Three Voyages: Azalea Orsini


Azalea Orsini

This past summer sophomore Lea Orsini traveled to Montreal, Quebec in Canada. She and her family first drove seven hours to Niagra Falls; then, after staying for a few days, drove three more hours to Quebec.

Immediately after arriving at her Airbnb, Orsini immediately had her first obstacle with the language barrier. She recounted that the cleaning lady didn’t speak “an ounce” of English, and when Orsini used her minor conversational French skills to ask how many beds were in their room, the cleaning lady dove into a lengthy answer that was obviously in-tended for a native speaker. The experience was especially difficult due to the thick Québécois accent of the area. Orsini reflected on the moment with a simple, “It was funny— until it wasn’t.”

Another, perhaps less anticipated, cultural phenomenon that Orsini encountered was the description of lemonade in the area. Traditionally, in France, the word “Limonade” is used to describe a lemon soda. However, in the context of Québécois French, “Limonade” is used to describe American lemonade, a subject that has an entirely different word in traditional French.

Orsini has a ritual of judging every restaurant based on the quality of its lemonade, so this “jumble,” as she described it, was quite prevalent for her personally, yet she continued to get lemonade every time.

A less jarring cultural difference that Orsini noticed was how accessible the city was to English speaking tourists. As a popular tourist location, she described how things such as bathrooms and signs were often labeled in French and English, an addition which she found to be immensely helpful. So, although the language barrier may be an issue in some areas, specifically hotels and lemonade, Quebec is highly accomodating to English speakers.

When asked what her most memorable moment of the trip was, Orsini fondly recounted the story of meeting a small child. After being picked up by her mother, the young child dropped her toy turtle, which Orsini then returned. The child responded happily with a small “Merci,” which Orsini found to be incredibly endearing.

Although Orsini says she did not exactly meet any new people during her stay in Quebec, she says that small interactions of this type made her trip.

Orsini recommends that if you visit Quebec, make sure to see the Montreal Botanical Gardens, especially the lily pad exhibit. In addition, she suggests you eat some surprisingly good pasta, specifically from a small rigatoni shop if you can. Overall, despite her cultural struggles, Orsini says that she would personally return to the area again. However, she only recommends you visit the location if you know at least some French stating “if you don’t know French you’re going to be very confused.”