Landing at the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport for the first time is an emotional moment for an international student: You are landing in the country where you will hopefully spend the years that will follow and you see for the first time how Canada looks like. At the same time you are tired from the long flight, and you hope you will get your study permit smoothly, find a house, get on well with the professors and the fellows…
The second time you land at the Montreal Airport, when you are about to begin the second year, should be different: no study permit to get, no need to struggle with city maps, no unexpected surprises, and maybe even a busy schedule starting the following day.
And instead… something happens. That stomachache you had last year while landing… remember? It’s here again. You recognize as familiar acquaintances the Stadium, Mount Royal and the Saint-Joseph’s Oratory, but once again, you feel like a newcomer when you see the skyscrapers in downtown, that unavoidably make you think “I’m in North America, now“. You land, everything goes smoothly, and you finally get on a bus, with your two big pieces of luggage plus a bag… going home.
Then it is time for light, useless thoughts. The thoughts you allow your mind to have, when you are not busy. You notice the combination of English and French, and you wonder in what language you used to say hi (or bonsoir?) to the driver. You observe the people getting on the bus, and you fantasize about their everyday life, more or less the same everyday life you are about to join, again. You hear the announcements of the bus stops, and if, on the one hand, you welcome them as familiar, on the other hand, you can’t help smiling at some names you find funny, just like last year, when you heard them for the first time.
You inevitably start wondering where you belong, where your home is, why you have ended up calling home every place where you happen to spend the night, even hostels, or friends’ houses. And you wonder if you really need to define a place that is home for you, and you eventually wish everyone could call home the whole world. But you are too tired to think about this idea and its complex, multifaceted implications. You know everything will become spontaneous, again. Besides, it is time to get off. Merci d’avoir voyagé avec la STM.
Banner Photo by McGill Blogger @aliceintheanthropocene // personal photo