Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Week in Montreal

It's already been a week since I arrived in Montreal, and it's been really relaxing. I mostly spent time with my family at home, and visited the city a little bit. We had long BBQ dinners in the garden, and spent afternoons in the sun sipping drinks. Life is so relaxed here, and the weather is so nice! Summer in Canada is not hot- even now is supposedly a heat wave, but to me, it feels like a warm April day in Tokyo. It gets chilly very quickly at night, as soon as the sun starts to set it's quite cool. However, the sun doesn't set until 9pm, which is nice. I've been sleeping so well, however, I've had horrible allergies to the pollen.

I've been having fun just watching home shows on TV and going to the supermarket to see how big everything is. Everything comes in a big size!! It's a bit overwhelming, and everything is quite expensive with the tax, and tipping in restaurants. I think in the end, living in Tokyo is cheaper, despite the city taxes and apartment fees. I still love the fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables, and I've been subsisting on salads and huge quantities of fruit. I love eating greek yoghurt every morning, I'm hoping to find something similar in Tokyo. I also like how you can eat breakfast at a cafe from 7am! Tokyo, please take notes…. breakfast starts well before 11am.

I've been shopping a bit, and I was so disappointed. I guess nowhere compares to Tokyo. Montreal is really lagging on international brands, even though local Quebec designers are fantastic. I'm glad I spent my shopping budget beforehand in Tokyo, there is nothing I want here, as far as clothes go. I was also shocked at the way most stores display their items; unlike Japan where everything is carefully packaged, folded and clean looking, things are in disarray and sometimes even dirty. It doesn't make you want to spend money, unlike in Japan where shopping and customer service is such an experience. As much as I complain about the waste in packaging and the overwhelming customer service in Japan, I do love the attention to detail, and how special it feels to just buy a lipstick or nail polish. In other words, it's more fun and rewarding to spend money in Japan.

I felt sad to see St-Laurent boulevard- what I remembered as a trendy, happening street now looks so dirty and run down, with lots of closed shops. What happened there? I much, much prefer Old Montreal and its narrow cobblestone streets and wonderful cafes and boutiques. I'm so glad I'm living in Old Montreal for the next few weeks!

I still feel like a stranger in my own home, I go between being completely in awe to frustrated with small things, like how complicated it can be to buy a train ticket and this whole tipping thing. I love the space, I love the friendliness, I love how people hold doors open, I love how complete strangers smile at me, I love doing laundry. However, I do realize I couldn't live in Montreal anymore, especially not after Tokyo. Maybe it's too quick to say that, but I feel like I'd be suffocating here. Yet, I think the quality of life is higher here, especially compare to the cramped, polluted and crowded quarters I live in back in Tokyo. I wish I could get the best of both worlds.

It's been wonderful to spend quality time with family, try new restaurants and go to summer festivals downtown. Nothing has changed with my friends, it's just as if I never left. We still talk and joke about the same things, and it's so comforting. I think that's what true friendship should be like.

Sidewalk cafes

Best breakfast ever at Le Cartet



Mega sized coffee

My friend has a parrot

Brushing the cat

Cat selfie

Square Victoria, metro gate gifted from Paris

More coffee!!


Bernadette Howell said...

Yep, that is Japan for you. Ordered, mannered and all sorts of polite and of course, exacting in its cleanliness. But the thing with clean is that it's not just a matter of blemishes. Dust and miniscule matter might settle in there and even cause some bit of harm in the lungs, too, so that must also be dealt with. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience! All the best!

Bernadette Howell @ Allergy Relief Store

Annie Arseneault said...

Vivi! My office is in Square Victoria and I regularly go to Le Cartet for lunch. Please call me so we can see each other!!!! xxx Annie

Tanya Geddes said...

Reverse Culture Shock stayed with me for a while. After Seoul and Tokyo, London seemed confusing. Here is a list of observations:

1) People looked miserable in London. They didn't smile as much. Customer services weren't as happy or efficient.

2) People looked sick in London. There was always someone with crutches, zimmer frames, coughing etc. (This sounds judgemental but it's just that I noticed people weren't as active as in Japan).

3) It was dirtier. People dropped rubbish on streets.

4) I could understand everything around me. I was used to blocking out the noise. This was overwhelming.

5) Fruit and food was much cheaper here in London. I could eat like a normal human being with an appetite as opposed to bird sized portions in Japan.

6) People talked a lot about nothing in London (or maybe I just understood more).

7) People were friendly and open in London. They were more laid back and there was not a fastidiousness to rules.

8) The quality of life was higher in London.

9) There was more space to move and breathe in London. There were parks in most areas.

10) It was easier making friends in London. Also I loved meeting international people who had similar hobbies, something I just couldn't find in Japan.

11) I was not fat in London. I was normal. Lots of body shapes and variety of different looking people made me relaxed and not feel judged.

12) I didn't feel so constricted. I felt relaxed in London, like I didn't have to follow so many rules.

*This is a quick overview. At first I didn't like London but that's because it was unfamiliar to me. Once I got used to these cultural aspects I realised I preferred to stay in London because my priorities had changed. The higher quality of living as well as the opportunity to meet like minded people far overweighed the novelty of Japan (although Japan will always have a space in my heart). Good luck Vivian! <3 XO

Vivian said...

Tanya, thank you! This is such a great list and similar to everything I've been experiencing! x