather large with winding paths and beautiful architecture in the garden. I went for an exhibition of Chinese lanterns but they always have different exhibitions going on.

8. La Ronde

I love roller coasters. Do you? Then go to La Ronde!

9. Shop ’til you drop!

Montreal has great shopping. St. Catherine street has all the big brand stores that you could ever want to shop in. Plus, if it’s raining or snowing when you’re there, walk underground! You can go through 3 malls that way! Or if you are more into unique shops or vintage shopping, go check out St. Laurent street!

10. McGill University

As a McGill grad (WHOOT WHOOT 2014!), I’ve seen the campus more than I would like to. I associate it with stress and exams, but objectively, it’s a beautiful campus. McGill is Canada’s oldest university and the downtown campus has beautiful buildings. Buildings have marble stairs, wood panneling, stained glass windows on the inside. My favourite building has to be Birks Building which is located on University. If you have a chance, take an organized tour of campus. If not, it’s a fine way to spend an hour or so walking around. Another favourite spot of mine is to go sit on the “Stairs that lead to nowhere.” You’ll spot it on the field. You can’t miss it. During the one summer I spent here in Montreal, my friends and I would go sit on those stairs and just sit and read or chat.

Thanks, Montreal and McGill University for a great 4 years! I’ll try and be back sometime!

And That’s a Wrap!

Tonight, I finished my last undergraduate final. And that means that my undergrad career is over. Done. Finished. Dunzo. I’m not sure how I feel. I was trying to process how I feel while I was walking home from my exam. I guess I feel…weird? Elated? Sad? Scared? I really don’t know. I feel weird because I no longer have “student” as an identity. I feel elated because the stress of school is over. I feel sad because a 4 year long chapter of my life has ended. I feel scared because I no longer have the safety of school. I now have to face…the real world. The future.

For this post, I would like to write about some of the things that happened to me over my time here at university. I would also like to reflect on some good memories and perhaps even share some tidbits of wisdom. Overall, it’s just going to be another post that’s rambly…so…look forward to that!

Right before university started, I told myself that I would be outgoing and try as hard as I could to make friends and get to know people. I met so many people during frosh week. Looking back on it, I can’t tell you the names of almost everyone that I met that week. But I’m so glad that I forced myself to be outgoing. I don’t look at it as if I wasn’t being true to myself. I look at it like an exaggeration of myself. I wouldn’t call myself a painfully shy person, but I’m definitely in the middle. And for frosh, I decided to push myself higher on the scale toward outgoing/extrovert. I’m glad I did it because I met so many different characters. I came into contact with different personality types. I met people from all over the floor. Just on my res floor alone, people were from Switzerland, Madagascar, Italy, and California. I met people who’ve had different life experiences. I just met…people. I remember feeling incredibly sheltered when I got to university. Coming from a relatively small city, you don’t get to meet as many people from all walks of life.

I met the friends that I would call my best friends and my family for the next four years during frosh. Looking back on it, I can’t believe all “found” each other. We’re extremely similar ways and we get along swimmingly. We hit it off right off the bat. One friend commented recently saying, “I was hanging out with these other people one night and I just knew I wouldn’t keep being friends with them. I just knew that you guys [our group] were going to be my friends for the next four years.” And that was true. We remained a tight knit group for the next four years. We all moved here to go to university. We were far away from what we were familiar with. Through that, we became a family.

First year was a learning curve for me. I was trying to balance this new life of extra-curricular activities, school and friends. Plus, I was 5 hours away (by plane!) from home. I was 17 and this was my first time away from my parents. I remember in high school thinking that I couldn’t wait to move out and start being independent. I thought that I wouldn’t be homesick even as I said goodbye to my parents after they helped move me in to res. It was right around Thanksgiving when everybody went home and I was stuck here for the long weekend. That was when it hit me that I wasn’t home. That my parents weren’t there. It was odd because as a family, we never celebrated Thanksgiving. I guess I realized that my parents weren’t just a walk away from me. They were far. Really far.

I wish I had put more effort into school my first year. I wasn’t completely a bad student, but I didn’t get the grades that I should have. That’s my biggest regret from my university year. But, at the same time, I wouldn’t go back and change it. I had a fantastic time in first year. I got on really well with my roommate, I was involved in a lot of random hijinks. I had my first alcoholic drink. I went clubbing for the first time. I grew up. I became independent. I was finally learning who I was.

