Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there
July 28, 2010 7:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm living in a new city for only a few months. Help me stay entertained or otherwise keep myself busy during my alone time, by staying in and getting off the computer.

I'm living in Montreal for a few months for work, having a reasonably good time. Work's busy, a bit stressful, and I find the work environment less pleasant than home office. But there are a lot of young friendly co-workers also temporarily here so we're socializing quite a bit. I live in a nice apartment work is paying for during my stay, and get a decent per diem which I'm trying not to spend, but instead pay off some debt. Tough to do, but things are going alright - trying to eat at home whenever possible. But I'm missing my life back home a fair bit just from it being an unfamiliar, less friendly environment, and I was anticipating a lot of activities at home this summer... which I get to hear all about online.

Anyway, I shouldn't spend every night on the computer when i get home, maybe a few evenings without it may help elevate my mood. This isn't my apartment so assume I can either think of things to bring from home, or pick something up. I'd like to spend minimal money on new things, limiting required items to smaller size, due to transportation limitations. And I don't really like getting out of the house at this later point in the day - I don't feel very safe walking alone in this neighbourhood in the evenings. The building's got a gym but it's in another building - I go occasionally, and I already walk/bike everywhere. But there have to be good ways to keep occupied while I want to stay in my apartment, I know people have some good hobbies and tips out there.

So what can you think of for entertainment? What about suggestions for fun workouts without weights, or other useful exercises I can learn by myself? What about your favourite interesting handmade crafts I could do with minimal cost? What are the small items you found beneficial to you for making you feel at home when you were away for an extended period? What else can I do to perk myself up, indoors? Get plants?

posted by lizbunny to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Statistically Montreal is one of the safest cities of its size on the planet and it's beautiful at this time of year – it would be a shame for you to consider yourself housebound (unless you have a disability you have not mentioned). It's also just been described as the second happiest place in the world by Lonely Planet.

Which neighbourhood are you in? Montreal's winding down its main surge of festivals, but there's still a lot going on in daytime and the evening.
posted by zadcat at 8:05 PM on July 28, 2010

When I moved into my new apt in Arlington, I had no internet, no tv, and no real furniture. THAT kept me out quite a bit. So yeah...deprive youself and you will become more social.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:15 PM on July 28, 2010

I discovered some great bars, cafes, and casual/affordable restaurants when I stayed in Le Plateau a few years ago. If you're in that part of town, I'd be happy to recommend things.

Poutine and Parc Mont Royale would generally be enough to get me out of the house if I were lucky enough to be living in Montreal.
posted by Sara C. at 8:25 PM on July 28, 2010

I can think of two places that are big on the furnished apartments, and they're safe even by Montreal standards. You're limiting yourself if you won't leave the house in the evening, because honestly Montreal is safe. I know it's hard to get your mind around significant changes in safety -- I had lots of trouble with it.

What did you intend to do while at home? What activities do you enjoy? Can you get a library card for the duration?
posted by jeather at 8:32 PM on July 28, 2010

I could visit Montreal every weekend just to take a bike ride down the Canal Lachine, hit up the Atwater Market, and then gorge myself on jam and brie and bread and vegetables.

Montreal has so many parks, and of course the Mont itself, and the neighborhoods are walkable and safe, and the university had tons of stuff going on.

When I moved to strange city, I just walked in the evenings. Walked and walked and walked. Got to know the city, sussed out my comfort level, talked to strangers, etc.
posted by desuetude at 9:19 PM on July 28, 2010

Best answer: No one seems to be suggesting things you can actually do at home... so I'll throw out there that when I moved to a new place a few years ago and knew no one, I bought a stack of blank postcards at the post office (they're prepaid, and blank on the "picture" side). Then every day I drew a picture of something that happened that day on them (and I eventually got watercolor paints involved, so these could take anywhere from an hour to three, depending on how insane/bored I was) and sent them to someone I knew at home. I'm not the greatest artist, and the pictures ranged from diagrams of footwork for dancing (you know those little black-and-white feet?) to the view out my window, to the floor plan of my new office -- but they had the appeal that comes from being handmade and from being real mail, so much was forgiven!

