How Far Will You Go?

Concordia students share the lengths they have gone to attend the year’s biggest concerts.

This summer, pop superstars took the world by storm by concurrently embarking on international tours. With Taylor Swift and The Weeknd breaking records every week, their concerts have been flooding social media feeds for months.

However, none of these tours included any stops in Montreal. For Concordia students, this meant catching these shows would have been impossible without travelling considerably long distances. The Concordian spoke with some of the students who went the extra mile (thousands, even) to see these shows and asked about their experiences.

7000 kilometres for Harry Styles

After Harry Styles’ 2021 Montreal show was cancelled, second-year psychology student Samantha Vizzi decided she had finally had enough: “I took this opportunity to see him as many times as I could,” Vizzi said. Since last summer, she has put in 27 hours and 7700 kilometres of travel by bus, train, and flight to catch Love on Tour three times. Harry Styles waved at her on her birthday during his New York show, and she attended the tour’s final show in Italy.

Maria Luisa Velez, a second-year communications student, also caught Love on Tour last year in New York, flying in from Colombia. She explains that sometimes, travelling for a show is the easier solution: “They don’t do tours there [certain cities] or they only have a few dates available, which makes it harder to get tickets.”

5,500 kilometres for Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE World Tour

Alexandre Jevans Silva —also in his second year in communications— credits his home country France with helping him secure tickets to see Beyoncé in Paris: “I would not have been able to get Club Renaissance tickets anywhere else” In France, Ticketmaster uses a first-come, first-serve system instead of verified fan presales. His €500 seats in Paris cost $1000 CAD in Toronto. He especially cherishes having made the trip home due to the “special feeling of wanting to see your city represent and be the loudest” (or for Beyoncé, the quietest).

The Eras Tour: turning dreams into reality

Daniela Orrego-Grosso, a first-year economics student, is seeing Taylor Swift in Toronto next fall alongside her cousin, who is joining her all the way from Peru. The two share childhood memories of listening to Swift’s albums and dancing together. “My cousin didn’t hesitate to come, even if it meant lots of paperwork to get a Canadian Visa.”

For these students, travelling was not an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to create more memories beyond the shows.

Student Life

Your summer 2022 budget travel guide

 Here are a few tips, tricks, and resources to make your summer a memorable and adventurous one!

Not sure what you’re going to do with your summer? We’ve compiled some cheap options and resources that you can use this summer that are student discount friendly.

Travelling may be difficult with COVID-19 restrictions, so all of the destinations listed are open to vaccinated travellers leaving from Canada as of April 14.

But first, here are the tools you will need to find the best prices for accommodation, flights, and transportation.



To find the cheapest flight on any airline to any destination, sites like FlightHub and KAYAK are the places to go. Some trips may also have special call-in prices that could be lower than what other sites may estimate. Just remember that these are third-party agencies, so getting reimbursed for a cancelled trip may prove more difficult.



Finding a place to stay depends on the budget of the traveller. For those feeling adventurous or on an extreme budget, the website Couchsurfing allows travellers to stay on a local’s couch completely free.

If that idea is a little intimidating, hostels are also a great option to meet other travellers. Hostelworld is the one-stop site with millions of reviews, and finding a hostel in any city with it is a breeze.

If you prefer privacy, Airbnb or Trivago are also great options for private accommodation like hotels or apartments, at a premium. Although, depending on the size of your group, Airbnb may end up costing much less than a hostel stay.



Depending on where you decide to go, public transit and walking is always the cheapest option, but if you have to hop on a train or want to rent a car, here are some great resources: HappyRail (Europe), Eurail (Europe), and KAYAK (global).

It’s also important to remember that Uber is not global, and if you’re somewhere where taking a cab is a consideration, it’s important to research average prices beforehand — don’t let yourself be the tourist that pays triple what they should. Also, remember city taxis are not always safe at each destination. A quick Reddit search should help you learn from other tourists and even some locals.

With gas prices being at an all-time high, the classic summer road trip may not be the cheapest option. Instead, check out train prices for super cheap round-trip prices this summer:

(prices vary by date of departure) 


Montreal to Ottawa: $74+

Montreal to Quebec City: $76+

Montreal to Toronto: $98+


For those wanting to catch some rays this summer, here are plenty of cheap flights to beaches to choose from:

All prices listed were found using Flighthub for the months of May, June and July.


Miami, USA: $350+

With plenty of beaches to choose from, Miami is a great city to explore this summer with its vibrant nightlife. You can grab a room in a hostel for as low as $25+/night.


Cancún, Mexico: $500+

Remember to pack your sunscreen when you go, because the summer heat in Cancun stays around 30 degrees. Even though the heat will get to you, you won’t have to sweat the cost with hostels being as low as $9+ a night.


Montego Bay, Jamaica: $500+

The white sand beaches and crisp blue waters of Montego Bay are a great place to spend your summer lounging around or exploring. Hostels start at $25+/night.


Guatemala City, Guatemala: $500+

Guatemala City has a mix of great food, jungle temples, secret coves, and colourful neighbourhoods for you to explore this summer for cheap with an average cost of $39+/day including hostels priced at $10+/night.


San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica: $600+

Costa Rica offers plenty to do, whether you want to sit and lounge the whole trip or hike up an active volcano. Both San Jose and Liberia have hostels priced at $13+/night.


Bogotá, Colombia: $650+

If you want to have a mix of city and jungle, Bogotá is the place for you. With plenty of historic sites and culture to experience, there will never be a dull moment on your trip. Hostels are cheap starting at $5+/night.


Belize City, Belize: $750+

If you’re looking to catch some waves and surf this summer, Belize may be the destination for you. The city has an array of activities to choose from, from exploring caves to whitewater rafting — it’s perfect for the active traveller. With hostels starting at $35+/ night, this destination is the most expensive option.


