How to Survive Your First Maymester in Montreal
Choosing to do Maymester after a hectic school year was like someone patted me on the back and said "Congratulations, you’ll finally have some time on your hands!" Suddenly though, after a week of Netflix binging and liming with friends, I began to not know what to do with this surprising amount of time. Let’s be real, doing a summer course sometimes doesn’t feel like 'school'. Sitting in class for only 3 hours a day can leave a lot of time on one’s hands.
May is one of the most refreshing months in Montreal. After a brutal winter and a non-existent spring, it finally feels like summer is approaching. People are finally out and about in the streets, outdoor activities are reopening and many of the city’s university population has returned home.
Most days in Montreal are planned around what the weather forecast predicts- and Maymester is no exception. This may be tricky to navigate knowing Montreal’s ever-changing patterns. Although this May was shockingly hot (hello…even I was out here struggling) and the rest of the summer seems to be looking up from here, I’ve attempted to compile the perfect list full of options no matter the time, place or weather.
FOR THE: Warm & Sunny Days
A PICNIC IN THE PARK
Why sit home and be bored, when you can sit in a park and be not...as bored? Having a picnic in the park with friends or even alone is the perfect cure to the afternoon blues- especially after a boring class. No basket, red-and-white checkered blanket, or fresh baguettes necessary. Just good food, good friends and good weather...and great dog-spotting abilities. Simply spreading a blanket from your apartment and basking in the radiant and rare sunlight is simply enough. Catch your girl out at Jeanne-Mance Park almost everyday looking like an oiled snack trying to tan.
TIP: Cheers to picnic season! You're allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages in public parks in Montreal once the drinks are accompanied by meals.
VIBE AT PIKNIC ELECTRONIK
Speaking of picnics, let me introduce you to your not-so-average 'picnic'. Hidden away at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Piknic Electronik is a life changing experience only a few Metro stops away from Downtown. Take the yellow line and hop off at Jean-Drapeau station and experience the Saint Helen's island life. Every Sunday during the summer, get outdoors and rave to incredible electronic sets by notorious DJ’s. As someone who'd never usually gravitate towards this genre, the vibes alone are worth it.
TIP: Make sure to buy tickets online in advance and to purchase a delicious drink at the Bucket Bar. These buckets are the ultimate keepsake and are reusable! If you're dedicated enough, you can bring them back weekly. Piknic constantly take steps towards sustainability; check out more information here.
DRINKS AT A ROOFTOP TERRASSE
Summer in Montreal is defined by terrasse season. These outdoor and rooftop terraces open every May once the temperature in the city begings in to climb. Night or day, a terrasse is the most aesthetically pleasing way to eat or drink in style in Montreal. As the sun rises, feel the rare warmth on your body, and as the sun sets, see the twinkle under the city’s lights. Gather up your girl group and channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw in Montreal for just a few hours.
TIP: Some of the best rooftop terrasses are in- but not limited to- Old Montreal. With views to die for, Terrasse Nelligan and Terrasse William Gray truly highlight the beauty of Montreal and give you a glimpse of a faux summer Euro-trip in Montreal.
FOR THE: Chilly & Gloomy Days
A TRIP TO THE CINEMA
If you know me, you know that I am a frequent guest at Scotiabank Theatre. Sometimes your computer screen can get tiring and there's nothing as satisfying as seeing a new movie on the big screen. In an age where everything is so easily done at home, it's refreshing to leave the house- even for just two hours and support the people who allow these incredible films to be made. Plus, wouldn't you want to see Michael B. Jordan in 3D too?
TIP: Tuesday is half-off, baby. Perfect for a student on a budget, or for feeling like you're not unnecessarily spending on something you could finesse online. On top of that, make sure ro get a Scene card if you're really bout dat life in order to get free rewards (including potential free movies).
A STROLL AT AN ART MUSEUM
One thing I've always loved about living in Montreal is its rich culture and history. The city has a variety of indoor museums featuring exhibits from all over the world. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal, among other hidden gems, are located in the heart of Downtown. This is the perfect activity for any rainy days. There's nothing better than getting lost in a museum for hours simply roaming and soaking in the information.
TIP: Every May, Montreal offers Montreal Museums Day. Perfect for the art junkie on a budget, various museums across the city take part and one can truly finesse a full day of activities and take advantage of the fine art that the city has to offer for no cost. Make sure to mark your calendar for next year's installment from now.
A DAY AT TAM TAMS
Tam Tams is a Montreal treasure. Even as an outdoor activity, Tam Tams is not restricted to literal sunshine- because it brings the sunshine. Honestly, so much is happening at Tam Tams I don't even know how to describe it in all of its greatness. From drumming to LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) to dancing and just people relaxing in the park, attending this weekly festival will put the biggest smile on your face. Visit Mount Royal Park and you'll find the best kind of people nestled around the George-Étienne Cartier Monument- trust me it's hard to miss.
TIP: Go in with an open mind and heart and embrace this special space- Tam Tam is a welcoming and inviting experience. Also, if wary of second hand smoke...maybe bring a gas mask.
A SPA DAY AT BOTA BOTA
It's always a great day to treat yourself! Located on a boat docked on the water at Old Port, Bota Bota is the ultimate spa. Bota Bota is the perfect cure for any gloomy days in the city. Rather than curling up in bed on a lazy day, enjoy a water curcuit, facial treatment or massage.
TIP: On a budget? Visit on a weekday on one of their 'layovers' before 11:00 AM and pay only $40 for a water circuit.
For all of my fellow university students, make sure to make the most out of your Maymester. Summer in the city is a treasure and staying for a May course is so worth it.