This semester I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Montreal with my French 1 class as well two students from French 2. It was only my second time out of the country and my first to the French speaking city. It was safe to say that I was incredibly excited to see what the opportunity would entail. We left in a small group, seven of us, in one of the college’s vans around 4pm on Monday, September 28th.
The drive to the city occurred without any major incidents. Our teacher made us introduce ourselves to each other in French. “Salut. Je m’appelle Raven Yankee. Je suis de Xenia, Ohio. Je suis américaine. J’habite à Burlington, Vermont et je suis étudiante au Collège Champlain. J’ai vingt ans.” We also had to count different objects. Our French 1 class only knew up to twenty (vingt) at the time though.
We got into Canada roughly around 6:30pm and the concert didn’t start for another hour. However, it took just that long to drive to the city and find parking so we were fine. Montreal is actually an island situated in the St. Lawrence River which is something I didn’t know until we were headed over a bridge to it. Driving around the city was a bit confusing because all the signs are written in French and I didn’t understand any of it. We accidentally went the wrong way down a one-way street and got scolded by a police officer. Luckily, he let us off with just a warning.
From there we found the concert venue and parked in its conveniently located garage before heading up several flights of stairs and escalators to the actual venue. I got a bit dizzy from all the twists and turns we had to do. Checking into the venue was amusing because the attendant would ask which language a person preferred. I definitely knew I had been transported to a Francophone region then.
After checking in, we grabbed some poutine at a food court and found our seats just in time to see the opening act. It was an artist I hadn’t heard of before by the name of Jidenna. While his lyrics were explicit I at least understood them. He played for about thirty minutes before the main artist that we had all been waiting for, Stromae, came on. Stromae is an artist from Belgium and most if not all of his songs are in French. Three of my personal favorites by him are Papaoutai, Alors on Danse, and Cancer. Cancer is my absolute favorite though because of the fantastic video and performance behind it. I have never seen another artist perform in the way that Stromae does. He had us captivated for every single second of the show, always wondering what would come next. I was very sad when the concert finally ended and we had to return back to the states.
While we didn’t get to see much of Montreal from the van, I could tell that it would be an amazing place to return to. It seemed like there was always something to do and the city itself is beautiful. Hopefully, I’ll get to further explore it soon.