Chinese Fondue + Impromptu Meet-Up.

Thursday 9th November- 

At the beginning of this week, I was invited for lunch, I made sure it was on a day that I didn’t have to rush back to the school for more classes but I expected the three others around me to rush back to work because isn’t that just how things work? Apparently not! 2 whole hours later, after consuming crepes, salad, buddah bowls, talking about England, theatre, football (my specialist subject.. not!) and laughing a good amount, we slowly moved away from the table to pay. Apparently the normal 1 hr lunch break doesn’t exist in Matane? They may be onto something..

Sunday 12th November- 

I was invited round for dinner by the same family that invited me to the haunted house and parade over the Halloween period. On the menu was: Chinese Fondue. Before arriving in Matane, I had never heard of such a thing but since arriving I have been asked countless times whether I have ever had a Chinese Fondue, the answer “no” often becoming the cause of a puzzled expression.

When the invitation was presented, I was sent the following picture as a means of explaining what it consisted of..

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My first thought: “Raw meat”.

I can confirm, no raw meat was consumed, Thank God !

I was slightly overwhelmed when I saw bowl after bowl, tray after tray being added to the table with the fondue… cooker.. thing in the center of the table. So overwhelmed that I pretty much forgot to take a picture until the last minute.

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I had garlic bread, some beef, a jacket potato, cheese .. and more garlic bread. There was also a cheese fondue but I could only eat so much !

It was a really good evening but another evening that really tested my French, 7 whole hours of conversation. 7 ! But I did notice one slight difference compared to my fried brain situation at the Halloween Party, my verb conjugations stayed with me till the very end !

Right.. fast forward to the following week !

Friday 17th November –

Friday’s tend to be my day for just getting bits done, grocery shopping and so on but this Friday was different ! 3 of the other assistants decided to take a trip to Matane, we had absolutely nothing planned but I would say it was well spent.

It was brought to my attention almost immediately that we all had blue jumpers on, this called for a picture.. now it didn’t quite go to plan because it was snowing and.. taking my coat off was not quite an option.. so this is the picture we were left with:

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After this blue jumper picture fail, we went to Café aux Délices where you can find just about anything, from burgers to chinese food and there are also lots of quebecois dishes. After staring at the vast menu for about 20 minutes, we decided to ditch the menus and opt for the buffet instead:

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Group photo attempt 2 ..

 

One of many attempts.. I really had no idea how difficult it was to get everyone to smile at the same time !

After our meal we headed for a walk by the river because who doesn’t choose to further freeze themselves to death when it is snowing? A completely normal thing to do.

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After we decided to check out what was on at the cinema and headed to see Justice League. The guy working at the cinema made the assumption that we were students and we were more than happy to accept the new found student status, if you say I am a student, who am I to argue? Thank you for the cheaper ticket.

The film was pretty good, quite a few funny moments and in general it was nice to have a catch up.

That’s all for now folks, I shall be heading to Rivière-du-Loup (about 2 hours from Matane) today for an xmas party. I knew it made sense to pack my xmas jumper!

Until next time !

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Frat Fête !

Friday 3rd November – 

Some of the British Assistants organised a Frat party and it was a full house of Brits, Canadians and Mexicans !

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Beer pong started very early on, I made two very pitiful attempts to throw the ball into one of the many cups available. I can confirm, the ball at no point entered a cup and I figured instead of slowing down the progress of the game, I would turn my attention to more pressing matters..

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Something I learned that night was that pizza can double up as a plate for other food..

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A piece of knowledge that will no doubt shape my future.

As the night went on..

Still going strong with my cup of sprite and my priorities remained firmly in order..

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After chitchatting for way too long with one of the Mexican assistants about life, I decided at 4:30am that it was a good time to call it a night! 4 hours later, I was awake again, not exactly a quality nights sleep ! Now we slept on a sofa bed, yes “we”, a bit of imagination will be required.. 4 assistants, sleeping lengthways across a bed, trying to keep their distance – An experience.

Saturday 4th November – 

To my surprise, a good 40% of the group were ready to go out and have breakfast by 10:30am.

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After breakfast, we had a wander around Saint-Georges:

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They also had some pretty cool sculptures dotted around the park.

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And now for some more nature appreciation..

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Almost done..

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Any minute now..

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All in all a highly enjoyable start to the weekend and it goes without saying that Saint-Georges is beautiful!

Until next time..

Qué-back again !

Qué-back again.. as in Québec.. I am back..again.  Alright forget it, moving on..

I found myself back in Quebec City for a training session. This was the first time that the British, Canadian, German and Mexican assistants were all together at once.

