FLÉ: Fin

My Bicycle outside
Limoilou Bakery
QUÉBEC, Canada
August 12, 2013

Final exams at Université Laval ended Friday. And with that came the end to my time studying French in any classroom.

It was the right decision to seal off my study of the language with these extra summer sessions. Back in spring as I was finishing up a year of intensive French immersion classes I was inclined to stop there and hit the road to travel. But, after Free French ended I instead opted to stay on for even more language courses. I enrolled myself as a regular university student.

The result: I have become far, far more comfortable expressing myself. I understand far, far more of what I hear. "Sure, I could live and work in this language," I thought to myself the other day. I'm not sure I'd have that confidence had I ended my studies even just a few months ago.

I know that no matter how much I continue to speak French I will never approach native-speaker-level fluency. I do recognize--as our phonetics professor has reminded each of us in class everyday--that my accent could be improved. I am yet bewildered by subordinate clauses that introduce the subjuntive. But, all that aside... I feel not just comfortable but excited, even, at the prospect of continuing to use French in regular, daily situations after I've moved to Montréal.

Of course, the lion's share of credit for improving my language ability has to be awarded not to the FLÉ summer session at Université Laval but to my "host family of one" with whom I've been speaking French at home every day these past five weeks. Thank you for letting out one of your spare rooms when I needed a place to live, Annie! Thanks for keeping it entirely (well, 99%) out of English chez toi. I truly don't think I'd feel as solid as I do about functioning in French if it weren't for all you've done for me.

So, I've once again boxed up all of my things for another move. This time won't be like my last move to some other crosstown spot here within Québec City. I'm heading three hours upriver to Montréal. I have such a thin amount of possessions that I believe I could schlepp everything out on the bus, the train, or in a rideshare, even. Though, I will have to figure how to bring my bicycle along.

I hadn't originally planned to bring my bike. But, I've made so much use of it riding around Québec City recently that I realized how nice it will be to have in Montréal, as well. That city is well-laid with bike paths and cycle tracks running all throughout downtown and out into the suburbs. No matter where I end up living it will be far quicker to get around by bike than riding the métro to campus, everyday. I would save on the cost of a monthly transit pass, too--at least before it the worst of winter weather sets in. I'll figure some way to bring it out.

So, I'm off tomorrow afternoon. Professor Gwen is still away on her yearlong sabbatical (currently in Inner Mongolia) and has again graciously allowed me use of her apartment as she did so many other times I've passed through Montréal. But, I'll need to find a place of my own to stay before she returns about 10 days from now.

Assuming that I do line up a place to live in fairly quickly I've decided I'll come back here to Québec City for one last hurrah over the final week of August. I could pick up my bicycle, then. Even better, one of my former classmates from Iran wants to throw a farewell bash for me inviting all our closest classmates from back when we were utter beginners. But, she's been cramming for a French proficiency exam so won't be able to open prepare her house for a party until the end of the month.

Having an excuse to return soon works well for me. A trip back will help me to wean myself from this city where I've become so comfortable living over the past year-and-a-half. I'll revisit some favorite places around town and say a proper farewell to the many classmates and teachers who have become true friends.

But first... I need to move my stuff out and set things in place for beginning at McGill.

Next stop: Montréal