Lately I’ve been wondering about my identity, specifically my linguistic identity. See once upon a time French was my only language. Then when I was 4 years old I moved to Newfoundland, where I learned to speak English, or whatever passes as English over there. Either way, when I moved to an international school in Santiago, Chile, three years later people couldn’t understand a word of what I was saying so I had to learn English again.
I studied in English between grades 2 and 10 while living in both Chile and Peru until 2003 when I moved back to Quebec. Being the only fully bilingual person in a Quebec City high school kind of makes you stand out. When the time came to move to the University of Sherbrooke, I spent the first semester in Etudes Literaires (French Literary Studies) but quickly got bored. The next semester I switched to English and Intercultural Studies, which was a vast improvement. I hung out with a group of students who preferred their movies, books, and video games in English, despite all being born in Quebec.
Then between 2010 and 2011 I studied Journalism in Ontario, where it was English 24/7. Since 2011 I have been back in Quebec City where it is of course French full time. Originally, my plan was to stay in the Toronto area, do an internship at CBC, go to France for a one-month study program with American and Canadian students, and then come back to Toronto for a full-time job. The Toronto internship never happened, so I moved back to Quebec, went to France, back to Quebec again, and have been applying to jobs in both English and French ever since.
Now this summer I have been accepted for an internship…in Northern France, where of course they will speak French. Meanwhile, I watch American and Canadian TV shows in English, I watch every big Hollywood blockbuster that is shown in English, and I read books in English and French. I also write movie reviews of movies made in Quebec and of foreign movies…in English. Examiner.com agreed to hire me to write those reviews, but the more I think about it, who is going to read English reviews of French and foreign movies?
My mom even recently asked me why I never watch the news in French. I just prefer watching Global National at 6:30 with Dawna Friesen. The half-hour format reminds me of the news show I used to work on at Sheridan. I sometimes tell myself the technical terms while it’s playing: take SOT (Sound on Tape). But I suppose I could probably find the French equivalent.
So after all these linguistic changes, what am I really? French or English? I’ve lived the most in Quebec, but I wasn’t even born here, I was born in New-Brunswick. If I am Canadian, maybe I should lay off the American TV shows, although I am probably not the only one with that problem. Back in Sherbrooke, my friends and I always watched Castle and House.
Sometimes I feel like the villain in Bon Cop/Bad Cop: fully bilingual, yet I believe I have an accent in both languages. Don’t worry, Jean Chretien wasn’t my language teacher.
My first job should either bring some conclusions or more confusion. If I get a job in Ontario in English, that will settle it. I will work and communicate in English, and speak to my family in French. But then again, a few weeks ago I applied for a job in French in Windsor, Ontario. So, I would have been working in French, in a mostly English province, and most likely still blogging in English. At least I had the good sense to make my website bilingual.