Long time, no posts. I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything but life has just been crazy this semester with work and school. But I have news to share.
I’m going back to France next semester!!!
I’m very excited to be going back. I’ve missed France so much. I will be going to Grenoble this time but I plan on visiting Aix at some point during my trip. I will be starting up a blog for this trip so stay tuned for updates.
I’m a Junior a Point Loma Nazarene University. I’m a French major with a minor in Women’s Studies. I just finished a two month study abroad program in Aix en Provence, France. Before I left for France, I applied for many scholarships, hoping that I would get a few. But I didn’t get any. I have the money to pay for the Fall semesters tuition but not to cover study abroad. I’ve been denied for loans and I’m at risk of being de-enrolled. I’m trying very hard to stay in school and financial aid is getting hard to come by. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Class was pretty easy today. We just worked on grammar. After class, I got lunch from my favorite bakery and went back to Mady’s. There was nothing planned this afternoon, so hung out at the apartment and tried to stay cool. It was really hot again. I went to Christine’s for dinner. She is a great cook and I’m very grateful that she is letting me come over for dinner every night this week.
Another easy day of class. I started packing after school. I realized just how much I bought and I started worrying about being able to get everything back. I tried to pack lighter on the way over so I would have room for souvenirs. Dinner at Christine’s. I really like Christine and I feel more comfortable around her than I did with Mady. It’s also easier to talk to her.
I found myself super frustrated with my teacher again. She gave us a packet of work to do with absolutely no explanation as to what we were doing. It was something brand new to me and she just expected me to know it. I didn’t understand her explanation at all and it got to the point where it took all of efforts to keep my composure and not start crying. I hate when teachers do that.
I went back to Mady’s and did some more packing. I got almost everything packed. Just a few more things that will go into the suitcase on Friday night or Saturday morning.
So today was Nikki’s last day of class. Her flight leaves early Friday morning. Class was harder for me since we are learning stuff I’ve never seen before. Lequel, laquelle, auquel, a laquelle, etc. are hard. I packed a few more things and then went to our farewell dinner. We went to a Greek restaurant. This was my first time having Greek food and I like what I had. The menu we were given had two parts, A and B. You pick 5 things from part A and 3 from part B. I don’t remember everything I got but I had spanakopita and moussaka (these are the only two I can remember by name). I liked both of these as well as everything else I had.
It was nice to spend time with everyone before we all have to leave. We took some group pictures since this would be the last time the entire group would be together.
Later, we all met up at the fountain in the rotund in the center of Aix. We jumped in the fountain as it is tradition with CEA.
Final day of class. We watched a movie called L'auberge d'espagnol. It was about a young man from France who studies abroad in Spain. It was all right, not in my top 10 favorite movies. I was glad we only watched a movie, I was so done with school at this point and I had no more motivation. After class, there was a party and people brought in food and we celebrated the end of the course. There was so much food and most of it didn’t get eaten because most of the students, a group of Malaysian students, were Muslim and it’s the middle of Ramadan. I wish I had gotten to know some of these students. They seemed really nice. A few of the Malaysian students showed us a dance from their country and it was really funny to watch other students attempt it. Then some of our girls decided to show the group a “traditional dance” from the U.S., the chicken dance. It was so funny because everyone already knew it and they just started dancing too. After several group photos, the party came to an end. Afterward, I went to the Aix train station and printed of my ticket (my train doesn’t leave from this station but from the TGV station 20 minutes outside of Aix). I finished my packing, except for a few things I needed in the morning. Vivienne had us come to Carrefour Bar for our final happy hour.
We hung out for about an hour and talked about what we loved about France and retold funny stories. I had to leave first because I had to go to dinner. I hugged everyone goodbye and I’m going to miss them all so much. I had my final dinner at Christine’s. She made soupe au pistou, a traditional dish in Aix in the summer. It was so good and I really want to try making it when I get back. I really liked my time at Christine’s and I’m very thankful she could step in while Mady was gone.
I had the worst sleep I’ve had during the entire trip. I had maybe four hours but it was very broken up. I was waking up anywhere between every 5 minutes to every 30 minutes. I was super paranoid that I wasn’t going to get up on time because I had to use my phone and it was stuck on California time. I had to factor in the 9 hour time change when setting my alarm. I got up a 5 am and got ready to leave. I threw the last few things in my suitcase and I was out of the apartment by 5:30am. It was a twentyish minute walk to the bus station and a 20 minute bus ride to the TGV station. My train left at 7:30. The ride was fine. I was in second class this time but even that was really nice. I just wish I hadn’t been on the second level of the car. I had to lug my large and heavy suitcases up the stairs to put them on the luggage rack. I found my seat and pulled out my Zune to listen music during the ride up to Paris. I slept on and off. When the conductor announced that Charles de Gaulle airport was the next stop, I got up and grabbed my bags and got in line with the other passengers who were also getting off. I got off the train, went up the escalator and, to my horror, discovered that I had not gotten off at the airport. I was at Disneyland Paris!
(I finally learned how to insert a gif so I thought this would be appropriate for this moment since this pretty much describes what was going through my mind at the time. Under normal circumstances, I would love to go to Disneyland Paris but not now).
