It's been so long since i've written anything! I want to write things down, but I feel like there is no time. i just want to experience as much as I can in the time that I have left here. ironically its only 11 days, but there will always be more things to be done here. I'm sad that time has been moving at such a fast pace here. I don't think that I am ready to leave it, or the people that I have met in my time here.
There's so much to say, but I can't decide where to start..typical. Break was a while ago but I suppose I shall start there. Break could not have come soon enough, was nice to just relax after the hassle of midterms. Midterms went pretty well, wasn't really prepared for the french testing system..back in the states oral exams are not a thing. But it went better than I had thought so thats good. all in all everything was pretty straightforward and slightly annoying..who does work anyways?
But back to break. I started off the week in Barcelona and it was beautiful! I definitely want to go back at one point in my life; the city was majestic and the people were kind and open, which was refreshing in comparison to the french because they are more private people. The nightlife was absolutely magical, everyone was out and they were all so happy! we enjoyed nightly sangria and the conversations, which usually ended in laughing induced tears or teen wolf. On one of our nights there, we(Paola, Gwen, and I) ended up in a park, where we started singing show tunes as loud as we could; passers by gave us weird looks, some cheered, and others just stopped and watched for a while. It was nice to see everyone being so free with themselves; just letting go and just letting the joys of life take over. I live for those moments, when people are so free and unapologetically themselves; its where you find the most soul, the most passion. you find the roots of their beings. Wow, this sounds more cheesy than it had in my head haha
After a few days in Barcelona, we headed to Milan, where we had rented a little apartment just outside of the city. We had to take a bus to get there and surprisingly, the 9 hours spent in the bus were actually really fun. We met an italian mad who had been in Aix for work and we had a bit of wine with him at one of the bus stops, where he enthusiastically told us about all of the "hip" places to his up whilst in Milan. He had a train to catch so he paid for our wine and we never saw him again. The rest of the ride to Milan was filled with restless sighs and jam sessions. But once we had finally arrived, we had to take the metro to the end of the line, in order to catch a bus that we weren't even sure would be there. Unfortunately it wasn't. We were stranded in a country we didn't know, with a language that we couldn't speak. We found two older men at the stop who were able to speak a small small bit of french, and they helped us get a taxi. It was expensive but we finally made it to the apartment around 12:30 am. It was cozy and warm and for the next few days it would be our home. The first day, we didn't even go into town, but decided to explore the little city we were staying in instead and let me tell you, there wasn't too much there. Either way it was nice, and I got to drink a real Italian cappuccino, which was delicious!
The next day we went to milan and wow there were so many people. We basically stayed in the touristy center where all of the shopping could be found. I have never seen so many models in my life! haha Milan was expensive and kind of dirty, but it didn't really matter all that much, it was nice just being with friends and exploring a new place and culture. We kind of just stuck to doing the typical touristy things and then chilled at home with a bottle of wine and some good food every night.
Break was a really beautiful experience and I am so thankful that I got to spend it with some people who I now consider to be really great friends!
Life here in Aix has been so busy as of late, hence the lack of blog posts, but I shall catch up!
What have I been up to lately? Tis a marvelous question, let me fill you in.
Classes have been pretty great, a nice change of pace from what I am used to. 3/5 of my classes are in French, but it isn't as difficult to follow along as I had first imagined before coming here. Honestly, most of the things that I was nervous about before coming here were pointless, although there is still a bit of a language barrier, things haven't been as scary/difficult as I first imagined!
Also, IAU has been so helpful in adapting to the French culture, language, and lifestyle; they hosted a "French Buddy Event" where we all had the opportunity to meet French people who will help with improving your French. Paola and I found a French buddy, but ironically, we usually end up speaking more english than we do French. Eventually we'll get there...I hope!
Things have been going really well with my host family, they are such a happy and kind family, and I am so lucky to have been placed with them.
Although there are definitely things that took a while to get used to. One of which being the shower. Oh what I would do for a normal shower! If you don't know what the shower situation is like in French, I suggest you google, so as to be fully prepared for what you are jumping into. In all seriousness though, its not that bad, I just seem to be dramatic about the smallest of things. c'est la vie. the food has been a big change, aka its so much better! Until coming here, I never realized how bad american food really is, and now I am kind of dreading going back to the food. Yeah, there are definitely some "American" dishes that I really miss, as I am a mac n cheese girl through and through, but the quality and ingredients are just so much better here!
