Culture Cafe: Quebec, Canada

Feeling the itch to travel? Well, chances are, you've either been to one of our Wednesday evening meetings or you're looking to widen your horizons. Our second Culture Café was devoted to beautiful Québec. Within an hour and a half, we got to see what life is like on a different continent. We’re grateful to HSE international student Guillaume Dubois, who created this special atmosphere and shared his homeland with us!

The first two important things to know about a new place are its geography and historical background. For those who didn’t know, Québec is a province of Canada, and the most special fact about it is that it is predominantly French-speaking. Quebec is located on the east coast of Canada and is the second most populated province. Did you know that Canada is the second largest country in the world geographically after Russia? What a dream for every traveler to discover such a big territory full of different fun things to do and interesting places! But it's difficult to appreciate the significance of the place without knowing anything about its history. Guillaume gave us a brief history of Québec, and now we know that everything started with French expedition and the establishment of New France in the 17th century. In the next century, it became a British colony, and in 1867 it became part of Canadian Confederation. The previous century was influential for Québec, as it was a time of modernization and considerable development.

The most enjoyable part of our Cafés is learning about different cultures. We learned that a lot of famous celebrities are from Québec! ‘Near, far, wherever you are...‘ Do you recognize this song? Of course, it’s legendary 'My heart will go on' by Celine Dion, world renowned singer born in Québec. Are you a fan of music, but more fond of rock? Then you should definitely know the group Simple Plan. Its members are also from this province! And we’re sure that everyone knows Adele’s single 'Hello'. No, Adele isn’t from Québec, but the director of the video to the song is! Xavier Dolan is a Canadian actor and director from Québec. Though this isn't even a complete list, it is still quite impressive!

After the presentation, we took part in a small quiz about food in Québec. It was tricky, as we had to guess what was missing on pictures with different dishes, but, you know, there’s nothing we can’t deal with, so we managed. Now we know that Quebecers love eating poutine, which includes French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy. Another popular yummy dish is pancakes with maple syrup or, for that matter, anything tasty with maple syrup!

Maple syrup is a Quebecer favorite. It makes any winter celebration brighter. For instance, making maple taffy is a tradition. Maple taffy is made by boiling maple syrup, but not so long that it becomes maple butter or maple sugar. It is poured onto the snow, then lifted either with a small wooden stick, such as a popsicle stick, or a metal dinner fork. In addition, any celebration gets better with beer, especially if it's Québec beer! And if you're in the mood for some more Québec-style fun, you should definitely visit some carnivals and festivals. Every winter, thousands of visitors flock to the Québec Winter Carnival to enjoy a host of activities for all ages. Brave souls sign up for the snow bath run, which includes running into the snow, laughing and screaming. The most special thing about this event is the dress code: you have to wear a swimsuit. The only items that can keep you warm are winter boots, hats and gloves.

On the other hand, perhaps, you are more partial to the hot weather. If so, here's a thing for you: every year, the Québec Summer Festival welcomes music fans and holds one of the biggest summer festivals in Northern America.

But let's talk more about winter festivities! As you've already seen, this time of the year is special and magical for Quebecers, as there are a lot of opportunities to celebrate and spend time outdoors. Winter can be cold, but Quebecers don't let it stand in the way of fun! Winter is a great time for extreme sports! Of course, we're talking about skiing, a sport that is very popular among Quebecers and in which the Canadian Olympic team always performs well. 

Speaking of sports, we can't forget about hockey, one of Canada's most favorite sports! Everyone loves it and does it! And what about outdoor activities? There are plenty of them, some are quite familiar for us, like dog sledding and snowmobiling, as we in Russia also have cold and snowy winters. Moreover, Québec delights visitors with other forms of winter entertainment. Have you heard of snowshoeing? It was a real revelation for us! It's a way of traversing thick snow that our ancestors used but, of course, now it's modified and modernized, but the technique is still the same! Now we're dying to try it, and we think you should, too! 

This meeting was the last stop of our amazing adventure. We learned about new places, new cultures, new traditions, and ourselves. It was splendid. We learned that we actually have a lot in common. And we learned that it's about having a good time and having a good attitude towards life. We thought we were the only culture who applauds a pilot at the end of a flight, but now we know that's not the case. Nice to know! We concluded our acquaintance with Québec with this saying about Québec identity: 'Modest French, playful Englishmen, peaceful American'

Thank you for attending our Culture Café and sharing these moments with us. We're always happy to see your smiles, so if you want to tell us about your country - please feel free to arrange a presentation! We're always opened to something new.

Looking forward to seeing you on our next Culture Café!

Text: Svetlana Dzhafarova