And cue the freaking out. By the time that I had realized this, my train had left and I had no idea how to get to the airport. I asked at several different help desk how to get there and both told me there was a bus that I could take and to go to the bus stops outside. I asked one of the security guards where I could find this bus. He gave me vague instructions on how to find it and I walked up and down the line of bus stops reading schedules, desperate to find one that went to Charles de Gaulle. After searching all of them, I sat down at one and hoped I would see one. I wanted to cry and I was on the verge of tears. I looked up when I heard a girl speaking English and she had an American accent. I asked if she knew about the bus to Charles de Gaulle airport. She told me to forget about the bus and to take the metro. Then she sat down with me, pulled out a mapped and helped me figure out a route to the airport. I bought a ticket for the metro and started making my way to the airport. I had to switch lines once. I asked a woman if the train she was waiting for was the one that went to the airport. She said it was and she made sure I got on the train. And while I was getting on the train, a man helped me get my suitcase on the train because I was struggling with it. Once I was one this train and I knew I was going to make it to the airport, I was able to relax. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to cool off. It was somewhere 80 and 90 degrees and I was wearing a jacket that my sister let me borrow for my trip. I was only wearing it because there was no room in the suitcase. I was sweating like a pig and I felt sorry for whoever had to sit next to me on the plane because I’m sure I smelled terrible.
I finally made it to the airport two hours later than I had originally planned. I found my check spot, printed my ticket, and check my bag. Thankfully, they didn’t weigh it; they just put tag on it and took it away. I went through security and I didn’t complain about it once (I always complain about security so that fact that I didn’t is a miracle). Once through security, I found a shop and bought an Orangina, my last one in France. I sat down at my gate and drank my Orangina and ate my chocolate bar that I had in my backpack. This was the first thing I had eaten all day, it was after 3 pm. I got on the plane and I ended up switching seats with another student so he could sit next to his friends. I didn’t care who I was sitting next too. I was just glad to be on the plane. I’m so glad they feed you on international flights. Like I said before, all I had was a few bites of a chocolate bar and an Orangina. It was only airplane food, but it tasted amazing because I was so hungry. I slept on and off for a while, watched the movie, listened to music.
I got to New York around 7:30 and customs took less than an hour. I wait in line less than 20 minutes, found my luggage in about 10 minutes, and waited another 10 minutes in the last line to give the officer my document saying what I had brought back. I took the Airtrain (metro) to Federal Station where I met the shuttle for my hotel. This was my first time staying in hotel by myself and it was much easier than I thought it would be to check in. I got into my room and was glad I could final relax for the night. I was back in the states and my flight in the morning would be easier to deal with. I showered and changed into pajamas and brought up Netflix on my laptop. I could finally use Netflix again! It doesn’t work in France and I was finally able to watch Doctor Who! I emailed my dad and told him of my adventure of getting to the airport and let him know that I made it to New York in one piece.
I got up at 3:30am. This is because it was 9:30 in France. Gotta love jetlag. I got ready for the day and shifted some things around in my suitcase because the big one felt too heavy. My hotel had a free breakfast that started at 5 so I was able to grab something to eat before my flight. I could tell that today would be better than yesterday. I checked out of the hotel and got on the shuttle at 6. The driver took me to my terminal. I printed off my ticket and check my bag. My bag weighed 49 lbs.! One lbs. below the weight limit! But I think the lady double charged me for it because, after I got through security, I found a Starbucks and got a white mocha and my card was denied. Thankfully I had my back up card but still my first card didn’t work.
(she spelled my name wrong. she even spelled the wrong way wrong. ael not eal)
Anyways, I had my first white mocha in two months and it was wonderful! I’ve missed Starbucks so much. But I noticed how sweet it was in comparison to the coffee I had been drinking in France. I got on my plane and slept on and off. I spent a lot of time looking out the window; watching the ground below change as we flew. I don’t know why; maybe after seeing France I was making comparisons. The U.S. is so big in comparison and the scenery is different everywhere you go in the U.S. I landed in San Diego around 11. I called my sister; she and our roommate came to get me. I had to wait about 30ish minutes for my luggage because of technical issues the carousel. I got my stuff and went outside and found my sister and roommate. I was greeted with hugs and we loaded my stuff in the car. I was asked a lot of questions and I told them stories about France on our way back to campus. We lugged my suitcases up the two flights of stairs back to our room and I started unpacking. I threw in a load of laundry and then had lunch with my sister. I tried to work on this blog post in the afternoon but I found that I was having trouble staying awake. The 9 hour time change was getting to me. I was in bed by 6:30.
Sorry this post is late, like I said, I fell asleep really early. I will put up a post later this week about my transition back to life in the States.
Thank you to my followers and readers who are not on tumblr, I hope you enjoyed the blog. Thank you to Vivienne for going above and beyond to make this program so wonderful. Thank you my family for supporting me during this trip, I love you all very much. And a very special thank you to the random strangers who helped me get to the airport on Saturday when I got myself lost.
If you have any questions for my about the trip, places I visited, things I did, etc. please feel free to ask.