Leaving the tropics, here are some cheap flights to Europe where you could either choose to stay or grab a cheap train or flight with Ryanair or easyJet to anywhere from North Africa to the Middle East and Asia.


Dublin, Ireland: $550+

This summer you can experience the vibrant Irish nightlife or explore medieval castles and the beautiful landscapes featured in shows like Game of Thrones. Hostels start at $28+/night and one way flights out of the country for as low as $22+.


Lisbon, Portugal: $700+

A beautiful city to explore on foot, Lisbon offers travellers a perfect European experience for cheap. Hostels start at $18+/night and flights to other cities start at $41+.


Paris, France: $700+

The daily cost of living in Paris makes this one of the most expensive destinations on the list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to travel to on a budget. Parisian nightlife and art make the city a great destination for those who want to gain some European culture this summer. Hostels start at $26+/ night, and this is a great city to travel from with flights out of the country as low as $12+.


The world is back open for you to explore after the last two years of COVID-19, so take advantage of some cheap destinations this summer and go somewhere new!

It’s important to remember that you do not need to have a lot of money to explore the world. Just because you are on a budget does not mean you have to settle for a staycation this summer!

Student Life

Certainty? Never heard of her

Reflections on preparing for exchange in lockdown

I’m about to become insufferable. In a few days, I’m going to leave Montreal for Amsterdam, where I’ll be doing a semester at Vrije Universiteit (I hope to learn many things while I’m away, one being how to pronounce the name of my school).

As I’ve been so cautiously warned, my experiences studying abroad will become the incubator for all upcoming conversation topics. So naturally, I’m incredibly excited for this adventure and grateful to have access to such an amazing opportunity.

With the fifth wave in full swing, McGill canceling and reinstating their exchange program, and the general anxiety that comes with living through a pandemic, I’ve been holding my breath pretty much since I applied, hoping that I get to embark on this journey.

While Concordia International has assured students that they will still send them abroad despite the lockdown, the university encouraged us to continuously check in with our host countries’ protocols and weigh the risk of COVID-19 to make our decisions about whether to go accordingly.

Although the Netherlands currently has many cases, I’ve decided to continue with my plans.

Life there might not be exactly how I imagined it, but this is my only chance to study abroad if I want to graduate when I had hoped to. The pandemic is here to stay, so I’m going to learn to live with it and make the most of my experiences.

Since I need a negative COVID-19 test to enter the Netherlands, I’ve been practically quarantining two weeks leading up to my flight, hoping that my family members and I manage to avoid getting sick when Omicron is ravaging the city. It’s stressful because as much as I can avoid leaving my house, I know that this part of the journey is out of my control.

I’ve been finding it hard to limit my contact with friends and family that I know I’m not going to see for a while, and minimizing my time in stores picking up last minute pre-trip necessities.

Every time I do something semi-COVID risky, my whole trip abroad flashes before my eyes (even when I know that realistically, I’ll still be able to go, I’ll just be missing classes and have to change my flight — a doable but logistical nightmare).

While waiting and packing, I’ve been constantly monitoring the Netherlands’ COVID-19 protocols to make sure that I’m still allowed to enter the country. Since they are abiding by the EU travel ban, as of now, as long as I’m fully vaccinated, I’m allowed to fly in. On Jan. 20, however, when I was doing my routine browsing of travel restrictions, I was frustrated to see that they had just implemented a 10-day quarantine for people arriving from Canada.

Up until that point, I was permitted to enter the country and live freely but carefully upon my arrival, allowing me to take care of all the logistical matters (banking, cell phone plans, bike rentals, etc.) before classes start.

Not to mention, it wouldn’t leave me cooped up in a brand-new city when all I want to do is explore.

But hey, if I get there, I’ll be thrilled. A few days in isolation are definitely worth it for four months studying in Amsterdam.

While I was in the process of writing this, yet another change was made to the requirements for entering the Netherlands — boosted individuals don’t have to quarantine.

Annoyingly enough, at the time, this information was only available in Dutch, but luckily, my school forwarded us a translation.

This is a perfect example of the flip-flopping of expectations that I’ve been experiencing, though this time, it’s going in my favour! I’m really happy, but am also just waiting for another thing to be thrown in my way before I board that plane.

Still, while this lockdown has made nearly everything uncertain, what’s unwavering is my determination to make the best out of whatever comes my way. I know it’s cheesy, but the Dutch are known for their cheese anyways!

Update: Talia did make it to the Netherlands, and is now enjoying her time with her British flatmates. 🙂


Graphic by James Fay


Winter exchange programs resume: McGill students express their thoughts on exchange programs on their reinstatement

McGill students share their frustration after the university reinstated their exchange program after cancelling it two weeks prior.

On Oct. 5, McGill University cancelled its student exchanges for the Winter 2022 semester due to the Canadian government’s global travel advisory, which advised Canadians to “Avoid non-essential travel” amid ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in an email sent to students on Oct. 22, McGill announced the possibility of resuming exchanges for the winter semester due to the removal of the global travel advisory. In light of this news, many McGill students expressed their frustration with the university’s decision to cancel exchanges abroad for the third time, while Concordia University’s exchange program operated throughout the pandemic.

“Why can’t McGill logistically deal with this, when there is a school right down the street that’s doing it and has been doing it throughout this pandemic?” asked Max Garcia, a third-year geography student at McGill.

Discouraged and frustrated, Garcia took it upon himself to start a petition demanding a clear answer from the university.

After reaching 500 signatures, Garcia contacted the university and met with Fabrice Labeau, the deputy provost of student life and learning at McGill University, to further discuss how the cancellation affected students’ academic plans.

“People planned their lives around this. I took a course last winter in preparation for the exchange because it is a required thing that only happens in the winter, and I was supposed to take it this year. It’s things like that that [Labeau] just wasn’t getting,” said Garcia.

