Canadian, Eh?

As my new friends Sarah, Marika and I make our way though the Mediterranean-inspired architecture of Antigone, clad in our maple leaf shirts in celebration of Canada Day, I realize just how far away from home I am. The great yellow stone towers above me, as if proud of its own celebrity and exoticism. This edifice makes the office buildings and apartments on Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg look like Lego blocks. I know that on this day, while I have the privilege of touring one of the most beautiful cities in the world, my family and friends are at home celebrating with barbecues, beer and fireworks. The trade off is fair, but I still let out a wistful sigh.

We disperse for a short while to take pictures, and I make my way over to the center fountain where a slim blonde woman watches her children play near the spurting water. I don't mean to eavesdrop, but I can't help but hear a little girl mention the word, "Canada" to her mother. I think that maybe it's just my imagination, and I am now suffering from P.C.D.S. (post-Canada depture syndrome). But now, I am now sure that I not only hear the little girl repeat my country's name one more time, but I am also positive that her mother replies with, "Yes honey, Canada."

I look over curiously and make eye contact with the blonde women. She smiles, waves to me and says, "Happy Canada Day." "HAPPY CANADA DAY!!" I reply, a little over-enthusiastically. Not only does this woman know it is Canada Day, but she also speaks English! Great maple leaf, I am overjoyed! I walk over to her and her children, where we make introductions and laugh over these strange circumstances.

I learn that this woman is in fact from Kingston, Ontario, but has lived in Australia for the past few years with her husband and children. They leave for home in Australia tomorrow after spending a wonderful vacation in Southern France. Marika and Sarah also wander over and join our conversation, but soon afterwards, we say goodbye to our new friends. This family reminds me of the Canadian essence – no matter where we are or what province we have come from, at heart we are still a people who can laugh at our quirks and embrace them with any fellow Canuck.

In a strange way, being away from home has made me feel more attached to my country than every before. Hockey doesn't exist in France. Rather, they play rugby or soccer. And instead of drinking Fort Garry dark at the King's Head (a local bar in my home city), I drink apéro and red wine on the patio of a chic Perpignan tapas bar. So far, my time in Perpignan has been nothing short of memorable and enjoyable, and while the city is quaint, chic and an ideal summer escape, I have to admit that I miss all things Canadian: my looney, my tooney and my "eh's." On the surface, I have adapted to the fashionable snobbery of the French. But inside, I still bleed red and white.

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About the Program

Fifteen college students came from North America to Perpignan, France, in June 2011 to produce these videos and stories. To find out more, read a welcome letter from program director Rachele Kanigel, meet the program faculty and explore the 2010 website.