My name is Alana and I would like to begin my story here. When I was in grade 8, I went on an exchange to Levis, Québec and it impacted my life like you would never know. I learned about their culture, languages, architecture and most of all how to make friends with a complete stranger and then go live with them for 2 weeks. It was a very unusual, fascinating and exciting trip.
On the first day of the trip we started out by bus then 2 planes and then another bus, It was a very exhausting and long journey. When we finally arrived at the College de Levis (their school) we all dropped our jaws gasping. The school was this humongous, gorgeous and fascinating building that resembled Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from Harry Potter. Unlike our school, it practically took the whole entire day to tour it. It even had Olympic size swimming pool!
When I first saw my twin I was very startled, excited and so nervous my hands were shaking. This is because I was finally meeting my twin that I had only talked to over Facebook and that I was so far away from my family and home for the first time. My twin, Anne-Marie, looked somewhat like I pictured, this is because you can’t really tell through just a picture. She was a bit shorter than me though, and had long black hair, light brown freckles and wore her school uniform that consisted of a plaid skirt and a red top with matching black dress shoes. Not to mention she could fluently speak 3 languages. (French, English and Spanish) We spent the afternoon at the College de Levis having a welcome dinner and getting to know our twins. In the evening, Anne-Marie’s parents arrived and it was time for me to leave the familiarity of my friends and go home with this family to St.Marie to begin my adventure. Right from the start the family made me feel welcome and safe which was such a relief.
In the coming week we toured their school, the town of Levis, Quebec City, parliament, many churches, the Plains of Abraham, The Capital Observatory, Montréal, the Biodome and Olympic stadium, the Museum of Civilization, old Québec, Maison de la découverte,ste-Julie, Petit-Champlain, Citadelle de Québec, saw the Musical “Big Bazaar “, Notre Dame Basilica, Montmorency Falls and many other marvelous places. However, my favorite place of them all had to be Montréal because of the Biodome and Olympic Stadium and the candy stores. You could walk down the street and find this amazing candy store but then if you kept walking you could find an even bigger one! But the Amazing part of the candy store was all the different chocolates and candies that you can’t get in Alberta. I found a lollipop the size of my head!!!!! Every day was packed full of events so the only real time I got to spend time with Anne-Marie’s family was on the weekend. The weekend was the family’s decision on what to do and they decided that they would like show me their sugar shack, their mall and the town. All in all it was a very fun experience and during this time I had also started to bond with Anne-Marie and eventually became good friends with her.
By the time we had to leave everyone was heartbroken although we all knew we would see our twins once more. So we departed for the airport once again and then to Alberta. It was a very interesting ride back though. The aircraft crew found a dent in our plane so we had to sit in the plane for another 2 hours until it was fixed. This meant we had to all phone our parents and tell them to pick us up later. But the real fun began the next morning when we all had to get up for school!
After a week had passed it was time for our twins to come to Alberta. Anne-Marie had never taken a plane or seen the mountains so it was a very different but similar experience from mine I imagine. The day they arrived in Alberta we had planned a welcome dinner in the gym at our school, just like the one they prepared for us back in Quebec. At first Anne-Marie was a little shy, like I was, but gradually started to speak up. Our week was packed once again with more exciting events. We went to the Telus World of Space and Science, Fort Edmonton, West Edmonton Mall, Galaxy Land, West Edmonton Mall’s Water Park, the Town of Stony Plain, the City of Spruce Grove, Magic Lantern Theatres and of course Jasper. On the weekend my family decided that we would take Anne-Marie to Jasper early and meet up on Monday with everybody else. During this time we took a helicopter ride, saw the Columbia Ice Fields, Mount Robson in British Columbia, Over Lander Falls and many other fascinating places. When we were meeting up with our group on Monday we were waiting for our bus when we saw a bus up ahead. It was on Anne-Marie’s side of the truck so we asked her to see if it was ours. So she peered out her window and then turned towards us and said it wasn’t ours. So my mom said how do you know and Anne-Marie responded “because I saw a bald guy!” We all laughed and I know that I will never forget that day when Anne-Marie made me laugh so hard my eyes watered. I know it may not seem that funny but if you were there I know you would be laughing your head off.
So when we finally met up with our group on Monday we toured around Jasper, did some hikes such as Malign Canyon, went on Jaspers Tram and did some shopping around the town. It was funny watching all the Quebec students run from one side of the bus to the other, trying to get their cameras ready at the same time to take a picture of the elk and mountain goats . This is because we would just sit there paying no mind to these creatures but they thought it was the coolest thing they had ever seen. On our way back home I asked Anne-Marie what was favorite thing that happened so far and she said meeting you and of course West Edmonton Mall. We laughed and promised we would try to stay in touch. On the last day we went to say goodbye to our twins and it was probably going to be for the last time. It became a very emotional day and it made me, and I know many others, upset also. In my opinion, I thought that I was paired up with the best twin and that we had lots in common which made it even harder to say goodbye, because we became close. But in the end, I wouldn’t change this experience for anything else. In conclusion, what I learned from this trip is that you can become friends with a complete stranger if you just be yourself and find a common ground. I would also like to give thanks to all the teachers who participated in this exchange and made it possible for us to go on it and have so much fun. I am very glad to have been able to share this experience with you and I hope that you enjoyed it, if you get the opportunity to participate in a exchange, do it! I promise you you’ll never forget it.