Normally, I have a perspective or a certain vision about a place before I go to it. I admit, I am always wrong. In Jamaica, my vision said, walk around and be cool. Go to Jamaica and I’m constantly being hustled for a taxi, ganja, and money. Traveling to a new place, I feel re-lost then rediscovered. A fearful, yet amazing feeling in repetition. As for Montreal, I was completely thrown off. My vision said, ” Hey, French part of Canada, It’s still Canada, whatever.” Now, I have never been to France, however, I still felt as if I just wandered into a city in France. Left and right is French and as much as I look like a foreign Latino. I still am getting looks as an outsider (probably because of my rucksack).
I can not speak for all of Canada, but alike the U.S., it is a large country. Out of all that I have experienced, it is surely a beautiful country at least from the far edges of Ontario and Quebec. Canadians take pride in being Canadians. They love there flag, culture, and free way of life Especially differentiating themselves from Americans. One amazing thing I’ve seen for my own eyes is that despite being one nation, the French certainly protected there, well, French. This is what called for a blog post.
French Canada! At least for half of my American friends and acquaintances, they have no clue French is even a part culture and language of Canada. As for me, most of my life, I thought Canada was not a very populated country. That goes to show how much American pride keeps our minds within our US boundaries. Not so much for countries abroad but our neighbors up north tend to get ignored greatly. Unfortunate that doesn’t work the same for Canadians as Americans, according to the Canadians I spoke to, the US gets too much of a spotlight.
Returning to the good old French, despite my lack of knowledge, I had no clue there was still a deep French culture intact up north. In the most recent years I had no clue how French Quebec was up until I arrived via train from Ottawa and Toronto. Arriving in Montreal was beyond a culture shock and was absolutely mind boggling and yes, confusing. First of all, the train car announcement switched from English to French once we crossed into Quebec. All the signs were completely in French, rarely ever seeing English. And last but not least, 90% percent of people I walked past spoke completely in French. In regards to city cleanliness, lets just say that the city reminded me of good old metropolitan New Jersey. Graffiti unlike much of Ontario I traveled to was all over the place. Some graffitti however, was far more artistic than at home.
I’ve always been told “The French are snobs” “If you’re English or American, they will treat you like shit”. Can’t say I can agree with the second just yet, perhaps the second. My first encounter was in Ottawa prior to departing for Montreal. A lady asked me in English if I spoke French. I said, “no” and the woman blew me off in a heartbeat. In Montreal, I asked a man for directions and he could not understand what I was asking for. Not to forget my taxi driver en route to the airport home misunderstood something simple I had asked.
The French surely and truly care about the preservation of there culture. From the pronunciation, to signage, to hockey game announcements. Avoiding sounding at all negative here, the language and culture is still very beautiful. As a Latino still working on Spanish fluency and improving my desired skills in Brazilian Portuguese, French is surely a language I would love to learn next as it is a worldwide language.