Class went okay today. I went to Book and Bar after school and hung out there for a while. I got a café crème and tried to do homework for a while. It took a while to finish because 1) my teacher never told how many pages we had to do and 2) French grammar is hard. Trying to remember the differences between qui, que, and à qui is tricky. After few hours at Book and Bar, I went back to Mady’s because we were going to her friend’s house for dinner. Mady’s friend Christine also hosts students. Elizabeth, Courtney, Marlee and I had dinner there last month when Sarah was staying there. She is a great cook. We had risotto and for dessert we had a type of peach cobbler. Both were great and I want to learn how to make the peach dessert. After dinner, Mady and Christine were talking for a while and somehow we got into the topic of the celebrities they know. Mady knows Bradley Cooper. When he was a student, he did study abroad and he stayed with her family. And Christine sat across from George Clooney on the train once. Then they talked about all the celebrities who have house in the south of France. There’s quite a few. Mady later told me that next week she has to go take care of grandchildren while their parents are working, which means she has to go out of town during my last week. So I will stay at her apartment but I will eat dinner at Christine’s. It’s not that big of a deal. Mady is super concern about me being by myself. I told I’m fine and I am. The only thing I’m concerned about is who do I give my key to when I leave next week?
Class was pretty frustrating again. I can tell our teacher is getting annoyed with certain students. One of my friends hasn’t been in class that last few days. It also seemed like it was dragging on and on. After class, I grabbed lunch quickly and went to the CEA office and met with Vivienne, who introduced me to a French girl who needed to practice her English. Her name is Clarisse. We went to her apartment and we just sat and talked for a while switching back and forth between English and French. We are going to try and meet up again a few more time before I have to leave. After meeting Clarisse, I met up with the other CEA kids. We met up with Pam, who is an art history teacher for IAU. She took us to Cezanne’s workshop, which was on top of a hill. A very large hill. When we got there, we took some pictures outside the workshop because we couldn’t take any inside. Once inside, Pam talked to us about how Cezanne has the house renovated to his specifications. The north wall had large windows which took up most of the wall. There was a large slot cut into the wall that Cezanne used to get his largest paintings in and out of the building. And all over the room we the pieces he used for his still life paintings. What I found interesting about this is that most of these objects at just simple things, like cups, bowls, a coffee pot, and a table. I also was able to see the objects in comparison to how Cezanne portrayed them.
Later, we went up to the top of the hill where Cezanne painted Mont Sainte Victoire. Then we got to paint it. Everyone had a very different style when it came painting the mountain. Brantley’s was very abstract. The background was yellow, the mountain was red, and the clouds were orange. I thought it looked really cool. My looks more realistic but I don’t think mine turned out great.
(Liz with her painting and subjects)
So the people that went to Barcelona were back in class today and our teacher seemed like she was in a better mood. I felt like class was much more enjoyable. After class, everyone was sharing the stories from Barcelona. I’m glad I didn’t go. There was far too much craziness for me. One of the girls said she drank so much that she blacked out and she woke up on the beach. Thankfully an off duty cop found her and brought her back to her hostel. That just sounds absolutely terrifying and makes me very glad that I don’t drink.
There was supposed to be a cheese tasting but it was canceled because it was too hot. Vivienne is going to try and reschedule for next week for someplace with air conditioning. I hung out at Mady’s for the afternoon. Mady had another friend over for dinner. We had a cold soup again. But this time it was made with cucumber and mint. It tasted like pureed pickles. It was good but I just wish it had been a smaller bowl. We had pork made with honey and apricots and a spinach tart. Dessert was salted Caramel ice cream with raspberries. There also was a weird pink fish cheese spread thing. I don’t know what it was called but it had a really strange texture and taste.
Typical day of class. I had my first workshop for Poésie et Chanson (poetry and song). I liked this workshop and I will be going again next week. After the workshop was over, I went over to an ATM on the Cours Mirabeau. I got money and when I turned around to leave, it was pouring rain. I have been keeping my umbrella in backpack for this particular reason. I went back to Mady’s to get ready to go out with the CEA group. We were going out to Tholonet, a small town outside of Aix near Mont Sainte Victoire. We were going to play pétanque and have pizza. But as soon as we got there and were getting ready to play, the rain started up again. About half of us ran for cover in a small shelter while the rest stayed out to play.
(Playing petanque in the rain)
(trying to stay dry while we wait for pizza)
(Great pizza! Each slice was also bigger than our faces!)
Vivienne ordered us pizza from this food truck that sets up by this park. We huddled in the tiny shelter, eating pizza, and sharing stories about trips we made during our time here. For example, all the crazy Barcelona stories and our trips to the beach and missing our bus, etc. Navi used her iPhone and was our DJ. People took turns using the umbrellas to run over to the pizza truck to get more food. Surprisingly, we had a great time. Someone said, “the rain just makes for good memories.” And it did. Of course, it stopped raining when we got ready to leave. When I got back to Mady’s, I found out that she didn’t see the note that I had left her about me going out with CEA. So she was kind of freaking out and I found out that she had tried to call me and leave a message on my phone (Vivienne gave me a former student’s phone to borrow for July) and she thought it was the wrong number because the voice mail belonged to some guy. It was weird but we figured it out.
