Do I need to speak French?
French is the official language of Quebec, and it is a good idea to learn French if you choose to live here, in order to experience to the fullest extent all that the city has to offer.
However, Montreal is one of the most bilingual locations on Earth, and many current students arrived at the institute with little or no proficiency in French.
The relative popularity of English and French at the institute fluctuates over time. Currently, many students in the institute originate from non-French-speaking countries such as the US, China, Turkey and Iran, so everyone in the institute speaks English reasonably well, whereas French is a common language to a smaller subset.
Courses at the University of Montreal are taught in French, but it is possible to take some of your required courses in English at McGill or Concordia, which are a short bus ride away from University of Montreal campus. Even at University of Montreal, it is preferred that students who speak French poorly turn in their assignments and exams written in English and can ask the professor for an English version of the questions (which the professor almost always accepts to provide). Undergraduate students must pass a French proficiency exam but Master’s and PhD students need not do so.
Isn’t it cold in Montreal?
It’s true that Montreal is cold in the winter (and, in fact, very hot in the summer), but the city is well-adapted to function in spite of the weather. Montreal’s snow removal is incredibly fast and efficient. You will need to get a good coat, hat, gloves, and boots, but most foreign students don’t find that they mind the cold too much, which is not very different from other cities such as Boston or Toronto.
The climate also provides certain advantages. There is an ice skating lake within walking distance of the institute and good skiing (both downhill and cross country) within reasonable driving distance of Montreal. It’s easy to go sledding in one of Montreal’s many parks — just grab a glossy cardboard box out of a recycling bin on the street and tear off one of its sides.