My New Year’s resolution this year was quite simple: practice my French and have a memorable summer. I believe I have accomplished just that. This summer I had the amazing experience doing the Explore Program at Université Laval. This means that I got to spend 5-weeks learning French and exploring Québec city. The explore program is an intensive 5-week French immersion program that provides Canadian students with the opportunity to spend the summer learning French. The program runs twice, once during the spring and again in the summer. The program is available for students that are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Explore covers your tuition, food, and living accommodations. While the program is free to participate in, students are expected to arrange their own travel and other expenses.
A couple of months before the program begins , students are obligated to complete a placement test that will determine their language level. You usually find out your level on the first day of the program. Students are expected to arrive the weekend before their classes begin. A typical day at ULaval consists of having 2 rotating classes per week; each class starts at 8:30am and finishes at 12. After the class is done for the day, students have the opportunity to do a free activity, or they can explore the city on their own. There is an option to do paid activities, as well. These activities include a small fee and are not compulsory. After Monday and Tuesday classes, each week, students must participate in two language workshops; despite being mandatory, these courses are great fun!
When I first heard of the explore program, I knew it was something that I desired to do. Spending 5-week learning French while having the opportunity to scout the city and do free fun activities? I knew I had to sign up! I was very lucky to get my first choice of doing Explore at Université Laval. The ULaval campus is incredibly beautiful and surrounded by stunning landscapes . I quickly became fond of the trees and the shade they provided, especially due to the intense July heat.
ULaval’s residence is extremely pedestrian friendly, with Place Ste-Foy and Laurier Mall both walking minutes away. I found navigating the city to be fairly easy, especially as someone who speaks terrible French. The public transportation system was safe, efficient, and easy to understand, as well. I spent the majority of my weekends testing out new cafés, restaurants, or going out on walks to enjoy the scenery. My most memorable Explore experience has to be either the trip to Île d’Orléans or the Vieux Québec tour.
Overall, my Explore experience allowed me to gain confidence speaking French and helped me in my language learning journey. As a 21 year old, this was the first time that I had spent a long period of time without my family, and I definitely felt like it wasn’t something that I could do in the beginning. The program helped me step out of my comfort zone, gain independence, and be at peace with making mistakes. I’d recommend everyone to sign up for the program and experience it for themselves.