French. Seems like the obvious topic to write about when thrown headfirst into the French speaking city of Montréal, so why did it take over a month to get to it? Oddly enough, it’s because I didn’t realize how big ‘the language thing’ was until our recent trip to Ottawa.
When I first got to Montréal, there were a hundred things that my brain was filing under the “New” folder, with French being one of many. Apparently with so many things to learn and adjust to (food shopping, for example), ‘the language thing’ kind of slipped right through the cracks. I accepted it, and was comfortable with the small pieces of broken French I had picked up from the Duolingo app I’d installed on my phone. This past weekend when we took a trip to Ottawa, which is located outside of Quebec in Ontario, I was honestly surprised at how comforting the English language was. I could read signs, understand people talking on the street, and I knew exactly what I was ordering at restaurants. Something I had taken for granted my whole life had become a noticeable event, and it weirded me out a little bit.
After our visit to Ottawa, I felt like I really needed to dive back into learning the French language to get the most out of my stay in the city of Montréal. Knowing the language in Ottawa made me feel like I was able to access everything the city had to offer, and while I could get by most of the time here without french, I wanted to get closer to the full experience. To compare the differences that language makes, I mirrored one of my simple experiences from Ottawa when I returned to Montréal: ordering a coffee at a Second Cup in French. It didn’t really go over too well (it didn’t help that the girl who took my order had just started working there the day before), and I had to revert to English to finish my order.
However, I came away from the ordeal with the goal of being able to confidently go out and order food and drinks in french. Ultimately, these are the types of experiences that have made my time studying abroad so valuable; there are always new challenges to push you and make you grow, even if they are as simple as ordering a coffee.
– Jak Tiano, Game Design Major, Official Blogger, Spring 2014