With Global Affairs Canada lifting the worldwide travel advisory for fully vaccinated Canadians, McGill is currently working with host universities to determine whether reinstatement of the Winter 2022 exchanges will be possible for some students. 

But Madison Gordon, a third-year psychology major at McGill, shares the same frustration as Labeau.

“McGill was too quick to cancel the exchange and not look ahead at what the consequences would be. While they likely were not aware of when the global travel advisory would be lifted, I think that reinstating it after cancelling it was just a slap in the face, especially after many cancelled their accommodations [and] flights.”

The cancellation and reinstatement of the exchange program was a disruption to many other students. McGill stated in their email that exchanges actually happening are not guaranteed; however, the university is working with students and partner universities to ensure students proceed with their exchanges.

“It’s very possible that the host universities will have given away our spots to other international students. It’s not even a guarantee that I’m going to be able to go,” said Allie Fishman, a third-year management student.

All three students have stated that going on exchange is a personal choice, and a risk they are willing to take despite the pandemic.

“I just think it was kind of strange that McGill was making that decision on my behalf. When you know, there are already international students that come to McGill,” said Fishman.

According to Téo L. Blackburn, director of Concordia International, which represents the university in partnerships with over 180 educational facilities, said their team talked a lot about making a distinction between allowing exchanges and promoting them.

“It’s important that everybody understands that we weren’t recommending that you go on exchange. We are allowing you to go on exchange and making sure that if you were going on exchange, you are well informed, and you understood that we were there in case something happened,” Blackburn said.

Though McGill and UQAM based their decision on the Canadian Government’s global travel advisory recommendations, the Concordia International team decided to continue exchanges to give students the freedom of choice.  

“I don’t know that I personally would have gone on exchange during COVID, and I know some of my international leaders and officers may not, and others may have, and that’s personal to them,” said Blackburn. “It’s personal to the students who do end up going.”


Photo collage by Kit Mergaert


The U.S./Canada land border is re-opening: Here’s what that means

Some hopeful travelers say that the opportunity to cross the U.S./Canada land border should have happened a while ago

The world’s longest undefended land border will re-open to fully vaccinated Canadians for non-essential travel on Nov. 8.

The land border between Canada and the United States first closed on March 20, 2020. After 19 months, those with American friends and family or those just looking to get some cross-border shopping done will now be able to cross the land border.

The news was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Breanna Sherman, 23, normally visits her family in Florida once a year for the holidays, but border closures have barred her from doing so.

“This December, it will have been two years since we last saw them,” said Sherman.

Among the family who Sherman has missed is her cousin’s newborn daughter, born in May 2020, which the pandemic has kept her from meeting.

“I hoped I would see her in December of 2020, but that didn’t happen,” said Sherman. “When I eventually meet her now, she’ll be one and a half, not even a baby anymore, which is sad.”

“It will be fun to not only be in Florida for the first time in two years, but also continue that tradition of driving and sitting in the car with my family for two days.”

Michelle Lam, 22, says that although she’s enthusiastic about visiting the U.S. again, the lineups she expects at the border are worrying.

“I feel like it’s going to be chaos at the border,” said Lam. “I’m kind of nervous about it.”

While air travel into the United States has remained open to Canadians with proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered three days before they travel, some feel that driving is a more affordable and easier alternative.

“Not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford to fly. It’s just more accessible to everyone that wants to travel,” said Sherman.

Lam shares Sherman’s sentiment, saying “I feel very safe travelling by land, because it’s me and my car driving across the border as opposed to flying in the States, where I have to go through an airport and sit in a tube with however many people for X amount of hours.”

Before travellers get ready to hop over the border for a weekend, there are a few details to pay attention to.

All travellers, whether coming in by land, sea, or air, must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the United States and are required to show their proof of vaccination.

After speculation, the United States confirmed that travelers with  a combination of either FDA-approved doses, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen, or those approved by the World Health Organization, which include AstraZeneca, are considered fully vaccinated.

Travelers arriving by land or sea — that is by car, bus, boat, ferry or train — from the United States must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours of their expected arrival into Canada.

The news of the re-opening did not come without criticism from hopeful travelers.

“It really makes no sense to me that it’s taken the U.S. this long to open the border,” said Sherman. “Not only are our vaccination rates way higher, but they could have just asked for proof of vaccination and a recently negative Covid test.”

The Canadian government reopened its land border to U.S. travelers in early August. As it currently stands, 74 per cent of Canadians are considered fully vaccinated, compared to 57 per cent of Americans.

Lily Cowper is a dual-citizen of the U.S. and Canada. She has flown to Florida and Virginia twice to visit her family since May 2021. Her travels did not come without complications.

“Everytime I went, there was so much drama,” said Cowper.

Cowper said that the cost and requirements for COVID-19 tests made visiting her family in the U.S. a cyclical headache.

“Every time I went back and forth, I had to pay hundreds of dollars extra and had to change my flight,” Cowper explained.

Cowper and her boyfriend went to visit her family in Virginia in September. After taking multiple tests to ensure they received results in time for their return flight to Canada, the test that did come on time contained a lab error. As a result, they were turned away from their flight.

Cowper says that she and her boyfriend each paid the equivalent of $300 CAD to receive a last-minute airport test to re-enter Canada.

“I’m happy that they’re finally opening up [the land border] and I hope they drop the testing requirement,” said Cowper.

The option to cross the land border into the U.S. without proof of a negative COVID-19 test is a cost-effective decision that Cowper says should have happened a while ago.

“It’s about time. Why are we constantly living in the past if we’re vaccinated?”

For Cowper, the opportunity to get in her car and drive to the U.S. could not come sooner. She says that the re-introduction of a more simplified way of travelling from one country to another is necessary.

