• Five Must-Have Experiences of New Quebec Residents

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 19, 2014
    Quebec CityLife in Quebec is full of new experiences and incredible opportunities. As one of the most diverse and unique locations in all of North America, Quebec offers a slice of European charm you don’t have to fly overseas to enjoy. If you’re moving here for the first time, here are five activities and destinations you should add to your to-do list right from the start.

     
    > Old Quebec
    : If you’re at all interested in the history of the area, Old Quebec should be one of your first stops as a new resident. Located in Quebec City, this historic neighborhood was founded in 1608 and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk the streets to take in the sights of churches, old buildings, the original fort walls, and several historic re-enactments set up for tourists (and residents) to enjoy.

    > Montmorency Falls Park: This large waterfall is located on the Montmorency River, a 63-mile river that flows from Lake Montmorency to the Saint Lawrence River. Higher than Niagara Falls, this waterfall is popular in both winter and summer. Numerous staircases and a suspension bridge offer multiple views of the area.

    > Levis Ferry: Levis is a small town located just opposite Quebec City on the other side of the Saint Lawrence River. Although you can certainly cross the bridge to drive there, it’s worth the time to make the journey by ferry. Popular among commuters moving from one city to the next, this ferry ride is also pleasant when you want to take in the city centers from a new perspective.

    > Isle of Orleans: Another feature found on the Saint Lawrence River, the Island of Orleans (also Île d'Orléans) takes you on a journey back in time. Although located only three miles from the downtown center, this pastoral area features many of the original homes and much of the agricultural trade that founded this area.

    > The Ice Hotel: Even though you live in Quebec now, expect to spend at least one night away from home at the Hôtel de Glace. This one-of-a-kind ice hotel is only open from January through March, and is made entirely of snow and ice. It’s rebuilt every year to make the most out of the natural winter setting. (If you aren’t up to an overnight visit, they do offer daily tours, as well.)

    Although you’re sure to find your own adventures in Quebec, it’s a good idea to start somewhere. Take advantage of some of the best winter activities and beautiful summer scenery the world has to offer – it’s now right on your doorstep!

     

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  • Ask the Professors: Moving from a Deployment to College Life

    by Ryan Cox | Dec 18, 2014

    Welcome to this week’s “Ask the Professors” column, where North American Van Lines aims to shed light on topics ranging from student affairs to campus living, by asking professionals across the educational field for their thoughts on a wide variety of topics.

                    Since northAmerican has been working with the Gary Sinise Foundation by delivering furniture to wounded warriors,  we thought we would focus this week’s article on the topic of learning effects that U.S. military members may experience when transitioning from active deployment to college life—can assimilating into adult education pose unique challenges for those formerly, or actively deployed? What resources are available to potentially help or encourage continued education among enlisted individuals?

                    The questions we focused on for this topic primarily consisted of the following:

    • For students that have been deployed and are returning home from war, do they tend to show a higher or lower learning curve within the classroom, compared to those that have not been overseas?  Does this affect the teaching curriculum or techniques in any way?
    • Are there programs in place to help these soldiers adjust back to civilization, either on or off campus? If so, do these programs improve the learning curve and overall college experience for those that use it?

    Among the collegiate professionals that took the time to answer our questions this week was Dr. Aimee Vieira, Deputy Director & Senior Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Culture & Language at Norwich University. Dr. Vieira also serves as an Associate Professor of Sociology at Norwich’s School of Justice Studies and Sociology.

    ”The deployment experiences of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are highly variable. Overall, civilian student life is generally much less structured than daily life on deployment, so student veterans can experience college life at first as disorienting or even overwhelming,” Vieira said on the unique experience faced by those returning from deployment.

    “Most student veterans can benefit from developing a social support network of other veterans, both student and non-student. The best universities for veterans are those with offices committed to providing services specific to their needs, including referrals to the many relevant outside organizations that exist to serve vets,” she added.

    Delving further into the aspects of academic performance, Dr. Vieira commented on ways in which student veterans may find additional success, stating, “In terms of classroom performance, student veterans benefit when they meet with their professors outside of class during office hours. It can help faculty to know that a student is a vet, and for the vet to disclose whatever information they deem necessary to alert their faculty to any particular needs they might have, such as occasional absences related to accessing veteran’s services, for example.”

