Shopping for la nourriture

image001As I write this blog post, I’ve spent just over a week in Montreal. Since this has been my first time ever leaving the United States, I had been mentally preparing myself for the changes I would encounter over the course of the semester. While I believe I’ve done fairly well at adjusting over this first week, there were still some pretty big surprises from some unexpected places. For now, I’d like to tell you about my first experience with a foreign grocery store.

On the first Friday night of orientation weekend, one of our RAs took us to the nearest image003grocery store so we could get acquainted with the area. Only a two minute walk from our residence halls on Saint Urbain street, Provigo seemed like a pretty standard grocery store from the outside. Once inside though, the differences slowly revealed themselves. Most signs are written in French and the prices use commas where decimals used to be. Meat is priced by the kilogram (I was really surprised when I thought ground beef was $14 a pound!), and milk comes in bags. However, the most disorienting thing for me personally wasn’t the differences between language, measurements, or containers, but the lack of certain foods I relied on for comfort.

On my first shopping trip to Provigo, I took a cart when I walked in the door. I walked up and down every single isle, but fifteen minutes later the cart was pretty barren. I was feeling discouraged by the lack of familiar food brands, a different selection than I was used to, and image004really expensive chicken. My cart was so empty that a friend I was shopping with had emptied half the contents of his cart into mine because he was embarrassed to be walking around with me and my empty cart. I ended up checking out with only a loaf of bread, some english muffins, and a stick of butter. When I got back to my dorm I felt pretty bad about not being able to do something as simple as shop for food, and was determined to try again.

A few days later I gave it a second attempt going in with an open mind, and was much more successful. I tackled the fresh produce section, picked up a variety of college student staples, and bought a couple croissants. I even bought a special pitcher for the bagged milk. What I took away from this ordeal was that I didn’t realize how comforting something simple like a grocery store could be. I found it interesting that the bigger changes such as the language and a new city barely even slowed me down, image002but it made sense that changes to the simple things, the tasks that I did everyday at home, can cause such a roadblock. I believe that I’ve come out of this first week a little stronger, with new experiences that will help me to continue finding my place in a foreign environment as I tackle bigger challenges. But for now, at least I’ll have something to eat.

Jak Tiano, Game Design Major, Official Blogger, Spring 2014