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To Move To Montreal or Not

Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
edited June 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey. I've just finished my undergrad (music, jazz performance). I'm about 30 grand Canadian in debt with student loans (government ones, no line of credit). The game plan was to get a job in Halifax indefinitely, as I'm from the Maritimes and I didn't really want to leave. BUT, an apartment has become open in Montreal for super cheap in a good location with good roomates who are all monster jazz musicians.

So there's really no reason for me not to go. I don't have a lease in Halifax or a job yet, I've only been here one day. I have a bit of money saved, and I don't have to start paying my student loans for a while. The big question is, how deadly is the language barrier? I took french for a while, and I'd really like to get it back up to snuff. I've kind of thought through all the pros, but if you have more pros and especially cons to add to this, go for it.

Halifax is not exactly a center of culture (sorry if there's any proud Haligonians here), and Montreal has some great private teachers and playing opportunities that simply don't exist here. But again, it's about can I find a decent paying full time job if I'm primarily an English speaker, as of right now.

And the last question is: What's the best way to learn a language on your own? I know enough to teach myself, I'd just need a structured method.

Cool guys, go nuts!

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    Iron WeaselIron Weasel Dillon! You son of a bitch!Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Come to Montreal! We've an awesome city with a pretty great music scene.

    As to the language question: this is Quebec, so French is very important. It's not impossible to find a job if you only function in English, but it won't be easy. I don't know what you mean when you say "decent-paying" but if you want to land a good job here, you'd be doing yourself a big favour by developing at least conversational French skills. You mentioned that you took French at some point, so at least you have somewhere to start.

    If you don't want to pay for classes and you're moving in with folks who speak French, one good way to improve your skills is to ask them to help you out by speaking French around you. Read French newspapers (if you don't want to spend money on a subscription or whatever, there are at least two free daily rags that you can pick up in the metro stations) and listen to French radio.

    Iron Weasel on
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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Hey. Decent paying means slightly above minimum wage, haha(which is what in Montreal, by the way?). Really I should have just put 'how hard is it to get any job', as I probably can't be picky with only a music degree.

    Hey Ashtray on
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    vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I live in Montreal, I've been here for two years. My French is terribad, because I haven't done much with it since I was in high school (a decade ago), and I've been super lazy about getting into some classes. Having decent French skills will make everything you do in Montreal easier, but it's not really required for day to day living in the more Anglo parts of town (i.e. the west half of the city). I managed to find a job with no real French language skills, but the work I do is fairly niche (Oracle DBA) and the company I work for does most of their business with English-speaking countries (our biggest clients are US, Canadian and South African govt. agencies). So I suspect my experience would be considered exceptional in that regard.

    As for teaching yourself French, it can be done but it'd be hard to do ahead of time. Without someone to converse with, you'll have great difficulty knowing for certain whether you're pronouncing things in an understandable fashion. Most Berlitz-style books/CDs/software/whatever are France French too, which can be very different from Quebecois French. If your roomies speak French that would be the quickest way to start learning: just speak French every day as much as you can, listen to other people speaking French, watch local French TV, read local French newspapers, etc.

    On the whole, the language barrier thing would probably be a little traumatic at first but you'll get over it. If things get desperate you can always get a soul-crushing English-only telemarketing job to pay the bills while you bone up on your French. Some of them aren't actually that bad, the ones doing surveys or customer satisfaction follow-up calls I mean. If you're serious about your music I think the downsides would be well worth it, since the Montreal music scene is probably one of the best places (if not the best) in Canada for you to be to build a music career.

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    Iron WeaselIron Weasel Dillon! You son of a bitch!Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    According to this site, the minimum wage in Qc is about $9.00/hr ($8.00 if you have a job where you earn tips). If you're willing to do retail/food service/labour-type jobs, then you can probably find something even with weak French skills. The suggestion above about telemarketing isn't bad, since there are many such companies based here. Just know that the language issue is very sensitive for many people in this province and some business owners worry that having employees who don't speak French will reflect badly on them. As you've already realized, you'll want to brush up your French asap.

    One more thing: for a lot of francophones, effort is as important as competence. What I mean by that is that you can often earn points with people simply by trying to speak French, as opposed to asking them if they speak English.

    Iron Weasel on
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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Thanks guys, sorry for the long delay I was away for a couple days (in Toronto, which is effing sweet and if Montreal is half as cool, then I'm am ok with that). I'm moving come July 1st, maybe earlier, as in this week. Thanks for the help, I'm very excited.

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    cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Christmas-Man!Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Ah, it seems like you've already made the choice to move. Misleading title, then :D This thread is more about learning French.

    Anyway, I'm a filthy American, so I can't help you here. But if it's a great opportunity for your musical career, then I'd say go for it and hope for the best. Just make sure you have backup/escape plans.

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    PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2009
    Do it.

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    TaGuelleTaGuelle Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Montreal is a great city, you should have a blast.

    If you're into blue grass at all, there are two bars that have open jams on Thursday's and Sunday's. Grumpy's near Crescent and Barfly on St. Laurent.

    TaGuelle on
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