Other than that, if you can entice other people over, Cheapass Games are fun and inexpensive (so much so that you won't feel bad if you end up leaving them behind because you think they're not actually that much fun).

Lastly, for weightless workouts, I've frequently entertained myself with youtube exercise videos -- which can get pretty funny in both good and bad ways. When I want to be more serious, I do pilates -- if you've ever done it before (so you know your posture is right) you can find lists of exercises online to inspire you. It helps to have a yoga mat, but I'm pretty cheap, and have been known to do it on a towel laid over a comforter, just as a cushion for my pointy tailbone :)
posted by obliquicity at 9:23 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Find something to make: a model ship, a cley sculpture, a painting, anything you like that is just difficult enough for you to stay interested. Or learn something, origami or guitar, anything that you have to work at that is different and a little difficult.
posted by Anitanola at 9:48 PM on July 28, 2010

Best answer: Do you knit or crochet? Perhaps you could learn. My friend with whom I live sort of taught herself to crochet over the course of a few absent minded months- she creates wonderful little stuffed monsters and sea-creatures and such while we sit in the evenings (we've both moved together to a strange new city recently, too) and it definitely seems to take her away to a meditative place of calm, relaxed focus.

And all you need are a couple of hooks, a ball of yarn and a bit of imagination. Oh, plus maybe some nimble, clever fingers, too.
posted by Philby at 1:07 AM on July 29, 2010

Can you join a library and take out some books?
posted by lizabeth at 2:20 AM on July 29, 2010

Have you ever considered reading?
posted by avysk at 3:20 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Montreal has several library possibilities but I'm not sure what the rules are for temporary residents – you can ask. The biggest and most beautiful is the Grande Bibliothèque at Berri-UQÀM, run directly by Quebec. The majority of the books are in French but it also has respectable quantities of books in English, and also lends music and DVDs. It's also a comfy place to hang out and read or (if you're a member) use the wi-fi.

The city has its own network of libraries. They vary depending on neighbourhood. I'm quite fond of the Mile End library on Park Avenue, built inside an old Anglican church; the Plateau library is across the street from Mont-Royal metro, in the ground floor of an old convent building; there are lots more but those are the ones I know.

Then there's the independent Atwater Library and also Westmount Library both of which are likelier to have books in English. Westmount definitely lets non-members onto its wi-fi, at least, and it's located in a beautiful park.
posted by zadcat at 5:00 AM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: I'm living pretty much downtown, right before Parc du Mont-Royal. Yes I know Montreal is fabulous and have taken plenty of opportunities to check out the festivals and walk around the area. But sometimes I'm tired of being outside in the noise of downtown, and I just want to stay home.

I read a fair bit actually, I've switched to audio books while I'm here though - for several reasons. I can listen to them at work and I was hoping for more activities to do while I continue listening to them at home.

I used to crochet a fair bit, that's a good idea Philby. I might as well get into sewing trinkets and felting as well, will see what craft things I can pick up when at home. My jewelry hobby I suppose I could bring over here too, make more stock to sell for the holiday season.

If anyone has suggestions of craft-type stores in bixi-bike distance from downtown, that's be great. And recommendations of specific restaurants, cafes and bars are welcome, would be easier to haul people out of their hotel rooms for destinations rather than wanderings.
posted by lizbunny at 5:46 AM on July 29, 2010

Best answer: You might pose a few of your questions to the Montreal livejournal community, which is pretty lively and welcoming and has a good tagging system so you might find answers there without even asking! For example – entries with the tag about shopping for arts & crafts supplies.
posted by zadcat at 6:01 AM on July 29, 2010

Are you at CDS? Message me if you are.
posted by gillianr at 4:07 PM on August 7, 2010

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