EXPLORE took us students to Quebec City in the province of Quebec. One cool thing about French grammar is that if you say “à Québec” people will know you’re talking about the city of Quebec. If you say “au Québec” then you mean the province…you don’t have to always say “the city of Quebec” or “no, no: I mean Quebec the province not Quebec the city.”
….I’m slowly warming up to French grammar….now I just wish I understood it!
After spending an afternoon at the beach & preparing for a day-trip to Quebec City, I’ve been asked what exactly EXPLORE is and what us “students” do! We do get to do crazy fun stuff like beach trips, themed dance parties, and trips to Quebec and Montreal, but there’s so so so much more to it…we DO get homework & we DO write exams!
My part of the program is run by Ecole International de Francais at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres. It’s a French immersion program designed to allow us to “vivre en francais” for 5 weeks.
DAY TWO: the countdown. On the second day of the program all students take part in an oath swearing that we’ll speak only French for the remainder of the program. There’s a countdown (ten-nine-eight-seven-six-cinq-quatre-trois-deux-un) and just like that you’re French!
AN AVERAGE DAY OF EXPLORE IN Trois-Rivieres
8:30 French Academic Course (3.5 hours) – taught by seasoned professors with experience teaching French as a second language
13:30 Themed French Workshop (1.5 hours) – including Conversation, Computer Lab, Theatre, Chanson/Singing, Community Service, +++
18:30 S.O.S. (homework help and study time)
20:00 – 24:00 Theme nights, movie nights, karaoke nights, etc.
My first week of EXPLORE has come to an end. First class: my professor tells me that being immersed into a foreign language is supposedly one of the most stressful things for a person to go through….oh goodie. I think some of the new learners are feeling that right now. But I seem to be managing just fine, despite my broken French and my habit of staring blankly at store clerks when they zip off en francais at lightning speed!
Choosing Trois-Rivieres = win! It’s truly French from end to end. You can’t even find English books in the bookstores. Last night I hung out at La Grenouille (The Frog), a local French pub with live French music and a student-crowd that boisterously (there’s $2 beers, ‘nuff said) sings along to popular French songs.
I’m taking part in the EXPLORE French program. It’s offered at different locations all across Canada. I’m at the University of Quebec campus in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. And so, at the ripe ‘ol age of 32, I’m now a rez boy (residence boy) staying in dorm rooms & livin’ the (French) student life.
The thing about this city, like many in Quebec, is something that a lot of people can’t wrap their head around: yes, there are people here that speak French, but no English at all.
I think it’s completely fascinating and I think it’s sad that a bilingual country like Canada doesn’t embrace its (apparent) bilingualism as much as it should. So many young people in Quebec are completely bilingual, which opens up a wealth of opportunities for them. I’m completely jealous and in awe of their ability. But the majority of the rest of Canada is English-speaking with only a minor influence placed on French language acquisition.
And so here I am: tonight I go through the Countdown Ceremony where we’ll count down our last moments of being able to speak English. Afterward, for the next 5 weeks, we commit to speaking and living a French life in Trois-Rivieres.