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  • Mahla Sefati

My student life in Montreal

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

The places that give me energy and positive vibes

Photo: Mahla Sefati

ABOUT THE COVER PHOTO: “I love this country. Here, I found love. I have almost everything I was looking for, but you. And this is the hardest part. I left half of my heart at home. And the more I miss you, the more I realize how much I wish for technology to be more advanced so I could feel your hug through a video call. I know that the future is bright, and I am working very hard on it. Wish me luck”.

P.s: Mom, I know that the first second you see this, you are going to tell me that you don’t like this photo of yourself, lol. It is great. I love it.“

Sometimes, having a student life can be challenging. Many students I know often struggle to learn second and third languages. They have difficulties with the new culture and they have to work hard to cover their expenses. They left their families, friends, and countries behind all while trying to start a new journey and rebuild their lives.

It has been almost three years since I stepped off the airplane that landed at the Montreal airport. Since then, I have experienced lots of beautiful, fascinating, and love-infused moments. I also had many tough days where I had to put in much more of an effort. Through all this, I have found some safe havens around the city which could really cheer me up when I was down.

The colourful, lovely “Mount Royal” park

According to the DiscoveryBlog, this park was inaugurated in 1876, and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, an American landscape architect. He was also involved in other projects such as New York Central Park.

I can see the park every day through my apartment’s windows. Every season brings its own magic like the luscious greens in the summer. Most of all, I love fall. I am happier than ever because the most colourful season is here. Walking through the trails, and watching the beautiful scenes of fall captures both my eyes and heart. It reminds me to see the positive sides of life. Here are some spots in the park which I particularly like.

Beaver Lake:

If the weather allows, I often go there, with a picnic blanket, a book, a coffee mug, and something to eat. An article written for Host-me relates that this lovely lake is about 200 metres long and is shaped like a four-leaf clover. The surroundings of the lake are equipped for various recreational activities such as skating, sliding, tubing in the winter or packing a picnic lunch in summer. There is a pavilion, Cafe des Amis, that offers meals, salad and drinks. It was also considered as one the most innovative buildings in Montreal at the time with its corrugated roof and large windows.

Beaver Lake photo by Arameh Soltani

Nature of the Park photo by Mahla Sefati
Beaver Lake, photo by Mahla Sefati

Le belvedere du mont royal, photo by Arameh Soltani

Leonard Cohen photo by Arameh Soltani

Le belvédère du Mont-Royal:

You can get a pretty clear view of downtown, the buildings, and of course, Leonard Cohen’s portrait on the wall. I particularly like when there are a few puffy clouds in the sky, making a magical, clear view. Also, if you want to do a cardio workout, there are 256 steps that take you to the top.

Tower of Songs:

It is a lovely name for Leonard Cohen’s wall art because it pays homage to the lyrics in his song “Tower of Song”. According to MTL Blog, this piece of art was painted by Gene Pendon and El Mac. They worked with 13 assistant artists and 240 cans of colours to replicate a photograph taken by his daughter, Lorca Cohen.

“I was born like this, I had no choice

I was born with the gift of a golden voice

And twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond

They tied me to this table right here in the Tower of Song” -Leonard Cohen-


If you are a poutine lover, I’d suggest ordering some at Roasters. The first time, I was tired and gloomy. I was running out of energy, looking for a good place to grab something to eat, and guess what, I found one of the best places to order poutine downtown.

You will love your small feast within the warm, pleasant atmosphere of the restaurant. You will get your order in a very short time and you can watch your favourite sport on their big screens while enjoying your meal.

Poutine, photo by Mahla Sefati

Cafe Castel

I am talking about a cup of coffee plus a piece of fresh cake. Cafe Castel, an independent coffee shop at 1015 Sherbrooke west, is the perfect place to read, talk and enjoy a sip of coffee or tea alone or with friends. It is right off the street, so you might also enjoy the street atmosphere which I found great in the rainy weather. The sandwiches are delicious and the staff are friendly and welcoming.

Cafe Castel, photo by Mahla Sefati

Cafe Castel, photo by Mahla Sefati

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

Visiting there, you will get an opportunity to discover more than one hundred years of history and culture. This landmark is a jewel of the Québec Heritage. The Oratory's information page states that this universal church was founded in 1904, by Brother Andre. This place is now a destination for those who enjoy both architecture and nature.

Fontain, photo by Mahla Sefati

Saint joseph oratory, photo by Arameh Soltani

Garden the way of the cross photo by Mahla Sefati

Garden of the way of the cross:

If you have not ever been there, follow the sign to the east of the basilica next time you go. The oratory website states that there are fourteen stations with beautiful statues built by Louis Parent (1908-1982). After ten minutes of walking, you will reach a small but loving fountain. Je l’adore.

The secret of life

Small joys matter. They are somehow more important than the big ones. They are more frequent, easier to find or create. Exploring the city allowed me to discover a few favorite places that give me the inspiration and power I need to keep going. We can all create authentic moments even when we are wrestling with challenging moments and feelings of despair. So, Let's ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, and that's how the light gets in. “Leonard Cohen”

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