And just like that, I'm reaching the finish line. Between living in the city, speaking French, and acting as my own personal tour guide, I'd say these two months have taught me more than I could have ever asked for.
Montréal is a city where the business people take frequent smoke breaks and the homeless can be persistant, but the green space is plenty and dandelion puffs float through the air like oversized snowflakes. It hosts countless festivals, food stops, and enough hipsters to wipe out the local Urban Outfitters, and it juxtaposes it all with a history unbeknownst to most passers by.
Montréal is where opportunities are given freely and experiences are received gratefully.
(And as if to make getting dressed in the morning even harder: Montreal in the spring/summer is where every day feels like a different season, and clothes for every temperature are necessary.)
Since my arrival on May 2nd, I have taken so many opportunities to share these experiences with my amazing aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins every long weekend. I've eaten way more poutine, smoked meat, and bagels than I thought was humanly possible, and I've seen more places than I thought I could. Most recently, however, in an attempt to embrace my inner soccer enthusiast, I was also able to attend two professional games for the Montréal Impact as well as the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup!
Because how many times in your life do you get to go to a World Cup-- basically Olympic-- game, especially when the host country is playing!?
Needless to say, my cousin and I could barely hold ourselves together. In the first five minutes, Canada launched the ball past the Netherlands' goalie and from then on the crowd was electric. The booming stadium and endless cries for victory reminded me of UF football games, except much better. Even the Impact game was almost as equally awe-inspiring, when Montréal scored on a corner kick against Orlando City with the most impressive header I have ever seen.
Sprinkled amongst these many memorable events, j'ai atteint mon but. À la fin de mon experience au Canada... I am 100 steps closer to speaking French fluently.
This is what studying abroad is about. Not just taking a class, trying new foods, or even exploring new places, but really achieving what I came to achieve.
Everyone told me I'd come back fluent. And it was only until I got here that I realized two months might not be enough. But the feeling of actually communicating with my francophone grandparents, without only being able to smile and respond politely "oui" or "non" because in reality I barely understood a word... THAT'S what I wanted.
Don't get me wrong, somehow after 3-4 years of French classes I still struggle to conjugate aller into passé composé fast enough in conversation, but I'm getting there. And I feel amazing...
Je pense que mon temps à l'étranger m'a appris plus que juste la langue française. Je dois plus de satisfaction pour ma famille, mes amis, l'argent, la nourriture et tout ce qui vient avec mon indépendance croissante. Et je ne peux pas attendre pour revenir à la Floride et l'Université de Floride mieux que quand je suis arrivé. (translation)
I'm going to miss these small, beautiful moments.