I recently found my old Live Journal that I began to keep in touch during my year abroad. I wrote about my time studying French in Quebec, Canada.
So I spent Saturday morning packing and what not. Tried to find black capris and yoga pants with my mom in Parksville but nothing was to my liking. We went to Comox early and stopped at Super Store, which did not have what I was looking for, so back to the other side of Courtney to go to Walmart. Thankfully they had what I wanted. They also had more, mom bought me apple sauce and Triscuits. We fought over whether I would get the apple sauce on the plane. It’s a food, so why not. So we went to the airport and were really early, so we checked my bags and went for a cruise around Comox. Then back to the airport to say good-bye and what not. Security found the apple sauce in my backpack, but not the ones in my purse. So I ate those when I got to Calgary.
The plane from Comox to Calgary had lots of screaming children. But I just listened to music and ignored the kids. When I got to Calgary I logged into the internet for a bit. Then I fell asleep and missed the boarding calls for my flight, the flight attendant at the desk had to wake my up to get on the plane. I had an exit row seat, so extra leg room, and the middle seat was empty, so that was a bonus too. I slept virtually the whole flight.
At Montreal I had to get my bags from Westjet and re-check in with Air Canada for my flight to Bagotville. This was not a problem at all. I printed my own baggage tags so all I had to do was drop them off, and there was no one in that line. Then through Security for the second time. The girl behind me in line did not declare liquids and her entire bag was searched, so glad it was not me. Then it was wait for our flight. The plane was a tiny little ten row Bombardier. The propellers were so loud, to tune it out I went to sleep again, because the clock may say 8am, but my body says 5am.
When we arrived in Bagotville we were picked up by two monitors. One drove a van full of people, the other drove a moving truck full of bags. When we arrived at the school we were given information packages, rules, phone numbers, cost of extra activities, etc. Then we were taken to our dorms. It took about an hour to get everyone assigned to rooms and give out keys. We were done around 11am. A group of us agreed to meet at noon and find a dollar store as well as somewhere to eat.
Dorms are okay I guess. I have never lived in dorms. The beds are hard, and the pillow is tiny. But I have my own sink in my room, and the room is private. The floor shares a bathroom and there are 18 people to a floor. The floors are co-ed, that means that so are the showers. But it is not bad. The shower are in the bathroom. There are three toilets, two showers and a bath you could not pay me to sit in. As it is I am glad I brought shoes for the shower.
We found the dollar store. I bought hand soap and hangers. Then we went to subway. After we all went back to rest/unpack/what ever. I unpacked and explored a bit. Then I tried to get the internet but you needed a password. I tried to call to set up internet, but they had closed yesterday. Now I am glad they closed early. My room is on the corner and I am close enough to the school to pick up WiFi, which they gave us the password for today. So now instead of paying for five weeks of internet I get it for free. This makes me very happy. I spent the rest of the day sleeping and studying. Except for the wine party the happened on my floor last night until midnight. It woke me up at 21h and I was so tired.
We got up this morning and had breakfast as a group. We have meal cards for all three meals of the day. We are allowed 1 main plate (proportioned for us), and three side dishes. Of these side dishes a drink is included. So two side dished. It works the same for all of our meals. After breakfast we meet our monitors, our teachers, supervisors, etc. Then we were broken down into three groups for listening comprehension and were given a time to do an oral interview with a teacher. The comprehension was fine, but the interview was really nerve wracking. The questions were okay, started with what is your name and progressed from there. Then you were given a series of pictures and you had to tall a story about them, that sucked.
Then we were freed for lunch, but after lunch there was a second meeting, where we learned about the explore program, and about the optional activities and we were read the rules, and told about the pledge of honour we are going to make tomorrow morning that promises that we will speak only french. I think this is going to be really hard on some people. Today the people I sat with were at least trying to speak French, and we were having alright conversation, though some (quite a few) English words were included. Then we were again freed and given pamphlets for the optional activities, then we went on a rallye pedestre (a scavenger hunt). When we returned from the hunt we were allowed to rest until dinner at 17h. Then at 19h we have a welcoming party. There will be karaoke and games. We’ll see how it goes.
Breakfast at 7:45 and class at 8:30. Its almost like a boarding school… hell it is a boarding school. We have class from 8:30-12 and again from 1-3. At three we have leisure time, or the gym and pool are opened for two hours. There are also games offered. Then there is dinner. Some nights after dinner we have free time, other nights we have activities. Last night we played a game called kin ball. This looks like a complex game and it felt like it was. I can’t seem to get my photos from Photobucket currently but…
You can check out a video of it here : Kin-Ball
Yesterday was freezing, the puddle outside the dorm was frozen when we left for breakfast. The day stayed cold and wet so I am glad our activity was indoors, the other group had to go mini golfing in the rain. This morning was not cold, but not warm. After lunch the class went to the river for a scavenger hunt. It was boiling. It is something like 25 degrees out. Do when we got back it was time for a shower and a change of cloths.
