I don’t want to leave Montréal

I know I haven’t really been updating this blog at all, but I feel the need to write this out here.

I have 11 days left in Montréal. Over the past 4 months I have met so many incredible people, travelled to places as diverse as NYC and Cuba, skied to my heart’s content, taken in the beautiful streets and culture of Montréal, partied a lot and made some amazing friends. Now it’s almost over, and I’m stuck here furiously studying to pass these engineering courses I couldn’t care less about. This isn’t the way I wanted it to end.

I wish I could stay longer - from Mont Royal
I wish I could stay longer – from Mont Royal

I love my life here – I’m travelling a lot, meeting people, I have money and I don’t need to worry about grades. I’m free. I feel like I’m only just getting settled in Montréal. I’ve made a life here, and now I’m getting torn straight out again. I’m glad that it happened of course, it’s the best period of my life so far – but there’s a voice in the back of my head wondering if it was all for nothing. This part of my life is coming to a close. Chances are I’m never going to see most of these people ever again. It’s a really empty, sombering feeling. The end of one life and the start of another.

It’s like I’m in some kind of limbo.

One thing about going on exchange is that you suddenly have this unique identity. Back in Australia I never considered myself to be an Australian. Whenever someone would ask where I’m from I’d say Sri Lanka – even though I was born in Sydney and grew up in Newcastle. I knew the routine if I said otherwise.

“Where are you from?”

“Sydney”

“No but where are you from?”

Every time. I knew what they meant, it’s easier to cut straight to it. That’s the problem with being a third culture kid, you never know the right answer to that question. But living in Montréal changed all that – suddenly I never felt more Australian in my life. I was a novelty, and not just because of my skin colour. Whenever I’d say I’m from Australia people would light right up – I was interesting, I was the one who could answer their wild and bewildering questions about this mysterious, dangerous, deadly creature infested southern land. I’m exciting. I’m Australian.

I knew from the start that in an exchange nothing really matters. That was the point. You can do whatever you want because of it – no fear of any repercussions or responsibilities, but now that it’s ending the reality of that is starting to hit me.

Questions and regrets keep coming up into my head – Did you make the most of it? The answer to that is no. I did a lot of incredible things – but I could have done more. I could have actually learnt French (Je parle un peu français), I could have explored Montréal more instead of leaving it every single weekend, I could have kept on top of schoolwork, I could have not broken my wrist again, I could have gone to Niagara Falls and Chicago, I could have seen the Northern Lights. Compared to what people are doing back home and even exchange students here I should be happy with what I’ve accomplished, but I’m not competing against them. I’m competing against what I could be.

I have 11 days left in this beautiful city, and in 9 days I will be done with my exams, pass or fail. I need to make the most of it but I also don’t want to fail any of my courses. It’s a tough situation but I think I can do this – I’ve gotta try. Onwards to Europe.

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