I am so pleased with the study abroad trip to Canada! From the food to the history-rich tours, I learned so much about Montreal and Quebec City. However, the most transformative experience for me was the simple act of interacting with Canadians. It was such a different experience to have people approach me by speaking French, and then immediately switch to English. It made me feel grateful that they knew the only language that I can speak and understand fluently, but it also made me feel a lot smaller. Looking back, I feel like I could have made a little bit more of an effort to learn more French, so that I could adapt to the place I was in, (rather than others always having to adapt to me.) Although there is nothing wrong with only knowing one language, this trip has made me realize that the more knowledge of different cultures you have, the better. Even when I would simply greet people by saying “Bonjour,” their smile let me know that they appreciated my effort to adapt to their culture, by trying (at least a little) to use their language. I have never taken French, but I did study Spanish all throughout high school. This experience has made me rethink my decision to discontinue spanish classes, because I can now see just how impactful being bilingual is. I can imagine myself someday visiting Spain, for example, and having a much more profound experience in numerous ways, if I were to continue to improve upon my spanish beforehand.
I will never forget my attempts to navigate the metro, the joyous moment I won $40 Canadian dollars at a casino :D, or the lifelong friendships I made on our week-long adventure. If I could only pick one thing the trip did for me, I would say that it confirmed my love of traveling and learning in new places, even though I had some initial anxieties. Thank you all for a wonderful week!