Dear Austin

Dear Austin, TX,

I live in Montreal. When I was 17 years old, I would have sawed off my arm to live in Quebec. Now, I don’t really enjoy it. There is a lot about moving to a completely different country with a different style and system of living that isn’t great for a young person.

But you, Austin, TX, have roped me in. Maybe it’s because the person I love most lives there and never stops talking about how much he loves you. Maybe I really enjoy Summer Moon and Torchy’s Tacos. Maybe I love your business-friendly policies and booming economy.

I don’t really care why I love you, I just know that I do. I know that every time I have to say goodbye, it’s the kind of ache that only comes when you truly adore what you are leaving.

Eloragh

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Airline Hospitality

I have yet to meet a flight attendant I like. I’m sorry if anyone reading this works in the airline hospitality service, I’m probably not referring to you, but your coworkers.

Today was no exception to this rule. All four flight attendants I encountered were in awful moods and held no reservations about expressing that.

Eloragh

What a Week

Missing two days of blogging is just the bitter cherry on top of my already melted sundae of a week. Despite losing my streak with my boyfriend ( which is very important, I know it sounds stupid, but it’s really how our relationship started and is valuable to us, ) losing my blogging streak, falling sick, losing my laptop charger, losing my bags in Montreal, and losing my mind all at the same, I have somehow managed to maintain my sanity.

Honestly, I’m at my wit’s end. This week has been absolutely horrible. I couldn’t think of worse conditions to move to a different country in. I’m reminded by those around me to look at the bright side of things – I am moving, which I have been wanting to do, and I’m moving to one of my favorite cities. The bumps in the road along the way are just temporary inconveniences.

My bags are coming tomorrow, I’m moving this weekend, and I seem to be getting over whatever cold I caught. There is a light quickly approaching at the end of the tunnel. I will admit it has been exceptionally hard to see the silver lining of this dilemma.

Eloragh

Camp

I’m not a happy camper. Honestly, I have lived the life of a modern-day princess since I was a kid, and I don’t deny it. I don’t think it makes me any less of a hard worker, in fact, I think it makes me strive for more. I have come to understand that my lifestyle is one that I enjoy and wish to maintain.

My dad, on the other hand, loves camp. We have a cabin in Northern Ontario where we go every summer. This one was no exception. I am here until Monday and I’m going to make the best of it, but mosquitos, creaky beds, and barely functional wifi are going to make it less than ideal. Coming up to camp makes my dad happy and he has supported me since I could form memories. I love him, he deserves to spend some time with family in a place he loves.

Today was a hard day. We had 13 hours of travel and Ontario looks mostly the same wherever you are, so it was pretty boring. Tomorrow will be much more exciting.

Eloragh

Bilingual

I spent four years, 9th through 12th grade, trying to learn Russian.  I would sit in a classroom 4 days a week and stare at an online language learning software for 70 minutes. Usually, I ended my sessions more confused than I had started, wondering where all of the information I was supposed to have learned over the years had gone.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been in a French-speaking country. By just making an effort to speak the language as much as possible, I have learned more about linguistic concepts in 20 days than I did in 4 years of classroom education. Albeit French is much closer to English than Russian, I believe there are many other narratives similar to mine that would support this idea. It frustrates me to think that I spent 70 minutes a day, four days a week, 9 months a year, for 4 years trying to learn a language in a totally unnatural way. That’s 43,000+ minutes or roughly 720 hours of wasted time.

I can’t say anything sophisticated in French, but I can cash out at the grocery store and make baristas smile when I mispronounce something. I have made a lot more connections with people while trying to learn a language naturally than I ever imagined I could. Making an effort to speak in French has been a straightforward and considerate way to make good impressions and even gather a few friends. People generally want foreigners to try to fit in (assimilate, if you will, but that sounds a little too Manifest Destiny for this piece) and doing your best to speak their native language is a fantastic starting place. I want to encourage every linguistics student to think about their time spent in the classroom and then think about how much of that could have been used speaking languages, making real-world connections, and gathering a network of diverse, intelligent people.

