Feb. 19, 2020
Greetings from Dijon, the land of mustard and wine
Dear Friends and Supporters of the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship,
My name is Valentina Fajardo, and I am the 2019 recipient of the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship. About three months ago, I crossed the pond and landed with my parents in Dijon, the land of mustard and wine. Since then, I have gotten used to France and its way of “being,” and while I had heard many things about France and its systems (good and bad) before I left, there were still quite a number of things that surprised me.
About three months ago, I crossed the pond and landed with my parents in Dijon, the land of mustard and wine. Since then, I have gotten used to France and its way of “being,” and while I had heard many things about France and its systems (good and bad) before I left, there were still quite a number of things that surprised me. One of the first items on my agenda when I arrived was to register for my classes, and I ended up asking at least four different people how, where and when I could do this. I got four different answers, only one of which was correct. And to my surprise, the answer was that I would be able to register the day classes started as the course list would be published only two days beforehand. Well, I decided, if that’s the way it is here, why stress about it?
On the topic of courses, I am taking quite a variety, but my favorite courses are translation. There are two main reasons I enjoy these the most. The first is that these courses don’t seem to be easily available at the University of Calgary, so I am taking full advantage of this opportunity to learn how to translate, especially on a continent that heavily relies on this work. The second reason is that translation modifies my way of thinking in English, Spanish and French. I find myself being able to identify verb tenses and the corresponding ones in the other language much quicker than before. Even in conversation, I find that I am making these connections in the other two languages without needing to do so. This has also helped me to improve my French language skills, in writing and speaking. I have become much more comfortable speaking to native speakers than I did at the beginning of my exchange, when I was sure I wouldn’t be easily understood. It also took a while to get used to the French accent, especially their pronunciation of anglicisms like “le parking” or “le weekend.” (One woman didn’t understand me when I said “parking” with an anglophone accent. I had to say it with her accent so that she could understand me.) I’ve created a short video of the Université de Bourgogne campus so that you can get a window into my daily routine.
Video by Valentina Fajardo of her travels in France (Université de Bourgogne)
As you will see in this second video, I have done quite a bit of traveling, especially since “Noël is Coming,” as the store Fnac is currently advertising. I stayed in a hostel when I visited Strasbourg with friends at the end of November for their world-renowned “Marché de Noël”. I ended up booking a two-person room because I would be meeting my friends the next day, and staying a night with a room full of strangers by myself is still a bit too far out of my comfort zone for now. Funnily enough, when I entered, there was no second person, and it was a room that was meant to accommodate six people. I ended up getting the room all to myself for the night, which was quite nice. For the upcoming semester, I plan on doing some more traveling and surely that will include more hostelling experiences.
Video by Valentina Fajardo of her travels in France (Angers, Strasbourg, Lyon et Dijon France)
I have come to enjoy living in Dijon so far. I like that it is a small city that is easy to get around, the people here are friendly, the weather is… quite wet, but not as cold as Calgary and the food is quite delicious (except the mustard, which is too spicy for me).
Thank you to all the supporters of the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship, who have given me the opportunity to study and live in Dijon this year. I will gladly embrace each and every experience that comes my way this upcoming semester.
Warm wishes for the holidays,
Valentina Fajardo (2019 Recipient)
Did you know?
The E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship has benefitted greatly from the generosity of many individuals. We wish to extend our deepest thanks to each of you for supporting this award and for supporting the University of Calgary students as they embark on an adventure around the world.
Silvia Rossi (1991)
Andrea Jung (1993)
Audrey Taylor Bereznicki (2009)
Paola Velasquez (2016)
About the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship
Offered annually to an undergraduate student registered in any faculty at the University of Calgary wishing to pursue studies in France through an official exchange program, for two semesters. Award holders must select courses in which the language of instruction is French.
Fall/Winter minimum GPA and units: 3.2; 24
Apply to the French Centre by March 30.
Donor: Friends of E.C. Barclay
Value: $ 7,500
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Program Coordinator - French Centre