    Dr. Vieira noted that disclosing information about prior experiences or veteran status, however, should always take place at a student’s discretion. “Some student veterans may share information about their experiences in the classroom, but it remains the right of the student to decide whether or not to disclose that status to their peers, and faculty should make every effort to respect that choice by an individual student veteran,” she said.

     

    We also had the opportunity to discuss these questions with Dr. Mervyn J. Wighting of Regent University, who was happy to discuss our concerns at length. Dr. Wighting serves as a professor of Regent’s School of Education.

    “All military personnel attend some type of vocational school prior to beginning their chosen military profession. Military schools are rigorous, and many students are unable to meet graduation requirements, and the overall reading, writing, and intelligence levels of ex-military students vary widely,” he said. “Most military veterans are more prepared for collegiate course rigor than the average student.  The only exception would be those who suffer from mental illness related to combat stress, such as PTSD.”

    Dr. Wighting expressed reassurance that student veterans bring a positive addition to the college classroom, adding, “Many military members are deployed overseas, yet never see combat.  Those who are in and out of a combat zone are able to continue professional development, and the majority do.  Veteran military students bring a diverse life experience, a proficient level of knowledge and organization to the class that is unlike that of other students,” he said.

    “Being around military members should not necessarily change the curriculum, however, instructors need to be aware of the background and experiences of students who are veterans, and should make sure the instruction given meets their peculiar needs,” Dr. Wighting added. “In some cases, students are mobilized back on active duty, and being full time military and in graduate school is a balancing act unlike any other full time commitment!”

    Dr. Wighting also elaborated on the programs and resources the military provides for students hoping to enroll in college. “The military provides extensive reintegration programs and support for veterans, and these programs certainly improve the learning curve and overall college experience for those that use them.  Courses preparing members for the civilian world are mandatory prior to discharge, and the Department of Veterans Affairs also provides résumé and other job-seeking assistance,” he said.

    “Veterans have access to medical and counseling services, and those suffering from combat-related illnesses are given full support in most cases.  The Montgomery GI Bill provides soldiers with enough grant money to cover a bachelor’s degree or more, and some military training can be converted into college credits.”

     

    We want to give a huge thanks to our contributing professors this week for their insights—the level of outreach and assistance offered by their respective universities might hopefully provide reassurance to those concerned about university reintegration for enlisted students.

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  • Ask the Professors: On-Campus versus Off-Campus Living

    by Ryan Cox | Dec 18, 2014

    Welcome to North American Van Lines’ first “Ask the Professors” column, where we ask professionals in the education field their thoughts on topics ranging from student moving, campus living, and much more.

    This week, we’ll hope to focus on the topic of on-campus living versus off-campus living—what works best for students? Does it depend on your university of choice, or could it even vary based on the needs or personality of each student?

    Our round of campus living questions revolved primarily around the following:

    • Have you experienced a difference in learning curve between students who live on campus, compared to those that live off campus? Has this learning curve affected your teaching curriculum or techniques?
    • In your opinion, which option offers higher potential learning benefits to students—living on, or off campus?

     

    Those kind enough to take the time to talk with us this week include Kennesaw State University’s Director of Residence Life, Jeff Cooper, who has also served as an adjunct professor in their University College.

    "Decades of research supports the idea that students who live in on-campus housing are more academically and socially engaged in the college environment,” Cooper explained. “Those who live on campus for even one year tend to earn better grades and graduate, not only more quickly, but also at higher rates than their peers who never live on campus.”

    Beyond the numbers, Cooper offered insight into the hows and whys of higher marked performance among on-campus residents. “Because of the increased opportunity that on-campus housing provides for student engagement, housing and residence life programs have developed living-learning communities that bridge the in-class and out-of-class educational experience—in many instances bringing the classroom environment into the residence halls."

     

    We also spoke with Lisa Wolf-Wendel of the University of Kansas, who has served as a Professor of Higher Education for over 20 years, including teaching in a graduate program that prepares students to work on college and university campuses in student support services—residence life, advising, admissions, and more.

