One month into my language assistantship here in Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Québec seemed as good a time as any for me to attempt to condense possibly the most exciting few weeks of my life into a blog update. As a self-confessed clickbait victim, I have decided to present this post in list form in the hope of delaying the rapid dwindling of your attention span. So (in no particular order) …
- The people
Moving to a new country is challenging, but it is made infinitely easier when you have a wide network of other language assistants in the same position as you, two welcoming Québecois housemates, a landlord who seems to own half of Beauce and an adorable headteacher who takes you under her wing and sorts you out with a phone, a car and a super-flexible timetable. I already feel as though I’ve known some of these people far longer than a month; the good days have been brilliant days and the slightly more stressful days have only proven the universal truth that there’s nothing a cup of tea and a cuddle can’t fix (shoutout to my mum for having already shipped over a second instalment of PG tips!).
- My job
While my language assistantship in France 2 years ago was spent teaching 11-18 year olds, this time I have been placed in a primary school. The fact that the content I can discuss with them is therefore somewhat limited is definitely outweighed by the corridor cuddles, the requests for worksheet autographs and their over-keenness to contribute to my lessons. I have joined the weekly “club de course” (30mins of jogging around the village and encouraging the kids by shouting things like “ready steady go!”) and there is a teacher who offers me maple syrup coffee whenever she sees me. There are definitely worse places I could be working!
- Surrounding natural beauty
The scenery was one of the main reasons I wanted to move to Canada and it has certainly not disappointed. Beauce itself is beautiful; we are incredibly lucky to be so close to geographical delights such as Lac Mégantic, Parc des Sept Chutes and la Grande Morne as well as only half an hour from the border of Maine (an adventure upon which we are yet to embark). Never in my life have I felt so excited about trees, but last weekend’s “Randonnée aux Mille Couleurs” left our souffle vraiment coupé as it offered us a vast array of changing coloured leaves in all of their autumnal glory. Living in such a stunning place has given me plenty of opportunities to play around with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80, most of which have resulted in candid photos of my friends gazing in awe at our new home.
- The piano at Les Passerelles
Saint-Georges stretches across a valley, and in the middle of the valley there is a river, and next to the river is a public piano, and on the public piano there is a glass panel above the music stand, meaning that when you’re playing it you can watch as people pause their evening stroll or cycle so that they can enjoy the music for a while. This has definitely become one of my favourite ways to spend an evening as the sun sets over the town, and I am so grateful to have found a way to carry on playing music over here.
- I didn’t choose the porch swing life…
People watching is a beautiful thing, and is made even more so when every house here seems to come with a porch with a swinging or rocking chair, inviting you to spend hours enjoying the afternoon sun and observing the latest goings-on on 128th street. If there is one thing I would bring back to the UK from North America so far, it would be porch swing culture!
- The open roads
Anyone who spoke to me before I moved here will recall the fear in my eyes as I tried to convince people I would manage to buy and drive a car on the opposite side of the road, having not driven in almost 5 years (!). After a long and eventful search (involving a Mazda I was told I owned until we went to collect it and it’d been sold to a higher bidder..!) I emerged victorious with not just a car, but a 7-seater Dodge Caravan. The automatic transmission, the wide roads and almost-as-wide parking spaces meant it hardly took any time until this soccer mom got herself back on the road, and the stunning commute to work along a wide country lane that stretches out into the valley is now one of my favourite parts of the day.
(not a wide open road but a pretty road nonetheless)
- L’accent des Beaucerons
We were warned that the accent here would be the strongest in all of Québec, and while the first few days of staff room bewilderment left me so lost I wondered if I really did graduate with a French degree this July, I have quickly come to understand and love the Beauce accent. To give you a flavour, the word “fête” sounds more like “fight”, which I discovered by misinterpreting an invite from a small child who, it turns out, wanted me to come to his birthday party and not some kind of organised combat.
- Tim Hortons
My inner basic Canadian bitch still swoons every time she sees the iconic red and white sign on the horizon. I’ve learned (or perhaps just convinced myself…) that there is hardly ever a time when coffee and doughnuts are not welcome, and the more of the menu I discover, the more I fall in love. Double doubles (double sugar, double cream, double diabetes?), French Vanilla (a hot-chocolatey hug in a bright red celebratory mug) and “Ice Caps” (the creamiest of ice coffees) are the current drinks to beat, whilst my doughnut of choice is a toss-up between the boston à l’érable (glazed with maple syrup and filled with vanilla custard) and the anniversaire Timbit, (multicoloured bite-sized joy).
- Proximity to Québec City
The beautiful capital of La Belle Province lies only an hour from Saint-Georges, and we recently spent a wonderful weekend indulging our tourist sides by exploring the echoes of European architecture that are to be found in Vieux Québec, experiencing maple-taffy induced sugar comas and enjoying the promenade along Château Frontenac, the (understandably) most photographed hotel in the world. I’m already keen to visit again!
Et voilà! Until the next time I have a list worth sharing, friends!