“This whole two years has been so complicated, the rules are always changing, they don’t make sense,” Cowper added. “All I want to do is visit my family.”


Graphic by James Fay

What’s the Consensus: Is it okay to travel for leisure during the pandemic?

How do we collectively feel about non-essential travel during the pandemic?

We’ve all heard these words at one point or another in the last 18 months: “I can’t wait to travel again!” Fair comment, if you’re someone who enjoyed jet-setting prior to March of 2020. I think we can all agree that, since the onset of the pandemic, there have been good excuses for travel: family emergencies, certain work obligations, and medical procedures, to name a few. What has been more contentious is whether or not any of us should be travelling just for the sake of leisure.

Welcome to What’s the Consensus?, where, for the next eight months, on a bi-weekly basis, I’ll be unpacking divisive issues to figure out what the consensus is amongst Concordians.

This week, I want to know how you feel about traveling for leisure during the pandemic. As with anything divisive, there is a grey area. Perhaps you think that traveling is fair game, as long as the traveller is fully vaccinated. Perhaps you think that traveling within Canada is acceptable, but crossing the border is taking it too far. Maybe you haven’t seen any of your family or friends in a long time, and don’t think anyone else should have that luxury either. There are no wrong answers, but I want to know your answer.

So, what’s the consensus?

Click here to cast your vote:


The results from each poll will be published in the following edition.



Feature graphic by James Fay


Student Life

Canada’s costly new mandatory quarantine unfairly punishes international students

Canada’s latest travel restrictions will incur exorbitant costs for those with student visas

Following a slew of winter vacationers to the Caribbean and Mexico, new regulations for passengers entering Canada have been enforced in an effort to discourage non-essential travel.

In effect since Jan. 30, the new restrictions include a suspension of flights to some sunny destinations enforced through April 30, as well mandatory COVID PCR testing at airports for returning travellers. But most notably, mandatory three-day quarantines at government-approved hotels, with packages that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says could cost upwards of $2,000 per returning passenger, have been the subject of complaint.

Among the chatter from Canadian vacationers who have expressed disdain for the new regulations, international students have begun to voice concerns about the financial and logistical impacts these travel restrictions will bear on their plans to return to Canada.

In multiple public posts to Concordia University’s subreddit, international students wonder whether those with student visas may be exempt. One user commented, “[$2,000] equals the tuition of a whole semester for a Quebec resident at Concordia. If they would [implement] this, why [issue] new study permits to international students?”

Currently, Concordia’s website lists international student tuition fees as ranging between $21,720 to $28,995 for one academic year. Given that Canadian citizens were responsible for the majority of non-essential travel that inspired these restrictions, legitimate concerns are being raised over the inequities in its effects on international students.

Conversely, since Canadian universities such as Concordia stand to profit broadly from international tuition fees (specifically nearly $6 billion in annual revenue for Canadian universities and nearly $22 billion in expanded economic contributions), candid discussions around the equitable handling of returning international students must be had.

In another Reddit post, one anonymous student remarked, “Concordia has definitely failed us, especially international students as they said last year that we could all go home and that they would adjust consequently…” Concordia and universities across Canada did, in fact, reassure international students flexibility as they collectively navigated distance learning in the pandemic.

However, the latest Canadian travel measures do not exempt international students from the $2,000 mandatory quarantine, which is evidence of universities’ negligence in advocating for their international students.

It is important to note that international students are not asking to break public health guidelines. Rather, given that international students are ineligible for emergency financial support like the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the costly mandatory quarantines exacerbate the already exorbitant costs they face. One anonymous student remarked, “That’s crazy. That’s the equivalent of four months of my rent.” Currently, robust measures to provide equitable travel guidelines for international students are still needed.

Concordia’s international students information page touts Montreal as the “best student city in North America.” With Canada’s failure to consider the unfair impacts on returning international students, Concordia’s claim that Montreal is an “affordable, student-friendly city” appears to leave out international students amidst a global pandemic.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab


Thousands of Canadians vacationed in the Caribbean amid second wave of COVID-19



Non-essential flights to Mexico and the Caribbean will be suspended from Jan. 31 until April 30, Trudeau announced on Friday in response to the high volume of travel over the holiday season. 

All passengers will now have to take a mandatory PCR COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada. They must self-quarantine for three days in a designated hotel before the test results are known—a procedure that may cost “more than $2,000” per traveller according to the prime minister. 

Until May, only Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver airports will service international flights. Canadian airlines such as WestJet, Air Canada, Sunwing, and Air Transat have all agreed to suspend their vacation-bound flights to further limit non-essential travel in the coming months.


Since October, Canadian airlines have completed over 1,500 flights between Canada and tropical vacation destinations. Montreal’s Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport alone operated more than 180 flights to and from Cancun, Mexico, over the same period.

While Canadians are advised to avoid travelling outside the country for non-essential purposes, there is no official ban that would prevent one from doing so. Travellers are not breaking any law if they self-isolate for two weeks immediately after returning from their non-essential trip.

On Jan. 2, Canadian airports registered over 50 flights between sunny destinations including Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. That same day, Canada witnessed 10,209 new COVID-19 cases, an all-time high since the start of the pandemic.

As a result, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned potential travellers that more severe travel restrictions may come into effect in the near future, without advance notice. Canadians are expected to follow Trudeau’s advice regarding travel before the government is forced to take more extreme measures.

“Let me be very clear: Nobody should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve got one planned, cancel it – and don’t book a trip for spring break. We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months, and get through to the spring in the best shape possible,” Trudeau tweeted on Friday.

As of Jan. 7, all passengers over the age of five who are flying into Canada must present a negative COVID-19 test to be allowed to board the flight. The negative result will only be considered valid if the test was taken within 72 hours before boarding the flight.

