On the shores of the river I sat, listening to the gentle, encouraging pats the water gave to the sturdy rocks beneath my feet. The setting sun, ever fading yet ever so graceful and warm, cast a bright streak of light across the surface of the St. Laurent. The river spread and stretched before me, far, far into a seemingly endless horizon framed by grey silhouettes of trees.
A plane slowly descended, making its final approach into Dorval. Where did it come from? How many new arrivals was it carrying in its metal belly? Three years ago to this day, a scared yet excited boy approached Montreal, gazed out the little window and admired the vast open spaces of this then unchartered land. How beautiful and wonderful everything looked, especially under the gilded rays of the evening sun. Fast forward to today, to the shores of the same mighty river, I sat quietly and admired planes land and the free flight of seagulls overhead. Crickets sang while wild weed danced naturally in the breeze.
I can still remember… how I stepped off the plane and onto Canadian soil for the first time three years to the day. I had no home, just a week’s reservation at a hostel downtown. I knew no one, except the names of professors and some students I was about to meet. I was a foreigner in a foreign land, with two suitcases, a backpack and dreams of a whole new life in a whole new world.
I came for my studies, and three years on, I’m still here. The friendships I have built up, the contacts and steady progress I have made in the stimulating environment that is McGill, the cat I have adopted… they are just some of the reasons for the unique sense of belonging and for the happy life I have managed to find here.
The beautiful places I have visited, the many stories and history of this land I have slowly learned to discover and cherish, the many moving sunsets I have witnessed and which continue to touch me so… they all form part of the reason why I proudly and willingly call this place “home”.
Whether you are just about to embark on your first trip to Canada or whether you are driven mad by deadlines or the pressures of academic life, I hope you will always time a quiet moment to appreciate the beauty, diversity and richness of life this country has to offer.