The Journey to Quebec


​Year 12 Louise Coelho recently went on a self-initiated International Student Exchange to Quebec. She provides her reflection of the experience.

It all started as a joke… In May 2019 we had some international students whom had come from Canada to do an exchange. Like the stereotype, they were all nice, and I instantly connected with one of them, Alexandrine. I took her to see kangaroos and showed her around the city and some other fun things Brisbane had to offer. She came over one night and we were baking cookies and that’s when we made the joke, about me coming to study in Quebec, Canada at the end of the holidays. She showed me pictures of her friends and family and school and it all seemed amazing. This trip wouldn’t just be an opportunity for me to spend time with my friend, but to also immerse in another culture and learn their language. As a current French student at QACI I was looking for an opportunity where I could practice and improve my French going into Year 12. When she went back, she spoke to her family about this possibility of hosting me at the end of the year and lucky enough they had agreed.

But nothing was set in concrete and we had the important task of speaking to the school, College St Bernard. I approached her school with an email, in French of course, regarding whether I would be able to come to their school for a few weeks. I explained my situation and clicked send. Quickly enough I received a response, accepting my offer. After many emails and skype calls it was all set to go and all I needed was to purchase my tickets.

On the 24th of November I embarked on my first solo adventure overseas. I was a little nervous and a bit sad to leave my friends and family behind, but the excitement of all the new experiences waiting ahead of me beat the negative emotions. My 15-hour flight to Vancouver turned into a 22-hour flight due to some emergency landings we had to make, meaning I missed my flight to Montreal. Now that is what I call luck. I maintained my calm and before I knew it I was with my host family. It felt so unreal. It was another 1.5-hour drive to the town they lived in, Drummondville. A very small town, you can fit 33 of them inside Brisbane to get it into perspective. Coming from a big city this was a whole new experience for me!

I instantly felt so welcomed into my family, I could tell they were much like my own family. Second day and I jumped straight into school. Scary, were my first thoughts. I was so nervous, but I instantly felt welcomed by all of Alex’s friends, saying hi and giving me welcome hugs. Before I knew it I was known and introduced as ‘The Australian’. The first week I was bombarded with French, it was quite overwhelming, specially getting used to the Quebecois accent. The school routine was quite different, it was composed by three-one hour and fifteen minute classes followed by a long one hour and a half break followed by two and a half hours of sport. I loved this system as it forced me to exercise and experiment many different sports including volleyball, tennis and ice hockey. Going into this trip I was ready to embrace any opportunity which came my way.

Some other fun things I did included; watching many hockey and football games, fully diving into that Canadian culture. Eating poutine and their other traditional foods. Visiting the old Quebec and Montreal it was amazing seeing such a beautiful city. Along with two other families, we spent 3 nights in a beautiful chalet at Stoneham, a skiing mountain. There I got to try my first time at skiing and let’s just say, it’s definitely not my forte and I left with many bruises. Also with these families, during new year’s we participated in an event called ‘olympits’ where each family was a team and we participated in activities in order to win. One being having to create and race in your own sleigh, using my creative skills we created a Lightning McQueen sleigh. It may not have worked very well but it surely was the most beautiful. With my friends we went out to dinners and parties together and even a musical festival. I created so many new friendships making it so hard to leave. That day came very quick and after lots of tears it was time to say goodbye. This experience was very worth it, not only did I improve my French but I made friendships that I will never forget, I am looking into the possibility of using my IB to go into a university in Canada!

Article written by Louise Coelho - Year 12

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Last reviewed 30 January 2020
Last updated 30 January 2020