Gabriel Martinica, a second-year Computer Science student at Concordia University, returned to Canada on Jan. 11 for the winter term. The journey from his home country of Nicaragua included a layover at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where Martinica encountered a concerning situation.

“At the airport, I saw many people who weren’t wearing a mask or following social distancing. The restaurants were open, and the tables were positioned way too close together. It was a pretty scary experience since the airport was so crowded and travellers acted as if the pandemic didn’t exist in the U.S.,” said Martinica.

In fact, the United States currently has 9.8 million active COVID-19 cases, the highest number in the entire world. Moreover, the U.S. has over 75,000 total recorded cases per one million people, while its northern neighbour has around 21,000.

Martinica added, “I was happy to finally arrive in Montreal, because there is a noticeable difference. The immigration officer immediately checked for my COVID test, asked how I was planning to isolate myself and get groceries for two weeks, and he warned me about potential fines.”

Any traveller who does not self-isolate upon entering Canada may receive a fine of up to $750,000 and/or be imprisoned for six months. Two days into the quarantine period, Martinica received a phone call from the Canadian government, which was to make sure the self-isolation process was being thoroughly completed.

Canada seems to have more control over the pandemic and takes it more seriously,” the international student concluded.

Nevertheless, in the first nine days of 2021, over 30 international flights that landed in Toronto had a passenger who ended up contracting the coronavirus.

For many Canadians, including some highly-ranked politicians, travelling to the south is a way of temporarily escaping from reality and forgetting about the pandemic, which has already lasted an entire year. However, just one short getaway during these times can damage one’s career and reputation.

Linda Hasenfratz, a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, visited sunny Barbados in December. As the news spread to the general public earlier this month, Hasenfratz stepped down from her position and made a public apology, admitting that her winter break vacation was unacceptable.

Moreover, Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips has also resigned from his post following a trip to the Caribbean island of St. Barts, also in December. Since the vacation took place during Ontario’s strict lockdown, Phillips later called his actions “a significant error in judgment—a dumb, dumb mistake.”

Despite being greatly discouraged by the Trudeau government, Canadians may still fly abroad with no legal repercussions as of Jan. 24. Deciding whether to go on a tropical vacation during this worrying period now comes down to every Canadian’s personal judgment.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam.

Student Life

An exchange student begins her first business: Roma Experiences

Concordia alumna, TingLi Lorigiano shares her travel exchange journey

Travelling across Europe, going on student exchange, learning a new language and starting a business all sound like goals many students have on their bucket list. One student not only managed to accomplish all these thing, but she did it in just one year.

Concordia alumna TingLi Lorigiano embarked on a year-long student exchange to Italy, during which time she also visited 30 cities in 10 countries. During her stay in Italy, Lorigiano founded Roma Experiences, the first Chinese tour operator service in Rome.

Mountains in the northern part of Italy at Bolzano-Trentino Alto Adige. Photo by TingLi Lorigiano

“I was at the Colosseum in Rome, and I realised that there weren’t any Chinese tour groups,” she said. “So, I inquired what the situation was like, and I decided that I would just start my own.”

Lorigiano is of Italian and Chinese descent and grew up immersed in both cultures. “I grew up with serious Chinese traditions and very traditional Italian traditions. I always had to explain Italian traditions to my Chinese friends and vice versa,” she said. “I felt that it’s important for Chinese visitors to learn about Italian traditions, so I wanted to help them learn about Italian culture.”

According to Lorigiano, no one working in the piazza of the Colosseum spoke Chinese—most were European. “There was a language barrier,” she said. “I connected the two worlds.” Lorigiano speaks fluent Mandarin and was learning to speak Italian at that time. She is now fluent in Italian.

Pasta at Osteria Da Fortunata in Rome, Italy. Photo by TingLi Lorigiano

She started by organizing tours where she would bring Chinese tourists to various restaurants and to visit historical sites such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.

With a major in genetic engineering and experience in the tech industry, Lorigiano had no problem setting up her own website and logistics for her business. After creating all the social media accounts, she hired 10 people to be part of her team. “I raised a team from one to 10 in my first three months in a country that I’ve never worked in before, and I didn’t yet speak fluent Italian. I hired tour guides and team promoters. We delivered wonderful historical experiences to Chinese tourists at least three times a day,” she said. “I had to be very meticulous with logistics. I had to buy tickets ahead of time, I had to know how the Colosseum ticketing system worked.”

According to Lorigiano, Roma Experiences has been running for the last eight months and has generated $40,000 CAD in sales revenue. “I was able to sustain myself for the last seven months in Italy. I used the money to travel, pay my rent, live in Rome,” she said.

The business is still running now that Lorigiano is home. The company’s vice-president took over the company. “It’s pretty cool to know that, before this year, in Rome, there were no Chinese tours available. And now they are,” Lorigiano said.

Creating Roma Experiences was an enriching leadership experience for Lorigiano. “It taught me a lot about business, and it showed me that my passions are not in tourism. My passion is in tech. I was way more interested in the website, e-commerce and the retail technology part of it.”

Camels in the Marrakech Morocco desert. Photo by TingLi Lorigiano

In November, Lorigiano is moving to London to work for a tech startup. “I knew that I wanted to work somewhere where the tech scene was more apparent, more vivid and vibrant, so London was the best choice for me,” she said.

Based on her experience, Lorigiano insisted that studying abroad can be life-changing. “You never know what is going to happen,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to go on exchange […] People grow up in Montreal, they work in Montreal, but there are so many other opportunities. Being Canadian, you have great visa opportunities as well.”

Lorigiano said she would advise students to check out all the job, volunteer and internship opportunities offered at Concordia to see what might interest them. “Make a list of things that you think are really important, and just highlight what you want to go visit or inquire about,” she said. “You need to think about what you are losing and what you are gaining.”