Second year was the year that I solidified my friendship with my three main girls. We decided to live together and it was the best decision for our friendship. Sure, we had some fights here and there but overall, it was a fun year. Every night was girls’ night. Every day, I had my best friends right there with me. I also did better in school in second year. I put everything I had into it. But I was also drifting further apart from my friends back home. This is where I began to realize that I was truly becoming someone different. I was growing up. I had different interests. I had different priorities. I don’t look at it as a bad thing. My friends back home remind me of high school.

Third year was when things changed. We moved out but I stayed roommates with one of my best girl friends in the group. We moved to our own apartment and furnished everything ourselves. From Ikea, of course. We all truly felt like adults with our own apartments and having people over and entertaining them. We built a blanket fort in honour of Community. We had guests over to stay with us. We made dinner for people. We held dinner parties. We were…adults. But this was the year that things got more intense for school. We had to shape up and put our all into our last two years. Third year was also when things started to get tense in our friend group. It’s always tough when people are competing for the same thing. And that same thing was med school. It tears people up, intense competition. Things never recovered from that, although our friend group is still intact. But you can never fully recover from that because competition shows you who a person truly is. And that’s not always a good thing. We all spent the summer here. Exploring the wonderful university city. I met James McAvoy while he was shooting X-Men: Days of Future Past. I learned that the city isn’t always so bad. I learned about the working world while I had two internships during the summer.

Fourth year. Senior year. The final year. Academically, this year was very difficult for me but I managed to power through it. I took my favourite class in fourth year: Politics and Media. It combined the two things that I love. It was fascinating to learn about the media and how it’s organization and function greatly affects politics. My favourite part of the course was learning about celebrities and politics. There’s a vast amount of literature on the subject that I found incredibly fascinating. For the first time, I didn’t feel like I was reading these articles for school. I was reading them for my own enjoyment. Fourth year was when I started to worry about my future. The university that I’m at is very academically competitive. I mean, everyone that goes here is geared towards one thing: graduate school. But, I knew even in third year that I didn’t want to go to graduate school. At least, not right away. And that scared me. I was going against what everyone else was doing. When I finally said my decision out loud to my friends and family, I got concerned looks. I was ready to change my mind and apply to schools because everyone else was. But I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I stuck to my guts and will be taking a year off for myself because I want to. I made this choice by myself, for myself. And I’m incredibly proud of that.

I became a part of a club on campus that changed my life. I became a part of a Her Campus chapter which was amazing. I got to work with a group of girls that were supportive and incredibly understanding. It was an experience of girl power. And I met one of my really good friends in this club. I’m just sad to leave her right when I met her!

This year has been an emotional roller coaster. As I said before, we’re not from this city. We come from different parts of the country. One of us is from the States. We all met here but we’re all leaving here. This is the last time in a very long time that we’ll be together. And that scares me. These people have become more than friends to me. These people are my family. They got to see me grow up and become somebody different. I’ve gone through so much with these people and being without them truly scares me. I’ll miss being able to walk out of my room to talk to my roommate about the latest episode of The Walking Dead. I’ll miss asking my friend across the street if she wants to go get Starbucks. I’ll miss midnight trips to the dep. I’ll miss iMessaging in class to my friend about that weird prof. I’ll miss hanging out until the early hours of the morning watching YouTube clips and talking about stupid things. I’ll miss…being around them.

My university career has been 4 years of crazy hard work, stress, happiness, laughter, good memories and good friends. There were some tough times, but all in all, I’ve had a great 4 years. I’ve learned so much about people, myself, the world, political science, art history. I’ve accumulated skills and knowledge.

My proudest moment from university? Becoming aware of my interests. I might not know what I want to do with my life, but I know that I want to do this: I want to spread feminism and good body image ideals. I want to get rid of rape culture. I want to stand up for women. I want to continue being a feminist. It was here at university that I realized that my feelings in high school were valid. It was called being a feminist. And I finally have some tools and understanding that will help me put out positive ideas into the world regarding the treatment of females. I’m a proud feminist which I discovered in university.

I learned how to stand up for myself and my beliefs. I realized that I didn’t have to alter my values to be someone’s friend. That can be difficult in high school when the pool of people is rather small and you feel almost compelled to be friends with everyone and please everyone. But it’s not like that in university. I realized that I could be myself and I didn’t feel bad if somebody didn’t agree with that.