All in all though, I absolutely love it here!
Well, a bientot!
It's been a little over a week and I already feel like I have been here for months; a feeling that I am definitely finding comfort in. Although everyday is something new, the feel of the town is welcoming and a bit mysterious. In my first few days here I have found quite a few mysteries within the French culture, I don't think I would call it culture shock, but the differences are obvious and a bit astounding.
Where to begin? Where to begin?
I suppose the best place to start would be with the long journey to Aix-en-Provence. To say it was a long day would be an understatement, but I found out for myself that I can actually make it through on my own. The morning of my flight was not entirely as difficult as I had anticipated, granted there were a few tears that I quickly tried to hide and quite a few more tears in my mom's eyes; the goodbye was sad but a necessary one. The first of 3 flights went by quickly, although the 3 hour layover did not, but again I survived it. My next flight from LAX to LHR, wasn't too terrible aside from my aisle neighbors who needed to get up almost every 25 minutes (oh the perks of the aisle seat!). The food was surprisingly decent, the movie selection was delightful, and it was a solid flight. The last flight was filled with IAU students, so thankfully that made it very hard to get lost on the way. Met a few really cool people on that flight, twas brilliant. Upon arriving in the small airport in Marseille we were all herded out into a bus and taken to meet our host families! I'm really lucky that I have a housemate, because I would have been so nervous had I had to try and facilitate French conversation on my own on that first night!! But I can honestly say that our host family is so precious! They are simply just the nicest of people. I think I am going to dedicate a separate post to the host family life and the first week in AIX. My little travel story isn't too interesting but, that's all for now folks! XX
Wow, it is so crazy to think that I will be leaving on Friday! The summer has breezed on by, for which I am thankful and quite anxious! The preparation process for the coming semester has been tedious and frustrating at times, but I think it'll all be worth it once I step off the plane.
With less than a week to go, I am getting more excited by the day although it all still seems a bit surreal. At the start of the summer, a year in Aix seemed so far off in the future, but as the summer months have quickly passed me by, I find myself imagining what this new chapter will bring. There are so many things that I am looking forward to, as well as a few things that I am already nervous about.
I am so excited to be going somewhere new and unknown; adventures are something that I cherish and everyday in Aix will be a new one! I'm also looking forward to meeting new people, new friends! And obviously I absolutely cannot wait to do some traveling to really experience France and its beauty( Its going to be more than just google images for me know!) Oh, and how could I forget the food?! I am stoked to try all sorts of new treats and hopefully I can come home with some new recipes to share! Also, I am super excited to meet my host family and their daughter! There are so many more things that I could add here, but I think they are better saved for a future post.
To somewhat balance out my excitement, there are definitely things that I am worried about as well! The biggest one being the language barrier: yes, I took French for almost five years, but I don't think that high school French has quite prepared me for what I am getting myself into. I am definitely rusty, even with a semester of a review course. I know that with time things will start to come more easily, but the first few days/weeks might prove to be very difficult! I'll just have to let you know.
In my pre-departure experience, I have had to make a few trips to the consulate to sort out my visa. Filling out the required forms and getting all of the necessary documents was kind of annoying and time consuming, but not too difficult. The actual visa appointment was so much quicker than I had anticipated. But its all sorted and I picked up the lovely new addition to my passport a few weeks ago.
My latest challenge has been packing. How do I fit a semesters worth of my life into a single suitcase? I keep thinking about what I absolutely cannot live without and there are so many things that come to mind, although in reality, I know that I don't actually need to bring 5 books to keep me company on the flight or the little stuffed animal that has been with me since the start of college. Thankfully I have narrowed my selection down to a single book and about two weeks worth of clothing, give or take a few extra pieces. I haven't made too much progress yet, but it's a start!
This upcoming week is going to be a tough one, I don't like goodbyes and I will have to say goodbye to some people that I love so much. I am definitely going to miss California, it's familiar, it's where some of my best friends are, it's filled with family, and little comforts that I take for granted; it's home. I know I am going to have to face it sooner rather than later, but I really wish that I could take them with me to explore and learn and be inspired. But some adventures are meant to be taken on alone; they require a head first dive into the unknown and here I am –toes on the edge of the diving board– ready to jump.
Well, that's all for now!