I’ll admit, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. My safe arrival was a miracle in itself, since I managed to navigate Montreal and the closure of my Quebec City exit without any problems. It took a little while, but I eventually found my residence, dragged most of my stuff out of my car, and got settled in.
The most important part of Explore is the French Immersion. The ‘animators’ who run the activities, the professors, and the university admins speak only French—at least to us. Classes are conducted exclusively in French, and all important information is also delivered in French. That means that students who know only a little French (like me) have a pretty steep learning curve for the first few days!
Fortunately, adjusting to speaking French was actually easier than I expected. On Day One of the program I was already having basic conversations with my classmates, and by today (class 4) I was able to have a basically normal conversation. My grammar is horrible, of course, and I’m often scrambling for vocabulary, but I can get my point across.
Being able to speak and understand French is pretty exciting, but the difficulty is that my writing and grammar aren’t as advanced as my oral and comprehension skills. This means that I’m at a distinct disadvantage in my grammar class, especially since the professor thinks that my oral/comprehension skills are as poor as my writing. It’s difficult to succeed in a class where the professor thinks you’re stupid, especially since every time she calls on me for an answer I manage to mess up somehow. At this point, I’m just hoping that the first test (next week already!) goes well, so that I can prove that I actually belong in this level.
The other low point in my week has been adjusting to residence. I’ve never lived in residence before, and I must admit that I’m not really a fan. I dislike going down the hall to the bathroom or showers (although my room does have a sink), and the impersonal feel of the endless hallways is anything but homey. The main problem, though, is my inability to cook. There is a huge kitchen in the basement, but I have no cooking implements, and, most importantly, no fridge. This means that I can’t buy meat, milk, yogurt, vegetables, frozen deserts… anything that needs to be kept cold. My meals, then, are limited to cafeteria/restaurant food, or little fresh-made microwave meals from the grocery store. For someone used to following the sales and cooking healthy meals on just $2 a day, going to the cafeteria every day is painful.
As a pleasant note to end today’s blog: I have bought a kettle. This may seem like such a little thing, but once you’ve had to go down three flights of stairs to microwave water to make tea, having a kettle in your room is a big deal. I also met a bunch of lovely tea-lovers in the kitchen last night, and we’ve decided to enjoy evening tea parties more often. There’s no better way to end the day. :)
That’s all for now! I’ll try to post a little more often and get into the specifics of what’s going on here, rather than just general summary. But now… over to you! Have any of you done an immersion program, and, if so, what was your experience like?