Nine ways that Explore changed my life

1.    Living on my own
I expected to attend classes, workshops, and activities and improve my French. However, I did not expect to do my own laundry, cook, empty my own trash, clean my own apartment, and go grocery shopping! It was my first time away from home, and although I missed home at first, I really enjoyed the freedom and living like a grown-up!

2.    Learning much more than just a language
It’s not just a language, but a culture and way of living. Learning French in the heart of rural Quebec gave me an understanding that had eluded me before.

3.    How much my confidence would grow
I used to be shy in general, and twice as shy when I needed to speak French! At Explore, we were continually encouraged to step out of our comfort zone. I gained confidence in my French and in myself generally. I blossomed like a flower in the sunshine!

4.    Making friends from around the world
I knew that Explore was a program funded by Canadian Heritage for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. I expected to meet many fellow Canadians, but I ended up making friends from around the world! Now I can travel to other countries and have friends to visit there!

5.    How much it would change my future
Through Explore, I learned not only a new language and culture, but about health issues as well (from the many debates and workshops I signed up for) and have since changed my major from economics to health studies. (I even take some of my classes in French!) For me, Explore was not only five weeks of adventure and fun, but also a starting point for many more opportunities to come!

6.    How annoying my family and friends would find me
I can’t stop talking about Explore! All my sentences start with “One time, at Explore….” I’m having major Explore withdrawal symptoms!

7.    How it would turn out to be the hardest thing I’d ever done
Not only was leaving home to go to Explore very hard, but leaving Explore was even harder!

8.    How supportive everyone was
The teachers, monitors, staff, and your peers all really want you to succeed!

9.    How much Explore would change me
Through Explore, I was able to reinvent myself and discover a part of me that I never knew existed. I found out a lot about my own personality. I was able to “be someone else” and try new things. Since I came back, my parents have told me I’ve gained 10 years in maturity!

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