Class went by pretty fast today but that was probably because I couldn’t wait for our excursion after class. We went to the Calanques in Marseilles. Calanques are coves along the cost. We got on a boat and we went along the coast and visited some of the calanques. At the last one we visited, we stopped and we got to swim for a while. It took a few minutes to get the courage to actually jump off the boat into the water. I don’t know why. But once I was in the water I was fine. I wasn’t the only one with this problem. Vainess, who works for CEA and came with us on this trip, was afraid of being in water where she couldn’t touch the bottom. And Navi couldn’t really swim. They were both given inner tubes for while they swam. The water was warmer than I was expecting. It was much saltier too which made it easier to swim without a lot of effort. It was nice to relax to just float and relax for a while. We swam for about half an hour before we had to get back on the boat to go back to Marseilles. I really liked this trip.
(Me after swimming in the calanques)
The calanques were really beautiful and I would like to see some others someday. When we got back to the port, we went to this really good ice cream place. I got chocolate and raspberry. I think this was the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. We went back to Aix right after because the other homestay kids had to get back for dinner. So host moms are stricter than others. I said goodbye to Mady this morning because I wouldn’t be coming back to the apartment before going to the calanques. She left me lots of leftovers for dinner this weekend.
I didn’t have anything to do today so I went and did the last of my souvenir shopping. I bought some lavender, some lavender honey, and some Calissons. I may get something from the Camargue trip on Sunday but other than that, my shopping is done. I spent my afternoon at Mady’s, sorting through my souvenirs, trying to figure out which will need to go in which suitcase. I can’t afford to go over fifty pounds. I need to get myself a scale to weigh my luggage for study abroad next spring. For dinner, I went over to one of the apartments that some of the other girls are staying in. They have weekly “family dinners” were the two different groups take turns making dinner for the others. This week, they invited the home stay kids to come over since we don’t have dinner with our host families on the weekend. It was really fun and the food was great. We just got to hangout and talk and enjoy each other’s company and eat really good food.
So we had our final major excursion. We went to the Camargue! The Camargue is an area in Provence that is known for salt marshes, wild horses, and pink flamingos. We visited two cities, the first was Aigues Mortes. It’s a small medieval town sitting on the flat marshes. It’s considered the purest example of 13th century military architecture. Naomi, Julia, Navi and I wandered around the city. We looked at some of the shops and looking at some of the architecture. The walls around the city were really cool and they reminded us of Avignon. We stopped at café and got a snack since it would be a while before we got lunch. I got a Nutella crepe. Yum! Afterwards, we walked around and bought a few souvenirs. I got more postcards. I also finally found something for my siblings (they are really hard to shop for). We got back on the bus and went to Saintes Maries de la Mer. There is some very interesting history behind this town. Here is an excerpt of the info Vivienne gave us :
“The Camargue in general and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in particular are associated with the Roma (Gypsies, French Gitans). In medieval times this was the site of the Roma pilgrimage made each year to venerate Saint Sara, It still is today. According to local legend three biblical Marys arrived here across the Mediterranean Sea - hence the name: Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer means “Three Marys of the Sea”. According to some they were Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary, sister of Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene. The three Marys are sometimes represented as Mary Jacobé (the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother - a person invented by the Roman Church to explain biblical mentions of other children born of the “Virgin” Mary); Mary Salomé (the mother of Apostles James the Greater and John); and Mary-Magdalene. Sara is often explained away as a servant. Either way the three Mary were supposedly expelled from Jerusalem around the year AD 40. They were shipped off, along with Lazarus, Martha, Maximin, and Sidon, on a boat without sails, oars or provisions. According to the story Sara was not allowed on board, but one of the Marys threw her coat onto the waters and it miraculously turned a raft, allowing Sara to join the other sea farers. Their boat eventually landed near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The Marys - and Sara - lived out the rest of their days in the Camargue, where their graves became a places of pilgrimage, especially for gypsies - Sara became the patron saint of the Gypsies. In French Gypsies are called Gitans. The Gitan pilgrimage takes place in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on 24 and 25 May to celebrate Mary Jacobé. A second pilgrimage celebrating Mary Salomé takes place on the Sunday closest to the 22 October. This one also features the guardians (the local “cowboys” who work on the bull farms) , and the Marys, but not Sarah or gitans. During these pilgrimages, the Gitan traditions mix with Gardian traditions.”
We had lunch when we arrived in town. After lunch, we met up with Vivienne so we could horseback riding! I had been looking forward to this excursion for two months and it was finally happening! For 16€ we were able to ride through the salt marshes for an hour. The horses were beautiful white horses that are native to the area. When I first got on the horse, I discovered that I was absolutely terrified. The last time I rode a horse was when I was in Girl Scouts and I was like 8. So it’s been like 12ish years. I also think I was put on one of the biggest horses too!
Thankfully, the horses would just follow each other in a line so we didn’t have to worry about them wandering off. The only thing we had to worry about was the horses trying to eat while we were out. After a little while, I was much more comfortable sitting on the horse and I was able to enjoy the ride through the salt marshes.
We even got to see flamingos! They weren’t very pink but still I never thought I would get to see flamingos in France or get to go horseback riding. The hour went by really fast but it was really fun. I even got my picture taken by their photographer. Almost everyone went to the beach after the ride but I went and got a snack and found a place in the shade to cool off for before getting back on the bus. I went back to Mady’s when I got back to Aix. I showered and then had dinner.
It hit me tonight that I only have less than a week left here. I have 5 days of classes and then I make my way back up to Paris and fly back to the states. Wow this last month had gone by so quickly. I can’t believe my time here is almost over. As excited as I am to go back, there are many things here that I will miss.
