Lynn Carson—Depending on how long you’ve been reading (or if you are creeping through past posts), you may remember me writing about the Department of Modern Languages experiential learning trip to New York last October. This year, we went to Montreal. If you don’t know anything much about Montreal’s culture, here’s a helpful wiki. If you don’t feel like reading that, the important part is that the Quebecois are super into themselves and their Frenchiness. This was very exciting for the French students who could practice the language with native speakers. This was vaguely nerve-wracking for me, a Spanish student whose French vocabulary is limited to the lyrics of Lady Marmalade. Although pretty much everyone in Montreal speaks both French and English, French is pretty clearly favored, besides being the official language, and it was embarrassing to talk to merchants. Basically, I have to learn French now, so I can return to the city and be less of a schmuck.
HOWEVER, although I felt like a total butthead frequently, I had a lot of fun on the trip! When we arrived, Monsieur Paine, a professor in the department, led a walking tour of Old Montreal. We saw lots of stuff.
After that, we walked for what felt like 7 years to get our cultural dinner.
It’s probably good we walked so much because it was REALLY HEAVY. But it was really good, even though it doesn’t look like it. I’d had poutine before (there’s a great food truck full of it in Rochester, run by Brockport grads, what’s up), but it’s slightly different, for two reasons primarily: 1) it was in Quebec and 2) it had sausage in it. Yum. Probably a heart attack in an easy-rinse bowl, but it’s also probably the last time I’ll eat poutine for another year, so I would say it’s worth it.
The next day we visited Chateau Ramezay, a museum focused on old Montreal.
I’m not personally super interested in European colonialism! But if you are, this is a great museum for you! Ben Franklin visited before it was a museum to get Quebec to join in the American Revolution, but it didn’t work! He said, “It’d be easier to buy New France than convince them to join us,” which I thought was funny! I touched a beaver pelt because fur trade is why Canada was colonized! There was a room on punishment in New France, which I didn’t get to see a whole lot of, but what I did get to see was cool!
After that, we split into groups. One group went down into the malls, which are underground with the subway in Montreal. I was not in this group, but I’m pretty sure they liked it. Sounds cool to me. But I went and got lunch instead.
It was delicious. After that, we all met up at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There is a whole lot of stuff there! But we were there specifically for an exhibit they are currently housing, “Van Gogh to Kandinsky,” on French Impressionism and German Expression, which Monsieur Paine explained on the 90-minute educational tapes he recorded for us to listen to on the way up. It was pretty cool.
I personally prefer Expressionism, but I’m also an extremely moody human being, so I imagine that plays a role in how I respond to the art.
There happened to be an exhibit on Napoleon on the same floor, so I saw that too.
There’s lot of cool art just on the streets of Montreal too, which I really liked.
On our last day, we went to the McCord Museum, which is also a history museum, but history I am more interested in. There was an exhibit on Native Canadian clothing, which I loved.
Upstairs there was an exhibit called “Montreal-Points of View” that covers the city’s history basically from its founding to today.
There were a lot interesting artifacts packed into this room, but I think this painting was probably coolest. It’s a conglomerate of photographic portraits from the museum’s archives which addresses the people and places representative of the city. There’s a lot of stuff going on in there, and I think it was a really interesting reflection of Montreal life.
We ended our trip at the public market, where I ate lots of delicious food, though I didn’t photograph it as it was difficult to do so while standing with the food in one hand and camera in the other. I won’t go into everything I ate because gross, too much, but it was a lot of fun and really cool.
Overall, I had a really good time, and I recommend considering a language major or minor at Brockport if you want to do cool stuff like I get to do.