jueves, octubre 02, 2008

On growing up

I know I've been procrastinating for too long to tell how was my trip to Canada, and I think it's about time to talk about it.
Briefly I'll say I went to Montréal for two months and I took a few trips out of town while I was there. Montréal is not a especially beautiful city, but it has its charm and there were a few neighbourhoods I never got tired to walk about. The general atmosphere is indeed different from what I saw the other time I went to Canada (right at the other end of the country, in British Columbia). But maybe that has something to do with the fact that in Québec they're half french, and that really has to affect you somehow.
Québec city is really beautiful and the surroundings are incredibly lush and great. I have only been twice to the States and each time it was just for a few hours, so I guess that's the immensity feeling people talk about when they cross the country. Unbelievably big open spaces that look almost infinite and that make you feel very, very small and at the same time connected to the earth.
One of the things that shocked me the most was to learn that shortly after I was in Québec city, the Manége burnt down. It was one of the oldest military buildings, where soldiers used to train when they were sent to Canada in the 1600s. In fact, it was one of the first buildings settlers built when they arrived... so sad!
Anyways, I think the most important thing about my stay in Montréal is all the people I met and what I learnt from them.
The first without a doubt has to be my "host mom". What a... peculiar woman! Thanks to her way of talking, almost screaming and mixing English and French in the same sentence, she got me to understand perfectly the Québecois accent. We both talk a lot, so we didn't have any problems communicating, whatever it was the language. At the beginning I was surprised. After a while, I couldn't understand why I hadn't lived in a bilingual atmosphere all my life... it felt so natural!
Then there were all the people from the school. In the two months I spent there, on the first one I went to French school, and on the second one, I worked in a multilingual radio station.
Well, so the people from the school were pretty fantastic. At first I thought I was gonna be bored with the classes and all, but then I had the greatest time and I was a little sad when the whole class thing ended. My morning teacher was the coolest guy ever. All the girls in school were crazy about him, but he played tough all the time. He taught me French is not so bad, and that you can be a language teacher and not bore to death all your students. Then, my afternoon teacher was a very sweet guy. He was a little older than the other one, but we had an instant connection. He taught me a lot (and I mean A LOT) of French in just a month. And the greatest thing of all, he encouraged me enough so I felt comfortable enough to go around talking to people in French 24 hours after my arrival!! That's awesome, if you ask me. And then, well, all my friends from school. Great people even with the age difference and all, and I think friends forever.
But my month at the school got to an end and I started working. Obviously it was a different situation, but we ended up being a pretty tight gang and I had a great time. My boss taught me a lot of stuff, including conversational French Québecois. He had this really strong Québecois accent and... AND he had some teeth missing. My first week there I thought I would never understand this guy, and he must have thought I was retarded or something. That Friday I went home after work and all the way I couldn't stop thinking what was I going to do? I couldn't understand my boss, I couldn't do the job (one thing is to translate from whatever to Spanish, but translating from whatever to French is totally different) and I was the only Spaniard there so... what could I do? Should I quit? Should I tell the people from school so they can find me another job? By the end of the weekend I had decided I was not going to chicken out. I was there to learn French and if that's what it was going to take, then be it! And that's how, at the end of the two months, I spoke better French than any of my friends and had no problems at all understanding the weird accent they have (for those of you that don't beleive me and understand a little French, watch this and tell me if their accent is or isn't weird as hell).
So yeah, maybe the first step to this incredible learning experience started with me making the decision of going and of not letting my stuborness get in the way of learning a completely normal language. Of course it wasn't a simple decision: I went almost as far as you can go from France to learn French. It wasn't a coincidence. I am really sorry, but even my teachers (both from France) admitted French people have a... special personality. I decided to open to a language that I had always hated, and I'm very happy I did. It's not that French has become my favourite language all of sudden, not at all, but at least I read and listen to French every day without wanting to kill, kill, KILL!
And oh, yeah! This new trip has renovated my wish to migrate to cooler lands... say, Canada!
In other post I'll tell you about those trips I took and about snow... ah, snow!

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