It is the end of the semester, by the time this is published I may be officially done with my exchange. Finals end Friday and then there will only be some odds and ends of paperwork to sort out. I feel like the time flew by and it was still too short a time to live in Montreal. My exchange taught me about myself and about Canada but most of all it gave me the opportunity to make new relationships with people from all over the world.
A Virtual Good-Bye
After being home for a few weeks during the quarantine I was starting to feel like nothing had changed. I felt almost as if my exchange had not happened. In some ways, the odd limbo of a pandemic was a nice distraction from how much I missed everyone in Montreal. A few days ago my friends from Power to Change made a “We’ll Miss You, Coleen” video. The video was many clips of people sharing the memories we made.
I was surprised by the people who had taken the time to send in a video and say something kind. Watching it made my exchange feel real for the first time since my hurried return. It gave me the closure I needed and a reminder that I had had an impact on the city and people I missed. I hadn’t realized how a simple thing like eating lunch in the same place on campus everyday one of the most meaningful ways I made friends.
I miss the People’s Potato, the student-run soup kitchen for students. Eating lunch there I met and developed many friendships. I also miss the coffee shops with French coffee sizing. The truly local grocery stores run by a family I could get to know are hard to find here. I miss the apartment cooking with my roommates in our white kitchen. The maple trees are going to bloom soon and I am sorry to miss the turn of the season to summer with the other international students. I miss my friend’s apartment and playing board games after church. I miss my church that met on the 8th floor of an office building.
It was a huge shock to go from living in a city of 4.2 million people on an island that’s only 10 miles across by 30 miles long to a town of 100,000 in an area the size of West Virginia. Not to mention the country shutting down. So it has all seemed surreal. But watching that video brought me back to reality. There are many things I left undone and saying a proper goodbye is one. I will return someday but for now, the virtual good-bye will have to do.