When I rented my first apartment in Québec City in 2014 several locals asked why I'm living in Old Québec (Vieux-Québec). Surely other neighbourhoods are cheaper. Why would I want to be so close to the tourists? Personally, I didn’t think it was a big deal. Old Québec is filled with history and character and marvellous architecture, why wouldn’t I want to live in Old Québec?!
My love of cafes has nothing to do with coffee–I'm not a coffee person–and everything to do with architecture, interior design, ambience, thirst-quenching beverages and good food. While each aspect plays a role in my overall cafe experience, the importance of those roles change depending on where I am travelling at the time.
I will be the first to admit that my language learning has been slow. I do okay when I visit a restaurant or shop, but whenever someone engages me in a conversation I panic. I hear maybe two or three words, and I have absolutely no idea how to respond. If I'm eating out, I say 'Oui' in hopes that I have been asked a yes or no type question. While this most times, this is often a dead giveaway that I am anglo and the person I'm interacting with will either switch to English, or look confused and speak more French.
I look out my window and breathe deeply, taking in the view in front of me. For the last two months my view has been that of the parking lot, and the building beside mine - which was in such close proximity that anyone could see down into my apartment. But now, now is different. I've moved from the ground floor, to the fifth floor, and when I look out my window I can Château Frontenac to my left, and the steeples of Chalmers-Wesley United Church. I can see the curved tin and metal rooftops of buildings in my neighbourhood, tall wooden staircases, and one small patch of snow that refuses to accept that it is spring.
Cobbled streets, 17th and 18th-century colonial buildings with steep metal roofs, 24-hour clocks, prices with comas instead of periods, and French signs everywhere you turn… It’s as though I’m walking through a small town in France, except I’m not in France, I’m in Canada. Québec City, the oldest fortified city in North America (and one of the most historic cities in Canada), it more of the more fascinating cities in Canada. It’s a city steeped in history, culture, and intrigue. I'm creating a home in Québec City.
I was in one of those writing ruts before I moved to Québec City. I was staying with family (which I enjoy), I had constant access to wi-fi, and I was always distracted. One would think that having constant access and an open schedule would be the best thing in the world. Let me tell you, it’s not.
It's odd to think that in two weeks I'll be moving myself to Québec City to learn French. Am I crazy?! Sure, I adore Québec City, and it is the best place in Canada in terms of learning French, but still! Living in Québec City is going to be a lot like living in France. I can still do my freelance and social media work, but there is no chance of picking up temporary work to help pad my bank account - damn language barrier!
I was not a very good student in high school. When my teachers spoke, my eyes glazed over and my mind drifted to somewhere far more interesting. School, for the most part, was boring as hell, and I skipped a lot of classes. Except for two. History and art history.