By Marc-Olivier Drouin |Staff Writer|
At the beginning of September, 15 French Canadians and myself packed our lives into suitcases, left the cold province of Quebec and took the road in direction of The Golden State for a semester abroad.
I came here by car with two other friends, 3,813 miles, three time zones and 15 days stuck in a Volkswagen Golf – the road trip of a lifetime. A plane was not an option for us since we wanted to cross the United States in order to discover the country.
It was one hell of an adventure where we were given the chance to discover the geographic diversity of the States. Our favorite parts of the road trip included Chicago, the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and the legendary Highway One.
After a 15 day journey, we finally stopped our car in San Bernardino where we met other students from Quebec. It was now time for all of us to start our new lives as exchange students and discover our new university, CSUSB.
With the help of the National Student Exchange program, we chose San Bernardino easily because of its wide selection of courses and perfect location; away from the Canadian winter and near beaches, major cities and attractions.
We didn’t have any major culture shock when we arrived here since Quebec and California are similar on various points … except for the temperature and the “dry campus” thing.
We do miss a couple of things from the cold north; friends, family and regional food.
“After my boyfriend, the thing I miss the most from home is dairy products. Milk out here tastes awful,” said Anne-Marie Paradis, an exchange student from the University of Sherbrooke.
In spite of the language barrier, our journey is going quite well. People are very friendly and everything seems to be in place to facilitate our integration.
According to Christine Manzo from the University of Quebec in Montreal, “CSUSB is a great place for international students, but sometimes we feel like the university overprotects their students.”
In class, everything is so different than what we are used to – from schedule to evaluations. The majority of us think that the school here is easier than in Quebec, but much more demanding and time-consuming.
Comparatively to us, tuition here is much more expensive, but you got a lot of resources. In Quebec, we pay approximately $1,400 for a semester, but we don’t have fancy art buildings and equipment, as well as a beautiful campus.
Another thing that shocked us when we arrived here is how much water you are wasting to sprinkle the grass.
Seriously, I live in the province that owns the biggest reserve of drinkable water on earth and using it to sprinkle the grass is prohibited most of the time and frowned on – you can even get arrested!
Our journey in California will end Dec. 8; meanwhile don’t hesitate to talk with us to hear our strange accents.