Monday, May 25, 2009
So I realize according to my blog, I’ve been stuck in Dallas for the last 2 weeks, but I’d like to invoke Jorn Barger’s "Inverse Law of Usenet Bandwidth;" that is "The more interesting your life becomes, the less you post… and vice versa," and my life has been anything but boring.
I pulled into Montréal Friday night, but about two hours later than I’d hoped, and so I missed supper with the rest of the Group that had come in on an afternoon flight. Getting into the room that had reserved for me turned into a bit of an adventure in and of itself as I showed up after the Front Desk has closed down of the night; but with a little bit of luck and a little bit of wondering, I managed to find the security guard that had my room key. Objective one completed: A place to sleep!
The rest of the weekend passed well – a Saturday morning tour of Montréal that for most of the Group turned out to be only breakfast, Sunday was church at the Montréal YSA Branch, Monday was spent doing my grad school application, and then Tuesday I took the GRE (Graduate Record Exam, further to my application to grad school).
Tuesday night I left Montréal and Wednesday brought work – the “real” reason I’m out in Québec to begin with. One of the first challenges I faced was finding a place to live. The program I'm out here with had provided housing for the first week, and although I could stay put and rent the room myself, the idea of spending the summer in a university dorm had little appeal – I’d already done two years in nicer dorms. What I wanted was a little apartment, all mine, for the summer, as a break from the worries and concerns of roommates. I started with the classifieds and discovered that my task wasn’t as simple as I had assumed. First there was the language – everything was in French – and the dozen or so words I had never had to use before: duex et demi (2 ½) (two and a half rooms, approximately a small one bedroom apartment), semi-meublé (semi-furnished, meaning a fridge and stove are provided), meublé (furnished), tout inclus (literally "everything included," meaning they pay all the utilities), rien inclus (literally "nothing included," meaning you have to pay the utilities), and so on. A bigger problem than the French was the fact that everyone wanted me to sign up to rent the place for a year, which poses a not-so-small problem when you know you’re leaving town in three months. Most landlords would flat out reject moving me in for anything less than 12 months, although one couple was "nice" enough to offer me a place, but on the condition that I paid for at least 4 months. After two nights of looking, I managed to find a nice one-bedroom apartment not far from the University with a landlord that could fathom people moving in other times than July 1st (the vast majority of leases in Québec seem to end and start on this date).
Harder than apartment hunting was adjusting to the new lifestyle. I feel very alone when I went through the first day here and at the end of it realize that no one that I spoke to that day had ever met me two days previously. Having my own place also meant I wasn’t surrounded by the constant flurry of activity that having five roommates brought. For me, however, it’s worked out well – I’ve enjoyed having the peace and quiet and I’ve meet (and been able to spend time with) some really cool people from the Group, church, neighbors, and work.
The summer looks promising and I look forward to an amazing summer in Québec!