“I got a new perspective on things,” says Maya Strick, a junior who is double majoring in English and French. “Humanity is really united and people are people wherever they are.”

During the Fall 2019 semester, Strick had the opportunity to study abroad at the Université de Montréal in Canada through the National Student Exchange program. While there, she documented her experiences in a weekly video blog, which was recorded in a conversational format and uploaded to the NSE’s YouTube channel.

Having returned to Missouri Southern for the spring semester, NSE requested that she continue vlogging in order to document her “re-entry” process.

It was kind of intimidating when I first got there. But they had a welcome breakfast that was really helpful and they gave it entirely in French. I didn’t know anyone there, but getting there early gave me time to figure things out and make friends. That really helped me to get more into the actual academics. They really encouraged you to put yourself out there. I took classes six days a week. At first, I thought it would be too intense, but I grew to love it. We talked to a lot of locals in public too, which helped with our fluency outside of class.

Their culture didn’t surprise me that much. They were very American, but they spoke French. Canadians really lived up to being nice people. They were all very accepting. The external acceptance I received gave me a lot of internal acceptance.

The most shocking difference to me was the localized language. I lived in the Francophone, or French- speaking, side of town and they had a very unique way of speaking. They had a lot of different words for things.

Montreal was an especially good blend of city and country. The people took a lot of pride in their environment, which was cool. They took interest in the small things that we take for granted.

I’m the student representative for the new vloggers who are part of the exchange program this semester. Now I focus more on repping MSSU, showing what we have to offer and talking about what it’s like coming home after studying abroad. They have a new program for social media ambassadors and traditional bloggers that I’m also helping with.

(Vlogging) has definitely helped me to not be as self- conscious. You have to put your ego aside and just be yourself. My goal is to help other people who are new to this process.