After that we were given our weekend food money. We get $40 for the weekend (Just Sat and Sun). If we don’t use it all I guess we get to keep the change.
I have trouble getting the internet in the evening in the residence, but in the school it works very well and I am not going to pay for internet. This means no updates Saturday or Sunday.
This weekend we are going on a included excursion to Val’Or. This is a ghost town in the area, so that will be interesting. I don’t think it will be as scary when the ghost don’t speak my language. On Sunday is the paid trip to “Fjord d’Abres.” It’s like the Tree-Go in Nanaimo and promises to be fun, even if I will be super tired on Monday. Monday after class it likely to be my next update.
Oh, and I received an email from flyglobespan.com. This is the company I am using to fly to London. To keep up with demand they are changing their flight dates. This means that I do not go to London Sunday June 21 and arrive on the 22nd. This means that I fly to London Wednesday June 24th and arrive on the 25th. This screws up my plans royally, but there is not a lot I can do.
Friday night we went down town en-mass to find a club. There are maybe three. We went to Campus bar. It was a fair size, but when you try to squeeze about 75-100 people anywhere it gets crowded. But it was fun, there was an area behind a bouncer that was a dance floor, you had to pay $3.50, but the pub part had no cover, so it’s cheaper then home. We returned to the dorms at about 12:30, because we had to be up early the next day to go to Val-Jalbert. It’s not really a Ghost town, its more like an abandoned town. But it was neat, and the industry had been a paper mill that used a huge waterfall to power it. So even if the town had not been neat the waterfall was well worth the bus ride.
Sunday was a good day. I spent the morning sleeping in, for the first time. Then I had lunch. After lunch it was time to depart for Fjord d’Abres. This is like the Wild Play in Nanaimo. We had our safety lecture in English, then we were harnessed up. Then we were released to the trees. My groups was the last to go. One group had gone at 8am, and one at 12, an hour before that. I was in the front of my group with a few other girls. It starts with the easy course, to get everyone used to using their tools, and to the kinds of challenges that are present in the course. When that course is finished you move on to Blue. The complexity is greater and the obstacles begin to require more skills. The green course is next, this section includes a little bit of rock climbing up a cliff. You have to be really careful to find good holds. I had a lot of fun, but one girl slipped and scared herself really bad, so she stopped the course. After that is the final black course. This course is technically difficult and physically demanding. I loved it. It hurt then and parts of me want to die now, but I would do it again in a heart beat… in fact I think I may go to Wild Play when I get home.
After Fjord they gave us dinner before the long ride back to residence. We returned at 8:30pm, so I had a hot shower and went to bed.
Today was school as usual. But for winning the relay last week I received three fleur de Lise… which can be entered into a draw for prizes. Then after class I went to the weight room for an hour and the pool for an hour. Shortly I depart for bowling. I am having lots of fun here, and the french is coming to me easier. I had my first dream in french last night, so that has to mean something.
The excitement here never stops. Monday night, just after ten there was a loud noise outside the residence and instantly our world went dark and the elevator stopped. One of the transformers had blown. The emergency generators come on after about 5 minutes and the elevators were able to make it to the ground floor and let those trapped inside off. For the first time I met all the other girls on my floor as we all came out to see what was going on. We spent about an hour in the hall chatting (in franlish). Through that time we had three monitors come by to do head counts. We also had three men who were there to check the electrical (we think). They were funny though. One man was trying to tell us jokes, but he spoke no English and most of us did not have enough French to understand him, so his friends translated. He told us he was playing hide and seek with some girls, had we seen them… or that he was a firefighter here to save us. We returned to our rooms at 11 (silent time in the dorms). Power returned at about 2am, I was told.
Tuesday was class in the morning. In the afternoon we had an activity sociocultural. Over the next two weeks we have five. We had to decorate a cloth square. When everyone has finished a square they will be sowed together to make a blanket. It will be raffled off in the final week. After the activity I played Water Polo. We had a lot of fun. Then it was dinner and home work.
Wednesday was class all day. I signed up to make friendship bracelets after class. I went back to my room and had a lay down. At 7 we went out and played 2 rounds of mini-golf. It was really difficult. There were all these really stupid rules. You had to hit the ball with someone on your back, turn around 5 times first, use your hand, close your eyes, use something red. We all really sucked. But we had fun and it did not rain. After I stopped to watch a ball-game with Rebeca and Aliya. We got back to the dorms around 10:30. I did my homework and tried to sleep. But I kept having weird dreams and waking up all night.
