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Indiana Statesman: The (mis)adventures of an Anglo in Montreal


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The (mis)adventures of an Anglo in Montreal


Petra Hendrickson


Issue date: 4/9/08 Section: Opinion


Montreal less than 48 hours ago, I thought I would use today's column as part anecdote, part travel advice and part opinion.

The advice, although the most practical portion of this column by far, is the least fun to write about, so I'll dispense with it first.



Make sure you tell your bank you're going abroad. Otherwise, their fraud department might put a block on your debit card after you use it to pay for a cab ride. This results in you having to apply for a new debit card, which will then take around 10 business days to be delivered to you.



If you need help with something, ask. I have no recollection of the only other time I've flown internationally, and I was a little apprehensive about the customs and immigration process. Chances are, one of your fellow travelers will be more than happy to talk you through the process ahead of time.



Granted, most people scoff at the idea of Canada being considered "international travel."



Nonetheless, a flight there requires you to go through customs and immigration before leaving the airport, and chances are, you'll find something there that looks unfamiliar.



Gas prices in Canada (or at least Montreal), for instance, are not only by the liter, rather than the gallon, they're also in cents. So a liter of gas is advertised as costing 114.2. Before I asked a fellow American at the graduate school I was visiting about the gas pricing system, I was pretty shocked.




I mean, I knew gas prices were more expensive everywhere else, but even this seemed a little steep.



Also, although I ate food while I was there, the fact that all menu items (even at Tim Horton's!) were in French pretty much means that I'm not entirely sure what I ate. There was Lebanese food of some kind, what I was told was a Chilean steak sandwich and a couple flavored croissants, but as far as specifics go, I'm pretty much at a loss.



Everyone I encountered in Montreal was willing to accommodate English speakers, which was definitely much appreciated.



My cab driver on my 1 a.m. excursion to the airport informed me that not only should I not have been shy about speaking English and being American, the locals don't mind at all because Americans are notoriously good tippers.

The logic seems to follow that the more willingly people speak English to the Americans in Montreal, the more grateful the Americans will be, and the better they'll tip.



I have to be honest.



At least in my case, it was true.



Most of the Anglo community seems to know how to speak enough French to get by ("restaurant French"), and certainly recognizes enough French to be able to differentiate street names from one another and the like.



It was really interesting to me the combination of recognition and absolute confusion I experienced in the Francophone environment. On the one hand, words like café and boutique were easy markers as to what a building contained. On the other hand, all the words I didn't recognize meant that at some point, everything started to look the same, and it was pretty disorienting.:sarcastic:



On the whole, I'm definitely glad I visited Montreal.



It was pretty eye-opening as to just how utterly American I am. I like to consider myself worldly in outlook, and I still think that's true, but it also made me consider exactly how non-worldly my experiences have been.





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One thing I find amusing is him bring up the price of gas. Once in a while I would be like, I feel bad for some poor soul coming to Canada from the US and seeing 114.0/L for gas and thinking it is $114 and not $1.14 LOL

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  • 2 weeks later...
Ignorant Americans. There is no excuse in not realizing that mtl is french in 2008.


From what I'm reading, I don't think he didn't know that Montreal was predominantly French...but rather he didn't know much about the French language and therefore was a contribution to his adventures here. For example, not knowing French meant he didn't know what he was eating. It's not that he didn't know that Montreal is predominantly French, rather he just didn't know the French language.


And please...save the "Ignorant Americans" b.s....you'd be surprised that although they are constantly being portrayed as "ignorant", they know a lot about the world than you think (I'm saying this because of personal experiences with Americans).

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