Last night there was a "meet and greet" at the IAU where all the students and staff could come and mingle and meet each other. Afterwards, the students all flocked off to a bar that is quite visible from the front door of the IAU called Wohoo. As I followed a group of such students, I remember A calling out to us all, "Remember, Orientation begins at 9AM tomorrow!" and chuckling a little, as I'm sure he has seen many a student get too excited about drinks on their first night and then drag themselves to school in the morning.

Thankfully, that did not happen to me (or anyone I know). We had a fine time at Wohoo, both before and after dinner (yes, we went out on a Sunday, what Americans), but I'm sure more fun is to be had on other nights as the semester goes on.

Back to Orientation.

Me and my housemate walked to the IAU and sat with my good friend from home, K-bird, as we listened to welcome speeches and staff introductions. We got another presentation about what to expect from Frenchies, including being wary of maléfice, which is a way of describing how the French often treat foreigners. Also, there were a few housing horror stories... and regular horror stories, like one about a student who got attacked by two dogs in Italy. Lesson: avoid dogs in Italy. Then it was time for break and lunch!
front of the IAU (me and J last week)
Fun fact! This building was originally built as a chapel in the 1600s.

I have got to figure out where to go and eat during lunch because every time I have to fend for myself, I am clueless. Today we went to a weird bakery where the woman didn't really speak French and got bad croque monsieurs. Never again. Having met several people the night before, I now had a solid group of people whose names I remembered. I went with them to lunch but next time I might not mind going alone as long as I get to decide where to go and pick out some quality food.

After lunch, we had a series of different "classes" where some of the staff talked to us about "things to do in Aix" and "IAU excursions and activities." For the places that were suggested to go out (not suggestions from the staff, but from French students in Aix), I'll have to test them out first. And also remember them from the long list of places she gave! Sometimes I wish they just gave some to avoid instead, so that you know the others you find should be good.

For excursions, there is a weekend trip to Nice and Monaco/Monte Carlo this weekend. Everyone boards buses at 8AM, heads down the coast to the city of Nice with beaches and museums. Then we go to see the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. And stay the night at a nice place where IAU students have been going for decades. CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS TRIP!!!!!

I also received the books I'll be needed for my classes. Not as many as DU, nor as heavy! I carried them back home with me, even though I'll have a locker downstairs in "Le Cave" to keep them, too.

As part of Orientation, we go a free drink voucher at a café across the street, so me and my housemate went to chill for a bit. She ordered a Limonade, which turns out to be a lighter, bubblier version of Sprite. I asked for a café allonger and - finally! - got a big cup of coffee!!! I was so happy about it! Strangely, coffee here is not as strong as everyone thinks French coffee is. French Roast in the U.S? Psh, like you could ever order coffee that strong at a French café.

After drinks, we dropped some people off at the Orange (mobile) store. Then I rushed home to change into some gym clothes and go for a quick run before dinner. Before my faire de jogging, however, I got K-bird from the Orange store and we walked back to her homestay because I needed to borrow something.

Her homestay is fantastic!!! It's up in the neighborhood-y part of Aix and the view from their apartment is ah-may-zing. Also her mère d'accueil is so cute!!! She was very welcoming and wanted me to see the place and invited me back - I think I will sometime! This is the view from K-bird's homestay:
that's Mont St. Victoire in the background
Sadly, I had to leave this gorgeous place to go on my run. I was so caught up in the view and the hospitality at K-bird's that I didn't have enough time to go to the park as I intended, so instead I ran a roundabout-crooked-side-street way back home. On the way, I passed another IAU student, so maybe we can start a running club! Or I'll just make K-bird come with me :P
dinner table at my homestay
It was good to get to rest after such a busy day!!!

First day of school tomorrow. Somehow, the excitement never gets old...

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