So…thats a very brief summary of my university career. All in all, a positive experience. But where to now? Who knows what the future holds. But I’m ready to face it with my university memories and experience. A very great chapter of my life is over. But that’s ok. I have great memories to look back on. Congrats to the other grads out there! Let’s go on and continue our lives!

 

 

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

This past week was reading week and my 21st birthday! I spent the time off with my roommate in New York! This is our second trip to New York together and it was just as successful as our first! I love travelling with my roommate because we’re so similar. It’s great to travel with someone who has the same sleep schedule, is easy going and loves to do the same activities as you.

We stayed with my cousin and her boyfriend in Long Island City which was certainly a change from where we stayed last time. Morgan, my cousin, used to live in the Financial District which was always loud and bustling. I was surprised by how quiet and calm Queens was. It was nice to stay in Queens and explore the area. On our first day, we explored and went to the Museum of Moving Image. It was an absolute delight! It was every movie buff’s dream. There were rooms dedicated to the evolution of TV, the evolution of video games, and the history of movie costumes! My favourite part was the booth where you could record your own voice to replace an actor’s voice in a movie. And what did I choose? I chose to dub over Audrey Hepburn’s voice in My Fair Lady!

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The other great thing about our trip this time was that it was a little more relaxed. We were on a more lenient schedule since we had done all the touristy things last time. On our second day, we explored Chelsea and the Chelsea Market. I’m not sure what it is about markets that I love so much. I think there’s a certain community feel that you get when you walk into one. Each shop is small and cozy. The food stands are close together and everybody is chatting and striking up a conversation with one another.

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The Met. Where do I even begin? If you gave me 2 years, that still would not be enough time to fully explore the Met. It was a visual stimulus overload! So many things to see! I was most impressed with their collection of sarcophagi. But then again, everything in the Met is impressive. There’s something for everyone since they have collections upon collections from different time periods! There are paintings, sculptures, instruments, artifacts. They have it all! After the Met, I had my ever meal at Shake Shack! Damn, the Americans! You have such good burger joints! I thoroughly enjoyed my meal but I could definitely hear my arteries cry a little as I clogged them with that meal. That delicious meal prepared me for our first musical of the trip: Pippin!

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Words cannot express my love for Pippin. I highly suggest you see it if you visit New York. We treated my cousin and her boyfriend to the show to thank them for letting us stay with them. And they also enjoyed the show. The four of us couldn’t stop talking about it after we saw it. Oh, and thank goodness for TKTS! We got 2nd row centre seats for 40% off! Being so close to the stage, we could see the actors facial expressions, their every move, and it’s a show you want to be close to the stage for because there’s fire and the actors come right up to the edge of the stage and look you directly in the eye! Can I just say that these actors are crazy talented?! This show requires them to sing, dance, act, and perform acrobatic tricks…ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Now that’s talent!

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You think we just saw one show? The next day we saw Cinderella! If you loved the Disney version, you will love this show. It’s got heart, comedy and huge dance numbers with breathtaking costumes. Now about that Prince Charming…where can I get one? Cinderella makes it look so easy!

There’s no way you can go to New York without visiting 30 Rockefeller! Last time we went to New York, we got to see Jimmy Fallon’s monologue rehearsal when he was still the host for Late Night. This time, we got to see his successor, Seth Meyers! I thought Seth Meyers’ monologue jokes were hysterical, but I was most impressed with the people that were sitting in the section beside us. The writers for his show look to be all under the age of 30!

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Our ticket!

We walked on over to the Lego store and decided to get souvenirs for ourselves and our friends. We built Lego versions of ourselves and put them in front of the Lego version of 30 Rockefeller. It was all very…meta.

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I’m the one on the left! You know, the Gryffindor wizard warrior.

Now, the real highlight of the trip was seeing the new musical, If/Then. You know, the one starring Adele Dazeem? Oh, sorry. I mean, that random nobody named Idina Menzel. All jokes aside, if you can’t tell already, I’m a huge musical fanatic. And getting to see If/Then in previews with Idina Menzel was nothing short of amazing. Hearing her sing live was an incredible experience that still gives me chills when I think about it. Her voice was pure and had such power to it. Yet, I was amazed by how she could transform her voice to sound gentle and calm when the song called for it. She is definitely a diva powerhouse that cannot be rivalled. But the real highlight? Having her sign my Playbill! She made us wait 2 hours for her in the cold, but it was worth it!