“You grow the most when you are put in the most uncomfortable situations such as travelling and being part of things that you are not comfortable with,” Lorigiano said. “It’s just a really great experience.”  

Photos courtesy of TingLi Lorigiano


Education abroad

Taking a look at some of the universities Concordia has international partnerships with

Concordia International will begin offering information sessions for students interested in studying abroad, as the application deadline for the 2017-2018 academic year is due Feb. 1.

For those who need help completing their application, Concordia International staff will be available to students on Jan. 18 during a Concordia Student Exchange Program (CSEP) application workshop. Participants are encouraged to stop by the workshop in H-517 at the downtown campus anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Concordia is partnered with 150 universities across 35 countries. The Concordian has compared, cost of living, education, food and more for five locations.

Graphic by Florence Yee.


University of Western Sydney (UWS)

UWS has more than 44,000 students and more than 3,000 thousand staff members, according to the UWS’s official website. The university has seven different campuses with a shuttle bus service to travel to and from them. In a rank conducted by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, UWS was ranked the 78th best university worldwide in 2017.

UWS offers a variety of courses under the subjects of health and medicine, applied and pure sciences, social studies and media, business and management, computer and IT, and creative arts and design.

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

UNSW has three campuses and was ranked the 46th best university in the world in 2015 by QS World University Rankings. UNSW was also ranked the number one choice among Australia’s highest employers in 2015 by LinkedIn. More than 52,000 students attend UNSW, including 13,123 international students from more than 120 countries.

Within the nine faculties at UNSW, there are 900 academic degrees offered to students. The nine faculties include the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW Business School, UNSW Art and Design, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Built Environment, Science and UNSW Canberra—the Australian Defence Force Academy.

The city of Sydney

According to The Economist’s 2015 Safe Cities Index report, Sydney is the sixth safest city in the world. There are many activities and social events for students, including biking along the city’s cycling paths, exploring bushwalking—an Australian term for hiking/backpacking in natural areas—camping and surfing at beaches such as at Bondi Beach. For sports lovers, Western Sydney offers local community competitions you can watch or participate in, for sports such as cricket, basketball and soccer. Sydney is home to a large number of bars and clubs open 24 hours.


Communication University of China (CUC)

CUC has an enrollment of 15,000 full-time students and approximately 1,000 international students from more than 110 countries around the world. CUC has been ranked the number one university in China for journalism and communication studies, as well as theatre, film and television studies, according to the latest National Discipline Evaluation conducted by the Ministry of Education in China.

Renmin University of China (RUC)

RUC is research-oriented with a focus on humanities and social sciences. In 2015, RUC was ranked China’s 26th out of 196 universities by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.  RUC has approximately 24,522 students, including 1,113 international students. There are 23 different departments offered with a variety of programs amongst each department. Some of the departments include: Philosophy, Liberal Arts, Chinese Classics, Arts, Foreign Languages, Journalism and Communication, Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Public Administration and Policy, Economics, Finance, Law, Marxism Studies, International Studies, Science and the Sino-French Institute.

The City of Beijing:

An inexpensive activity students can participate in are morning sessions of Taichi held in parks across the city, such as in Ritan Park. Those who are looking for a place to drink should visit Sanlitun Bar Street, located just south of the embassy district. It is one of the more popular spots for nightlife in Beijing, open until 2 a.m. Those who plan to stay abroad in China should be mindful that various social media websites are blocked from use by the Chinese government, such as Facebook and YouTube.


Institut d’Études Politiques (IEP) de Paris

The Paris Institute of Political Studies in English or nicknamed “SciencesPo”—has seven different campuses across France. There is one in Paris, Poitiers, Menton, Dijon, Reims, Le Havre and Nancy. The same bachelor’s degrees are offered at each campus, allowing students to choose their prefered campus. However, doctoral programs and master’s degrees are only offered at the Paris campus. The 2016 World University Rankings rated SciencesPo as the 4th best university for politics and international studies.

Université Panthéon-Sorbonne

Also known as Paris 1, this university has a capacity of 1,183 faculty members and 32,564 students. Paris 1 has been rated by QS World University Rankings as the 228th best university in the world. The same source rated their archeology program as the 12th best worldwide, their history program as the 18th best, their law and legal studies programs as 20th best and their philosophy program as 23rd best.

The City of Paris

Paris is filled with many historical gems and beautiful architecture for anyone visiting the city to explore. There are also many markets around the city selling local food, inexpensive books and various second-hand items. While going out at night can be pricey, students should check out La Zorba, an inexpensive bistro open at 5 a.m., for an early bite or late-night partiers for a drink.


University of Iceland (UoI)

UoL is one of Iceland’s seven universities, however Concordia only has a partnership with one—which is in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. The first language taught at UoI is Icelandic, however some programs are offered in English, but mostly at the graduate level. There are a variety of courses offered in English in the engineering and natural sciences, education studies, health sciences, humanities and social sciences.

The City of Reykjavík

Those looking to live in the city should beware that food prices are quite high in Reykjavík, since Iceland imports most of its goods. In the mid-winter months, there are only four to five hours of solid daylight, while from mid-May to mid-August the sun sets for only a few hours per day—this is called the “midnight sun” by many. For less than $10, those who want to see Reykjavík from the tallest part of Iceland can visit Hallgrímskirkja Church, the tallest building in Reykjavík with a lookout at the top.


Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)

LMU has a faculty of 3,506 and 35,809 students and is recognized as a leading research and academic institution in Europe. QS World University Rankings rated LMU as the 68th best university in the world, ranked as having the 13th best physics and astronomy program and the 33th best faculty of natural science.

Technische Universität München (TUM)

TUM has a staff of 5,675 and 37,483 students with campuses in Munich, Garching and Freising-Weihenstephan. While the university has a research focus, it offers 13 different faculties for students to choose from. QS World University Rankings rated LMU the 60th best university in the world, and ranked it as having the 27th best engineering program and the 30th best faculty in natural science.

