First Winter in Montreal as an International Student

For students coming from across oceans, winter in Montreal can be very brisk, long, and harsh. I know – I’ve been there. Before moving to Canada, I lived in Malaysia, where the days started at 7:00 a.m. and ended at 7:00 p.m. every day and the temperature was 30ºC year-long. I knew nothing of the sun setting before 5 p.m. and had only seen snow once or twice in my life. Coming to study in Montreal also meant that I would experience a real winter season, which was very exciting, but it soon began to look like spring and summer would never come.

The first snowfall felt magical. My friend and I who had rarely experienced anything like it before, took photo after photo to share online. We had waited all fall to witness a winter wonderland, so once it was finally here, we wanted it to last forever – something that is probably not relatable to those who have grown up seeing snow every year. However, by the time February had ended, I was more than ready for a change of seasons. The days were still very short and it had been weeks since the sun had shined. We were still wearing clunky boots and heavy parkas.

Thankfully, Montreal is a city that knows how to take advantage of the cold season, so even when there is a windchill warning in early April and you’re longing for the first signs of spring, there are still things to do. Ice skating at the Old Port, skiing on Mount Royal, Christmas markets, tobogganing, Montreal en Lumière, and much more. My friends and I found particular pleasure in ice skating on Beaver Lake, which would become what I most missed about the winter. As I had never seen so much snow in my life, simply going for walks on Mount Royal was something new as well. Once while hiking on in January, we could no longer find our way back and ended up getting lost and caught in a snowstorm. Although it made for a not-so-enjoyable adventure, it also makes for a funny story to tell now.


I’ll admit that although the first snowfall is still highly awaited after a hot and delayed fall season, it also still feels quite long. Luckily, the city has so much to offer. You can find a longer list of things to do for the 2017/2018 winter here.

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