On October 7, I went with the university on a trip to the Luberon region of France. It was an AMAZING experience. The tour began at Château de Lourmarin. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to walk through the entire interior of the castle, but there was an art exhibit in one of the rooms, which we were allowed to see! There were olive groves behind the castle, but it was recommended not to eat from them as the taste would be left on your tongue for days. After touring the Château de Lourmarin, the tour landed in LaCoste, where we saw the Château du Marquis de Sade. At the castle, my friends and I had a pique-nique consisting of off-brand Nutella, a baguette, cheese, tortilla chips, and cookies. In my opinion, it was a success. After LaCoste, we went to Roussillon. At Roussillon, we hiked Le Sentier des ocres de Roussillon. I had never experienced ocre before, so I found the texture to be extremely soft and clay-like. Unfortunately, it’s forbidden to take some of the ocre off the land, so I only have photographs of it; but I was able to take enough photographs to last a lifetime. After hiking Le Sentier des ocres de Roussillon, my friends and I toured the village. At one of the local boutiques, I was reminded that I will be missing Halloween. The owner's craft is glass blowing, and there was a beautiful glass pumpkin sitting in the front window. Halloween is my favorite holiday. In my hometown, all of the bars and clubs pick a theme, such as zombies or pirates, and each club is decorated in that theme. Everyone dresses up in costume (not necessarily to fit the theme), and then there's a costume contest. People get very creative. One year, there a man dressed as Binder, from Futurama. He won $5,000! When I think about how I will miss Halloween, I feel a little sad, until I think about how I will be in Rome this Halloween, which makes missing Halloween at home that much more enjoyable!

The picture on the left is at Château du Marquis de Sade.
From the moment I arrived in France, my time has been spent doing this, doing that, going to this village, or that city; however, the past two weekends have been different. I had the past two weekends free, which has enabled me to get to know Aix. Aix is a beautiful city with its grand buildings, bountiful markets, and hordes of tourists. Despite the fact that the tourists are rather vexing when one is trying to walk to class, the tourists enable Aix to thrive. As much as I don’t want to admit it, Aix needs the tourists to survive, and without them Aix wouldn’t be quite the same. It is relaxing to be able to “hang out” in a city that is my home until December. In fact, I’m actually starting to feel like Aix is my second home. This is mainly due to the fact that I’ve started to make French friends. It is very difficult to make French friends since there are very few-no French students at IAU, and there aren’t very many ways to make friends outside of school aside from at the bars. Unfortunately, activities where one can make French friends, such as yoga is an expense I can’t bear to handle. There is a buddy program that IAU is hosting, which has enabled me to make some French friends. Also, my host mother has friends who have children and grandchildren around my age, so that has also helped in the French friend category. Along with making French friends, as the weeks fly, the ties between my IAU friends tightens. The close relationships make life in France easier to handle. We are all at varying levels of French, which makes it a great learning experience when we’re together because someone always says a French word or phrase that I’ve never heard before. That is the purpose I’m in France – to improve in my abilities to speak French. And I actually do feel as if I’ve improved a little, which I contribute mainly to 4 French classes, and living in France!

On another note, midterm week has ended. I can hardly believe that ½ of the semester is already gone! I had 3 midterms on Tuesday, and 1 was an oral exam. I would rather type a 12 page paper at home in French than take an oral exam, but oh well. Next week is fall break, which is something I’ve been looking forward to; however, the strike at the train station certainly put a damper on those plans. But, not all is lost, as the strike ends on Friday, which is the day my friends and I are scheduled to leave. Today, my friends and I are going to Paris, followed by Italy. There aren’t any words to describe my excitement. When I return, I will have much to say!

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