Name: Maggie Nachtrab
Type of Project: Education Abroad
- This summer, I studied in Quebec City in a 5 week Intensive French Immersion Program. I received 6 credit hours for 3 courses that I took every day of the week at Université Laval. After classes finished around noon, there were scheduled French workshops and activities throughout the afternoon to continue the language and culture immersion. I lived with a host family 15 minutes away from campus.
- The most important experience I had while on this program was living with my host family in Quebec. I lived with another Ohio State student from the program, which made the transition to living with strangers in a foreign country speaking a foreign language much more comfortable. We lived in a suburb in a small neighborhood, which gave me a completely different understanding of the francophone city as a whole. The family consisted of a mother (Julie) and father (Charles), both in their mid-thirties, who were fairly fluent in English. Their three children, Gabrielle (7), Laura (4), and Louis (2), knew no English. That being said, I spoke only French while spending time with the family. When not at the university with other students, I was with my host family. I adored being with the children and conversing with the parents. We would eat breakfast and dinner together, where they would cook every meal. I would watch French movies with the children cuddled up on the couch. We went raspberry picking as a family and went hiking a few weekends. I event met Julie’s parents (the children’s grandparents) for dinner! Not only did my host family force me to continue communicating and listening to French, they allowed me to fully experience the culture of Quebec. I have gained a greater appreciation to the everyday life of this Canadian province that I would have never imagined possible.
3. The relationship I formed with the three children of my host family led to the greatest transformation of myself. I have always loved being with kids, but I’ve never spent so much time living with little kids for so long. At first, it was a difficult challenge to fully connect with them since of our language barrier. Although I am highly proficient, it’s a whole new world conversing with children of a foreign language. They speak with different vocabulary, with a different pace, with poor grammar. I would not understand their jokes, when perhaps, they were confused by mine. Nevertheless, I loved those children as if they were my own siblings.
I also formed close relationships with the other students from the French Immersion Program. After hours of class, workshops, excursions, sports, and activities with the students and leaders, forming relationships was inevitable. Students came from all over the world; specifically, I became friends with students from Mexico, Switzerland, Germany,Brazil, and from cities all over Canada and the U.S. It was such an interesting experience communicating with these people where our mother tongue may have been different yet communicating in French, which may have not been the most comfortable language in which to speak. Nevertheless, I would play soccer and walk around museums making jokes and discussing homework in French. It forced me to speak confidently in French even if I made mistakes or blanked on my vocabulary. Everyone was in the same place in their French education, so there was no judgement.
Lastly, I formed strong relationships with my professors and student leaders from the university. The professors were obviously francophone and from Quebec, along with the student leaders of the immersion program who are actually universtiy students of Laval. For them, their summer job was helping with the program. I got a new perspective of the city and the French language as I discussed with them every day on campus throughout the program. It was amazing to make connections with the Laval students because they were francophone, they were the same age as us, and I could become friends with them as if I ran into them on Ohio State campus. Making friends with people my age in a different language was something I had never done. Firstly, because I never truly had the chance to do so, but that’s also seemed impossible. I am so happy I have grown in confidence not only in myself, but also my French abilities. I can make friends with francophones!
- This program will forever be one of the most transformational experiences of my life. I have traveled a lot within the U.S and around the world with my family, but never have I traveled without my family. I was scared to be on my own, where I had to lean solely on my own abilities and understandings. I learned how to ask for help (in French) when I was unsure. I was able to navigate the city and make friends who speak different languages all on my own. I grew an understanding of public transportation, the Canadian education standards, and what’s culturally acceptable in conversations vs. in writing in French. I grew as an independent young adult, who wants to take what she learned to apply into her future career goals and to life in general. I want to be a book publisher and editor in New York City, but I’ve never felt that I could “make it” there. I didn’t think I was capable of living in such a hectic and big city on my own. Traveling on my own in Quebec and Montreal while making lasting relationships has shown me how possible that is. My French has improved tremendously, and I can see my French fluency so close in the future!