22 January, 2012

The smoked meat

The most popular place for eating the smoked meat
The famous food of Montreal: the poutine, the bagels and... the smoked meat. If you came to Montreal but you have never tasted one of these, then don't even say you have been here. This might sound a bit extreme. For some people, food is just a food, they don't know what the difference is, and some even skip a meal or two in a day. For Taiwanese, food is extremely important. If you have Taiwanese guests, you could have them live in bad conditions or take them to boring places but if you starved them, it would be unacceptable. Since we were kids, we've been taught that "nothing is more important than meals for human." and that the sequence of human's essential  needs is: food, clothing, housing, transportation, education, entertainment. (except for Japanese, for whom it's clothing, food, housing, transportation, education, entertainment.)

Schwartz's is always packed

It was huge, though I ordered only half.
The smoked meat is one of the famous edible in Montreal. You could find it in many restaurants. Even though I'm not a professional gourmet, when I want to eat, I could find a really good place where to get delicious food, and if there was a line up, I would be willing to wait. Schwartz's is legend in Montreal. You can not only find it on your guide book, but also you can hear about it from every Montrealer. The restaurant gives you so much meat it seems like it doesn't have to pay for it. And the waiters are very friendly, lively and humorous.

I'd like to say thank you to an enthusiastic stranger who told me where the restaurant was when I nearly got lost. He was really nice. While he knew I was going to Schwartz's, he gave me a suggestion: "if you don't like fat, order medium fat. Otherwise, you won't get to finish it"
The cola tastes carbon dioxide more than it in Taiwan.

Overall experience rating: 5.5/5

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on Urbanspoon
Address: 3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal, QC, H2W 1X9

19 January, 2012

Notre-Dame Basilica

A church is not such an atypical building for westerners but it is quite particular for an Asian girl like me. Of course we do have churches in Taiwan, but they are different from the churches which are so popular in this country. The Notre-Dame Basilica is a historic building where Celine Dion got married in 1994. Because of that, I paid an admission fee of CAD$5 to get inside the building. Inside it was surprisingly peaceful and quiet, and it didn't smell the same as in temples in Taiwan. A friend of mine even slept in the church, she said it was so comfortable that she couldn't help. Naturally she kept a praying position so that nobody would notice that she was sleeping.

A temple in Taiwan

17 January, 2012

The Jean-Talon market

One afternoon, my friends and I were supposed to join the daily school activity, which that day was the tour of Jean-Talon market. Unfortunately, while we were waiting in our school's common area, our guide left without our knowledge. Thus, we had to go there by ourselves. We took the metro to the Jean-Talon station and looked for the way to the market. Before we realized the market shouldn't have been that far, we had walked for about 30 minutes. We started asking passerby's at random. Despite the official language being French in Montreal, most people could speak English as well, so no problems for tourists coming here alone.

We finally found where the market was located. In fact, it was not as far as we previously thought. The market was quite large, and surprisingly clean. The reason I loved the place so much was that I could find a wide variety of cheap products as well as free samples of fruit, vegetables and cheese. There was no need to be shy, we could just try it before we paid.

16 January, 2012

Quebec city

My friends and I took a one day tour to Quebec city with a Chinese travel agency. On that day, the meeting time was at 7am. I had to get up around 5am because I lived far away from downtown, and there were only two buses per hour on weekend.

Montmorency falls

We took the tour bus for about three hours to Montmorency falls where we stayed for an hour and a half. We took the cable car to the top and looked around the beautiful falls. I liked the design of the park very much. If there was a park like this near my hometown, I'd certainly go there every weekend to exercise and to listen to the sound of the falls.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

In the afternoon, the tour bus took us to the old city. While I got off the bus, a huge building came into my view. It was breathtaking. I always wondered how many years it took to built these European style buildings. Before I came to Canada, I could only see these kinds of buildings on TV or I had to go to Tokyo Disney land. I felt I was really lucky to have seen these before I died.  After I took plenty of pictures of the street, I lingered away the whole afternoon in this amazing city (second only to Montreal ;).