The City of Munich:

There are many free activities offered in Munich, such as visiting Olympiapark—the location of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games—and attending their free concerts during the summer months. Daring individuals can also try river surfing. You can also watch river surfers in Eisbach in downtown Munich. Although swimming in this river is prohibited, many do not follow this rule. Museums in Munich offer “one euro Sunday” entry, where it is just one euro for the day for you to marvel at Monet, Rembrandt and Warhol.

Comparing numbers from each location

One pint in neighbourhood pub:

Graphic by Florence Yee.

One cappuccino:

Graphic by Florence Yee.

1 bedroom apartment:

Graphic by Florence Yee.


*Sydney and Beijing transit does not offer monthly passes. Instead, the system charges users for  the length of time one is on the transit. Estimates are based on the use of an average commuter in Sydney.

Basic lunch menu with drink in business district:

Graphic by Florence Yee.

*All of these rates are based on approximations according to Expatistan and comparisons of different cafés, bars, real estate agencies and transit operators in each location. These numbers are a suggestion towards the average price in each city.

The first information session will be held on on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Concordia International’s office at 2080 Mackay, Annex X, room 103, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

There will also be information sessions hosted at the same place and time on Wednesday, Jan. 11; Thursday, Jan. 12; Tuesday, Jan. 17; Wednesday, Jan. 18 and Thursday, Jan. 19. For those who cannot attend in the afternoon, there will be evening sessions held on Monday, Jan. 16 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Graphics by Florence Yee

Student Life

Concordians jet-off over the winter break

Concordians share their holiday travel experiences and tips

by Léandre Larouche

This Christmas, I wanted to celebrate the holiday differently—and different it was.  A friend I met in Montreal last summer invited me to spend some time with her and her family in Mexico, so I decided to go.

Guanajuato city. Photo by Léandre Larouche.

Our first stop was my friend’s place in Xochimilco, one of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs. I arrived on Dec. 22 and so many family reunions were on the agenda.

In Mexico City, my favourite attraction was the sightseeing from the mirador in the Torre Latinoamericana. This monument used to be Mexico’s largest skyscraper at the time of its completion in 1956. The Plaza de la Constitución and the Monumento de la Revolución are also worth a visit.  I walked 20 de Noviembre Street, a street which commemorates the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

Although I also visited the del Sol y de la Luna pyramids in the State of Mexico, the highlight of my trip was definitely visiting the city of Guanajuato. About four hours away from the country’s federal capital, this European-like city is charming at first sight. On top of having an astonishing landscape, there is an abundance of cafés, restaurants and bars along the charming, narrow streets. At night, the city livens up even more, with traditional music sung all around the city. My personal must-sees are the Café Tal, Santo Café and the Monumento al Pípila, which honours the eponymous insurgent of the Mexican Revolution.

The State of Veracruz was also worth the detour. Jalapa and Coatepec are fun for a day or two. I visited the beach one in Chachalacas, which is a more underrated beach, in Veracruz. It could still be worth a visit if you prefer a less touristic experience.

My advice for traveling to Mexico is to learn a bit of Spanish before jetting off, and to get to know the locals while you’re there. The country is so much more than its all-inclusive resorts. People are truly welcoming people and, unless you get labelled a gringo for not speaking a word of Spanish, they’re likely to become your friends and show you around.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
by Elisa Barbier

Flowers and bike by a house entrance along one of the city’s main canal: the Keizersgracht. Photo by Elisa Barbier

Amsterdam lives up to its reputation of offering tourists with different budgets, incredible scenery and experiences.

The city centre is laid out as an amphitheatre looking onto what used to be Amsterdam’s port.  This part of the city can be visited thoroughly in three days. You should factor in a little more time if you intend on visiting museums such as the Van Gogh Museum, which possesses an incredible collection, and the Rijksmuseum embodies Dutch art at its finest. The Anne Frank House is also a great stop, but be sure to reserve tickets online to avoid long lineups for this one.

There is no need for a transit pass in Amsterdam. Sightseeing can be done by walking in between the canals and small streets that are proper to old European cities.

Students can find many affordable hostels in the centre of the city surrounded by pubs and cheap restaurants. One of Amsterdam’s fun experiences is Febo—a fast-food restaurant that serves traditional Dutch snacks to clients via automats. Another surprising singularity, my personal favourite, are the many snack bars that serve tasty waffles topped with fruits or sweets.

The city is also known for its many cafés and the red-light district. Among the 200 cafés in Amsterdam, the Greenhouse Centrum is a must.

If I have the chance to go back, I will spend more time cycling around. It was a great experience but be aware that biking on European roads is quite the adventure. Moreover, the windmills and tulips fields in the countryside would be on my to-do list.

Paris, France
by Elisa Barbier

Photo by Elisa Barbier

The city of lights is a giant maze filled with endless entertainment for tourists and inhabitants alike.

Paris’ most notable spots are spread out between the first and ninth boroughs. Considering a week is needed to properly visit the city, a weekly transit pass is the best option for moving through the city with ease.

When it comes to museums, the Louvre is a must. However, it takes a full day to visit.  It is best to arrive early in the morning. The Orsay Museum, Branly and Beaubourg also have interesting collections, from classic French paintings to modern art.

It goes without saying the Eiffel Tower, the Arc-de-Triomphe, the Sacré-Coeur, the Garnier Opera, the Bastille or the Notre-Dame Cathedral are must-sees. However, the Great Mosque of Paris, whose tea is a treasure, city hall and the Luxembourg Gardens are also great places to explore, and they can sometimes be forgotten.

