Landing in Montréal wasn’t exactly stumbling into the unknown. Thankfully, I was met by the excited faces of the family I haven’t seen in years, welcoming me into a country with which I am both familiar and completely lost. This summer, I’ve traded a guaranteed job camp counseling, unbearable humidity and endless rows of palm trees for roughly eight weeks of pure French Canadian culture au coeur de Montréal...
Upon arriving, the weather was abnormally hot for having only been three weeks since the last snow. The temperature reached over 80°F, which led most of my family to say, “Tu as apporté la chaleur de la Floride!” But after a few toasty days, that was no longer the case. I never thought I’d need to be wearing a scarf in May, let alone for my first days of summer studies at McGill University.
As much as I love the University of Florida campus, I can’t help but admit McGill’s Downtown campus is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Like the perfect mixture of Boston and New York City, Downtown Montréal blends European historic intricacy and overt American modernism, all while maintaining a subtle appreciation for the natural world. Everywhere I go, les cerisiers are blossoming and rainbows of tulips line the medians, bringing a sense of calming to the bustling environment. In reality, while summer has already begun in Florida, Canada is only just making its way through spring. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten to watch the trees grow fuller every day.
With all of Canada’s beauty before me, I’ve also had the pleasure of enjoying the French language à plein régime. Each day is as though the part of my brain that recalls language is running a marathon. Outside the classroom I’m able to practice speaking with my family and learn not only traditional French but the Québécois slang as well. It’s never been so easy to eavesdrop on French conversation when I spend nearly an hour of my day on the metro.
But even living in an extremely French area, I know there is much more to explore. Although, I must say the things I HAVE experienced—coupled with my ignorance to the culinary arts and foreign public transportation—have been quite… well… amusing:
· First, in an attempt to cook for myself, I have set off the fire alarm three times in
my apartment all while making chicken.
· Next, My first time taking the train I mistakenly used the emergency exit, which
forced me to jump out of the train car and land on the pavement, hard.
· And finally, I have walked so much around campus and the metro system that I have
actually seen an improvement in my stamina as well as an increase in my
need for naps.
That being said, every part of this trip has already been une grande expérience d’apprentissage. From communicating with my roommate who only speaks French and coping with the inevitably unsanitary metro system, I’m working my way to becoming fluent in French and regular Montréal city folk.
… More of my thoughts and experiences to come! À la prochain!