Post by William MacDonald
I immigrated to Canada about three years ago. I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY in a residential area called Strathmore. It was a nice neighborhood; homeland of Onondaga Park, Syracuse’s Historic Preservation District.
I moved from Strathmore to attend Syracuse University, majoring in Broadcast Journalism. I was very happy with my university experience but if there was anything that journalism had taught me, it was that I needed some real life experience too. And, to gain it, I would have to step outside my Syracustic comfort zone.
Okay, so I didn’t venture off to India or anything, but come on, I had been living in Syracuse all my life! And, I knew that Canada had cities like Toronto and Montreal, which embraced a great variety of cultures that I could surround myself with.
Deciding between Montreal and Toronto was tough. Both cities had a lot to offer. But I was very attracted to the idea of Montreal- a bilingual city. French Canadian culture and politics fascinated me and I thought it would be good to learn a new language.
I figured the best way to integrate myself was to apply to school. So I applied for a student visa at College Platon, a language school in the city’s Plateau area, in order to learn French. A few months later, I got my acceptance and it was finally time to say goodbye to Syracuse.
I did quite a bit of traveling back and forth from Syracuse to Montreal, trying to find an apartment near school. It was a great area, surrounded by trendy bars, shops, restaurants and a wonderful community of local artists. What a change from my home town! It was every bit as cool as New York City, but so much more intimate. I was in love.
I found myself a small studio apartment on St. Viateur Street (just across the street from the best bagel shop in the world). Once I was settled in, the job search began. I desperately needed a part-time job while I was going to school. This was a bit tricky though, considering the language barrier. The Canadian business directory became my new form of literature. I called just about every broadcasting, media, and newspaper outlet I could find, over a month’s span. I attended copious interviews, until finally, I got hired!
It was a part-time job as a technical writer for a pharmaceutical company. Not that I had much experience, but they needed English writers and I was willing to do anything at that point.
I became very good friends with one of my work colleagues and she helped me improve my French. She was like my own personal tour guide, introducing me to all the best kept secrets of the city. We went to great local restaurants; the Jean Talon market; theatre productions; live music shows; jazz clubs…. Needless to say, I fell madly in love with this girl and after six months, we moved in together.
After about two years of living together, I decided to propose, and lucky for me, she said “yes”. I was thrilled. By this point, I was done school and had started working as a Personality Afternoon Host for AM Talk Radio station, CJAD. I am currently still working at the station. My wife is now a Senior Medical Writer and Research Assistant for another pharmaceutical company.
Montreal has become my home.