Today I moved into my homestay!
            It is very close to the centre ville (city center) and also the IAU. I have another student as a housemate, and our mère d’acceuil (host “mom”) is very accommodating. She welcomed me at 11 AM at my new “house,” where C dropped me off. After simply dropping my bags in my room, it was off to faire les magasins! We went to the bank (la banque), the post office (la poste), and two of the famous (daily) markets. Although I had known about the markets and passed by them on Thursday, I really had no idea which sold what, where!

My mère d’acceuil and I got tomatoes (les tomates), green beans (les haricots verts), and a basil plant at the “regular” market. I call it regular because it looks like any regular farmers’ market to me: farm fresh produce, fish, and meat; hand crafted soaps and bags; souvenirs; roasting chicken legs; antique and “flea market” finds; and clothing. Probably anything you want to find, you could get at this market – granted you’re okay with it being pretty quirky.

We also picked out a nice bouquet at the flower market, which, as it sounds, sells just flowers. Much smaller in size, but it smells SO lovely! My mère d’acceuil is friends with one of the vendors so they chatted a little. Then we stopped into a nearby café to get some coffee (and one for our flower friend!).

Now, ordering coffee at Starbucks may freak some people out.  For Starbucks junkies, ordering coffee at an indie place may be freaky. But for anyone American I swear that ordering coffee in Europe is one of the most challenging tasks!!!! One of the reasons is that we Americans have created our own coffee culture (hello, Seattle) by taking coffee terms from other languages and slapping on the ol’ red-white-and-blue seal of approval. Things like lattes and americanos don’t exist in France (or the rest of Europe if I am to understand correctly). I repeat: Do. Not. Exist.

Okay, so we know this isn’t news to Stephanie. After all, she’s had coffee in Europe before, right? If you want to generalize: yes, I have had coffee in Europe before. From hotels, from serve-yourself carafes, and from pointing to menus. I have not ordered coffee before. So I thought that ordering a caffé latté would get my point across. Nope – I sounded like I was speaking Italian, apparently! Quoi? the Frenchies wanted to know, qu’est-ce que tu veux? I tried again. Café au lait. Still nothing. So instead I just said espresso, pas du sucre in hopes that something so universally simple would make its way across the obvious language barrier (and espresso should never have sugar in it anyway, but I just tacked that on, trying to make some sense in this crazy world).

Note to self: learn how to order coffee.

Other highlights of the day included me beginning A Separate Peace by John Knowles. If you’re gasping that I haven’t read it yet, hey at least I’m getting to it now! My stroll with my host mom took me by part of the city I haven’t explored yet, so I went back in the late afternoon. Just some new construction and “mall” stores, nothing exciting. I accidentally splattered bleach on my favorite pants. And my housemate arrived! She is unpacking now and soon we will have dinner. It’s true that Europeans eat later than Americans, and I am hungry!
view out the kitchen window
kitchen window (and new basil plant!)
my bedroom (ma chambre)
view from my bedroom window
Orientation is Monday and tomorrow is Sunday so the whole town will be chilling – no markets, no businesses, no traffic (hopefully).

When I was out walking a little while ago, I forgot it’s Saturday! And when you go walking around at 6 PM (18h) it’s almost Saturday night so all the cafés were getting dressed up for the evening as bars, putting chairs and tables where the markets has been during the day, and making way for trendy Aixois (people from Aix) and tourists. My soon-to-be-classmates and I will join them in the coming weeks, falling somewhere in between un vrai Aixois and un touriste.

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