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No Gryffindor wizard warrior can truly be amazing and protect the world without a scarf! The next day, we headed to FAO Schwartz and I finally got a Gryffindor scarf! 8 year old me inside was dying as I finally bought what I had always wanted. I don’t know if I’m a real Gryffindor. I take so many of those online tests and I get a different house each time.

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Wearing my scarf loud and proud!

We gleefully walked back to Chelsea to meet up with a friend from university who was now a big girl living in the big city! It was great to catch up over some tea and listen about her new life as an adult…and no longer a sleep deprived student slaving away in the library. It’s only been a couple of months since she’s been working and living in New York, but she’s already so well adjusted. I’m not afraid to say that I am incredibly jealous of her. It’s my dream to live and work here someday!

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On our last day, we celebrated by going to…another show. This was our last show and it was actually a play! We saw All the Way, starring Bryan Cranston. Yes. THE Bryan Cranston. Good ‘ole Walter White. Being a Canadian, we’re not usually taught American history. I knew very little about LBJ but I enjoyed the play immensely. If you ever had any doubts about Cranston as an actor (um, although why would you?! HAVE YOU SEEN BREAKING BAD?!), this will make you feel silly for having doubts about him. He commands a stage even when he’s silent. You can hear the desperation in his voice and his voice when he’s angry echoes throughout the theatre and shocks your body.

Our last day was also my birthday and my cousin and her boyfriend took us out for a nice dinner. I haven’t really discussed food in this post just because my mouth would just water too much if I recounted all the amazing food that we had! I wasn’t expecting anything from my cousin and her boyfriend, but they bought a cake that the waitress brought out and they all sang Happy Birthday to me.

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I love New York. I absolutely adore it. I could definitely see myself living here in the future. I love how busy it is all the time. There’s always something to do. Plus, I mean, HELLO! BROADWAY MUSICALS!!! If there’s one huge goal that I would set for myself, it would be to live in New York in the near future. I have to do it. I will do it. But for now, we’re back to gloomy university town to finish up the semester. We return to reality. But, who knows! Perhaps my reality will be in the Big Apple very soon!

Don’t Drag My Best Friend, TV, Into This

I’m finishing up my last semester of university and I can’t help but think back to frosh in first year and how much I hated it. I’m an introvert and sometimes I have trouble meeting a lot of people at once. I tend to stick to meeting a couple people at a time. However, before I got to university, I promised myself that I would try my hardest to mingle and meet as many people as I could. And that’s what I did. I forced myself to be more outgoing and to attend every single event that was held. And it also helped that I was living in a res that had over 750 people. But besides from being drained from constantly being around people, I realized that I hated small talk. I still hate it. But, I’ve learned to tolerate it. And that’s because there’s always a point in the conversation where I can ask what TV shows the person watches. It’s my favourite part about small talk. Learning about what people watch.

Here’s the thing, TV rules my life. It is very important to me. Watching TV shows is a part of my daily routine and without it, I feel…empty. Is that too dramatic? When a TV show goes on hiatus, I get sad because it feels as though I’m parting with family or friends for an extended period of time. I get incredibly invested in story lines and the lives of characters. And to this day, I am still confused as to why there’s a stigma against watching TV. People associate it with being lazy and believe that watching TV is a huge time waster. There’s also a small number of people who believe that because they don’t watch TV, they’re somehow better than people who do. They believe that they’re more intellectual without TV.

In defence of TV, here is my opinion. Television (and movies!) are simply another form of storytelling. Reading a story isn’t any better than watching it. One might have a preference, but one is not inherently better than another. Television has elaborate story lines, character arcs, dynamic characters, life lessons, discussions on morality and the state of society. It has it all. But it’s not in book form. And that’s okay.

I don’t just passively sit there and watch TV. I’m fully engrossed in it. I’m intently listening and processing everything. I’m constantly questioning a character’s action or their thought process. I wonder out loud to myself if that was a good choice for the writers to take that direction with the character. I have in depth discussions with my roommate and friends about character development, plot holes, possible improvements to story lines, and divulge our theories on what will happen in the season finale. These are all things that I do not associate with laziness.

