The Travelling Student – Leaving Montreal

My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is part four in the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program.

In part three we stopped in Montreal for the night. Our original plan was to re-charge and leave in the morning. By 2am Matt was climbing the spherical structure that is the Montreal Bio Sphere, while I stood at the bottom waiting for security to arrive.


Matt stood a few levels up on the dome fumbling around while he reached into his pocket for his phone. Unfortunately it was too dark for either of us to get a good picture. I saw the lights of a car around the bend of a corner. I started walking away to distance myself in hopes of not bringing attention to Matt, the car approached steadily, and then kept driving right past us, likely someone gong home from a long night at the Montreal Casino. “Where the hell are you going” yelled Matt. He called me a wimp and I called him an idiot in return. “Get down here, let’s get out of here” I yelled softly.

Soon Matt was down and we started walking to the Casino in hopes of good food. It’s only a short walk from the biosphere to the casino, or at least, it should have been. The island seemed like a maze during the night, with small bodies of water seemingly always between us and our destination. After a few bridges we finally made it to the casino.

You can usually find pretty good food in casinos. With the main business of casinos being gambling, having good and cheap food helps to keep people gambling longer and we hoped to take advantage of that. However, this was not the case at the Montreal Casino (though, to be fair, it was sometime after 2 am on a weekday).

We stumbled back outside and jumped into the first cab we saw. The cab driver was French, but of African descent. He might have been in a bad mood, but I got the impression that it was his usual mood. He wasn’t wearing a seat-belt and, as we drove away from the casino, the safety indicator on the dashboard made a loud dinging sound approximately forty times before finally stopping (he never did put his seat belt on, like it was some kind of test between him and the indicator as to which could last the longest).

After taking us down several streets that I’m almost sure were out of the way of our hotel in an attempt to run up the meter, I asked him if he was sure he knew where he was going. He made a grunting noise which we assumed was meant to assure us that he knew. About five minutes later we arrived. The smile on the cab drivers face when Matt handed him the $30 fare confirmed my suspicion that he had indeed run up our fare. Yet it didn’t matter. I knew we had to be back on the road in about five hours and all I could think of was sleep.

We woke up the next morning just after 8:00am. Oddly I felt completely energized despite the lack of sleep. I was exhilarated by the adventure and ready to hit the road. We picked up a few sandwiches, donuts, and, of course, coffee from the Tim Horton’s drive-through and headed towards Autoroute 40.

As we approached the highway we saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road. She looked like she was in her early twenties, with red hair, and a very rugged look. I can’t say I would have pulled over for her. But I knew Matt had hitchhiked himself in the past so I didn’t object, when it looked like he was going to, despite the fact that his SUV was already packed and it would be a challenge for her to even get in.

We stopped at the side of the road Matt rolled down my windows and the girl started walking over.

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