Paris’ oldest bridge, Pont Neuf with the Eiffel Tower and the dome of the French Institute in the background. Photo by Elisa Barbier

The city of love is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Therefore, small restaurants outside of touristic sites  will be cheaper and are worth the commute. The price of coffee will also change depending on the location. Brasseries are a good way to experience cheap French cuisine for lunch.

For a true Parisian experience, eat at Mexi&Co at 7:30 p.m., then buy some cheap wine or beer from a grocery store and enjoy it in the Vert-Galant Square while watching boats go by. Bar hopping in the Marais or 11th borough are also good options.

As a resident, nothing makes me enjoy the city more than taking a walk along the Seine at dusk. Bubble teas to accompany a shopping day at the Defense or Les Halles is also a good way to enjoy a rainy day.

Student Life

Explore Japan without leaving the 514

This is what we call budget travel

Young people are always encouraged to travel the world. We’re told to expand our horizons and have exciting new experiences. Unfortunately, with part-time jobs and student loans, travelling across the world is not always an option.

Luckily for us, Montreal is a booming multicultural metropolis filled with people from around the globe. To travel to Japan, a country I’ve dreamed of visiting since I was a child, all I had to do was explore my own city. No plane required!

I started my journey in Montreal’s Chinatown. Amongst the Chinese shops and restaurants on busy de la Gauchetière St., you can also find a variety of other Asian cultures thrown into the mix. As I walked the crumbling cobblestone streets, I thought to myself, what’s the first thing one must do when visiting Japan? Shop, of course! Tokyo is known to have some of the best shopping in the entire world, including the Shibuya shopping district, home to the popular Harajuku quarter. Harajuku is where high fashion meets Japanese youth street style—a culture that was popularized in North America by singer Gwen Stefani in 2004 when she began her ongoing obsession with the Japanese subculture.

Tucked away on Clark St., I stumbled upon Kawaii, a small Japanese boutique that definitely lives up to its name (kawaii means “cute” in Japanese). After walking in, it immediately felt like I had been transported to a gift shop in Harajuku. Even though the store was smaller than most Starbucks coffee shops, it was filled to the brim with everything from plush toys to cell phone accessories to fuzzy onesies. I found myself excitedly proclaiming “Oh my god, this is so cute!” more than a grown man ever should. I spent a while browsing the beauty products (including something called “baking soda” skin cleanser, eyelid tape, and bulk packs of face masks) before realizing I needed to leave immediately before spending all the money in my wallet. It may be a far cry from the crowded streets of Shibuya, but I managed to leave with a new cell phone case and a newfound appreciation for Hello Kitty.

While “kawaii” things are great, Japan has more to offer than cell phone accessories, like their rich and expansive history dating back to 30,000 BC. Continuing my trip, I tracked down a shop that features more traditional items to quench my thirst for culture.

Collection du Japon, located at 460 Ste-Catherine St. W., was exactly what I was looking for. The store’s owner helped explain some of the treasures to me, obviously picking up on my lack of knowledge of Japanese culture. They have everything you could possibly need to make your Japanese staycation feel like the real thing: traditional bento boxes (compact containers for home-packed meals), authentic kimonos and karate uniforms, a huge selection of teas and beautifully-crafted tea sets, classic Japanese artwork, porcelain dolls, language and origami books, and so much more. I almost didn’t know where to look first, since every cluttered corner brought another surprise, every item more intricate than the last.

A busy day of shopping works up a pretty big appetite, and I was ready for some delicious cuisine. Imadake, at 4006 Ste-Catherine St. W., is a Japanese resto-pub, also known as an “izakaya.” In Japan, these establishments are typically frequented by men getting drinks after a long day at work.

As soon as you walk in to Imadake you feel like you’re part of the action. “Irasshaimase!” the staff shouts as each guest walks in, which loosely translates to “welcome.” The dimly-lit pub, with its unique murals and a huge chalkboard wall, makes for a cool and relaxed environment perfect for dinner or drinks with friends. One thing this place is not? Quiet. Every few minutes, a booming voice would call out “When I say sake you say bomb!” leading to more shouts and table banging in response. A sake bomb, as it turns out, consists of a glass of beer covered with chopsticks topped with a shot of sake — an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. After the aforementioned chant, the drinkers must bang the table until the shot falls into their beer, then chug it. Obviously, I had to try one for myself. When in Rome—or in this case, Japan!

Besides Imadake’s long list of beers, sake, and cocktails (like the “Hello Kitty,” made of vodka, strawberry, guava, and lime juice, which I obviously ordered), the food was just as enticing. With a huge bowl of ramen, a staple in a Japanese diet, goma-ae (spinach topped with sesame dressing), and dumplings on the menu, I didn’t even know where to start. And for dessert, a delicious bowl of vanilla mochi ice cream left me craving more, even though I could hardly eat another bite.

What better way to end my excursion than by checking out some “local” cinema? The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because the 31st Japanese Film Festival of Montreal happened to be taking place at Cinéma du Parc, and offered free screenings of Japanese movies. One of the films, a documentary directed by Takashi Innami titled The God Of Ramen (2013), followed the day-to-day life of  Kazuo Yamagishi, the man who makes arguably the best ramen in Japan, over the course of a decade. People would line up for hours outside the legendary restaurant, East Ikebukuro Taishoken, which Yamagishi opened almost 50 years ago. Thanks to my love of the dish, I knew I had to check it out. The movie was about more than just noodles; it was a heart-warming and emotional tale about a man who has dedicated his life to working hard, and his struggle to keep up with the public’s demand as old age and poor health start to take over. I expected to leave the theatre craving another bowl of delicious steaming hot ramen, but instead left feeling oddly heavy-hearted.

As I sat on the metro on my way home from my trip around the world, it started sinking in that it was back to reality, and back to Canada. Sometimes it’s nice to pretend to be far, far away, even if you’re only a short train ride from home. Maybe next week I’ll pay a visit to France.

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