Northward bound: Canada is underrated, under budget

When it comes to spring break destinations, it seems like an obvious choice to travel south to a warm resort. Cancun, Cabo and Miami are all popular spots for college students. If you’re from New Jersey, you are probably desperate to get away from the cold. Here, while spring has technically sprung, the temperatures are still sub-40 degrees and the winds are harsh. Every Rutgers student is yearning to strip off that winter jacket and replace it with shorts and a crop top. 

Here’s an underrated point of view: traveling north might be a better experience, for you and your bank account. Montreal, Quebec is one out of many reliable vacation spots that is perfect for college students for a multitude of reasons.

The Budget 

Being a “broke college student” is a common theme among the Rutgers population. Even while working 1 or 2 jobs, it can be difficult to pay for a vacation upward of $1,000 as a student. Cancun, Cabo and other beach resorts cost way more than an average Rutgers student can afford. 

Montreal, on the other hand, can split those costs in half. “For four nights, I ended up spending more money on food than I did on the apartment,” said Adisesh Yeragudi, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “It was very affordable on an average college student budget.” 

Split between four people, Yeragudi said he spent approximately $17 on housing per night and $20 in total for gas. 

“Because of the exchange rates from U.S. to Canadian dollars, Montreal offers a lot of experience for a little money. I got to enjoy culture, food and nightlife that was New York quality for Ohio prices,” said Timothy Nuber, a School of Engineering junior.

The Nightlife

One of the main reasons students travel to resorts in Mexico each year is the nightlife. With a drinking age of 18 years old, Mexico offers college students the sacred liberty of adulthood: happy hour. But people tend to forget that Canada, our other neighbor, also has a drinking age of 18. With this, there are plenty of cheaper bars, lounges and nightclubs to escape to over spring break in Montreal.

Some of the most lively and popular of these are located on the famous Saint Laurent Boulevard, a 6.8-mile-long avenue for food, drinks, partying, exploration and much more. While you may not be drinking pina coladas on a beach, Montreal’s nightlife scene is more than enough. 

“The Montreal nightlife is unreal, yet authentic,” Nuber said.

Specifically, Nuber said bars such as Les Foufounes Électriques and Bootlegger, L’Authentique were the most exciting. Bootlegger fuses together bar culture with Montreal’s culture, bringing French comedians to interact with the audience and perform live stand-up, while mimicking the style of the American 1920s. 

“Both experiences shared a sophisticated colorfulness unique to social life in Montreal,” he said.

The Culture

One of the most captivating aspects of Montreal is the culture. As Americans, we often assume that Canadian culture is no different from ours, aside from the constant cold and stereotypical politeness. Yet, traveling to Montreal is eye-opening. The remnants of French-colonized Canada are apparent and ingrained in the present culture, with French as the official language and societal standards that wildly contrast with American ones.

These cultural discrepancies leak into the tourist experience.

“Without a flood of white-privileged undergraduates to deal with every spring and summer, you can rest assured the clubs, bars and restaurants you go to are the same ones even the most seasoned locals do. Instead of catering to the interests of tourists, the nightlife in Montreal is infused with the avant-garde tastes of the city folk,” Nuber said.

So, next time you are deciding where to go for spring break, don’t rule out or dismiss our northern neighbor. Canada has many overlooked experiences to offer. 

“Where else could I find a comedy routine about the experiences of Black Canadians just blocks away from a punk rock mosh pit ringed by old arcade games — all while drinking the same eight whiskey sours?” Nuber said.

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