Fall Break finally arrived, and it was time for our trip to Québec, Canada. The French club and I left at 8am to hit the road. We had at least an 8 hour drive ahead of us, excluding bathroom and meal breaks. After being on the road for 9 hours, we finally arrived in Canada—specifically in Ontario province, where we were cleared by customs. At about 8pm, we arrived in our first auberge (youth hostel) in Montréal. It was raining heavily, but we were able find a very nice restaurant—called Cinko–to have dinner. In Cinko, everything was priced at $5, so I used the opportunity to taste the popular poutine dish—French fries topped with cheese and gravy. Instead of French fries, I ordered the sweet potato poutine, which was delicious! Our stay in Montréal was very short, as we left for Québec City the next morning.
My first impression of Québec City was amazing. With the fall colors settled in, Québec City was breathtakingly beautiful! The hills and houses reminded me of some European cities and yet, I was still in North America. The people spoke both French and English and were very much welcoming. Among our group, we would joke about Québec being like the States but in “French!” Things were going great; we had time to explore the city, eat delicious croissants, and do some souvenir shopping, including buying maple syrup.
On Saturday Oct 17, a day before our return on campus, we had a little dilemma; after having visited the Musée de la Civilisation (the Museum of Civilization), we could not find our bus. Our driver and mentor could not recall the parking space where he had last parked the bus. After searching the area on foot for about 30 minutes, we found our beloved magic school bus hidden in plain sight, across the vast parking space. Feeling relieved, we quickly got onboard, destination, le Parc de la Chute-Montmorency–Montmorency Falls.
Seeing the waterfalls was very exciting. We took multiple selfies and helped each other take individual pictures as well. The waterfalls ran fast and strong, and walking across them on the bridge felt exhilarating. We had to take the endless wooden steps to go back down the mountain, which was not as exciting because my legs were shaking, and the height made me tense. However, I had the opportunity to see a painting of Montmorency frozen during winter, which made me decide to definitely visit this beautiful city and this site again.
Our visit came to an end the next day, and I had a hard time saying au revoir to Québec. We once again woke up very early to prepare for another 12 hour trip. This time around, we encountered a very harsh custom agent, who took two of our group members in her office for further questioning; we were stuck in No Man’s Land, for a good 40 minutes, waiting for our friends. Indeed, there was nothing wrong with their visas, so they returned with us safe and sound.
At 11:18pm, on Sunday Oct. 18, we “landed” on campus—as Professor Henderson announced—safe and sound, and went in our dorms, reserving the next day to recount our trip and its anecdotes. As I am writing this story, I am grateful for having gone on this trip and thankful to my teacher and the French Club for organizing this unforgettable visit.
We’re finally in October, and as the Fall Break approaches, we can’t help but feel excited! Well… not so fast.
First off, this month is when the college workload finally shows you its true colors. From CWS courses wanting 4 page essays, plus reading responses, plus lap journals and mandatory freshman meetings, to history courses wanting research papers and 200 page readings per week, college just dumps everything on you at once! Oh, did I mention the commitments that you have to clubs?
I actively participate in five different clubs: Plexus, Chinese club, Japanese Club, French Club and the African club. The clubs are all very diverse and do their best to stay true to their moto. Just last week, the Chinese club not only organized the Chinese Moon festival (also known as the lunar Mid-Autumn Festival and zhōng qiū jié in Chinese) and shared moon cakes with others, but they will also organize Chinese dinners (monthly) at the Chinese village. Ok, I must admit that the Chinese club is one of my favorites because, after all, I am a food person! The Japanese club does not hesitate to invite members to cook with them, and the French club puts together movie nights (the next one is this Friday!). Speaking of French club, they organized a trip to Montreal and Quebec City during Fall Break, for which I happily signed up. My Fall Break is going to be a blast!
I had the most amazing Friday on campus thanks to the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra. I was expecting the show to be dull and average, but the next thing I knew, everyone around me, including the lead singer and the entire orchestra, was moving with energy and dancing their souls out! You couldn’t help but move along. It felt very refreshing being in the Halbritter Auditorium that night. Thank you, Juniata Presents!
Homecoming, something that my friends (mostly Francophones like me), were looking forward to, took place last weekend! Before the actual soirée, we saw families arrive on campus to visit their students. Tears were shed, hugs were given, and students’ rooms were cleaned up. My international friends were feeling homesick. Seeing other students’ families made them miss their own families and friends back in their home country. I missed my mother as well, who was not able to come visit me that weekend even though she was about 3 hours away in Maryland. Nevertheless, I had a great time dressing up for homecoming and dancing with my friends.
As I am sitting at the library and writing this blog, regardless of the workload (4 more research articles to go through, 3 IA assignments to turn in, 2 reading and a research topic that I need to start), I enjoy being at Juniata. If you are like me and procrastinate from time to time, well, start early, take things one at the time and see where the wings take you. Remember the light at the end of the tunnel?