 

Wednesday 1st November – 

The journey to QC started with a 4 hour drive with one of the Canadian language assistants. Given I didn’t know him, I figured I needed to bring some form of entertainment for the journey otherwise it could’ve got super quiet.. and therefore super awkward.

The week prior I had been playing snakes and ladders with the students, but the only difference was that when they landed on a number, they had to answer a question. Given that my plan is to return to England in one piece, I decided to alter the game for the car journey so that we simply had to pick a number at random and answer the question.

It’s safe to say we knew a fair bit about each other after that journey.. the questions were called “Icebreaker questions” but I feel as though “Life story questions” is more accurate. Nothing like saying “Hello, how’s things going?” then 30 minutes later finding that the conversation casually wandered in the direction of death and marriage.. what a combination !

On that note..can we just take a moment to appreciate the sky on the journey there:

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I absolutely love the sky!

So once we arrived in Quebec, the brits reunited! There is something soo welcoming about the sound of a British accent in Canada.

Before I get carried away, here are some pictures of the hotel that we stayed at (Hotel Manoir Victoria):

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I can tell you now, the next two mornings, I had to encourage myself to get out of the bed. Having said that, the amazing shower was a good enough incentive.

Later that evening once I had dragged myself out of the hotel room, we headed to get poutine at the same place I had poutine when I first arrived in Canada. It was almost like déjà vu but instead of being excited, this time it was like one of those moments that with every mouthful I thought to myself “I don’t need this” but.. who turns down free poutine? Not me !

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So after attempting and failing to eat all of the poutine, I returned to the hotel.. here is a snap of me appreciating the stairs at the hotel (it’s the small things in life):

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I then proceeded to do what every 22 year old does when they have the opportunity … drink tea and put my cosy socks on then head to bed ! (every 22 year old does that right?)

Thursday 2nd November – 

Firstly, the day started with breakfast. A week later and I still find myself wondering if I can justify going back just for the breakfast. A place that serves cake at breakfast time is truly the place to be.

The area felt very fancy and the staff were super kind:

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(how cute is the little tea pot.. once again, it’s the small things in life).

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After breakfast we had more training sessions and then lunch time arrived:

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This was a really odd wrap, it had chicken in it .. onions, a bizarre sauce of some description and every now and then a random crisp would appear. I still don’t quite understand.

Have you ever wondered what Brits and Mexicans get up to during their lunch break? Well you came to the right place to find out..

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Yes .. you can in fact see people sitting fully clothed by a swimming pool. That really happened.

Fast forward to the end of the training sessions for the day (if you came here for an informative breakdown of the training sessions themselves.. I apologise, the main theme of this blog post will be food).

We headed to a sugar shack, dress code: check shirts. There was a band that were playing music and we ate lots of maple goodness. Maple Ham, Maple Taffy*, Maple Syrup .. oh and then we had other things such as meat pie and then pancakes with maple syrup. Safe to say I consumed quite a lot of sugar that day.

*Maple taffy – (description curtousy of wonderful Wikipedia) Maple taffy is a sugar candy made by boiling maple sap past the point where it would form maple syrup but not so long that it becomes maple butter or maple sugar. It is part of traditional culture in Quebec, Eastern Ontario, New Brunswick and northern New England. In these regions, it is poured onto the snow and then lifted either with a small wooden stick, such as a popsicle stick. The event in Quebec is known as a “cabane à sucre” (“sugar cabin”) an outdoor structure where maple sap is boiled down to syrup and sugar and the taffy is served with traditional québécois dishes, including many savoury ones that feature maple sugar as a glaze or flavouring element.

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(Really not a fan of soup but took a ladle full just to be polite).

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When we got back that evening, some of the assistants gathered together in one of the rooms to drink wine and of course, I did what any normal 22 year old would do..

Put my cosy socks on, grabbed some sweets and a muffin, made a cup of tea and tuned into ‘Border Security: Canada’s Front Line’:

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Friday 3rd November

 This was our last day of training sessions, as usual it started with breakfast!

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.. stop judging me.

After breakfast, we headed to our training sessions and then lunchtime arrived !

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I had a grilled cheese, this pesto and vegetable ciabatta sandwich and salad. Now.. I have to say I had to give the grilled cheese to one of the other assistants because it was like a posh grilled cheese (not regular cheese).. with ham in it and we really ought to keep it simple when it comes to things like that.

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Once lunch was done, the training session just kept going ..

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Once it had finished, it was time to go to Saint-Georges (about an 1hr 20 mins from QC) for a Brits take on a “Frat Party” !

All shall be revealed in my next blog post !

Until then ..