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Experiencing French Culture in Montréal

Eating fish n’ chips (not poutine?) along Rue McGill in Old Montréal: (l–r)...
Eating fish n’ chips (not poutine?) along Rue McGill in Old Montréal: (l–r) Lisa Shea, Julia Caroza, Madison Thomson, Ezra Richardson, Kyle Ober.

If you’re studying French at Keene State, you don’t have to travel all that far for the chance to practice the language with native speakers. So it’s fairly easy for the French Club to make at least one excursion across the border to Québec every year, usually alternating between Montréal and Québec City.

It’s a fun trip and a good experience even for those students who aren’t proficient in French. “It’s invaluable for them to see and hear French being used in everyday life,” explained French Professor Tom Durnford “Although there are differences in pronunciation and vocabulary between the French spoken in Québec and that of metropolitan France, that’s true even within the borders of France and many other French-speaking nations. And, the province of Québec is New Hampshire’s largest international trading partner and the ancestral home of nearly 25% of the state’s population.”

Last spring, club president Ezra Richardson organized a trip to Montréal. “The trip was short, of course, and we’re discussing ways to make it a longer excursion that would really allow some time spent outside the comfort zone while in the city. But even though it was short, it was a great learning experience. We learned how to handle ourselves responsibly while representing the institution and having fun at the same time. We got many chances to engage in the culture and speak the language. The French spoken there is different from the French spoken in France – a very cool cultural difference to experience first hand for someone like myself who has studied abroad. So far, I have yet to come across an opportunity like a weekend in Montréal.”

And here’s a fun fact, according to Dr. Durnford: "The French Club, in many and evolving iterations, has been a continuing part of the student life of KSC since the start of the College in 1909."