14 January, 2012

The summer in Montreal

In spite of being from a tropical marine climate country, I felt the summer in Montreal was unspeakably hot. The outdoor temperature was occasionally up to more than 30 degrees and the sunlight was extremely strong as if I laid on the BBQ net. Likewise the indoor temperature was fierier than that, it always made me wonder if I was in an oven. Once, I tried to find the switch to turn on the air conditioner, and I found a button near the door of my room. Pressing it a few times, I thought it simply wasn't working, but it actually was the switch for the heat system. After that, I found out that there were neither an air conditioner nor a fan in the house. My mom told me that nobody stayed in the house in the summer because it was so hot that everybody was going out for a walk or to chat with the neighbors.

Even the metro stations, the metro cars and the buses had no air conditioner. Afterwards I understand why they don't. The summer is so short in Montreal, that it's not worth installing them.

People here grasped every chance to go out in the short summer. Girls dressed very sexy, with small vests and tight short pants being very common, and enjoyed to stay under the sun a lot to get a healthy suntan, whereas I put SPF 50 PA++ sun cream as much as I could to prevent my skin from becoming dark. In Taiwan, girls even carry the parasol (check the photo on the right) to avoid the sun shine. We have an idiom which says "A white complexion is powerful enough to hide three faults". The three faults include the face, the body shape and the bearing. Because of this idiom, you can find whitening ingredients added into most facial care products in Taiwan.

13 January, 2012

The Big O

Because of my stomachache I had to ground myself for a week. My friends were concerned about my sickness and kept sending messages to me. They wanted to know how serious my sickness was, so they brought white bread and came to visit me during that week. I was touched and I deeply appreciated their kindness. How lucky I was, I had no family in an unfamiliar place, but I had such good friends here.

When the weekend arrived, I asked my friends about their plans. I couldn't stand being prisoner of  my room anymore. Therefore, I joined them to the Olympic stadium, also nicknamed "The Big O".

I'm free!!!

11 January, 2012

My first visit to the doctor

At midnight, while I was sleeping, I was suddenly waken up by a strong discomfort in my stomach. Because of that I couldn't sleep at all. I waited until the sun came up. I looked into the student manual and found a hospital which was near my home stay. I took down some vocabulary words in English on a note, and grabbed my electronic dictionary and passport with me.

I couldn't put up with the pain in my stomach. Each step I took always made the pain worse, therefore I had to walk as slow as I could. After I filled out the form in the hospital, I finally saw a doctor. It was hard work for the doctor and for me as well. I couldn't understand the questions that the doctor asked and he couldn't determine what exactly my problem was. Luckily I had brought my electronic dictionary, so we used it to communicate. However, the doctor still was not sure what the problem was with my stomach. He told me to take an X-ray. I waited for three hours to do it. After that, I refused to do more medical checks because I had neither time nor money, so I asked the doctor to give me the pills and I paid a total of $270 in the end. 

For about a week, I've survived only on water and white bread, and the pain was so strong I couldn't stand straight...

No worries though, not my entire stay in Montreal was that bad!

10 January, 2012

Carlos & Pepes

We celebrated a friend's birthday at Carlos & Pepes. Ethnic cuisine is one of my favorite things. I ordered a shrimp combo and the restaurant offered me plenty of big shrimps, which made me extremely happy. There were four types of sauces. I couldn't help but to dip a shrimp in one of them, and it was quite juicy although a bit spicy at first. Overall, we were very pleased with the food, the ambiance and the service.

Carlos & Pepe's on Urbanspoon

09 January, 2012

Back to school

My first day in school. Apparently I was assigned to the basic level class. It wasn't an easy job to teach at that level. Most of time students didn't understand what the teachers were saying, so the teachers had to be very patient and use the easiest vocabulary to teach the students as they would teach to three year old children. They sometimes needed to play games to cheer the students up, to prevent them from getting bored or falling asleep.

In the morning class, students were mostly from Latin America, and surprisingly young. Some of them were still minors. This was the first time I met Latin-Americans in real life. My first impression of them was that they're passionate and dare to express their own idea. Because of them, the class never got boring. My teacher was a Pakistani woman who had a little daughter. She knew how to deal with the students. If they begged the teacher not to give them homework, she would have her way to convince them to do it.

