From June 28 to July 31, I participated in the Explore program at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières. I studied French in an immersion environment with a no-English rule, where you risk being expelled from the program if caught speaking English.
My stay in Trois-Rivières was very exciting from beginning to end. The French immersion gave me a taste of Quebec culture and lifestyle. When I first arrived in Trois-Rivières, being dropped off by Orleans Express and trying to figure out the way to the university, I had no idea that learning French could be such an adventure. From asking for directions, ordering food and meeting the inhabitants of the town, to learning in a classroom and doing workshops and activities with fellow participants of the program, communicating in French has never been so much fun, and it has created memories that I’ll never forget.
During the five weeks, I lived on the university campus among 200 other Explore participants in apartment-style dorms. Upon our arrival at the university, we were greeted by the friendlyanimateurs – local students who led all of our Explore activities. We enjoyed thematic Friday soirées (dances), outings to downtown Trois-Rivières, Quebec City and Montreal, and other activities such as rock climbing and museum visits. One vivid moment was when we visited Quebec City, walking in Vieux Québec on narrow streets, somewhat resembling “Diagon Alley” from the Harry Potter movies, with interesting and eclectic boutiques. I remember the hanging flower pots outside restaurant terraces and the street musicians who created an intoxicating atmosphere with their music. I also attended the Festivoix of Trois-Rivières, a music festival that took place from June 26 to July 5 in downtown Trois-Rivières. My Explore friends and I sat in a garden listening to captivating jazz music on a Saturday evening.
I had an amazing time in Trois-Rivières. I experienced a positive environment while learning French. Having studied some French in high school, I was put in the intermediate level at Explore. After five weeks of immersion, my French had improved a lot. Speaking, listening and writing in French had become second nature. Coming back, I had to tell myself to switch back to English. It was a successful immersion, and it makes me want to continue to learn French on my own. I’m going to miss the French-speaking environment, the quaint houses, the music, the adventures and the people I met in Trois-Rivières.