Seeing as I have been back in the UK now for nearly a month and haven’t updated anything in terms of my Canadian experience since March, I thought that a general overview was needed to tie off any loose ends.
I absolutely loved my time in Montreal and I’m certainly starting to miss it more now I’ve been home for a while. By far the thing I miss most about my year abroad is the people, I made friends for life during my two semesters at Concordia and it feels very strange to go from seeing them every day to not at all. However in this wonderful technological world that we live in I’m fortunate in that these friends are never more than a Snapchat or FaceTime away whether they are in Canada, France or Australia.
Another element of post-study-abroad syndrome/reverse culture shock that I’m experiencing is the sudden change from immense freedom to the monotonous routine. While I experience a very similar thing when returning home from university in Hertfordshire, the fact that Montreal was a vibrant city with never a dull moment, and that this year contained a lot of travelling to places I had never been before, means that I am feeling the suffocation of a rural town a lot more than before.
I’m sure this restlessness will either be enhanced or disappear once I begin summer work and dissertation research (let’s hope it’s the latter), but it is important to accept that I am not the same person who left my mum and brother at Heathrow Airport on August 23rd 2014. Study abroad has made me grow in confidence, assured me of my ability to live independently and adapt to whatever situation the universe deals me. In addition to these personal victories, I feel like my academic skills have improved with this extra year of study and I feel much more confident with asserting my voice and argument in historical writing. It also has become apparent that spending a year surrounded by French has actually worked! Only after returning home did I realise that I know much more than I thought, my bilingual envy of Montrealers obviously masked my own improvement which I am determined to not lose now I have three French-less months ahead of me.
Overall, I am so grateful of this experience and cannot wait to watch how the positive repercussions of this year abroad effect the rest of my life.
Thank you for having me Montreal, until we meet again.
Don’t you just love the seasons?
So this week’s entry is a guest from my good pal J about the current situation surrounding austerity measures in Quebec. I feel like this is a part of my study abroad year that needs to be documented, but I don’t feel qualified to discuss it in any kind of detail. So, take it away J!
Hey folks! So my name is J and I’m going to be talking about the current austerity movement in Quebec. I’m a women’s studies student, and for me the issue of austerity is highly connected to feminist issues of marginalization and systemic violence. Austerity measures are a system imposed by the government to try and reduce the general debt, by cutting budgets and raising taxes and fees. The responsibility of the debt is then shifted from the government to the individuals. The sectors which are often most affected by austerity measures are those of social services (education, childcare, healthcare, etc), because in the eyes of the government they are often seen as the more disposable sectors.
In critiquing austerity, one must realize the people who are disproportionately affected by these measures. Social services, tend to not only be accessed by marginalized folks–but also run by them. Fighting against the austerity movement, is a political choice, and one which I fully support.
Here are some pictures from my trip to Canada’s capital! I only spent three days there, but it was a great long weekend filled with great friends, skating and
(I actually did a lot of homework this weekend, but that wasn’t super fun)
And for anyone who’s is wondering, what I do on the ice can actually pass for skating now, which is a big achievement in my mind! I prefer skating on a rink to outdoor/river/pond/whatever skating because the natural surface can be a little uneven and bumpy, but hey, when in Rome… 🙂
Follow my on Instagram (scoobyluce) to see more images of my time in Canada!
Disclaimer: I’m not sure this makes much sense because it’s late, but I’m sure there’s meaning in it somewhere.
So the inevitable has happened. I had to visit the doctor here in Montreal. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t on my list of things to do before I leave, but I just don’t seem to be able to make it a year without crossing the threshold of a medical practice. (There is a reason for this, I’m not a hypochondriac or super clumsy, but I won’t go into details here.)
I wasn’t nervous about seeing the Doctor or panicking about the language barrier because I went to the health services at my university, so that was a weight off my shoulders. No, for me the anxiety came from the differences in medical practices, or as I like to call it ‘they-don’t-know-me-or-my-history-and-that-worries-me’ panic. I am someone who is aware of their own medical needs and is fairly in tune with their body, so I know when something is up. I don’t know more than the professionals, that’s not what I’m saying, but I know enough to question every little thing I’m told.
