Sally Watson reflects on her time as a French language student and an English conversation volunteer at Culture & Language Connections (E-QIP). In this blog she explains how E-QIP was her key to meeting interesting diverse people and making great friendships in Montreal.
Moving overseas to a new city to study or work can be daunting.
Regardless of age, travel experience or level of independence, it can be overwhelming living in a foreign place.
There are the initial highs which come from exploring a vibrant new home city but there can also be lows - when things don’t seem to be going to plan, when you’re struggling with language and in my case in Montreal it was French, or you’re just feeling a little homesick.
In good times or in bad, a network of friends is crucial when living abroad.
Fortunately through E-QIP Language School, I met a range of people who made my year in Montreal enlightening, enriching and positive.
Most of all, I felt supported and cared about, not only by the teachers but by other students as well.
My cultural understanding of the world expanded through friendships with students from Austria (not to be confused with my home country of Australia!), Brazil, France, Germany, New Zealand, Iran, Spain, Japan, Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Colombia among many other countries!
Why I chose E-QIP as a language school in the first place?
Before I arrived in Montreal, I researched online for several months from Australia for a French language school to attend. There were a huge number to choose from and the options became totally confusing.
After advice from a friend, I assessed each school in context of my preferences in: class size, structure, format of lessons, cost and location.
After consideration, I chose E-QIP primarily due to their claim that class sizes were kept small and had a focus on oral communication. Staff were helpful and easy to liaise with, answering my many questions in the lead up to booking. Plus the school was on the Orange metro line near Villa Maria, which was convenient to get to from Le Plateau where I was living, and Downtown, an added bonus!
How E-QIP met my expectations and exceeded them!
E-QIP ended up becoming more than a school to me but was the key to a whole new network of international friends.
As promoted, the class sizes are small, usually no more than eight. The interactive nature of lessons means students develop communication skills, speaking and listening, rather than just the theory of written French.
While grammar is covered, the classes encourage engagement especially with written assignments to read in class. This is when you really get to learn more about others and their life circumstances in Montreal, leading to solid friendships.
Suddenly you realise you have so many things in common with your fellow students that you are organising to catch up outside of school.
Teachers and staff at E-QIP are professional, friendly, kind and patient which creates a warm atmosphere and helps the learning process!
Later, during my time as a volunteer at tea-time I was blessed to meet local Quebecois and people from almost every country on the planet.
You learn a lot about the world we live in!
Through English speaking practice, a whole new connection with other people opened up for me and many new diverse friendships forged.
Attending E-QIP had turned out to be a great decision!
Not only did my French language abilities improve dramatically, I also found a family in Montreal and friendships, which will last a lifetime.
Sally Watson is a freelance travel writer and photographer at . A self-confessed vagabond and seeker of new frontiers, adventures and international friends, she aims to inspire people to travel widely, independently and confidently! Follow her on and .