Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Day in the Life of Alex

I'm finally getting around to writing about a typical day in Chicoutimi. On a typical day I start off with a class at 8h45 (that's French for 8:45). I'm in a class with 14 or 15 other students who are around the same level as me in French. At the start of class, our professor asks each of us what we did the previous evening. We each have to explain in French. This is good practice, especially with past-tense verbs.

The class is roughly three-hours or a bit more, with a 20-minute break in the middle. This can get a little too long, but it's a lot better than a three-hour engineering lecture. We don't just listen to our professor talk like we would in engineering, we're given worksheets to work on and we get chances to practice speaking French. A couple of times, we got into small groups to discuss interesting issues like the death penalty and the ideal age for marriage. These discussions are more interesting than most of what we do in the class, but they're tough. It does help build my French ability beyond things like, "Yesterday, I did my homework. Then I went to 'Le Bistrot.' Then I went to bed." It resembles a high school class more than a university class, although we do get university credit for it.

After class we have a cafeteria lunch. After lunch, the activities vary. Mondays, we typically learn traditional Québecois dances and we listen to someone talk about Québecois food or music. As much as I like the music and food in Québec (aside from the very mediocre cafeteria food), the music and food part of the afternoon can be a little boring and I get tired easily during that part of the afternoon. After that we have a choice of activities and I participate in sports. Monday evenings we watch a Québecois movie. They're hard to understand, but subtitles (in French) help some.

Tuesday afternoons we have our choice of workshops to do. I chose canoeing. But sometimes that's been cancelled due to weather or very low attendance. This week I went hiking with a different group because canoeing was cancelled.

Wednesday afternoons we have another choice in activities, and I chose the Gumboots dance, some kind of African dance. Wednesday evening is typically improv night, where some students do improv in French. Less than half of the people participate and the ones that do only do it once, and I didn't participate.

Thursday afternoon we have a class on Québecois culture. This is the time of the week when I'm most likely to drink coffee. The last two times, we watched kids' movies, so that was a bit more fun, but I still needed coffee.

Friday afternoons are usually free, and sometimes there's a party of some sort at the university in the evening.

When I'm free for the evening I eat supper with my host family. They're quite friendly and quite helpful with French. The father of the family in particular is quite funny, but he's been away on business for three weeks. My free evenings vary greatly. Sometimes I do homework. (Yes, we get some homework, but it's a lot less than in any other 6-credit university course I've taken.) Sometimes I go places with friends. One time I went to a place in the river valley where they have free line dancing 4 nights a week. Those line dances are a lot harder than Cadillac Ranch!

So if you're considering doing French immersion, you've now had a quick look at what UQAC (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi) is like. But you'll have to read my other postings if you want to hear about more specific, fun, and interesting happenings.

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