"Thanks to my scholarship from the Association for Canada Studies Netherlands, I was able to go to Quebec city to perform my research regarding the combined effect of climate change and forest management on the Forêt Montmorency, last year. During my time in Quebec City I was able to perform fieldwork, learn about a new modeling program, improve my French and get to know the culture and people of a (for me) new country! I was staying in a house with other internationals and in our free time we explored the city and practiced our French together. In order to get around the city I bought a bike, since I come from the Netherlands I am quite used to biking everywhere but we don’t have hills so that was a new experience! The old center of Quebec has a distinctly European feeling to it and it is quite small compared to other north American cities. For someone like me, who does not particularly enjoy big city life, it was perfect. Small scale with lots of local initiatives, fun cafes and museums. One tip though: make sure you know French! With my A2 level French it was quite a task to understand the often non-English speaking people of Quebec City. In the surroundings of Quebec City there is plenty to explore as well. Never in my life have I seen so much (relatively) untouched nature, and the expeditions into the forests and mountains of Quebec were thus a breath of fresh air for me. There are national parks as close at 40 mins from the city, and from there on there is nature and possibilities for hiking and camping stretching further north. For students, the “club de plein air l’aval” will propose outings for every single weekend that you can sign up for and join to do a hike, canoe trip, camping trip or whatever you would like in the great outdoors! I don’t think it needs mentioning that I was a frequent visitor of this club.
For my thesis I was in contact with professors of the Laval University, employees of the national forest service and the forest manager of the specific forest my thesis was on. These people have helped me with their bright minds and by helping me focus on the important aspects of the data and study in general. Going abroad and working with people in your field of specialization teaches you how to interact with people from different backgrounds and it gives you network connections that could make a world of difference later on in your life... and of course it is also lots of fun! I would recommend it to everyone!