Hi I’m Taylor and the Explore program in La Pocatiere, Quebec was definitely the highlight of my summer. It was a fun and rewarding experience. I made many new friends that I will keep in touch with for years to come, I got to experience a new culture and learn French, I met many amazing people like the animateurs and the teachers, and overall, I had a great summer!
Back in the winter, when my French teacher first told my class about this program I instantly knew that I wanted to do it; however, once I got accepted and really realized that “okay, I’m going to Quebec all by myself, basically for the whole month of July”, I got a little scared. My fear disappeared the second I got to the college in Quebec though, when I met an animateur and got settled in my room. From day 1 everyone was so kind and welcoming and they helped make my transition from English to French as easy as possible. The other students in the explore program were all very nice, the teachers were amazing, the animateurs were helpful, and the residents of La Pocatiere were all so welcoming. While in Quebec I met many amazing people who have impacted my life dramatically and I made friendships that will last forever.
One of the first things that I noticed when I got to La Pocatiere was the scenery. It was absolutely amazing! With a mountain and plenty beautiful hiking trails to the one side of the college and the St. Lawrence river with even more mountains on the other side it was beautiful. As I learned French in Quebec, I also learned many personal lessons too. I learned to appreciate the beauty of nature and to never take anything for granted, I learned how to make new friends in a new environment, and I learned how to live without the help of my parents or people helping me. Oh and don’t forget, most importantly, I learned how to do my own laundry.
My schedule was very busy but I still found time to have fun with my friends and explore La Pocatiere. Every morning I woke up at 6am to go for a run up the mountain, although many mornings it was hard to drag myself out of bed for that, once I got to the top of the mountain I got to see the most beautiful view in the world. I could’ve sat up there forever but I had to get down to the college for 7:15am for breakfast and class started at 8:30am. Class went until 12pm and then we had lunch. The meals were very good, definitely better than I was expecting and we ate in a huge cafeteria with plenty of room for everyone. Most days after lunch, my friends and I went down to the beach, which was just a bunch of rocks down by the river, but we found places to sit and we just admired the beauty of nature for hours. Also during the afternoons were optional group activities like soccer or basketball and many other things. Some days we had ateliers which were different activities that we got to choose and they were classes but for specific topics such as leadership, journalism, or cinema. Supper was at 5:15pm every night. Some days after supper we had another atelier. At 8pm until 10pm we had passport activities. If you were in the three week program you needed 12 passport activities and if you were in the five week program you needed 20. These activities varied every night but all of them were so much fun! Some memorable ones were; a fire on the beach, movie night, a carnival, a game of baseball (teachers versus students), and many more. After the passport activities, curfew was at 10:45pm or 11:45pm on weekends.
On weekends there were multiple paid excursions that you could choose to go on. I went to Valcartier (a waterpark outside Quebec city), Kamouraska (a cute village 30 minutes from La Pocatiere), and Quebec city. Other excursions included trips to Grosse ile, sea kayaking, paintballing, and many more. On the weekends when my friends and I did not have excursions we usually went down to the beach, relaxed, and explored the town. We visited multiple garage sales one Saturday and met many very nice locals and even bought some souvenirs.
Class was so much fun and every day brought new activities and fun surprises. My teacher was amazing and my classmates were great too. I made so many friendships and learned valuable french in class. Like I said before, everyone I met there was amazing and welcoming and helpful, the scenery was amazing, I learned lots of French and grew as a person, I met so many great friends, and I had an unforgettable summer.