Monday, August 11, 2014

Whew... Est-ce que je parle français?

Five weeks have flown, in so many ways! I don't really feel like I have learned enough French that I could say I "speak" French, but I can at least muddle through decently now! Woo hoo! I'm currently working my way home (aka trapped in an airport wishing that cheap flights were less painful or involved a possibility of more sleep), so I thought I'd share some of the end part of the journey.

The last couple weeks have been filled with all sorts of adventures. Another hike, a cheese factory, chocolate dipped icecream, museums, wandering, ...(and of course some French). The program has been a great experience. Québec City is a lovely place to wander about in for a summer, hot - humid for sure, but lovely. 

With the Club des Maîtres I went on an excursion that involved going to a cheese factory (Bergeron) that was both delicious and interesting. After that we had a picnic (mostly of cheese!) and then went to see a waterfall - and finish the night off with softserve icecream dipped in amazing dark chocolate. It was a lot of fun! 

Delightfully - there was another tasting! So I got to try a bunch of cheese, before figuring out what I wanted purchase. Downside - I wanted it all... so delicious!
We saw the waterfall from a suspension bridge. It was really pretty!
Afterward we went to Levis (just across the river from Quebec City) to Chocolate Favoris for amazing icecream!
You can also see J and Claire posing with some lovely street art!

I went on another hike, this time to the Mont-du-lac-des-Cygnes which was beautiful and thankfully a bit shorter than the last one. Maybe my French comprehension is improving, because I was less surprised with the distances and difficulty of this hike, compared to the others. It was really pretty - although a little hazy once we got to the top. 

This was actually Lac St. George on the way further up.
There were LOTS of stairs. I think I prefer hills to stairs, although - climbing hills I might wish for the other.

I loved that the little critters on this plant - look JUST LIKE the plant. I almost didn't see them!
The following day I went on a museum exploration - to the Museum of Civilization. We thought we'd given ourselves lots of time... we didn't. Of the MANY exhibits, we made it through 2. I had hoped to go back, but that didn't quite happen. We went to an exhibit of the history of Quebec, which was really interesting to me. A lot of the history I remember learning in school, told from a very different perspective. Lots to learn. The other exhibit we went to was called Frame by Frame and was all about animated films of the National Film Board (NFB) which was AWESOME! All the steps were there, drawings, movable manipulatives, stop animation, lots of videos (which you could vote for what would screen - interactive things make me happy)... it was great.

The last week was REALLY busy. One of the school activities was a "cruise" on the St. Laurence. It was fun, but lasted perhaps a smidge too long. That said, it was neat to see the city from the water and get to dance while all spiffed up. Our dance party started outside, while the sun was coming down. Eventually the sky opened up and we had to move inside - but I am glad we started outside. 

There is an obligation to photograph the Frontenac...
it's just one of those things you're supposed to do, possibly every day.
Strike a pose! It's time to DANCE! hee hee
This week also had a series of exams (too many, way too many!) and a "spectacle" which was kind of a talent show/year end recital type thing. My class (along with the other Intensif 2 folks) were singing a song, which was accompanied by a video that my class prepared. It ended up being a LOT of work, but funny. The spectacle was a little too long, but involved some kind of crazy surprises. One of the things that is supposed to motivate us at in the program are these little "carte verte". Literally green cards - that are the reward for trying to work, live, play... in French. As a beginner - it felt tricky to get them. Having a "conversation" was a heck of a lot of work. So I was kind of shocked when I won the prize for the second most green cards in the entire program! I'm still a little shocked. I won a cookbook - so now I can work on translating ingredients and see how I do as a Quebecoise cook. 

Our class was further surprised when we won first prize as the class with the most green cards! Go team! 

I've also been doing some general wandering around - enjoying the things that are all over to look at. Here's a smash up of different mini-adventures and some of the photos. 

This art instillation has a sign explaining that the first horses in Quebec were from the Royal stables in
France. I love the images within the silhouettes. 

Apparently I like playing in art... :) Thanks to Sharmon for being my photographer!
This is the original location of Laval Universite, it's now a school of architecture apparently. 
Downtown during the night. We'd just had dinner under those awnings. :)
Sharmon and I went for an adventure to downtown and the Plains of Abraham. Sharmon didn't bring any sort of rain protection... so it rained. It was still a lot of fun - both before and after the rainstorm.

This is the backdrop to the street performer that we watched. Seemed like a great day to be outside!
The clouds started, but we were still optimistic
Being good tourists and mounting cannons...
I put my camera away for the actual rainstorm. We hid in a little gazebo for awhile... thought it was done, and then got poured on. Does it phase Sharmon? Oh no - still smiling, still a pleasure to adventure with!

A few minutes later, it was clearing and beautiful again.
You'd never know she's soaked would you?
This my favourite of the photos of the Frontenac I took. Flowers make me happy.
It has been a great adventure. I am glad to be heading home though. I hope that you've also been having a great summer!
peace to you~

Saturday, July 26, 2014

More than half way!

