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Tonight marks my one week anniversary here in Aix, but I already feel like we are long lost friends. In the last seven days, I have met countless friendly, generous people, ate dozens of delicious meals, gotten lost, tongue-tied, seen many breath-taking sights -- and started to write this blog three or four times, at a complete loss for words for how to recapture my first few unforgettable days.

Aix is a rare flower, blooming in front of my eyes one petal at a time. Every corner I turn seems to unveil a new road yet unseen, a secret fountain so intimate I swear I am the only one to have seen it, a centuries-old statue erected just for my eyes. I have never been in a city so charged with millennia of secrets and stories, thousands upon thousands of tales of individual people walking down the same streets as my own clumsy feet. 

Each square is teeming with people, cafés, live music wafting from the fingertips of nomadic guitar or accordion players, delicious smells, and air so thick with humidity and history, you can taste it. 

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The people here are beautiful, from the tiniest of babies pushed around in carriages to the oldest of women hobbling down the cobble-stoned streets. No one is in a hurry (except anyone driving a car), and the afternoons stretch on luxuriously as if someone had pressed the "pause" button around 14H30 (that's military time, get used to it...I still find myself subtracting 12 from the après-midi times to convert them to the 12-hour clock). All of the food I have eaten was made from fresh, local ingredients rich with oils, garlic, bread, cheese, and Provençale herbs. The names are almost as ambrosial to pronounce as the plates are themselves.

Although my host parents have, as of yet, been vacationing out of the country, but my stand-in family is unbelievably kind and understanding. Each day, I look forward to dinner with them and the rest of our hodge-podge family, a meal filled with stories and laughter, and a chance to practice my French outside the intimidating "real-life" social situations. I live with another American girl in the same program as me, a French girl from Cannes who just began her first year of university; we just said our good-byes to a middle-aged Canadian woman who spent two weeks in Aix doing a short-term language program, and we are expecting a Swiss-German shortly who is doing (I think?) a similar program.

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I was surprised, the first or second night I arrived, to spot a wild hedgehog outside on the patio at dinner. My host family informed me that he shows up often, and is named Harrison. I have been longing to see him again ever since, but his presence has been scarce. I was so excited, I looked up more information online. Apparently it is not illegal to keep a wild hedgehog for a pet in Europe, but Harrison is lucky because I don't believe in capturing wild animals for pleasure. Another funny surprise, all of the local taxis are Mercedes (oh, my bad, a *few* are other brands of luxury vehicles)!

I did a lot of studying up before I came, and I read that the people here seldom wear shorts. I did not want to stick out like a sore thumb, so I refrained from packing any...and boy, am I sorry! Not only do I see les jeunes français wearing shorts everywhere, it is also sweltering hot and sticky with humidity. I have worn the same couple of skirts often. I guess on the plus side, laundry day will be easy!

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I would love to tell you more, but it's after midnight and I have to wake up early tomorrow. My program is taking a school-wide trip to the coast this weekend. We leave bright and early on buses for Nice, where we will spend the day at the beach, as well as taking a few optional tours of the local monuments and old buildings (I'm going, of course! I want to see everything I can!). After the beach, we are heading to Monaco for an overnight stay at a fancy hotel, and a trip to the Monte Carlo casino....yes, a casino on a school field trip! Sunday, we are heading back to Aix, but stopping on the way to visit the Fragonard parfumerie in Èze. I am so excited! I will give you more updates next week. Sending my love to friends and family back home, and anyone who took the time to absorb my thoughts and ideas by reading my blog. Your time is much appreciated! Bisous!

 


Comments

Madame Jukich et la classe de francais 3
09/17/2012 10:26am

Les etudiants veulent que tu ecris an francais! Quel est votre magasin favori? Comment est la cuisine? Comment sont les baguettes?

Reply
Angie
09/18/2012 12:16pm

You are such a great writer! I'm already in love with your blog. The pictures are amazing! I know it's a little early for this, since you have a lot of blogging to do, but you can go to blurb.com and print a book from your blog.

:)

Angie

Reply
Classe de Francais a Lyons
09/18/2012 1:20pm

Avez vous vu quel qu'un qui fait pipi dehors? A quel age est-ce qu'on peut jouer au poker a Monaco, faire des paris (le gambling)?

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