“Only we would be able to find the ghetto of Montreal!”
My best friend James and I stumbled around downtown Montreal looking for somewhere to eat, and we had wandered far enough to find a desolate, creepy street that consisted of exactly one phone booth and a couple of sketchy buildings. We took our misadventure with great humor as we hurried around the corner. (Only to finally decide upon a place to eat—conveniently, La Trattoria had the best Chicken Alfredo that I ever, and will ever, eat in my life.)
It was October, and the World Language Club at our high school had been waiting for this trip since sign ups the previous year. Many just wanted to get away from our small town and experience a few nights away from our parents, myself included, but it turned out to be much more than a couple of nights in a nice hotel and a good time with friends. The cultural experience was one that I will never forget; whether it was sitting at a table in our hotel trying to order our meals in French (which was more or less a failure), looking over the city at the highest point in Montreal at St. Joseph's Oratory, or shopping at the famous Underground City, it was the idea of being in a place which has a different language and different standard of life that struck me the most. The world was bigger than our small town.
On the first night, we got on a tour bus that took us through the city, a journey to our hotel. We all instantly fell in love with our tour guide's accent, and the way that he said “We're now going back to the 'otel!” has been repeated among the group for several months since we returned, always accompanied by an appreciative laugh. That was the first way that our ears began to get in tune with our new destination. We still had our eyes, ears, taste, and feel to go if we were going to get a full sensory overload of the city.
My roommates and I were delighted to find out we were on the fifth floor as opposed to the fourth, as the rest of our classmates were. Overcome with the euphoria that came with being in another country, exploring the world and absorbing a new culture, we laughed, jumped around, and took in the view from our fifth story window.
I began to appreciate the language barrier when we took a French class the next day. I'd been taking French for five years at this point, but when we were put into that classroom with that Montreal-native, I couldn't believe how little I could understand. By the end, I learned that you can only properly understand and become fluent in a language if you're completely immersed in it. I then got excited for college language classes, as immersion is the main point.
The last night was full of dancing at the Sugar Shack, a local attraction in the middle of the woods where you were in trouble if you didn't like anything and everything soaked in maple syrup. My fellow classmates and I stocked up on the syrup for our bus trip home, and took “syrup shots” whenever we were feeling torturous to our chaperones. We ended up taking the trip back home with us, and the legacy of the Cromwell High School Montreal trip will live on with the memories of syrup, French, and the perfect tour through the city on our way to “the 'otel”.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.