So maybe I haven't entirely abandoned cataloging this past year, but it will certainly be on hiatus for a little while. I by no means stopped doing amazing things in England and Europe, but since coming home I've had very little time to organise what was so recently my exciting life.
Three days after I touched down on good ol' hearty Canadian soil, I moved on up and out to Chicoutimi to do the Explore program at UQAC. It was at first a major challenge to alter the way I think in order to speak French solidly for five weeks, but in doing so I made leaps and bounds in my comprehension and of course ability to actually use my most favoured of second languages. We had many a discussion in our broken French about WHY we were there doing this program and WHAT it all meant to us. For me, like for many other people, bilingualism is just straight-up an asset in Canada, especially in Ottawa and Montreal. In all honesty, I think most of the people were there because French does give a competitive edge in Canadia. However, as I discovered about myself while I was there, it's much more about national identity for me. Most people know me as hypercanadiophilic, and for my own personal definition of what it is to be a Canadian that involves speaking French and English. I can understand that may not be the case further west or deep in Quebec or what have you, but for me, it is. I've also realised this year that much of what I'm studying will be focussing on issues of Canadian Identity, so it's nice that I had these few weeks of "Summer Camp for Big Kids" to figure out this facet of a giant question for moi-même.
Needless to say it wasn't all self-reflection and vying to have onesself understood; it also was tonnes of fun. We went hiking, spent a weekend in Quebec city, did some whale watching, I took and developed my own photos from step one to final product, learned some Quebecois folk danses, sang in a choir, and just enjoyed myself. I also made some amazing friends, many of whom I can see myself keeping up much longer friendships.
Because I am lucky enough that I didn't have to work this summer, after coming back from Chicouts I was able to spend the full two weeks at the cottage, something which I have not done in years. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Lots of sun, cards, candy, swimming, eating, drinking, family, and friends. I can't imagine the next time that I'll be able to spend the full time up there, probably not 'till I'm retired, so I was glad to soak it up while I could.
It was then quickly to pack and move back to Montreal. Oh how I missed this city! I've been here for a few weeks now, and still each moment is wonderful. I moved in with Megan, one of my besties since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper, and I am happy to report that all things are not only hunk, but also dor. A few days after I got installed, Ariana and Clara came to visit, coinciding with Carmel staying with Adrianna. We had a touristy, catchy-upy, fun-filled week, and I hope that we convinced the foreigners (apologies, Ariana) that Montreal is the place for reunions. Now we just need to get Clara to come in winter rather than during a heat-wave and she will get the REAL Canadian experience.
Since their all-too-soon departure, I've been hitting books and craking administration. Turns out I had a lot less to worry about credits than I had thought, and it's looking like I will be able to graduate with extra credits this year after all. That is, if I survive. Right now I've got a full courseload (boohoo Crompton, welcome to what everyone else does all the time), including three honours seminars. So far I'm really digging all of my classes, so it's not unpleasant to be constantly reading and working and what have you, but it certianly is a big ol' change from the summer, and dare I say it, England. Sorry England, you guys have it eeeassssaaayyyy. Makes me want to come back for more school all the more.
This year is looking to be just as good as the last. I'm on a leaner budget and my adventures probably won't be so geographically adventurous, but I'm hoping to get a job so I can travel my True North Strong and Free to visit friends old and new. I'm all-the-while going to have to make decisions about what I'm going to do after this year and may be a bit of wreck on that front, but last year was all new and improved, and I'm sure that Lina version 2.1 (get it?! ha!) can only be the best of improvements that the manufacturer has to offer.
Toodle pip, and come visit me!
Your friend Lina