Today I was up with the sun at ten to six. I read and laid in bed trying to get more sleep. We had a half say of class so we could do an activity in the afternoon. We had theatre. I love theatre and enjoy being on the stage. But its really difficult right now. We are at an elementary 2-3 level, and we have to break into groups and plan 5-10 minute skits ‘en français’. My group got a few laughs like we wanted, we weren’t the best, but were not the worst. After theatre was Ultimate Frisbee. The wind was strong so we went inside. We had to share the gym so we had a really small space. But we broke into groups of three and losers rotated off at every point. This was good because this game is surprisingly tiring. But we had fun and my team played well.
Tomorrow is a half day of class. The I am registered for a volleyball tournament. Then we have a Casino Night that no one sure about what we have to do. It’s going to be a fun day.
Friday was a fun day. We had a volleyball tournament in the afternoon. They had picked the teams for us, out of people who had signed up. I ended up on a good team.
We had three match games. We lost our first set and were placed in the ‘B’ league. We won our second match and lost our third, eliminating us from the tournament. By the end of the day I had dozens of new bruises, all over my arms and legs. But it was fun and worth it. Then it was time for dinner and to prep for the Casino night, a semi-formal event. So we all had fun getting dressed up. You could play Bingo, Black-jack, Poker, or Craps. There was a bar, so it was a great night. We chose to stay in rather then go out afterwords because we had to be up early Saturday.
Saturday was an hour and a half bus ride to Cape Trinity. There we did a 3.5km hike up the side of a mountain. It was really tiring and took about an hour and a half to walk up, but we were near the front. At one point a couple of guys came up the path running (I think they’re fucking nuts). But as happens on a wet mountain one of the guys slipped and broke his leg. This complicated the entire day. Everyone who had extra cloths gave them to the guy as we passed, to prevent shock. One of the guys had to turn around and run down the mountain to tell the rangers that there was an injury at the top of the mountain, then he ran back up the mountain to take a blanket and an ice pack. So first a first aid attendant went up the mountain, confirmed the broken leg, then as we were going down the mountain we passed two rangers with a stretcher. When we got back to the bottom there was an ambulance just arriving. Then as we were getting ready to leave we realized that two of the students were still on the mountain helping carry down the one with a broken leg. This meant that one of the buses had to wait for the students and well as the monitors that were on the mountain or waiting with the ambulance. So we crowded as many people as we could onto the two buses, and people could volunteer to stay. I was going to but there was still room on one of the buses so I left while I could.
So that was the beginning of our adventure on the mountain. The purpose of the hike was to see a statue that was placed at the top of the mountain. A man had once fallen through the ice of the fjord, and promised God that is he survived that would build a statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of the mountain. Now this is a lie. The statue is not at the top of the mountain, but is over the summit and about half down again. This means that we can officially say that this hike was uphill both ways, and it was a killer hill. But we made it to the top, ate lunch at the statue and turned around to trek back up and then down the mountain.
When we got back we all fought over the showers and decided to do nothing for awhile. Around 5:30 Kelli knocked on my door asking if I wanted to go in for Pizza with them. The deal is 2 14″ Pizza’s, Lg. Poutine, and 2L Pepsi for $30. So that is what we did for dinner. But the real reason that everyone wanted me in for dinner was so that I could phone and order for delivery in French. Quite the daunting task. The best part is that all the phones in the rooms died when I tried to call the pizza place. So we used Aliya’s cell and I successfully placed an order for the special. I was also able to figure out what they wanted when they wanted the room number (but not the actual room number). Each room has a 4 digit extension on the phone so security can call us. So we had pizza for dinner.
Then at 10 we went out to the bar. The music was really loud, but we had a great time. Bed was just after three. I woke up at 7am, sweltering hot because they have the heat on in our rooms set to like 30 degrees, and we have no way of turning it off. So I opened my window and went back to bed. I slept till 11, and not its very much a do nothing day. Laundry and homework and getting ready for next week.
This week as been very much a routine. Class in the morning and activities in the afternoon.
Monday night we watched a movie in french. The film was a Quebecois film called Babine. I understood the general story of the movie, but not a lot of the dialog. The dialog was very fast and sometimes strongly accented, or mumbled. But it was an enjoyable film.