Bonjour toute le monde!
So here is the weekly update. As you will be able to tell by reading, this was another frustrating week for me. Mostly due to school. I don’t like my teacher.
It is once again really hot. This makes everyone tired and cranky and makes class hard to deal with. We got through it. After class, Nikki, April and I went back to April’s apartment. We were going to watch a movie in French so we could practice our listening skills. On the way, we all stopped to get lunch, which when I discovered that I lost a 20€ bill. Needless to say, I was (still am) upset. Money is tight for the rest of this month and that 20€ could have gone towards food or the last few souvenirs I want to buy. So, I’m still looking for it but it hasn’t turned up yet. Anyways, we got to the apartment and we decided to watch something that wouldn’t be too hard for us to understand. We decided on the Le Roi Lion (The Lion King). We’ve all seen this movie enough times in English that we can probably quote it so why not try it in French. I didn’t have much of a problem understanding what was being said, the only problem I had was staying awake. The time “Be Prepared” came on, we all had found a spot to lie down and take a nap. We ended up sleeping through the whole movie. I remember waking up every so often, usually when a new song started. I hung out with the girls for a while before heading back to Mady’s for dinner. Mady made taboulé (the cold couscous thing) and a zucchini gratin and turkey. I wasn’t a huge fan of the zucchini this time but I ate it anyways. I liked the taboulé. The turkey was just deli slices for sandwiches. Mady was trying to not heat up the kitchen too much because of how hot it was. For dessert, Mady gave me a bowl of raspberries. Raspberries are my favorite so even though I was really full, I could make room for raspberries. I finished off my night skyping with my mom. It was nice to catch up with her and see how everyone is doing. I miss them a lot.
Class felt longer today, not sure why. So far everything in this class seems to revolve around us being able to go into a store and buy something. It would be nice to have a different subject soon. It’s getting a little dull. I discovered during class that I needed another notebook to get me through the next three weeks. I went to Monoprix and got one, it’s just smaller than the last one. It should be more than enough for the few weeks. I went back to Mady’s and just hung out there today. I got an email from CEA about and internship. It sounded interesting so I applied. I’m interested to see if I get it.
Mady’s friend and Mady’s mother came over for dinner again. We had the zucchini gratin again. And a tomato and tuna salad thing (not sure what to call it). This wasn’t too bad. I’m not a fan of tuna but I ate it anyway. Mady also made pasta. There were several different spices in the sauce, but I couldn’t tell you what they were. But it was a little spicy. Mady was very concerned that it would be too spicy for me. It was just the right amount of spiciness for me; anymore would have been too much. Several times during dinner, Mady and her friend tried to help me practice my speaking but it’s still difficult for me. I get so nervous when I talk. It doesn’t help that I couldn’t think of the right words to answer their questions. I’ve started practicing my French online at memrise.com (thanks Nikki). I really like this site I and I think going on there for an hour or so day will help me improve.
Class went okay today. After class, I went over to a boulangerie and grabbed some lunch. I went back to Mady’s and switched out my backpack for my purse and went over to the bus station. Vivienne took us to Marseilles to see a new museum. Even though we didn’t get to see more than the outside due to the number of people, it was still pretty cool. There were two buildings; one was an old fort and the other was brand new. If we had tried to see everything, we would have need about 4 or 5 hours.
(Here you can see the layout of the two buildings. I really like how there is an interesting combination of the old and the modern)
Apparently, there are exhibits on Mediterranean cultures. If I have the chance, I will have to go back and check it out. The newer building is right on the water and there are rooks that you can climb down to the water. We sat on the rocks and dipped our feet in the water to cool off. We started making our way back to Aix not long after because those of us in home stays had to be on time for dinner. I had told my host mom before I left that I might be late so I wasn’t too worried. We hit some traffic on the way back which made the trip take a little longer than it was supposed to. And then it started raining. When we got back to Aix, it was only sprinkling. The walk from the bus station to my home stay wasn’t very far and I made it home before it started raining really hard. Mady had dinner waiting when I got back. We had a typical provincial meal of fish with roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans, a hard boiled egg with mayonnaise (I’m a huge fan of mayo but this had more of a garlicky taste and it was pretty good). For dessert, we had la glace de noix coco (coconut ice cream). I’ve never had coconut ice cream before and I really like it. I was really tired after the trip to Marseilles so I went to bed pretty early.
Today for class, our teacher took us to the market. She wanted us to practice asking questions. I’m really bad at asking questions and I get nervous especially when I ask strangers questions. We had to ask if certain vendors had certain items. After going around the food market, she took us to the flower market. She gave me money and had me buy flowers. She had me ask questions about how to take care of the flowers. It was really nerve wracking for me. Like I said, I get super nervous when I have to talk to people. We went back to class for about an hour and then class was over. I got lunch and went back to Mady’s. I took a nap and watched a movie. Once again, too hot to go out and I’m trying to save money.
Class went by super slow today. I felt so bad for Nikki, who was pretty sick today but came to class anyways. Our teacher is such stickler for the rules now that it’s practically impossible to enjoy going to school now. I was sitting in the hall, waiting for my teacher to show up for class because the room was locked, I was finishing my pain au chocolat this morning before class started and she got mad at me because “we aren’t allowed to eat in the classroom or the hall, only in the student lounge.” I’m glad I only have class with her for two more weeks. I wouldn’t be able to handle a full semester with her. Nikki had to leave class once to go to the bathroom and our teacher got made at her. I felt so bad for her. I was so glad to get out of that class.