So, I watch a lot of TV. A lot. And sometimes that shocks people. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I want to be friends that have similar interests as me. Now, if I want to be friends with someone, we do not have to have all the same interests, but since TV is such a huge part of my life, I look for people that have that same intensity about TV as I do. I know that might sound ridiculous that I don’t give people the time of day if they don’t watch TV. Does that make me a bad person? Sometimes, I feel like I write people off to quickly with their quick comments like, “Yeah, I don’t watch TV” and “Oh…I guess I watch Survivor.” But I feel like a common love for something is how I connect best with people. There’s a certain joy that I get that is accompanied by a warm feeling inside my heart when I get to talk about what I love. And the warm feeling intensifies when I meet someone else who is as enthusiastic about it as I am. Getting to share that with someone and to bond with someone over a common interest is truly special.

I know, I must come off as someone who is out of their mind with all this talk about the importance of TV. I know that there’s more to friendship than having similar interests. I look for other qualities in friends too! Don’t get me wrong! People pay a lot of attention to physical qualities when they first meet someone. I think I pay some attention to it, but I’m more interested in their TV show preferences. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the shows that they watch. It’s the same as the types of books that people like to read!

So, call me Abed Nadir! I love me some TV, movies and pop culture! If you are curious as to which shows I watch, I have a list over on my tumblr (http://trickington.tumblr.com/tvschedule)! Keep in mind, that’s only for shows that are currently on air. And let me know what TV shows you guys watch! I’m always here for an open discussion on all things TV!

Starbucks Barista Hands

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas. Sadly, Christmas has come and gone. Midterm season is upon us which means it’s time to replace sleep with coffee. And that coffee comes from the beautiful Starbucks Siren. On a totally unrelated note, I got distracted while studying for midterms (this happens quite a bit…more than it should) and I looked up the history of the Starbucks logo. I somehow managed to get there from looking up the impressive filmography of Harrison Ford. Anyway, it’s a pretty interesting read! Go look up the history of the Siren!

Like I said before, it’s midterm season. That means that a lot of other cranky sleep deprived students think like me and go to Starbucks to get their fix of caffeine. I’ve been going so often and I’ve noticed that people are really rude to the baristas! I’ve witnessed people getting very worked up over their coffee. People start to yell and threaten the employees because their coffee was too hot. People roll their eyes when the barista asks them to repeat their name. People forget basic greetings and simply start the conversation with “Yeah, I’ll get…”  even though the barista asked them how they were.

I’ve never worked in the service industry, but at my old job, I had to often deal with parents. I dealt with several parents that thought they could be rude to me because I was younger. There was simply no respect there. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but I think it makes sense to be nice to people. Start off the conversation with “Hi, how are you?” Remember to say please and thank you! Actually, these things are taught in preschool! Why do we forget what manners are when we become adults? Respect everyone! Especially the baristas! I mean, they’re giving you coffee. Good coffee with lots of caffeine to make you feel less of a zombie. They’re giving you something that will help you function like a real human being!

In general, be nice. Be nice to the barista, the cashier, to the people in line. Yesterday, the customer in front of me yelled at me. He thought I was cutting in and interrupting his order. However, I was simply asked my order by another cashier to speed things up. When he later realized that he was mistaken, he gave me a look. A look. Not even a simple apology.

Just be nice to everyone. It never hurts to be kind in this world. I know that sometimes it can get rather noisy in Starbucks, but just speak softly. Add to the nice calming ambience of the place. Leave the yelling and rudeness for when you’re watching a TV show and they ruin your OTP. Because, nobody should ever mess with your OTP.

And after writing this post, I want Starbucks. And I hope they play “Hold On We’re Coming Home” by Drake. God, I do love me some Starbucks Drake Hands.

Who, Me? A Blogger?

I’ll admit it. I’m an extremely nosy person. I think that’s why I avidly watch YouTube daily vloggers and I follow so many personal blogs on here and on Tumblr. I feel as though it’s almost a privilege to be able to read someone’s blog and learn their thoughts and opinions on everything. So reading personal blogs? I love it. But starting my own? I never really wanted to until now.

I’ve kept a diary on and off throughout my life. I appreciate my parents instilling in me that it was important to write down all your thoughts even if you thought they were silly or invalid. It’s great because I like to read back on my diaries and remember what it was like at that certain moment in my life.

It’s one thing to write in a special diary that you got from Chapters, it’s another to put it online for any random person to see it! I suppose I never felt the need to start a blog because I didn’t believe that I had anything important to say and that I didn’t have an outrageously interesting life that anybody would want to learn about. While those things are still true in my mind, there really isn’t a better time to start something new on the first day of the new year!

So, here is my personal blog. Be kind, please. It’s sensitive to being the new kid in the internet world. I may not have profound things to say, but here it is. My blog. My diary. Me.