Here’s a day-to-day account of one exchange experience authored by Arianne Rousseau from St-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
Day 1: Finally departing
58. That was the number of days that separated the time our twins from Kamloops left Quebec to the day our group of 25 students and 3 chaperones departed for our return visit. All those days spent impatiently waiting the beginning of our journey toward a province that is still unknown to us. And, so it begins, right now, at four o’clock in the morning. We depart the school parking lot in a bus toward the Montreal Airport where our first flight leaves at seven o’clock. After three flights, we finally land at the Kamloops airport, the place where we will finally reconnect with our twins. Despite the fatigue, the joy of seeing them again overwhelms us. We each leave with our twin families for a couple of hours before going to the school where we all share a meal together. After this dinner where we could interact with the other twins, we head to the gym for icebreakers. Afterwards, we go back home for a well-deserved night of rest.
Day 2: Submerged in a British-Columbian family
Today is a family day so basically, each duo does different activities. My twin Sydney and her family and I are going rafting. It’s my first time and it’s amazing, this activity is definitely on my list of things to redo at least one more time in my life. Then, in the evening, I rejoin two of my friends, Maude and Eric, and their twins Sammy and Justin to play an escape game called TOMB together. Unfortunately, we don’t complete it in time, but it doesn’t matter, it is nice to spend time together.
Day 3: Kilometres, Kelowna and Kayaking
This morning, we travel 170 km by bus to Kelowna, where we spend the day. After a few hours on the road, traveling through a magnificent landscape filled with mountains, we stop at Pandosy’s Mission where we eat our lunch under a resplendent sun. In Kelowna, we go to the H2O Aquatic Centre, where slides, swimming, surfing, diving and other aquatic activities are waiting for us. Then, we head to Gyro Beach to soak in more of the magnificent sunshine while playing volleyball, walking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and pedal boating. After that very enjoyable afternoon, we get back on our bus and head back to Kamloops.
Day 4: Kamloops with friends
Today with explore Kamloops In small groups. We attempt to answer Rally questions while exploring the streets of the city. Claire, a British Colombian student doing the rally with me, possesses a unique talent for not reading the card correctly. It isn’t a big deal because it allows us to walk around more in the city. When out time limit runs out, we take the bus to go get the twins that stayed at the school and we head to the restaurant Dynasty Gardens. At this Chinese buffet owned by Wayden’s parents, we eat an excellent meal. In the afternoon, we go for a hike at Lake Paul. The occasionally steep path is worth hiking because the view from the summit is unbelievable. The mountains and the lake, what a sublime landscape! And, to finish this beautiful day, after a dinner with our twin families take is to Fun Factor, a place where we find arcade games and laser tag.
Day 5: Animals, Hiking and Wheelchairs
In the morning, we visit the Kamloops Wildlife Park. The guided visit is fun, it allows us to learn more about the animals that we see, but, in all honesty, the tour of the wildlife park with my friends is the best part of this activity. For lunch, we go back to the school where the cafeteria satisfies our appetites. The afternoon is spent either watching the beginning of a movie or playing in the gym, and then we walk to Peterson Creek. At the end of the path, we see a very beautiful waterfall, but the hike to get there is laborious, and the path is very rocky. But, it doesn’t matter; the goal of the trip is to live new experiences, so we must see this challenge as part of the experience. The day isn’t over yet, there is one activity left –wheelchair basketball. We get the chance to try this sport that is much more demanding than it looks. Then, we go back home for a quiet evening at our twin’s home in preparation for our trip to Vancouver.
Day 6: There’s Vancouver
It’s 5:15 am, why are we up so early? It’s simple, because we’re going to Vancouver. In the bus, we are all still sleepy, but that doesn’t take away from our excitement for the beautiful day that’s waiting for us. We arrive in this city surrounded by magnificent mountains, and stop for a walk to Lynn Canyon where we cross a suspension bridge. Then, we get back on the bus that drops us off at Lonsdale Quay for a bit of shopping and lunch. I opt for a bison burger that does not disappoint and fully satisfies me. And, believe it or not, the waiter of the small restaurant took our orders in French! It’s proof that our language is spoken more than I would’ve thought! After that, we take the seabus to cross Vancouver Harbour. We walk in Vancouver; we stop a few times as Eden, one of the British Columbians, shares some information about the city. Next, we do a bicycle tour of Stanley Park. I found this activity really original; it’s my favorite of the day! Some more free time to do some shopping before going for dinner, all together, at The Old Spaghetti Factory, and then its back to on the bus to Kamloops where we arrive after midnight.
Day 7: First Nations and Goodbyes
Still tired from the travels the day before, we take our last bus trip to Quaaout Lodge where First Nations people teach us about their traditional ways of life and regale us with two stories around the campfire. The stories communicate values like cooperation and respect. We also get the chance to taste salmon cooked over the fire – what a treat! We have the rest of the afternoon free. I go to eat at a restaurant with a group of twins from the exchange and then I go to the bookstore because I really want to buy myself a few books in English. The ending for this beautiful day and fabulous exchange, is a pizza night and dance party at the school. We share our last supper together in Kamloops and watch a video made from all the photos taken during our trip. Then, we go to the gym, where we all dance together and even do the limbo! Once the night is over, we go home to finish packing and prepare for another early morning.
Day 8: Premature ending
Our flight takes off at 6:15am. I would be lying if I said that the night was long enough! After some brief goodbyes at the airport, we embark, almost all of us are sad the exchange is coming to an end and wish it would have lasted longer. We will definitely miss our twins and the group chemistry. At our stopovers in Vancouver and Montreal, we fight off the urge to jump on any flight headed back to BC to continue what just finished. When the last plane approaches Quebec, what hits me is the rain and the grey skies. After a week in the sun and warmth, it’s hard on the morale. The second shock was that there was not a single mountain around. In their place, countless potholes we notice on the bus ride back to school where our parents will pick us up. It’s already the end of this unforgettable experience!
Anecdote: During the exchange, we discovered some singers!
Bus rides are excellent times to discover the musical talent some of our twins possess. In fact, what better way to pass the time than to sing all together? The tune of songs like Old Town Road and You’re Welcome or even the MII theme stayed stuck in my head for hours. It didn’t matter, though, because I wasn’t the only one and we had so much fun humming them. We also got the chance to hear some excellent kazoo solos. Some people had bought some at Fun Factor and showed off their skills by reproducing popular tunes. I have some great friend and music-filled memories from this experience in BC!
By Arianne Rousseau
I am Arianne Rousseau, and I am 15 years old. I hold two things particularly close to my heart: the circus and the discovery of the world around me. I treasure living enriching experiences with my friends; which is why I am interested in school exchanges.