Free French VII

Schwartz' Deli
QUÉBEC, Canada
November 25, 2012

I've just wrapped up the first full week of my final term of Free French. Looks like another promising term.

Our new instructor, Madame S. is experienced. In fact, she made a point over the first session to share that she is the "longest-standing" instructor for the francisation program at Université Laval--though that doesn't neccessarily equate to being the "oldest" instructor. She then went on to contrast nuances of the superlative.

I'm even keener on our afternoon activity coordinator, Monsieur M.. Like Madame É. before him, Monsieur M. is a grad student at Université Laval. He has an infectious rapport and will clearly be a fun guy to while away hours speaking French in the classroom and out on field trips.

Our roster of classmates continues to evolve. The core of students who began alongside me this spring yet forms a majority of the class. Students who dropped out between terms have been replaced by more Colombians, another Ukranienne, and--representing a country new to our class--a Cambodgienne. We form a tight-knit though by no means exclusive group. Everybody who has joined in since the first day of Level 1 is just as likely to chat together in the hallways during the break or to join a table in the cafeteria over lunch.

Though this term has just begun the realization that it will be my final session of the program has gotten me contemplating future plans. (I seem to always establish my direction as winter approaches.) My time in this program will end with the first week of February 2013. I haven't decided for sure but it seems likely that I'll continue on in a further French course.

I sent e-mail to the director of the program asking about rumors I'd heard of a future session focusing specifically on written composition skills. She responded that if a certain minimum number of students expressed interest there would indeed be another session offered gratuit at the university. She also said that she'd share the specific details over an in-person classroom visit sometime before Christmas.

From what I gather it won't be quite the same sweetheart deal I have, now. I currently have tuition fronted by the Ministry and receive a small stipend which I can stretch to cover my rent, monthly bus pass, and much of my groceries. Though there would be no cost to me for the further writing progam itself my stipend would end. Furthermore, the sessions would have fewer hours--I think it's supposed to run only 15 or 20 hours per week as opposed to the 30 hours of instruction I presently receive.

Smoked Meat with Liver Entrée
Are the people running this province cleverly calculated about just how to bring immigrants in yet keep the French language dominant? I was hooked by the freebie introductory sessions with stipend. I'm inclined to keep myself on in Québec with extended possibilities of study--though without the stipend I'll have to land some sort of part-time work to get by. Those shorter hours mesh perfectly with that. Of course, any part-time job I find will require me to really use the language: further integrating myself into Québecois society.

Objectively, I do realize that few people other than me truly factor largesse of Free French programs into their decision where to emigrate. Still, it sometimes feels like I'm being led down a one-way path into Frenchiness. They literally label our program "francisation".

I am by no means complaining. I am a willing participant. Merci, Ministry of Free French.

The photos I'm coupling with this entry were taken at Schwartz' Deli in Montréal. I'd heard a lot of buzz about this Jewish deli that's been in operation since the 1920's. I took an afternoon sampling their menu. Even though Schwartz' is in a traditionally anglophone area of Montréal and everybody behind the counter was speaking English I found that even my native language is slightly different in Montréal. What I'd call "pastrami" was listed as "smoked meat". What I'd call a "side dish" is known in Montréal English as an "entrée".

Though Schwartz' may be traditional, authentic, and have over 75 years of history backing it I didn't find my sandwich or side platter of liver as tasty as what's I've eaten at Canter's Deli in L.A. or Katz' Deli in New York.