    “The research is clear.  For traditional aged (17-23), full time college students, living on campus leads to a host of positive measurable outcomes including increased likelihood of staying enrolled, graduating in a timely manner, better academic performance (GPA), better social outcomes (making friends, fitting in), increased learning, and greater satisfaction with college,” she said.

    Wolf-Wendel explained that the benefits of on-campus living may extend beyond performance markers as well. “On-campus living also provides a relatively safe environment for students to practice the skills of being independent and learning how to take care of themselves in a supportive environment.   While it technically may cost more too live on-campus than off (although this is not always the case), the benefits accrued to those who live on campus far outweigh the expense,” she explained.

    “The reasons for this can best be explained by research that shows that college students who are more involved in the co-curricular and extracurricular life of campus and who are academically engaged (both in class and out of class) do better in school than those whose energy is not invested towards the campus.”

                    A deeper understanding as to why living on-campus correlates with better average academic performance is often considered subjective, however, Wolf-Wendel explained that this trend is more understood than many would think. “Living on campus provides easy access to campus facilities, to academic assistance, to extracurricular programming and activities, to social and academic support, to peers from different backgrounds, and to faculty and staff.  Campuses consider residence halls as extensions of the academic environment, and offer programming and activities to enhance in-class learning,” Wolf-Wendel said.

    “Sometimes these are formal arrangements.  Living learning communities, for example, link students to two or more classes, provide peer mentors, and relevant academic programming within a residence hall setting.  Sometimes the benefits come from more informal arrangements within residence halls – accrued through proximity to campus and availability of campus resources that facilitates these positive outcomes.”

     

    Finishing out this week’s round of questions is the Executive Director of the University of Tennessee’s Student Success Center, Dr. Anton Reece, Ph.D.

    Reece explained that engagement plays a critical role in academic success, with students suffering tight schedules and long commutes generally receiving the short end of the stick.

    “In order for students to successfully transition to college life and maximize the unique opportunities in college life, they need to be engaged both academically and socially. Students who commute are often engaged for a limited time in the classroom and miss opportunities to connect with their professors during office hours, and to connect with students in clubs and organizations,” Dr. Reece explained.

    “As a result they can become isolated and not make critical contacts with support networks in place. In addition, some commuters often remain at home to work 20 or more hours a week, which also has an impact on their dedicated study times.”

    This week’s verdict appears to be a strong one—our professors feel that the pros of living on-campus outweigh the cons, especially when it comes to academic performance (and really, what’s more important than that?)

    Be sure to follow our blog for more, as well as keeping up with us on Facebook and Twitter to catch the latest moving news, tips and more as soon as they happen!

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  • Moving to Quebec, Canada

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 11, 2014

    Quebec, CanadaMost people know Quebec as the “French” part of Canada. As the only province that has French as the official language (and with a primarily French-speaking population), life here isn’t quite like anywhere else in Canada and the United States. However, because it borders Ontario, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, it’s very much a modern North American location.

    With a decidedly European flair, a rich history that’s evident in the architecture and the culture, and the wide green spaces and friendliness Canada is known for, Quebec is a one-of-a-kind place to live. Although you’ll need to know (or start learning) French in order to settle down in the country long-term, those who live and work here know there’s nowhere else on earth they’d rather be.

    Living and Working in Quebec

    In addition to being unique for its language and culture, Quebec is the second-largest province in terms of population. The majority of people live in the metropolitan areas (Montreal and Quebec City, primarily), although you’ll find smaller towns scattered throughout the southern regions.

    Because of this focus on urban living, Quebec has strong economic centers in its cities. Although most people live in single-family homes in neighborhoods outside the main city centers, you’ll also find a fair number of residents in apartments, condos, and townhomes. These downtown “pocket neighborhoods” have a decidedly European feel, with a focus on historical buildings, city parks, public transportation, small bistros and shops, and a strong sense of community.

