Thursday, December 14, 2006

Points of Relativity

Over the past few months I've noticed three differences. A couple of progress and one of quality of life.

The first was back last summer. We went to Parc Orford and spent a day at the beach. We had done the same thing soon after moving here. The thing I noticed was how at ease I was compared to the previous time. That first time, I was nervous. My French was quite shaky and I was worried someone would talk to me and would be totally lost. Or worse judge me for being an anglophone not fluent in French deep in what I thought was a largely francophone part of the province. I have to say that I was spooked for quite a while that there was an anti-anglo sentiment below the surface that one day would explode on me. Not that I had any indication that it was the case, but with the referendums and with some negative experiences with some of our French aquaintences in Versailles, I worried it was there. Maybe I'm also a bit of a perfectionist and felt I was not showing respect unless I spoke fluently and correctly. But three years has made a difference. I was completely at ease after getting to know so many people from here and to see that anti-anglo sentiment is rare as long as you show respect. To boot, my ear for the language has advanced considerably so I was able to follow most everything that was said around me.

The second was more recent and related to the first. Nowadays when I order at a restaurant, I don't have that nervousness and have that confidence to be OK with making minor mistakes. But it is also that it all comes so easily now. Before I could spend minutes formulating what the correct words should be. Now it's old hat and flows off the tongue. It's definitely not perfect and I still make long pauses searching for words. It's a nice knowledge level to be at and will make advancing much easier. I bit more incentive to study and fill in the gaps. I hope to do that over the vacation with a study book I purchased.

Lastly, one of my favorite topics: traffic. When I first arrived here, I was so surprised with how courteous all the drivers were. Driving relatively slower, not cutting each other off, and taking turns when two lanes merged. Well over the last year or so, the drivers here have started getting on my nerves. I've been seeing less respect shown between drivers. Or have I? I thought back to some of the driving I experienced in Chicago and the people here returned to being angels. It also becomes a question of whether you bring your level of tolerence down so that you get stressed out driving, or do you keep the same level and live a life of less stress. I will be choosing the latter. The bad drivers are not worth it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a reply to your observations about Montreal drivers. I have been driving since 1968 and can assure you we, Montreal drivers, are one of the msot aggressive, ruddest drivers anywhere in the wesern hemisphere.

My daughter lives in Lincoln Park in Chicago and when I visit her I cannot get over how courteous and patient Chicago drivers are - they respect the stop signs, give the right of way to pedestrians and generally respect the speed limits. The popluation of Greater Chicago is triple the population of Greater Montreal and even taking that into account, the drivers in Chicago are politer.