In the wee hours of the morning, around 2 a.m., I found myself lost in a foreign Canadian city, hundreds of miles from Keene State College.
With no phone, money for a cab, sense of direction, or ability to speak French, I was scared I would not find my way back to the four-story lodge where the rest of the French Club members were staying.
After an hour of aimlessly walking down the main road, which was buzzing with nightlife, I decided to ask for help from a bouncer standing in front of a strip club.
Thankfully, the burly man spoke English and was willing to help an American who had gone astray. The end result was a 9-1-1 phone call and getting in the back of a cop car to ride back to safety.
To say the least, the second annual French Club trip to Montreal was a wild adventure that will never be forgotten by those who partook in the journey. 16 students jumped into two creeper vans early Oct. 18 to begin the five-hour road trip.
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Without getting lost and successfully crossing the border, the group made it to its destination and instantly began to explore new territory.
The club split up for lunch to try multiple kinds of cuisine at different restaurants then regrouped to go to the first museum.
Everyone hopped on the metro that was conveniently only a few blocks from the hotel. Now, riding the metro is a story in itself. The entire process seemed hectic as you are swiping a card, finding the proper stop as thousands of folks run around, and trying to catch the subway car before it speeds off.
When on the metal piece of transportation, everyone is cramped together, holding onto railings as it zooms down a dark tunnel. Overall it was a lifesaver as it took us anywhere we desired while saving time and the hassle of walking.
We went to a fancy château that had artifacts, paintings, and other historical objects. After we were set free to enjoy the night. The majority of us went to different sights or places to shop.
Later in the evening we came together and went to a club. The best part was that we were on a special list that allowed us to get in for free. We were on that VIP status.
The following day we had the choice to do whatever we wanted. There were too many options to count.
Some went to the underground mall where they could shop for days as there were so many levels filled with hundreds of stores. Others went to tour the hockey stadium.
Several went downtown and had the pleasure to witness the Christmas parade. Groups also traveled to the Notre Dame Basilica, which was an absolutely fabulous structure.
On our final day, before we left, we went to the Montreal Biodome, which was originally the Olympic Stadium for the 1976 games.
It could be compared to an indoor zoo with a variety of habitats. It replicates four ecosystems found in the Americas. The first room was an Amazon atmosphere. It was incredibly hot, as it mocked the natural environment for the plants and animal life.
Next we went on a tour of the observation tower allowed for a breathtaking view of the entire city. After that we headed back home to the United States of America.
Despite the city only being an hour away from the American border, the customs and beliefs appeared to be much more lackadaisical. There was no real culture shock, but there was a different way of thinking and viewing the world. Up north they are far more open about certain topics. The currency was another thing people had to get adjusted to. The Canadian bill has more value, so buying and exchanging money was confusing.
Many of the members on the trip didn’t know any French at all, including myself. Luckily, it truly wasn’t necessary since the majority of Canadians is bilingual. Those who did know how to speak French tried their best to communicate.
Secretary Devlyn Bent said, “I used way more French and was comfortable asking for directions, prices, and talking to tour guides.”
The trip was truly one of a kind. Students underestimate the trip; they think it was only going to be educational, but it was so much more. There was no chaperone and students had the ability to honestly do whatever they wanted.
Treasurer Kristopher Killam said, “It went a lot smoother than last year as we were much more prepared and recycled most of the activities. We also had a great group of people that were so dynamic.”
The highlight was how strangers were able to come together and form bonds in another country through unique happenings. It was such a fantastic experience that the executive board of the French Club said they would definitely be going again next year.
Kateland Dittig can be contacted at email@example.com