Compared with Latin-Americans, I was totally autistic. I was very quiet in class. In Taiwan, students are not encouraged to speak. I only remember that we were always asked to be quiet by teachers. If the break time was put off because of some students who had questions, the said students would be accused of trying to stand out and isolated by their classmates. So don't be too surprised by any quiet Taiwanese student: we were simply educated this way. Of course, teenagers have a better education today than they had in my time.

Therefore, my task as a reborn student was "to speak more in the class".       

學校生活第一天. 很明顯地,我被分到了基礎班. 對任教基礎班的老師來說,教這個程度的學生不是件簡單的工作.大部份的時間,學生都聽不懂老師在講甚麼,所以,老師們得發揮最大的耐心,用最簡單的字彙,把學生們當三歲小孩來教.有時候,老師們得玩些遊戲讓學生們振作起來,避免他們倦怠,打瞌睡.

上午的課是會話課,班上學生大部分來自拉丁美洲. 年紀都很輕,有的甚至還未成年. 這是我第一次在現實生活中接觸拉丁美洲人,對他們的第一印象是,熱情奔放.勇於表達. 也因為他們,上課都不會無聊; 老師是巴基斯坦人,有個年紀很小的女兒,所以很了怎麼應付學生們. 特別是學生在跟老師討價還價說不要有作業的時候,老師也有她的方式說服他們寫作業.

跟拉丁同學比起來,我根本就像個自閉兒,每次都被老師說我很安靜.畢竟在台灣,學生沒有被鼓勵在課堂上踴躍發言,只記得每次都被要求"安靜",若因學生問了問題,導致下課時間被拖延,那個學生會被其他同學說愛表現或是被排斥. 所以,當你們在課堂上看到一些不太發言的台灣學生,請不要感到驚訝,因為我們就是這樣被教育的.當然,我相信,8年級生所受的教育應該比我那個時候要好一點.


08 January, 2012

Canadian coin

After I arrived in Montreal, I spent a whole week to recover from the jet lag. I started making new friends immediately. I met my first friend, Cindia, in school orientation. Although we had nearly the same age, she took care of me most of the time. She stayed in Vancouver for a while so she knew a bit about Canada. Initially, when I was shopping and I had to pay cash, she always helped me with the coins. At that time, I wasn't familiar with Canadian coin denominations, such as 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents and 1 and 2 dollars. The 1 and 10 cents are not only similar, but also the font is extremely small. I often had to ask the cashier for help before paying the bill. I ended up relying on the color to recognize the coin. We only have four coin denominations in Taiwan (1, 5, 10 and 50 dollars).

07 January, 2012

The school orientation

On the first day of school, every student had to get to school before 8 o'clock in the morning because we were going to do a qualification test which included reading, listening, writing and speaking. After the test, the school workers came to tell us about the policy of the school, and they also asked us to sign some papers that were all written in English. Of course I couldn't understand, but I signed.

In the afternoon, the school workers showed students around a few places near the school.

Basilique Notre-Dame 
(where Celine Dion got married!) 
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

Saint-Paul Street
Saint-Paul Street, Place Jacques-Cartier
Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History

05 January, 2012

The transportation in Montreal

Before starting school, my Spanish friend and home stay mate helped me get there by public transportation. We took the bus and transferred to the metro by using an OPUS card. A card costs around CAD$70 per month.

The transportation in Montreal is pretty convenient. However, there are a few things that I can't get used to. First of all, I learned that while I was taking the bus, I MUST keep awake to avoid missing the place where I need to get off because neither the marquee nor the announcer would let me know what the next stop is. The bus driver is only announcing when something happens, moreover he's only announcing in French. Furthermore, I was shocked when the metro, which had not reached a full stop at the station yet, opened its doors to let people out. It looked not only dangerous, but also quite unusual, even though it seemed it was business as usual for the locals. Finally, there is no washroom in any metro station. I always wondered what someone, especially someone drunk, should do if he was waiting for the metro and needed to unexpectedly liberate something in emergency. It explains a bit the smell of urine that we sometime find in the metro. (just kidding)

04 January, 2012

About the home stay

The home stay was arranged by my school (about which I'll tell you later). They asked me to fill a wish list, and they found a home stay that matched perfectly what I wanted:

 1. Whether they should have pets or kids? 
     No pet please. Not that I dislike them, but some are just uncontrollable.
 2. How far should the home stay be from the school? 
     Have to be less than 30 mins. Think about it, who would like to get up early in the winter?
 3. Do you have allergy to any food? 
     Spicy food and fish. I have a sensitive stomach and the fish... I'm too lazy to take the bone off. 
 4. Others?
     I hope the nationality of the home stay family would be Filipino or Vietnamese, so I can eat rice.