Tuesday was the night from hell. They are cleaning all the dorms, and rather then wait two weeks for the student to leave so they can buffer the floors, they make us change rooms for a night. This means all your stuff has to be packed and you have to move rooms. But you are not allowed to have more then one room key, so you have to go up, unlock you door, make sure is won’t slam shut in the wind, go down stairs and get your new room key. Then you have to lug all you stuff to another room, sometimes on another floor (not me thankfully), then you have to do it all again in reverse the next day.
Wednesday was billiards after dinner. We march through the town in a group of about 60 students and went downtown to play billiards. I won the first game, and got progressively worse as the night and the drinks progressed.
Thursday was a bit of an adventure. We had to go to Chicotami (the equivalent of “Big City” to those in “Small Town”). The bus takes 45 minutes, but drops us off at the shopping centre. We had to find costumes, or pieces for the costume party Friday night. We spent a good three hours at the mall, shopping quickly. I ran into my professor and her daughter at the WINNERS. So I said hi, then she was behind me in line, and it was awkward because I had to think and speak to her in french, and it was outside the class room, but I survived and told her about what we were doing and what my costume was going to be. At Walmart I bought two children’s books for .74 cents. They are in French and I will have to take some time to translate them. Then on the way back we had no idea what bus we had to take, so we asked this man, and he told us we had to be at the other bus stop on the other side of the mall, and he thought our last bus was coming soon so we should hurry. Well we watched the bus as it pulled away. So we asked the next bus driver what bus we could take. It turned out his bus would drop us right at the school, but the ride was very suburban and took us just over an hour. But we made it back.
Friday after class I had a nap, I didn’t mean to but I fell asleep while reading a book. After dinner we went to IGA to buy groceries for the weekend. Every thing here is so much cheaper, especially the cheese. After shopping we all gathered and got ready for the costume party. I was the sun, and I have no pictures of myself, but I am okay with that. The other costumes were really creative and people worked really hard on them, I was amazed my a few of the costumes. We had lots of fun, so when things stopped at 11 we went back to dorms and continued the party.
Today (Saturday) is a really lazy day. Most of the students are at the whale watching. I opted not to go because I’ve seen whales… they are the same whales here and at home. This morning I though I slept in, but not a chance. I was up around 7:30 after going back to sleep three or four times. The sun is killer through the windows beginning at just before 5 am. Today I am going to work on translating my paper for the Spy museum, and my books if I have time. I am not going to do much.
But as I am all sure you are now wondering about my big purchase. This morning I received a message from Alex confirming the date she would prefer to travel. We had decided that with the election happening in India in August, and the warning I had received about the violence at election time, we chose a new destination. This morning I purchased a ticket to Bangkok. I arrive on the 1st of August and will stay until the 11th. I am very excited because it has been so long since I have seen Alex. By August it will be basically a year that she has been abroad, and I have missed her a lot. Also I am excited to go to Bangkok and see the sights. Now I just need to plan an itinerary. This is really shaping up to be a great summer.
So I just remembered that I never updated about my first white water rafting trip.
I am really glad I was not with the morning rafters. I heard them up and leaving at just before 7am. I had a quick laugh and went right back to sleep. We did not have to leave until just after noon. I spent the morning lounging around, finished my book ‘Into Thin Air’. Then I clean up as a packed a change of cloths for rafting.
The bus ride was just over an hour… joy oh joy. But it was fine, I chatted with the girls in franglish. When we got there we we were suited up into our wet-suits. But they ran out and some of us (me) had to wear the last groups still cold and wet suits. But once they were on you couldn’t feel the cold. We had to get back on the bus to get to the boat launch.
We had to separate into groups, but our groups was too small, and we got split into small groups and were added, not to other explore groups, but to private groups. So I spent two hours on a boat and everyone else in the boat spoke french. That made it really hard to follow instructions, but I got the hang of it.
We stopped at one point to jump of a twenty foot cliff into the river. My boat arrived first, so I was front of the line to jump. One guide went up will us to point up the big rocks we had to miss when we jumped. It was very similar to Englishman River at home. I thought the jump was fun, others did not agree with me. A few people turned around and climbed down rather then jumping. Then we hauled ourselves back into our boats and continued down the river.
The river was really calm, very easy going and good for first timers. Until the very end. The word Chute in french means waterfall. What away to end the ride. The fall is very small, only about a two foot drop. A boat of guides was already waiting to rescue all those who bailed. Our guide was taking photo’s so we grounded ourselves before the waterfall and watched all the other groups go over. From the first group about half fell out of the boat, the second and third boats were well done, no one fell out. The fourth boat capsized and every one was lost. When it was finally our turn I was disappointed when we didn’t flip.