I’d already come across the difference with buying painkillers such as paracetamol (that’s not the name of the drug used in North America), and it’s the differences that make up the point of this year abroad. Not just differences medically, but in banking, taxes, university and whole number of other things.
So what is this rather disjointed and ramble heavy post about? I learned this week that I can explain myself and my history clearly and with authority (in English, I don’t trust myself yet in French). Something such as a medical history can make living abroad scary, you want to be in the comfort of your own doctors in practices you recognise, but it doesn’t make it impossible. You just have to be sure in yourself.
As is the norm in the world of academics, all of my midterms have come at once (next week). Then comes the barrage of essays and assignments, but before I drown in work, I wanted to post this to explain any sort of blog absence. I have a trip to Ottawa coming up in a couple of weekends so that is something to look forward to, a light in the tunnel of studying. 🙂
Last Friday, I received the welcome news that I could move back into my room after an incident in which a sprinkler went off and flooded our hallway. Luckily, none of my personal belongings were damaged, but from Thursday the 22nd of January I was room-less along with about 30 other people. While we were all re-homed for the week, I ended up spending most of it crashing on an air-bed on my friend’s floor, as the room I was given was on another campus that wasn’t ideal for my 8.45am classes.
The upside to this week of uncertainty and and de-humidifiers is the bond that developed between all of the girls in my hallway. We spent a week sharing the same experience, talking to each other more and lending a hand when things were needed. Living out of a bag in a dishevelled manner is by no means ideal, but it is certainly something to write home about and a change from routine (yes I’m a silver-linings kind of person). I wouldn’t recommend a burst sprinkler as a community building exercise, but there are always positives to take from a situation, be it good or bad.
It’s like J.K. Rowling said, ‘There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and
knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll dealing with a burst sprinkler is one of them.’
A big thank you to all the Residence staff for dealing with the situation so efficiently and getting us back into our rooms as quickly as possible. Also a huge thank you to my friends for lodgings, blankets and just general awesome friendliness. I am aware that I still owe you chocolate for this service. 😛
Make sure you check out my Instagram scoobyluce for regular post about my year in Montreal!
Well hello there! It’s been a while I know, but I promise that I have a valid reason for my absence,
I haven’t posted in a while purely because I had no laptop for a time. The cooling fan completely died, so I was laptop-less while a great place called Andromeda Tech found and fitted a replacement fan. They also removed all the dust and dirt from the machine, and it was ready for me to collect within a week so if you ever have laptop or phone trouble in Montreal (not that I’m wishing that upon you) definitely check them out.
Aside from laptop troubles, the transition into winter has been pretty
cool good. Luckily it stayed pretty mild while my mum visited, -10 was the coldest she experienced which I’m sure she’ll tell you was cold enough! Since she left however, the temperature has been firmly on a downward trajectory with a nice ice storm thrown in. I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far I seem to be mastering walking on ice. There have been a few near misses, but I’m planning so keeping the falling on my bum for ice skating.
Which brings me on to my next point, getting outside when it’s super cold. University is in full swing again so it’s really important that I get away from the books and studying so I don’t go mad. Usually, I find relief in reading for fun, going to the cinema or Netflix, however I’m embracing one of the most Canadian pastimes by purchasing my own pair of skates. There are so many places to ice skate in Montreal, some free and others charging admission, but as I’m here for the long haul investing in my own pair of skates seemed like the most cost effective thing to do. Skate rental can be pricey if you’re doing it every weekend!
So I shall keep you posted on the skating venture. I’m telling you now that bruises will be inevitable, but let’s not stray into broken bone territory. 😀
Right, I’m off tackle more of my university reading. First full week and there is already so much, time to channel Hermione Granger…..