Good morning, world. My name is Lucy Dishoian and I am the only brave girl from California who decided to study abroad in Montreal during the months of January-May. One might ask why I used the term “brave.” My classmates are mostly from Vermont or from states near it. What this means is that they have been exposed to cold weather. I was born and raised in Orange County, where it’s summer all year round. I like to use the term brave while my friends and family have chosen to call me crazy. I am a sophomore studying Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. However, Champlain has adopted me for the next four months and I could not be happier. My home university has classes that are enrolled with over 400 students and our grades are determined by three exams- which are distributed within a ten week period. My classes here at Champlain are enrolled with less than fifteen students. I am learning about Canadian Culture by exploring film and the fine arts. We bond with our professors and are evaluated as actual students who learn, instead of standing as merely a statistic who is defined by a percentage. Now that we are better acquainted, let me enlighten you about my journey thus far.
When I told my friends I was studying abroad in Montreal, they all looked at me and laughed. I was constantly faced with comments like “Canada is not abroad.” These individuals thought that you needed to cross an ocean to be exposed to a different cultural experience. Fortunately for me, I knew better. Montreal is saturated with so much variety. There are people from all over the world living on this exciting island. Living in downtown Montreal guarantees that every day will be an adventurous one. I have come across people of all shapes and sizes, foods from this hemisphere and the next, and temperatures that make me imagine I’m living in a snow globe. I’m currently watching the snow fall from my window as I write this blog. That is a sentence I could not repeat in California!
I am sure you have noticed by now that the title of this piece is bilingual, just like this city. The title is translated from French to English and is a phrase every Quebecois knows. This quote is on every license plate in this province and in the last month has come to mean something very important to me. I am far from home and living with people I had never met. I live in a city that has norms different than ones from my home town. I am absorbing the culture and lifestyle like a sponge absorbs water. This adventure has only begun and has kept a smile on my face ever since. But through it all, I remember me. I remember where I come from. I remember the person that I am and stay true to that.
– Lucy Dishoian, Public Health Sciences, University of California, Official Blogger Spring 2014