Time is flying! I am now 3/5 done my French program, which seems crazy. This week was filled with a lot of exam prep, as we had what I guess were mid-terms. I'm glad the tests are mostly done. Its interesting (as a wanna-be employed teacher) to reflect on the amount of anxiety I feel over tests that really don't matter at all. I'm taking this course for me - not for the credits or grades, but still - tests freak me out. Also, classes where I often feel... dumb - where I don't understand what's going on, is a really good space for reflecting on the experience of many of the little people I've taught in the last while, who were new to English. Lessons to be learned, all around.

Today, I went on another hike. This time to the Vallée-Bras-du-Nord which is about an hour from Québec City. This was a better hike for me than the last one. Less steep, which was appreciated. The weather was great, not as hot - and the rain thankfully held off until we stepped onto the bus. 

The river was really pretty - it looked red-ish, but that seems to be from the riverbed. It was nice to hike with the occasional sounds of the river in the background.

Because I'm me, I took lots of pictures of moss and other green things... you're warned.

Seems like at some point, I need to post something with a maple... no?
Our first stop (after about 3.5 km) was a the Chut-Delaney. At the end of the hike, we were pretty close to the top of this waterfall, but further over. It's a long way up...
Thanks to Claire who took my photo for me!
From there, we started to climb. The rest of the way up, was about another 6km. It was so green, and the shade made it quite fresh. I'm not really adapting to the humidity here. I feel sticky, most of the time, so it was nice to have a slightly cooler day, while on the move. 

This from the lookout, about half way up.

From the top!
And then of course, you have to come back down. I am still undecided which direction I like better. I think it's part of the reason I like loops...

There were some plants that we were wondering about...
Anyone know what this is? It's a short shrub, that looks like it
might be related to a fir... but doesn't smell like one.
or how about the fern with the rounded leaves?
I really like the things that grown on trees! Especially how colourful some are

It's a funny thing, handing over your camera to ask someone to take a picture for you...
I get a lot of them back, where they're blurry. I am not sure why I can't seem to remember to switch
things to automatic before passing it over...
At this point there was thunder all around, but it still looked really nice out.
10 minutes later we were on the bus - and the sky opened up! Great timing.
It was a fun journey. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow.
Peace to you~ 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Aventure d'ete

I am currently on a mini-adventure, attempting to learn French in the lovely Quebec City. I just finished my second week (which seems astounding - I'm sometimes amazed at how fast time flies, when in other moments in creeps along so slowly). Anyway - I've been taking a bunch of photos - and I'm a bit behind on sharing them, for those at home, who told me to take lots! So here goes:

This is the building where I spend most of my days.

It's been great so far! My brain seems to be clinging annoyingly to Spanish, but I am sure that will continue to improve. I'm living with a host family again, and that is great.

We spend the mornings in class, but then the rest of the day is left to be filled by activities (put on by the school), homework, or whatever else you choose. Comically, I am part of the Club des maîtres which you need to be 28+ to be a part of, as the majority of students here are part of the J'Explore program and are between 18 and 24. The comical part, is I haven't yet had much success convincing anyone that I'm over 28 - and while I haven't been ID'd pertaining to alcohol, I get questioned about my ability to participate in activities almost every day.

My first week here, was the end of the Festival d'été de Québec - an 11 day music festival that has a bunch of free stages, as well as the stages you need a pass to get into. It was fun to be able to wander around, people watch, and listen to great music - in the midst of my worst week of language confusion. 

One of the open air, free stages.
I also went to see the Stars, which was a great concert.
One of the first activities of the Club des Maîtres was a wine and cheese tasting, that also included a beer tasting, all of local Quebecoise delights.

The evening began with a sampling of beer from a local brewery.
Following the beer, we had 3 courses, each with different cheeses and wines.
The cheese was better than the wine, although we ended with
this maple cream liquor - that was quite tasty.
It was a fun night - although I had not anticipated full glasses of wine at each tasting. Thank goodness for so much cheese, bread, and fruit - or my walk home would have been daunting. It was also nice to start to get to know some slightly older folks. For many of the students in my class, this is their first time away from home, which comes with its own adventure, that I'm having a hard time identifying with. 

Yesterday, I went along on the hike to Cap Tourmente, which is at a nature preserve. The hike itself was a bit tough for me, in parts. I am not used to steep uphills, OR the mix of 32 degrees and high humidity. The combination felt a bit rough, but it was pretty enough that it was totally worth it. The reserve runs along the St. Laurence. In the spring and fall it is apparently hugely important site for many migratory birds, which makes sense as it is a mix of forest, prairie grasses/flowers, and estuaries, before hitting the river. 

Does anyone know what these are? They were everywhere - and I think they're so pretty!
These were all maples!

As we got higher up the mountain, all the trees changed, as did the smells. It was really pretty.
The view from the top was really pretty, looking out over the river, but it was kind of hazy and my photos make it look very bland - so I won't show those. :)

There's been a lot of play, but I need to get on with my homework. Week three this week, and exams begin! 

I hope you're having a great summer! 
Peace to you~