For French student Yumi, the second time’s the charm.
Yumi recently spent a month studying French at E-QIP, but prior to that—seven years ago—she got her first taste of Canada as an English student here.
Yumi first came to Montreal (and E-QIP) during a year-long break from her university studies, and after falling in love with the city, she knew she didn’t want that visit to be her last.
“After I went back to Japan, I really wanted to come back to Canada,” she said, “so I saved money to come back.”
In the interim, she graduated from university and realized her dream of working as a barista. When she returned to Canada last year, she merged two of her long-term goals by working as a barista in two independent Toronto cafes.
“I really enjoy making coffee, and I really enjoyed having conversations with the customers. Here, mostly everyone was very kind, very friendly, so I had a very close relationship with the customers,” she said. “It’s quite different from Japan, so it was really fun.”
She came to love Toronto’s diversity and the enjoyed having the opportunity to communicate with so many different people; her co-workers alone hailed from the UK, Korea, Pakistan, China and New York, among other places.
After spending a year in Toronto on a work visa, Yumi returned to Montreal (her favourite of the two cities by a slim margin—something she’ll only admit to when pressed for an answer) to continue studying languages and “enjoy the city”. During her time here seven years ago, she took advantage of Montreal’s bilingualism to start learning French, which is the language she’s now focused on.
“I realized that if I can speak English and French, I can communicate with much more people, so it’s very exciting, I think,” she said. “It’s just because of this city. I thought it was a very good opportunity, because most of the people can speak English and French… I felt like English was not enough to connect with people... Learning languages is not only for communication. It’s like learning another culture or another way of thinking.”
Yumi is now at a pre-intermediate level in French, and practices with her housemates—a French girl and two Quebecois guys. She would love to have the opportunity to use it even more in the future; against her the wishes of her family back in Japan, she’s begun to consider making her next stay in Canada more permanent.
“Since I made a lot of friends here, everyone says ‘stay in Canada, live in Canada.’ Now I feel like staying here… I’m not sure [what I’ll do], but now I have two options.”