Until they piled those who were willing back into the boats to brave the rough waters at the bottom of the chute. I went twice more, once the boat got stuck in the waters and was throwing us everywhere, like a bull, until the boat collapsed and made its way out of the rough waters. The second time the boat almost flipped, but I bailed because it’s the best part.
After, cold and wet, we walked back to the bus and were taken back to get out of our wet-suits, dry off and have a hot supper. Then it was back to residence. We went for a late night poutine snack for Samantha’s birthday. We have a nice little famous poutine shack about a ten minute walk away. After that is was bed time, very late.
The only thing that sucked about rafting was the killer cold I got from it. I have felt like death warmed over since waking up Monday. But I am starting to fell better, I hope that means Elizabeth will stop picking on me. It also means that I have been spending more time in my room. In the last two days I have finished the first two books in the Twilight series and am well into the third.
Tomorrow we go to the zoo, a two hour drive there and back, so I will likely finish three and four this weekend, as it is also a two hour drive to Quebec city. It’s going to be very busy here for our last weekend. I can not believe how fast the time is passing here. Just over one week left in Jonquiere. And 12 days (11 by the time this is posted) before I am in Europe. What a two weeks. See everyone soon.
What a long day.
This means that I was up with the sun (about 4:45 for those who care). I finished my french homework. I had to find a french news article (preferably local) to present to the class. I chose one on a coming music festival. My professor liked it, so that’s all that mattered. Then I started to read Eclipse (third in the twilight series). Then is was off to breakfast and class.
Class ended early today, because students going to the zoo had to be on the bus as 11:30. We received a paper bag lunch. Sandwiches, a juice box, macaroni salad, and a cookie. We ate on the bus. It was two hours to the zoo. I read more of my book on both bus rides. When we arrived at the zoo we started by watching a film, telling us about the animals. Then suddenly there are snakes on the screen and everyone feels something brush the back of their legs from under the seat. Everyone screamed. It was très drôle (very funny). The best part was when the snake was hunting a mouse, you knew what was going to happen… or at least I did, but where we were attacked from under our seats a second time people still screamed. Then is was winter and we saw the hares and the wolves, and it began snowing in the theatre. So when spring came, and we saw all the baby animals on screen, we got wet in the inside April showers. It was a fun experience, if not a little over done.
After we had an hour to wander before we could catch a cage/train ride that took us through the back of the park where a lot of the animals were roaming free. So we started in the mixed forest area and was a lot of the things in our backyards, rabbits, raccoons, foxes. We stopped at an underground section to see the inside of a beaver dam. Very dark, hard to get a photo, because the flash bounces off the glass and reflects in the photo. So the photo’s are very dark. Then we went and saw the seals, that was sad. It was like a kiddie pool, and it wasn’t clean at all, the water was very dirty. But just next to them were the polar bears. And they were in a much nicer habitat, though it was rather small. We watched there until we had to go catch the train.
The train took just over an hour. The trail was like going through the prairies. We saw elk, caribou, wolves, dear, black bear, water buffalo, bison, prairie dogs. It was neat. When that was over we went through the mountain area of the zoo. There was a grizzly bear, but he was sleeping, a cougar, bobcat, coyotes, mountain and goats. We passed through this area very quickly. The only animals cooperating for photo’s were the coyotes, because an employee was in the habitat.
It was also the smallest part of the zoo. Asia. There were three exhibits, red-crowned crane, Japanese snow macaques, and tigers. I loved the macaques and the tigers. The macaque walk had all these little things for people to try. You could climb up and down obstacles, you could swing on a rope or slide down a pole. The monkey’s were cute. Someone had dropped their camera into the exhibit, and one of the macaques had it and was trying to eat it, or break the ‘shell’ for the food inside. I feel really sorry for who ever dropped their camera. Then the saddest part of the rather small zoo, the tigers. There were four tigers in the pen, and really they just laid there. After the tigers we had seen all there was to see. We tried to find an ice-cream shop, but they had all closed. So we went back to the gift shop and saw a little squirrel trying to steal food from the garbage can. Then we went back on the bus. I read for the two hours.
On our return to dorms we received paper bag dinners. Same as lunch, not bad. Then I finished Eclipse and I am looking for an English Breaking Dawn to buy so I can read it on the ride back (and to the beach Sunday). Tomorrow is Quebec so it is likely I will have to update and add photo’s tomorrow also.
That is apparently where I stopped. There is no entry about our time in Quebec city and all I really remember from that day anymore is that we went into the old district.
I had a great time in Jonquiere, Quebec and look back fondly on the time I was able to spend there.
As best we could translate the sign above says “Pay attention to your children. This could be yours.” It’s just a little bit morbid for a road sign.