So we had dinner really late tonight. We were supposed to eat at 7:30, but the friend that Mady invited over didn’t get here until after 8:30. I could tell Mady was a annoyed that she was so late. Mady’s friend brought sushi and dessert. Mady had asked me earlier if I liked sushi, I told her no, so she made me some pasta. I tried a few pieces but I’m not a fan of raw fish. Mady and her friend asked me a few questions in French and I was able to response pretty well. Thankfully they were simple questions. Most of the conversation at dinner was between Mady and her friend, each trying to get the other to eat more of the sushi that had been brought for dinner. For dessert, Mady’s brought an ice cream tart thing. The crust was made of nuts and caramel. Inside, there was meringue and then 7 or 8 different scoops of ice cream on top. It was really good. I had a piece with strawberry and coconut ice cream. I also tried some with what I believe was mango. I liked the strawberry and coconut.
I was supposed to go out after dinner with Nikki. In one of the parks, there was going to be a projection of the opera, Rigoletto, which was being performed that night. But since Nikki was sick, we didn’t go. There was also an issue with transportation. We would have had to take the bus, which stops running at 10. So we could get there but have no way of getting back. But I guess it doesn’t really matter since we didn’t even finish dinner until around 10:30.
Most of the CEA students went to Barcelona for the weekend, leaving me, Nikki and Courtney to figure out something to do this weekend. So we decided to go Cassis and go to the beach. Getting there and back was quite an adventure. We took the bus to Aubagne, it took about half an hour, we changed buses and it took about 30-45ish minutes to get to Cassis. I really liked Cassis. It was a cute little seaside town. It felt about 20 degrees cooler which made the day so much better. It wasn’t as crowded as Marseille was and just nicer in general. We laid out on the beach for few hours, taking turns going in the water so there was always someone watching our bags. Courtney thought that the water was too cold while Nikki and I thought the water was perfect. Having been to the beaches in Maine where you’re legs go numb if you’re in the water too long, this water was perfect.
Before went back to the bus stop, we bought some post cards, and grabbed a snack at a café. When we got back to the bus stop, we discovered a very large crowd and we thought we weren’t going to be able to get on the bus. We soon discovered that this group was a very large group of tourists. I’ve discovered that anytime I say tourists now it never sounds nice. We did get on our first bus; it was just about 20ish minutes late. And because that bus was late, we missed our second bus, which was the last bus back to Aix. Thankfully, Courtney’s friend from school has a car. She called him and he came and picked up. Before he got there, Courtney warned us that he likes to drive fast. I didn’t realize how fast she meant until he started driving. At point, I looked at the speedometer and we were going at 180 kilometers an hour!!! I was so scared. I kept praying, “Please God just don’t let us crash! Just let us get back to Aix safely!” I’m never getting a car with him again! We got back safely. Courtney and Nikki went out to eat while I went back to Mady’s. I ate one of the frozen lasagnas that I bought earlier. Afterward, I skyped with my sister, Erinn, for a few hours. The time difference is so weird. I was getting ready to go to bed and she was just starting to make lunch. This just reminded me that I have to readjust to that in a few weeks. Fun.
Today is the 14 Juillet. It is the fête national for France. It’s their equivalent of our 4th of July. I watched the parade in Paris on TV. The parade consisted of mostly soldiers. They had planes fly over the parade route and they trailed colored smoke that made of the French flag, blue, white, and red.
While the parade was on, I skyped with my friend Jeremy, who is studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. It was really nice to talk to him and catch up on our adventures in study abroad. It hit me this morning that this is the only way I get to talk to him for a year. He’ll be gone during the Fall semester, I go back to Maine for Christmas break and then I go back to France for the Spring semester and then I’ll back to San Diego to work for the summer before school starts for my senior year. It’s weird to think about not seeing your friends in person for a year. We talked for about an hour and made plans to Skype again before I leave. I had lunch and then went out with Courtney and Nikki. We were going to go to Book and Bar and try and get some studying done, but we forgot that almost everything is closed on Sunday. We sat on a bench on the Cours Mirabeau to figure out where we should go. We made several observations about the differences between the U.S. and France on our national holidays. On 4th of July, we Americans go all out. We dress up, have parades fireworks, wear face paint, have parties, decorate our houses and stores, etc. But here, it seemed like any other day. The only decorations I saw were some French flags hanging on the lamp posts down the Cours. No one dressed up. It just seemed like there was as much expression of pride for their country as we express for ours. I’m sure if we were in Paris it might have been a different story but it still wouldn’t have been on the same scale as 4th of July. We finally decided to go to Carrefour Bar, were CEA usually holds the happy hours. I got my usual Orangina and we sat and talked for a while. I went back to Mady’s afterward. I cleaned my room a little bit, worked on the blog.
