Alta States 

Notes from afar - Montreal rules educational "tourism"


"Learning is life."

- Socrates


Wow. Already September. Nights are cooling down. Thoughts wander to long descents in clouds of white. To wearing parkas and snow boots and gloves and...

But wait a minute. There are still a few of days of summer left. Right? I mean, it's been barely a few weeks since the snow melted from the alpine. Whistler's July deluge is still firmly entrenched in our memory banks. Heck, the sun is just becoming a friend again around here. We can't be talking about winter yet.

So we won't. Instead, I'll fill you in on a recent late-summer ritual in which I participated. It's called Moving Your Freshman Daughter/Son Into University . And it's a fascinating trip.

A little background: some 40 years ago, I took the then-unheard of step of crossing the entire country to attend college in British Columbia. A student/athlete in Quebec City, I was mesmerized by the mystique of West Coast life. Of course, my parents didn't accompany me on the 5,000-kilometre journey to Vancouver. They couldn't afford the trip. Besides, they had three other boys at home to manage.

So I went alone. And I never looked back. Sure, I returned home from time-to-time to see my family. To boast to my friends of my new life on the Wet Coast. To get a little buzz of French and Euro culture. But live full-time in Quebec again? Out of the question. Forget long underwear and slush and unending winters and small hills. I wanted ocean and mountains and exotic arbutus trees hanging over precipitous cliffs. Though my roots were as " vielles souches" as you can get, I was now a Franco-Columbian. And I lived my life accordingly.

Image my surprise, then, when my youngest announced this spring that she was headed to Montreal for university. Say what? Heck, there's this big empty house in Vancouver, UBC is a hop and a skip away and I'm not sure I can afford the out-of-province student fees in Quebec.

But she didn't listen. Her mind was set. Despite my entreaties, despite my clumsy bribes, she was already convinced that Montreal - Concordia University to be more precise - was the only place for her. And the irony in all this is that she used my arguments to bolster her position. "It's an educational experience on all sorts of fronts," she said. "Think of everything I'll learn there; how my French will improve." And then she smiled slyly. "Besides, you always said Montreal was the only real city in Canada. And you know how much I want to experience that for myself..."


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