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Check out images, stories and observations as I navigate through everyday life. Think of this blog as a way to experience my experiences.

Buckle up.

What Learning French Taught Me About The World

First off learning a new language is hard, time consuming and gratifying. Secondly, winter in Montréal is brutal but those who live here act like it’s no big deal. See images below.

Now that that is out of the way let me give you some background. Although a majority of people in Québec speak English it’s beneficial to learn French and is highly recommended by Québec immigration. So I signed up for classes. Classes are 6 hours a day Monday - Friday and each level is approximately 2 months long. When I started I thought I was in for an 11 week course. I recently passed the exams to continue on to higher levels, so I signed up to continue with the 2 and 3 levels. After the 3rd level I plan on reevaluating where I am and possibly continuing with levels 4-6 in the fall.

On top of learning a new language I decided to challenge myself to walk to class each day. It’s a 6km walk daily in sub-zero weather with wind that is trying to rip your face off. Good times.

If you’ve read this far you’re probably wondering, well, what the hell have you learned about the world? So here goes. My classmates are from all over the world. There are mates from Turkey, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Montenegro, Bangladesh, Italy, Russia, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico. I happen to be the only one from the United States.

There is a certain level of camaraderie that happens when you spend 6 hours each day in a room full of strangers from around the world, which leads me to the first thing I’ve learned.

What the media and politicians tell you about people from other countries could not be further from the truth. Every single person in my class has a heart of gold and is extremely supportive. Some are quiet. Some are very competitive, Some are loud. Some are very outgoing. What they are not is hateful or vindictive.

The second thing I learned is, when people from around the world are working toward a common goal nothing gets in the way. Religion and politics are checked at the door and everyone supports each other as we work toward fulfilling the end goal.

Thirdly, people from South and Central America are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met. Nothing seems to bring them down. They are always laughing and smiling. Unless their phone dies, then panic sets in. They love their phones. Don’t get me wrong, my classmates from the other countries are happy as well, but the South and Central Americans are always uplifting.

Lastly, even if you don’t speak the same language there are ways to communicate that bring you closer together. So rather than accepting what the media or politicians have to say about certain populations, why don’t you sit down and get to know the people they want you to hate.

John Kochmanski