Laval University, situated in Quebec City, was quite a change for Justine Lhoste. As a GEM student, Justine is pursuing the double degree opportunity and wanted to experience a new culture, as she has already studied abroad in Ireland and Australia. From the start, she knew that she needed to be prepared to work a lot in her competitive Marketing MBA pursuit, and when she arrived in Canada, her expectations became reality.
The academics in her new university were very challenging, but she was able to adapt to this environment of a high level achievement motivation. On top of the four courses that she is taking, she currently has a job as a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate students, participates in three sports, and volunteers every week at the Center of International Affairs. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it is considered a normal schedule for the students at this university. She emphasizes that the students are very mature, competitive, and hard-working, so she had to prove that she was just as serious as they were by keeping herself busy during the week.
When she first arrived in Canada, integration with locals was not much of an issue for her. Because this was her third time studying abroad, she knew that she needed to take advantage of the local culture and meet people of different backgrounds as well. Her classes were filled with about fifty percent international students and fifty percent local Quebec students, so she was in an ideal classroom situation. Students from Quebec are known to be very friendly, so she was able to insert herself into the environment easily. Justine is known to be the only international student in her class that is integrated so well with the local students, and she is surrounded by them in the classroom.
Studying abroad in Canada has given Justine the opportunity to earn a local degree that carries a lot more weight internationally than her original GEM degree would provide her. She believes that there are far more professional opportunities for her in Canada, and it is a lot easier to find work than in France. Because of the simplicity of finding work in Canada, she is considering starting her professional career in Canada before moving back to France. However, she enjoys her hometown in France, so she is hoping that the MBA she earns in Canada will give her a competitive advantage in the job market in France.
The city of Quebec is not your typical city, in that the style is more European. One of Justine’s recommended ‘sites to see’ is the historic area called Old Quebec, which is composed of the Haute-Ville and Basse-Ville. Within Old Quebec, Château Frontenac is a popular hotel that many people come to see for its architectural beauty.
Montmorency Falls, just a thirty minute bus ride away, is also on Justine’s list of ‘sites to see’. These falls are the highest in Quebec, and they are, in fact, higher than Niagara Falls. When Justine had some spare time from her demanding schedule, she was able to travel to Montreal with her aunt and spend some time in New York for Christmas. She is also planning on visiting the city of Toronto in two weeks for a motorcycle competition with her boyfriend, who is also studying at her university with her.
Ice fishing has been one of Justine’s most memorable experiences thus far. Her and her friends took a trip to a typical river for ice fishing and saw that the frozen river was covered with mobile homes, cars, and electricity wires. She remembers stepping onto the ice slowly, thinking that her weight would be the one to break the frozen river. The group sat around a hole in the frozen river and caught over 60 fish!
Looking back at her time spent in Canada, Justine has some sound advice to give to students that are tentatively looking to study abroad at Laval University. She advises that they shouldn’t get stuck with the same group of friends that they have always been with and to try their best to integrate with the locals by going out and meeting new people. She also believes that it is absolutely necessary to get a job during the study abroad experience at Laval University because it will give more insight on the culture and how to live as a local, since they all have jobs. During the study abroad experience, she believes it is important to learn how to be efficient, to not be afraid of hard work, and, of course, to survive the cold weather!
Interview and write up completed by Karicia Quiroz.