I am planning my first trip outside the U.S. this year. It has been one year since I have been outside the country and as you can tell, I am pretty stoked. Actually super duper uper bluper excited. I thought that my visa situation won’t let me leave the country and come back – but there are ways to make it work!
For international students on OPT! I’m not sure about other countries but Canada should not be too much of a problem. Just make sure you have all your documentations – passport, US visa, current I-20, all your previous I-20s, I-94, EAD card and an Employment Verification letter – which was so easy to get. Just get your employer to write a letter on company’s official letter head with all the details such as where you work, what you do, how many hours you work, etc.
Anyway, long story short, why Montreal? First of all, I have never been to Canada – it has always been on my list but I just never got the chance to go. It’s one of those places where it’s near yet so far. If I flew, I’d rather go to a further place, if I took a bus for a weekend trip, I’d rather go to NY or somewhere closer. However, I managed to get a long weekend (my first time off from work since I started) and I definitely wanted to not waste it – so Canada it is. However, volunteering at the hostel, I meet lots of travelers from all over the world including Canada. After talking to people from Vancouver, Montreal, and many other places in Canada I don’t remember the names of (:D), I decided that Montreal would be the best choice since it’s the closest big city and it’s not another English speaking city yet they speak English (ya know what I mean??). Also, if you remember from my previous posts, you’d remember my Belgian friend David who is living in Montreal – since I showed him around Boston (more like he knew what he wanted to do so I tagged along), he has agreed to show me his current city, Montreal! And on top of that, I haven’t traveled with my sister in ages and since she’ll be there with her friends, I’ll get to travel with them too!
Getting there: It’s fairly easy since you have a limited amount of options. Bus or plane. That’s it. Since I am a budget traveler, if I can go by land, I’ll go by land – I don’t mind sacrificing a few hours and comfort. So I have booked a bus ticket – also not hard to decide as there’s only one option – Greyhound. Many travelers that come to Boston have either come from Montreal or are leaving to Montreal so I’ve heard from that the buses are very reliable and pretty decent. I bought my bus ticket two weeks in advance so it came out to be around $128 but I think if you book it later, it can go up to $160. I was lucky to have checked beforehand and get it for a discounted price. The trip is supposed to take me 7+ hours. I’m taking an overnight bus so leaving at 11:50pm and getting there around 7am (only because I wanted to get there early and also I have an event to attend the night before in Boston)
So getting there should be pretty easy. I hope customs at the border goes pretty smoothly and that I get to sleep the entire way so I can be up and early on Thursday to meet up with my sister and her friends!
Where am I staying: I have booked my bed at Hostelling International Montreal (HI-Montreal Hostel). This is my third Hostelling International experience. I’ve stayed at the one in NY and I loved it. And I haven’t stayed at the one in Boston (since well.. I have my own bed) but volunteering there is amazing and I have heard many great things from guests. So I have high expectations for HI-Montreal as well. The main reason I like staying at HIs is that they have awesome activities. I am definitely looking forward to the activities they have planned there :)
I still have yet to plan my schedule and activities – but I have so many options to choose from thanks to Tourisme Montreal. They have been absolutely amazing at helping me plan my trip. After posting on their Facebook page that I’d be going to Montreal, they got in touch with me and sent me a list of things I’d be interested in. They also have an amazing blog so make sure to check that out :) Also, if I haven’t told you yet – my sister brought me back a new camera, Canon EOS 60D, as my graduationg gift from my parents and I am absolutely thrilled to be using it on this trip. Woohoo!
Check out this video below by Tourisme Montreal and get excited – for me! :D
Since I’m not posting everyday, you can follow my trip on my Twitter, @nananapark. I probably won’t have access to wifi everywhere but when I do, I’ll tweet! Also, follow me on my Instagram, nananapark.