I had dinner; another frozen lasagna (I’m poor, it was cheap. Don’t judge me). Mady came back and she asked me if I was going out to see the fireworks. I told her yes. Then she made a comment about how I don’t go out. I told her I went out this afternoon. But she said that it’s not good that I don’t go out all the time. I need to find a way to explain to her that I don’t like to go out all the time. I am an introvert. I can only be around big groups of people a certain about of time before I need to just be by myself. And what about Sunday’s here? Everything is closed; where am I supposed to go? How does one explain to their host mom that they don’t like to go out all the time? And that it’s okay that I don’t go out all the time. That they aren’t always comfortable around big groups of people for long periods of time. That sometimes they just want to be by themselves for a while. That they don’t like to go out to clubs and bars like all of their friends in their program because they don’t drink. Feeling pretty stuck and I don’t know how to explain this to my host mom.
I skyped with my friend Terra for about half an hour. I haven’t talked to her in a long time and it was nice to catch up with her. I went out around 9:30 to meet up with Courtney and Nikki to watch les feux d’artifice. Literally translated this means artificial fire but it means fireworks. We walked down to the end of the Cours Mirabeau and watched them for a while. We got bored really quickly. We’re used to the spectacular firework shows on 4th of July and at places like Disneyland/Disney World. I stayed for the whole thing I just moved from the very end of the Cours towards the back of the crowd, that way I could get back easier.
(Nikki and Courtney)
(Courtney and me)
(Me and Nikki)
While I was with Nikki and Courtney, I talked to them about my issue with my host mom about me not going out very often. Turns out there has been a cultural misunderstanding. Apparently, the French spend a lot of time outside of their homes during the day. I didn’t know this so this just means I need to try and find things to do or places to go after class. I may start going to the park or to Book and Bar after school to try and take up time now. Now that that has been cleared up, I feel a little better about my situation. The challenge is finding things to do/places to go that don’t cost money.
So I guess that’s it for this week. I have two more weeks. I have trip to the Camargue next Sunday and the workshop that I want to go starts on Thursday. It’s on poetry and songs. So as usual, more to come.
Bonjour tout le monde!
So this week started out rough. I was super homesick but it was due to that fact I transitioned from the apartment to living in a home stay. I had gotten very comfortable in that environment and then having to move to another and be living without a roommate was hard. I’m doing much better now. Once I started the next session of classes and I had something to do, the homesickness went away almost completely. I still miss things about home and but I can get through my day without wanting to cry.
July classes started today and this time it was harder. I have a different professor than before and her teaching style is very different so I have to adjust to that. Nikki and I talked to our professor after class and told her that we need as certain level to get credit for school; we showed her some of the work we did last month so hopefully she can help us with that. After class, I went to a boulangerie for lunch. I got something that was like a cal zone with ham and mozzarella. I ate in the boulangerie and read for a little while. Afterward, I went over to Book and Bar to look for a French-English dictionary but I couldn’t find one so I will have to try somewhere else. I went back to my home stay and tried to take a nap but I couldn’t fall asleep. We had our first day of class “happy hour” to share stories of the first day. Half of the group wasn’t there because they went to Chateau d’If. I do want to go there at some point before I leave. I had my first dinner with Mady tonight. She made ratatouille, asparagus, and a bacon omelet (eggs are usually lunch or dinner food here). For dessert, she brought out a cheese from Corsica and it was super strong. I tried a bite of it and it was too much for me. I also didn’t like the smell of this cheese. It reminded me of the smell of my brother’s soccer bag after he left his unwashed socks in there for over a month. There were also cherries and apricots. I ate several of those but by the time we had dessert, I was so full. I didn’t know how to say “I’m full” so I think I ate too much. But it was really good. After dinner, I watch the news for a little while but I don’t know anything about current affairs in France other than the fact the Tour de France is this week. I didn’t get any homework tonight so I am on tumblr and watching Castle.
Class was still pretty difficult but I’m still adjusting to her teaching style. She started off class with what seemed like theater exercises too me. She wanted us to focus on listening to each other. I don’t like these exercises. There were times where I had trouble following her and I got frustrated when one of the activities involved some math. I’m not good at math in English let alone French. It didn’t help that I couldn’t see the numbers. I’m a visual learner when it comes to math.
Thankfully, I got to do something fun after class. I got to go to another cooking class. This time we made salmon with lime curry apples and olive mashed potatoes. I really like these cooking classes. If you study abroad, try and take a cooking class. They’re really fun and you get to make and eat food from the country you are studying in. I really liked what we made. I was surprised by the curry lime apples. It was a very interesting flavor but I really liked it. For dessert, we had a strawberry tiramisu (it was basically strawberry shortcake but it’s called tiramisu because of how it’s made) and it was also very good. I liked this dessert better than the one we had during the last class.
Mady invited her friend and her friend’s son over for dinner. It was a little harder to talk to them. For dinner, we had tomatoes with mozzarella and olive oil, Moroccan chicken, and an Italian dessert that was like a vanilla pudding with cherries. Everything Mady made was great.
When I left for class in the morning, I didn’t realize it was raining. It would have been nice to know because I wore my Toms and those are not the shoes to wear in the rain. Toms + wet surface= death trap. It’s a good thing that I give myself plenty of time to get to school because it took a little longer since I was trying not to slip. Class went better today. I’m adjusting to how my professor teaches the class and she is also figuring out what she wants to do with the class.
For class tomorrow, the other American girls and I are going to talk a little bit about 4th of July. I also think we are getting out of class a little early tomorrow because La Tour de France is coming through Aix! I never thought that I would get to see the Tour de France so I’m excited to see it.
