- You no longer break into a cold sweat and twitch for your camera when you see a squirrel in the park. Pretty soon, you realise they actually hang out in your backyard, spring out at you in neighbourhood alleyways and go through your rubbish before the garbage truck arrives. Pursuing the foreign creature for ten minutes to take a photo is a thing of the past. The cute, bouncy-tailed, medium-sized rodent has, despite an ongoing endearment, become commonplace.
- You stop carrying around your bulky camera everywhere you go, in case you see some street art you want to photograph. You soon discover it is everywhere and if you stopped every-time you saw something incredibly artistic, it would take all day just to get anywhere.
- You are now accustomed to switching between English and French several times a day, depending on the situation and your ability and energy to express yourself in that moment. In fact, you realise speaking “Franglais” is a kindly accepted method of communication here and you are thankful and relieved that speaking a mismatch of both languages is actually OK and no one judges you for it.
Je ne care pas
- No other place has had you feeling so much FOMO (fear of missing out). There are so many festivals throughout summer that it would be simply impossible to see them all. You resign yourself to the fact that you’ll need to stay until next summer to catch all the festivals you missed this year.
- Although you wish no one was homeless or in need, it’s still a feel-good day when you put your recycling out, knowing that your empty bottles of Corona will put a little money into someone else’s pocket. Inevitably someone will go through your recycling bag for anything refundable. This gives you the idea to save them up and find someone special in the next few months to donate the bottles to.
- You are developing an ever-growing bike envy and you know the summer is not going to be the same without one. Whether you’re considering a short-term loan (Bécik vert bikes are free at Mont Royal station until the end of August, subject to availability), renting a BIXI bike, borrowing one from a friend on holidays, or buying one – somehow now, a bike is a major priority.
- You are no longer afraid when homeless people come and ask for money. There are about 3000 homeless people in Montreal according to a recent census. On the streets you meet “Camelots” who are homeless or in need, who are employed to sell the L’Intineraire puplication, which is a charity paper for those who are marginalised. You start spending the $3 to buy it, even though it takes weeks to get through and understand half an edition as it discusses complex issues, in French. You haven’t even read the last one before you’re buying the next edition because you know it’s helping, even if it’s just a little.
- You now know how to use most taps, lights, city bins and now have a Canadian adaptor for your Apple products, instead of using a clunky inefficient adaptor. The things you used to take for granted like turning on the shower, or switching on the lights became a more complicated exercise after arrival as many day-to-day conveniences operate differently here to what you are accustomed to. You are now happily confident that you can master any appliance in your Montreal apartment.
- You no longer go to a table on a patio and sit down without seeing the “host” first. You no longer ask “the host” for any food or drink request and you now know to stick to the same “server” during your entire restaurant visit. You no longer go up to the bar at a pub to order your drink, you know someone will come to you and serve you. Whilst you pay for it in tips, it’s enjoyable to have someone wait on you and it keeps people in jobs!
And Number 10.
The supermarket, a place you used to detest in your home country is now almost a social outing, combined with further language education. You search aisles asking the attendants:
“Avez-vous du ruban adhésif ?”- Have you got sticky tape?
“Quel est le mot en français pour “nail polish remover?” – What is the name in French for Nail polish remover?
You scan the fruit and vegetable section picking up the different names for things. You talk to the cashier for a moment and then they respond:
“We can speak English if you want?”
Errands are quite enjoyable until this point when you get deflated, knowing you are out of your league linguistically – but you go on!
“Non, je veux parler français. Je suis ici pour pratiquer ! ” – No I want to speak French. I am here to practice!
There is nothing more joyful than a conversation in French with someone, who does not suggest switching to English. It’s those times you think, you might actually be getting somewhere.