    The jobs here are just as diverse as the people. Leading industries in Quebec have a strong high-tech foundation (aerospace, information technology, and communication technologies), and there’s also a focus on health care (biotechnology and pharmaceutics). The service industry is also quite strong within the cities. As you move outward toward smaller towns, you’ll find more jobs related to mining, as Quebec has an abundance of natural resources.

    Fun and Entertainment in Quebec

    One of the best reasons to move to Quebec is for the culture. Because of its strong French influence, the arts community here is alive and active, and you’ll find entertainment for the whole family. Theater troubles, ballets, symphonies, music venues, and an active literary community exist here, as well as street art and performance art more typical in a European setting.

    The province is also very activity-friendly, which means everyone is encouraged to get outside and enjoy the wide-open spaces—especially in the winter, when skiing is popular. Public parks are well-tended and promote getting fresh air with biking, jogging, and recreational sports. There’s also a strong walking culture, especially as you move closer to the city centers. And of course it’s impossible to talk about any Canadian province without mentioning the collective love of hockey.

    Welcome to Quebec!

    If you’re new to the French language, life in Quebec will be a bit of a change from your usual routine. Although over half of the population speaks English in addition to French, it’s generally frowned upon for residents and visitors to assume service workers will speak English to accommodate them.

    As long as you prepare to adapt and to enjoy an entirely different way of life, moving to Quebec can be an incredible change. Get ready to immerse yourself in a new culture and enjoy a high-quality style of living while you do it!

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  • Preparing your Vehicle for a Cross-Country Relocation

    by Patrick Redmond | Dec 10, 2014

    Open RoadIf you’re driving your vehicle across the country or over a long distance as part of your move, it’s a good idea to do a little prep work first. Just as you’re taking the time to properly sort and pack your belongings, so too do you want to make sure your car or truck gets to its destination in one piece.

    Since most of us fall behind on annual car tune-ups anyway, now is an ideal time to get under the hood and make sure everything is ready to start fresh in your new home.

    > Top off the Fluids: All your fluids should be full and clean. Oil, windshield wiping fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluid…either evacuate and replace them, or fill the existing reservoirs.

    > Change Oil/Air Filter: If it’s been a while since you changed your oil (or if you’re due for an oil change soon anyway), now is a good time to get it done.

    > Gauge Tire Pressure: A tire that is too full could rupture on the road. A tire that is partially flat could cause balance problems or go all the way flat mid-journey. Look at your user manual to determine the right pressure for your vehicle (if you’re moving somewhere snowy, you might also need to look into snow tires or all-purpose tires).

    > Check the Spare Tire: Although checking tire pressure should help extend the life of your tires, accidents can still happen. Double-check the spare tire to make sure it’s in good, drivable condition.

    > Ensure the Battery is in Good Repair: If your battery is old or shows signs of buildup on the terminals, you may want to replace it or clean it prior to the move.

    > Lights, Tires, Brakes: Make sure all these items are in working order. A headlight that’s out will need to be replaced. Worn tires should be updated for safety. And brakes that squeak or are hard to press should be looked at by a professional.

    > Take it to a Mechanic: If time (and automotive expertise) isn’t something you have on your hands, consider taking your vehicle to a mechanic and have them do a tune-up and road trip prep. They’ll do many of the tasks listed above for you. You can also have them do any major repairs you’ve been putting off, since nothing is worse than a car that breaks down halfway to your new home.

    > Call Your Insurance: Chances are your insurance is up-to-date and fine, but now is a good time to check your policy to make sure it covers everything you need (and that your insurance company is aware of the upcoming move). Have your insurance card stored with the registration in case you get pulled over.

    > Join AAA: You may want to join AAA or another car repair service before the move. These companies will come unlock your car, provide towing services, and offer maps for long-distance drives.

    > Clean the Interior: You can either do a deep clean yourself or hire a company to do the detailing—either way, it’s a good idea to start your trip with a clean, nice-smelling car.

    Before you leave, you may also want to pack an emergency kit. Although you should never drive with a gas can filled up in the back, buy an empty one and store it in the vehicle. You can also stock up on emergency supplies like a first aid kit, road flares, flashlights, and emergency food supplies. It’s a good idea to always travel with these things anyway

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