They found me a mom who doesn't like spicy food either, is Filipino, and has a husband and two kids. And it was taking exactly 30mins to get to school from my home stay.

My mom gave me a wide pink room (the largest in the house) with a huge closet. I noticed there were two single beds in the room, although she told me that I would be the only one to occupy it. While I was trying to unsuccessfully plug the cable line to connect the Internet, I suddenly felt something dark and heavy invading my heart. I couldn't even breathe. It made me depressed and homesick. When my mom told me to access the Internet with the Wi-Fi, my world became colorful immediately. Clearly I suffer from IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder).  


1. 他們可否有寵物或小孩?
2. 從寄宿家庭到學校的通車時間?
3. 對任何食物過敏?
    辣的食物和魚。 我的胃不好,不能吃辣,至於魚...我只是懶得挑刺而已 : p    
4. 其它?


 轟媽給我一間很寬的粉紅色房間(最大間的)跟一個很大的衣櫃,我注意到這房間有兩張單人床,然而轟媽跟我說這房間只會有我一人使用。 當我試著插上網路線想上網卻無法成功,我突然感到一股黑暗且沉重感覺襲向我,我甚至無法呼吸, 這感覺讓讓我陷入低潮.想家。 那之後,轟媽叫我連上無線網路,我的世界立刻變成彩色的。 顯然我有"網路依存症"。

03 January, 2012

The first day in Montreal

 I was kept prisoner into a small box with a pair of wings and flew halfway around the earth for about 16 hours. After I watched uncountable movies and tried to sleep intermittently, I finally arrived in Canada. I was very nervous and feared that the border service officer would ask me many questions, which I probably wouldn't be able to answer. Fortunately they didn't. 

我被關在一對有翅膀的箱子裡,花了約16小時飛過半個地球. 看遍數不清的電影,睡睡醒醒了無數次,終於抵達了加拿大. 過海關時,我真是既緊張又害怕他們會問我很多問題,很明顯的我根本不可能有辦法回答任何問題,好家在他們也沒問甚麼.

When I arrived to my home stay, my mom gave me a hug. Wow! It was a bit out of my range because Taiwanese are not used to hug strangers, but I remained silent. Now being abroad, I knew I had to get accustomed to their culture. I was very exhausted by the 12 hours time difference with Taiwan. It took me a week to recover from the jet lag. Although I was dreaming about becoming a flight attendant, I don't think I'm qualified for that job anymore. 

抵達寄宿家庭時,轟媽給我了個大大的擁抱. 哇! 這有點超過我的範圍,在台灣,我們沒有跟陌生人擁抱的習慣,但我並沒說甚麼. 因為我現在在別人的土地,我必須去習慣他們的文化.
12小時的時差令我疲憊不堪,這還讓我花了一個星期才調好它. 虧我還夢想當空服員,但我不認為我有本錢做這個工作.

02 January, 2012

Before coming to Montreal

When I was a university student, I had a dream: studying English in a foreign country. At that age, my dream was very simple, I just wanted to speak the "international language" fluently, hoping one day I would be capable of  helping anyone who traveled to my country and got lost on the street. At that time, if a foreigner walked towards me, my heart would start beating, my hands would start sweating and I would silently scream to myself "Please do not ask me any question because I'm not gonna understand what you're saying!".

After university, I started working. In the beginning of 2010, I suddenly realized it was time for me to do what I've always wanted to do, so I determinedly quit my job. I convinced my parents to let me leave them for a while. I only brought my passport, a one way plane ticket, two big luggages, one suitcase and tons of excitement with me. I began my abroad life without understanding any word of English on July 13. 2010.

