I truly believe that the Valrideau residence and family have helped me develop and strengthen my mind and being while motivating me to always strive to be better. ” – Catherine Mongenais
During the ten hours I spent in the car on my first trip to Valrideau, I felt my heart tighten. Of course I was anxious to begin this new adventure at the University of Ottawa, yet I dreaded the idea of being alone in such a huge city. Indeed, it was my first time leaving my small hometown, my family and my friends to go live on my own. I was awfully nervous. I intended to study, stay out of trouble and do my best not to annoy the other residents (better unnoticed than despised). I was convinced Valrideau was to be a place where I would sleep, eat and study; simply a place to live in. Instead, the residence soon became a home where I found compassion, open hearts and friendships that will surely last a lifetime. The scared student had been accepted in her new adoptive family. Today, I am absolutely certain I could not dream of a better place to stay during my studies, since here, I have grown as a person.
I am fond of smiles. They are my favorite thing in the world. In this home, I discovered smiles everywhere. There was a welcoming smile at the door from the very first moment I stepped into the house. There were understanding and encouraging smiles when it came to studying and essay writing. There were interested smiles around the table, always willing to listen to my latest worries or adventures. There were smiles of excitement and sparkly eyes when we had outings to explore the city or have an excursion in the countryside. There was a smile of kindness on the cook’s face as she made sure we had plenty to eat every day. There was even a caring smile as someone came to my room, bringing me ice and a glass of water at a time when a bad migraine kept me in bed. Smiles with friendship written all over them, gentle smiles, laughing smiles, smiles full of tenderness and care, reassuring smiles when worries came, dancing smiles in the living room listening to a resident play the piano; there were smiles everywhere! And among this multitude of various smiles, were bright smiles of girls I now considered sisters, ready at all times to offer a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on.
After two years of living in this beautiful home, I can only be grateful. This year was particularly filled with cultural, spiritual, intellectual and outdoors opportunities to forge our character, open our hearts and make our souls blossom. Professor Susana Christiansen for instance, gave three thought-provoking talks that incited me to reflect deeply on my priorities in life and to understand and think about reason, will, affectivity and freedom. I truly believe that the Valrideau residence and family have helped me develop and strengthen my mind and being while motivating me to always strive to be better.
For more information or to apply to live at Valrideau visit: https://www.valrideau.com/