Kelley Sweet

There are a lot of things I could say about my trip to Quebec that are seemingly important to know if you wanted to go to school at UQTR; most of them involve class hours, activities, and social events. After all the time I spent, these are not the reasons I am glad I went to Trois-Rivières to study French. The trip was life changing; the experience was humbling and invaluable in what it taught me in character. I found connections to the French language on a pure level, connections that I could not understand before, even with hours of study. I found myself having exceedingly high reading comprehension without studying as hard as I previously had, as well as being confident when I spoke to the Quebecois. I would definitely take this trip again, and I encourage anyone that is financially able to do so to invest in this opportunity.

Of the things that the school offered the students, the cultural aspects of the trip were by far my favorite. Each weekend, the school would load all of us students up and take us to neighboring cities: Montreal, Quebec, Shawinigan; each time we were encouraged to visit historical sites, to speak French, and to interact with the people of the town. The amount of culture, even in Trois-Rivières, was astounding; the mix of French, English, and Native American histories creates a unique story for each city. I learned the founding stories of Trois-Rivières on a day trip my professor took my class on; we walked around the downtown area, going into churches, stopping at statues for short historical snippets, and living the history ourselves in a way. Another day, I was shown the Native American side of the Maurice area's history, on a trip to Shawinigan. Obviously, the trip organizers presented the students with a fully interactive brief history of the creation stories that many of the local Native Americans still held as true, it seemed important to the school that the students see that. They made a point to speak of it in length and were not fearful (as some are in the United States) of offending; it seemed it was understood that the Native Americans had been wronged and that nothing they could do would fix that, but that the best way to help prevent future destruction would be through education. This direct addressing of social issues, as well as historical showmanship, was unlike anything I had previously known. I feel that the vital part of my education was the exposure to these histories, cultures, and mindsets. I also feel that the language part of the course was perfectly supplemented with these journeys.

I did have a lot of fun on the trip, both in monumental ways and superficial ones. I learned to say various versions of my coffee order perfectly within the first few weeks, and enjoyed learning that. I figured out that many Quebecois people are extremely willing to listen to you butcher their native language, and will correct you instead of chide you when you finish. I made many friends, both in the towns and in the school; I enjoyed the sense of humor and pride they were charged with. I walked beside buildings which have been standing since the 1600s, and saw beauty in many aspects. I got to try food, good and bad, and enjoyed the experience of both. Even the things I did not enjoy on the trip were still things that were well worth the time I put into them, a tour of the old jail in Trois-Rivières, for example. I saw a video, composed by previous inmates, which was incredibly poignant, and even though it was not necessarily enjoyable, it was important for me to have seen. Many of the things I experienced I feel I cannot do justice in explaining; they were things that were right for me to have seen at the time. As I have already said, and I maintain this belief, the most powerful part of this trip was the character building; immersion is not easy, but well worth it.