Linguistics is a passion of mine so I wouldn’t put down anyone who wants to go to school for it, but I tend to think that a degree in it might be a little silly. What’s more impressive to an employer, a degree in linguistics or fluency in four languages? Which of those accomplishments is going to add more value to their business? I have always been drawn to languages, but I am only beginning to understand how difficult it is to comprehend them without being submerged in the culture they developed from.

I don’t regret my time spent learning Russian. It taught me patience, devotion, and the Cyrillic alphabet, which I probably could not have learned without a classroom. However, it also showed me that my time is something I should give out very cautiously. Those days clicking away on Rosetta Stone were not the most efficient way to learn. Language and the history of communication are so fascinating; I want to absorb as much of them as possible, which means I should be using the most effective tools possible. Language connects people and gives them a common ground. Teaching something like that in an academic setting with very little back and forth communication turns the entire class into an oxymoron.

Eloragh

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marché Atwater

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Westside Market in my blog Being Home and about how the different cultures of the market influenced my desire to travel. It’s become somewhat of a tradition for my family to visit a local market when we travel. Fortunately, Montreal has six, so I have plenty of overpriced produce to shop for.

All jokes aside, markets bring me a sense of peace that I don’t experience anywhere else. The closest people in my life often make fun of me for my love of grocery stores and supermarkets, but I won’t deny that I adore them. I especially love going to groceries alone, because I can just wander aimlessly and pick up weird foods for as long as I want.

I believe it comes down to a sense of individuality within a public space. Grocery stores and markets are wide open and full of people, but those people are all there for a similar but slightly unique experience. That dichotomy in-and-of-itself is what draws me into markets. I like knowing that everyone is there to buy their groceries, but I wonder what meal they will make or who is coming over to their apartment for dinner that night. I often stop to think about each individual that passes by me and wonder what thought propels their feet forward. What motivates them to continue throughout their day.

There’s a word for it: sonder. It sounds sad, and sometimes it may be, but I find it is more often a feeling of relation and understanding. It reminds me that our differences are truly the only thing that can unite us.

Eloragh

French Variation

Around 11:30am EST, I drove onto the island of Montreal, QC with my father. I’ll be living here until July 25th to participate in a ballet intensive. I came a few days early to set up a bank account, get my McGill student ID (yes, my picture did turn out awful), and get my social insurance number for when I move up here permanently in August.

We’re staying in a VRBO until I can move to my long-ish term apartment, so we went down to the Marche Jean-Talon to get some groceries. Montreal summers can be brutal, but we were lucky enough to arrive on a mild, breezy day. As we walked down the streets next to the market, I thought about the parallels between Quebec and Senegal, another French-speaking place I visited recently. I also noted how French colonization had influenced both areas differently.

For reference, Senegal was a French colony until 1960 when it gained independence. In places such as Thies and Saint-Louis, the architecture and culture mimic French style very clearly. Much like Montreal, becoming independent didn’t mean losing the French lifestyle or development, it just meant political and economic freedom. The difference lies in how each country has changed since becoming its own nation.

Canada has undoubtedly had a much longer time (93 years longer) to expand its economy and form its political system than Senegal has. Canada also has a much more diverse economy, with lumber, fishing, and oil being just a few of its many resources. Senegal really only has its fishing industry and phosphate, a mineral that many westerners travel to Africa to mine and sell. Canada has little regulation and restriction on trade and business relative to Senegal, which has made it very difficult to export/import and nearly impossible for an average citizen to become an entrepreneur.

There are certainly more aspects that make up the difference between these countries. Just their geography alone has a great influence on the relative wealth of each former French colony. The fact that Canada is technically still within the British common-wealth probably helps as well.

I’m no expert on either country, but my thoughts often wander to these ideas when in a French-speaking country/province. I think my history classes definitely neglected the scope of influence that French colonization had on the world. The education I received focused mainly on England and, while the English obviously had a giant impact through exploration and expansion, other countries such as Spain, France, and Portugal also established themselves as countries of expedition and growth during the same time.

My blogs usually come down to this idea, and maybe I’m nitpicking here, but this is yet another flaw I see in traditional education. There are never enough school days to develop a thorough understanding of any period of history. In homeschooling/unschooling environments, students have the freedom and time to learn as much about anything they want without sacrificing the exciting details for the big ideas.

But that’s just my opinion.

Eloragh