Katia Moskvitch

“Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.” Frank Zappa.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Canadian experience from a French perspective

- By Katia Moskvitch -

Working as a waitress in one of numerous Lyon’s cafés, Sabah Guidoum, 21, often heard people talking about Canada. And the more the French girl of Algerian descent listened to random conversations or to people speaking directly to her and describing what a wonderful country Canada was, the more she wanted to go there.

“It’s funny,” she says with a French accent, laughing. “For some reason, every time I went to work, someone would mention Canada to me. And it was an ordinary café, not some special one for Canadians or anything like that.”

Hearing so much about Canada in a place where she least expected it raised Guidoum’s interest to the point that finally all she wished for was to visit this country.

Guidoum decided to do a university exchange at the University of Western Ontario. She chose to study in the media, information and technoculture program, which corresponds the most to the one she followed in France. In Lyon, she is in her first year of a master’s in communication and information. Hopefully, she says, all the classes that she’s taking now at Western will count towards her French degree.

“I’ll still have to study for one year when I come back home, because it’s a two-year masters,” she says. “And I have no idea what I will do after that. I wanted to be a journalist at one point, but now I think I’d rather work as a film critic.”

Guidoum sits in her room in a house she shares with four other students. The walls are covered in posters featuring Star Wars, one of Guidoum’s favorite movies. She says she enjoys cinema, and even follows some courses in film studies at Western. Recently, she produced a series of short movies for one of her classes. One of them was about something that made a very strong impression on the French student: a skunk.

“For me, a city is not a place for skunks. Their place is the forest. But in London, they are everywhere!” laughs Guidoum, describing how once she stayed over at a friend’s place and they saw a skunk searching for food at a garbage collection site nearby. “We were careful to take our garbage out without approaching the skunk because when it stinks… well, it stinks!”

It’s been two months since Guidoum came to London, and so far she’s enjoying her stay. She parties a lot, but studies a lot too. In France, students usually don’t study continuously; the only intense study period is before exams.

“Here, I have to read a hundred pages a week!” complains Guidoum. “But I was able to choose all my classes, something we can’t do in France.”

Guidoum does not know whether she will go back home once the school year is over. But she is certain that while she is in Canada, she’ll have a good time.

“I’m here to have fun,” she says, “and I will make sure every single day of my stay here is a fun one!”