I can’t believe that I’ve been away from my French language camp in Canada for two weeks now! When I returned to the U.S., I was still in Quebecois mode, and I kept speaking French as an instinct to others like “desole” (sorry) or “merci” (thank you). I definitely do not say “excuse me” anymore but “s’excuse” instead when I pass by someone and accidentally bump into him or her. As the saying goes “you can take the girl out of Quebec, but you can’t take the Quebec out of the girl” remains evident in my experience back home.
Life in the States was just so vastly different from the time that I spent in Quebec City. I have learned so many new words, dialogue, and slang in French, and grew more comfortable speaking French with my host mom and strangers throughout my language program.
My favorite memories from my two weeks in Quebec include whale watching, rock climbing, and going to concerts late in the evening. Whale watching was especially fun, because we got to go to the coast where many of the beluga whales and seals lived. We took a small boat out and observed these animals in their natural habitat, and they would come up to the surface of the ocean to get oxygen from out of the water. They were very graceful creatures, and my entire group enjoyed watching them very much.
I also had the opportunity to go rock climbing on a cliff near a real waterfall. This experience was especially great because it was thrilling yet very safe. All of the students really enjoyed it and it was special to students who live in areas without easy access to rocks or waterfalls.
Attending the concerts of over 8 different artists during the night time was another favorite memory. There was a large festival happening called the Festival d’Ete de Quebec. I saw popular artists like Kendrick Lamar, Metallica, Fetty Wap, Flume, P!NK, Migos, Nick Jonas, and Backstreet Boys live.
I have truly grown from my time abroad. Since my return, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what I have learned and I have become more independent and also open to learning about new cultures or ideas. I took the bus to school and back every day and became familiar with the bus schedule.
Because the group of students who I was with were from different places around the world, I also learned about the cultural differences between mine and theirs. I also learned how to not stereotype people without actually knowing their history and background and to disregard what I hear or see on media.
From this program, I now know how to adjust to a different country’s culture more quickly. I also learned from the Quebecois people the way that they portray their lifestyles. They are a lot more relaxed than Americans are and they also are a lot more healthy and family-oriented on many of their ideas.
I want to keep pursuing French in the future and go on more exchange programs. I am so glad that I went, and now I have a home in a foreign land and friends from around the world.
About the Author:
Ruiwen (Rachel) Shen, is 18 years old and our 2017 Greenheart Travel Correspondent scholarship winner from Houston, Texas. Rachel is traveling abroad as a Teen Summer Language Camp student in Quebec, and one of her goals during her travels is to connect with new people and build new relationships even in a new language and culture. Follow her adventures here!