it was awesome!
My STEP project consisted of a 6 week program in Quebec, Canada with the goal of bettering my ability to speak French. During the 6 weeks, I lived with a host family, took classes at Laval university, and participated in many extracurricular activities. The classes were taught by professors and during all the extracurricular activities were run by people our age who were like camp counselors.
I went through many changes during my stay in Quebec but one thing I noticed after finishing the program is that I find starting conversations with strangers to be much easier. There were times before going to Canada when I wouldn’t do something or I wouldn’t ask something because I was afraid of an awkward interaction. That is definitely no longer the case. There is no conversation that is intimidating now because they’re all in english! There’s nothing like trying to walk into a gym with a tank top on and having someone tell you can’t go in because you need sleeves (but you don’t understand because it’s the 2nd day). Sleeve is une manche by the way.
Another big change that happened while I was in Quebec was my decision to pursue a doctorate in french. I had been on the fence about the idea, but after the program I’m almost certain about it.
I had the great pleasure to live with a host family during my stay. They were a retired couple; he was from Quebec and she was from Mexico (but spoke french also). They were extremely nice and very accommodating. I also had two roommates, one of which was in Quebec doing research for her doctorate. Each night at 6pm sharp, we would have a 4 cours meal (soup, meat, salad, desert and coffee).
It was at these dinners that we had many awkward moments but also learned so much! If the night was particularly interesting, the other two roommates and I would go for a long walk to continue the dinner conversation. I was so lucky to be living with a student who was currently doing her doctorate, to ask questions and get a feel of what it would be like to do a doctorate in French. She gave me so much information of which I was completely unaware.
Other events that were extremely important to my development in my ability to speak French were the hikes. On three different occasions, the university went on hikes. The hikes lasted about 6-7 hours and the bus rides there and back lasted from 2-4 hours. It was during these hikes that I defiantly spoke the most french and for the longest amount of time. I tried my best to stick as close as possible to the “group leaders” (who were from Quebec, and there to help us speak french). By the end of the hikes I was babbling in french without even thinking about it. Not to mention the absolutely beautiful sight that I saw during the hikes.
All of these transformations have effected me in many different ways. Academically, I now plan on doing a doctorate in french. Personally, I have a goal to travel more and explore outside the United States. Professionally, the logical choice after finishing a doctorate is o become a professor. Without this STEP program and the experiences that it gave me I don’t know where I’d be. Thank you STEP.