Hi! My name is Sabrina and I had the chance to participate in the SWSE exchange this summer in Gatineau, Quebec. This was an amazing opportunity to meet new friends and improve my second language (French). It certainly was all that and so much more. I got to meet some really genuine friends that I laughed so hard with that if we were at a restaurant, we’d cause a scene and the waiter had to ask if we were okay. I stayed with a family who I quickly learned was soccer-crazy: soccer games, soccer practice and FIFA World Cup games–don’t forget recreational soccer too! Because of them, I have a new found appreciation for the sport.
All jokes aside, I got to meet the most dedicated father I’ve ever met and some pretty great kids too. I couldn’t have imagined a better family to fit in with, be it going for hikes with my host dad or playing some pretty intense games of Mario Kart (a racing video game), I always felt at home. Everything was pretty great, even the things I wasn’t used to, like milk in a bag, eating shawarma, or the dog’s hair EVERYWHERE in the house. The one thing that made my experience a little different was halfway through the exchange, when I broke my ankle. I tend to (unintentionally) make everything 100 times harder for myself: I had to get surgery in Quebec, and then there were complications and all that jazz all while getting constant checkups from my mom back home in Saskatchewan. It wasn’t the most ideal situation, but I learned a lot; I learned how determined I am to get things accomplished, even while on crutches. I also learned how much I dislike hospitals in Quebec since i had to make so many visits during my recovery.
Because of my injury, I missed out on work, the cool activities with the group and just the chance to have responsibility and be active with my family while exploring the city. But i definitely didn’t want to leave–no way José–so I found the perks of being at home like hanging out with my cool little host siblings, baking cookies and most importantly, becoming super-close friends with my coordinator, Amelie. I don’t know what I would have done without her this summer, from her comic relief with the (slightly aloof) doctors, her being there with me during almost every hospital trip, and even helping me figure out that there was an alarm coming from my fridge because I left it open (I didn’t know that was even a thing!).
I’d like to say there was nothing I would change about this summer…but I am just so thankful that I didn’t think too much about doing this exchange, I just did it. Best decision of my life. So many stories to tell. I could not have asked for better people to share my summer with.