Unknowingly, this also happened to be the 30th birthday of my future boyfriend.

當我還是大學生,我就有個夢:到國外學英文. 那時,我只希望能說一口流利的英文,有天我能幫助那些來到台灣旅遊卻迷路的外國人. 當時,只要我看到老外走向我,我就開始心跳加速,狂冒手汗,並在內心叫喊[拜託不要問我任何問題,我根本不可能聽懂你(妳)在講啥!]

大學畢業後開始工作. 2010年初,我突然意識到,是時候該做我一直以來都想做的事了,便毅然決然辭去了工作,並說服老杯老母允許他們的寶貝女兒離開他們一陣子. 完全不懂英文的我,只帶了本護照.一張單程機票,兩個大行李箱.一個手提行李跟極其興奮的心情,在2010年7月13日這天,開始了我在異國的生活.


01 January, 2012

The first snowman in my life

It's not the first time I see snow, but I've never made any snowman in my life. On the first day of the year 2012, it was only one degree outside, and I finally resolved myself to fix this. Actually, I made a snowoman as some acute observers may have noticed.

Some people like me always postpone something they want to do in the moment, always thinking that they  will have time to do it tomorrow. In fact, after having postponed their plan once, they rarely ever find the will to do it later. One day, when they think back, their memory is only filled with regrets. I've learned from my past mistakes, and one of my new year's resolution was to change this bad habit.

I could have started this blog a year ago when I arrived in Montreal. At that moment, everything that I had experienced was fresh for me. I can't imagine how much fun I've forgotten so far. But it's never too late to put down these invaluable memories in pictures and in writing. I'll try to remember the past as much as I can and share it with you through this blog.

這並不是我第一次看到雪,但我活了那麼久卻不曾堆過雪人. 在室外只有1度的2012年元旦,我終於決定彌補這個缺憾. 一些眼尖的格友或許會注意到,其實,我堆了個"母的雪人".

有些人像我一樣,總拖延自己當下想做的事情,老想著明天還有時間去做. 事實上,計畫被延過一次後,就很難再去執行它. 當某天他們想起,他們的記憶也只有後悔. 我從我過去的錯誤學到了這個,而我新年新希望之一就是要改掉這壞習慣.

早在一年前來到蒙特婁時,我就該開始這個部落格,那時,任何人.事.物對我來說都是非常新鮮的感受與體驗. 我不敢想像目前為止我忘掉了多少的趣事. 但,利用照片.文字記下這寶貴的記憶是永遠不嫌晚. 我將盡我最大的努力,試著回想過去的種種,經由這個部落格分享給大家.

New year's resolutions

The Tower of Knowledge

I started writing a blog in January 1st. 2012. A new year, a new beginning, I think everybody has new expectations for themselves. Despite how much you can achieve, having a dream means having hope. As opposed to someone who wishes to lose weight or earn a lot of money, my desire is to grow my brain. When I realize that I'm getting older, but my wisdom is not gaining proportionally to my age, it makes me panic. Some people buy brand products, fashion clothes, facial care products, do laser surgery or get a botox shot to build their self-confidence, I'd rather improve my brain and distribute my self-confidence from inside to outside.

My new year's resolutions are neither too numerous nor too difficult to attain. I just set up a few points, but each of those points are extremely important to me. I want:
  • to get over 90 points on the TOEFL test
  • to learn basic French
  • to read two books in English per month
  • to learn basic accounting (in English)
  • to continue this blog without interruption

2012.1.1開始我的Blog,新年新氣象,想必大家對自己都有新的期許,姑且不論會達成多少,有夢才有希望 。 比起減肥賺大錢,我對自己的期許是"增腦"。我光想到年紀越來越大,智慧卻沒跟著長進,就感到莫名的恐慌,比起某些人買名牌包.時髦衣服.保養品.打雷射.玻尿酸以建立出外在的自信,都比不上充實腦袋,由內而外散發出來的自信來的好。

  • 年底的TOEFL目標90分以上
  • 學會基礎法文會話
  • 每個月至少讀二本英文書
  • 學會基礎會計(英文)
  • 將這Blog持續下去