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Study Abroad in Quebec, Canada

I Will Remember

When I signed up to study abroad in Quebec for five weeks over the summer, I thought I was signing up for a little adventure. My trip to Montreal was an absolute disaster.

One of my connections got cancelled and I didn't notice until too late that the wrong year had been stamped in my passport. When I got to Canada, I discovered I had been sent a day early, so the escort I had been promised was not there. Neither was my luggage, which was missing for three more days. I spent that night on the floor of the hotel room of an incredibly generous but completely random girl from Ohio, where we both tried-and failed-to figure out the phone system. It was raining and about half of the 80-degree temperature I had been told to expect, so all the shorts and t-shirts that I had packed proved less than useful.

That night at dinner I discovered three things. 1) My host family was not a family but a single older woman. 2) She liked people to have romantic attachments and disliked Americans. 3) My roommate was engaged and Canadian. I am single and American. The next day was the beginning of 35 wonderful days, which were spent learning more than just French.

Lesson #1

Be prepared. Bring supplies for a variety of circumstances, and pack your toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry-on.

Lesson #2

Get involved and participate. Whoever heard of French country line dancing? We would never have known it existed if we hadn't clued in to the local social scene. Who knows the nightlife, the countryside, and other noteworthy attractions better than the natives? If your goal is to learn the language, they are also your best resource.

Before this summer, I had never been out of the country. I went knowing nobody and with limited classroom French. I didn't know that I would meet awesome people who I still keep in touch with and will always remember fondly, that even though everything seemed to be going wrong and working against me I had the strength and courage to seek out the solutions and solve the problems by myself, and that gravy and cheese curds could actually enhance the flavor of a common french fry.

Lesson #3

Remember. Quebec's motto is "Je me souviens," or "I remember." Every night I would make a mental list of things I wanted to remember or share with my friends at home. If you don't like to write, take lots of pictures. Create visual memories. You'll be glad you did.