Mady’s mom came over for dinner. For dinner, Mady made a carrot soup but this soup was served cold. It was good but it was very different from what I’m used to. We also had pork and green beans. For dessert, we had cheese and strawberries. Mady found a much milder cheese for me and it was much easier for me to eat unlike the other one on Monday. I talked with Mady’s mom for a little while. I could understand her for the most part and I didn’t have too much of a problem talking to her. During dinner, we had the TV on and I saw a commercial for Sherlock and it was on tonight! Instead of going back to my room like I normally do. I decided to stay in the living room and watch Sherlock in French. I’ve already seen this episode (there are only six episodes) so I can follow it without subtitles (although they would be helpful at times).
(I was super excited about being able to watch Sherlock!)
So class started off pretty well today. Our first activity involved describing each other in French. Afterward, we got into our groups for presentations. My group talked about the 4th of July. Nikki even dressed up in red, white, and blue. We talked about the history of the holiday and what people do to celebrate. The other group talked about the Tour de France.
During our break, Nikki and I went outside to try and see the Tour de France, which went through Aix today. We managed to see the parade that went through town before the bikes came by. We took lots of pictures and managed to not get hit by the things being thrown from the cars in the parade.
(my personal favorite from the parade)
We went back to class, but we were late and this new teacher doesn’t like us being late. I’m trying not to worry about it too much since this is the only time I have been late and I know I won’t be again. We worked on grammar for a while and at 12:30 our teacher let us out half an hour early so we could find a spot to watch the Tour de France. We all found a spot and waited for the bikes to come by. What was great was how close the school was to the route they took through town. We got to see the bikes come by and we all took pictures and video. We couldn’t believe that we were actually watching the Tour de France. Who would have thought that we would get to see this during study abroad? It was a one in a lifetime experience.
I went back to Mady’s for lunch. I went out later in the afternoon. I went to Book and Bar and I met up with some of the other girls from school. They were writing out postcards. Later Noelle and I went and looked in some stores. I found a coffee shop that had coffee to go. I had my first iced coffee in over a month and I was very disappointed. I miss Starbucks white mocha.
I went back to Mady’s for dinner. We had salad with balsamic vinegar and grilled peppers, roasted vegetables and beef. It was very good. I have eaten so many vegetables since moving to Mady’s. I hardly ever eat vegetables. And I like everything she has made for me so far. I’m also trying to keep an open mind when it comes to trying new things while I’m here.
I think Mady is figuring out that I am not a “typical American girl.” I don’t drink, I don’t like to go out at night, and I don’t eat a lot (or at least I haven’t since I’ve been here). I’m different than most girls. At night, I prefer to sit in my room, with my laptop and watch a movie and go on tumblr not go out and party and drink. As far as I know, the only time I’m going out at night will be on my last night when we go jump in the fountain.
Class went okay today. I’m still not a huge fan of this new teacher. I really liked Madame Petrova and I liked her teaching still. This new teacher is just all over the place. It feels like she doesn’t really plan these activities out before class and she seemed pretty scatter brain. She also hovers a lot. As is she is constantly asking if we understand. I tell her if I don’t understand but I have moments in class where I understand something perfectly and she stops and looks at and asked if I get it. I really want to ask her what makes her think I don’t understand.
After class, Vivienne came over to the school to so students could give her money for the excursion to Avignon on Saturday. I was telling some of the July kids about it since I went last month. I mentioned that it was raining when I went and Vivienne asked me, “If CEA paid for you to go, would you want to go again?” I said sure. Free trip to Avignon, why not?
So I went to Avignon again. It’s a really nice city but it was really hot today. Navi and I walked around the city for a while.
We got lunch from a little café. We each got a sandwich, a drink and a dessert. I got a chicken sandwich, and Orangina and a raspberry tartlette. The sandwich was okay, but the tartlette was awesome! I love how easy it is to get great raspberry things here. After lunch, Navi and I found a park and decided to explore and take pictures. We found this rock formation with a fountain and we stopped to take a bunch of pictures.
Since I went before, I didn’t go on the hike at Pont du Gard. I didn’t feel the need to past out. I hung out with Nikki and April. We went down by the river and put our feet in the water for a little while. The water felt great and it helped us cool off. We found an ice cream stand, got ice cream, and found a shady spot to sit for a while.
We went back to Aix and on the way back drove past Camargue, which we are going to on the 21st. I can’t wait for that trip. I went back to Mady’s apartment. I heated up some left of Ratatouille for dinner and I watched a few movies.
So I went to church for the first time in over a month. Noelle invited me to go with her. This church was really small, probably no more than 20 people. It was all in French (of course) and I was able to understand some of what the pastor was saying but he spoke pretty fast. The few people I met were really nice but they were really worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand. Noelle explained to them that I can understand a lot that I just have trouble speaking.
I really miss my church in San Diego and I can’t wait to start going again when I get back. I went back to Mady’s and had lunch and I spent the afternoon watching movies and doing homework. It’s really hot out and I don’t really want to go anywhere today. I did homework, which involved creating a menu for a dinner party. For some inspiration, I watched Julie and Julia.
So I’ve got 3 weeks left. I have one major excursion left that I can’t wait for; the trip to the Camargue. I saw this on the list of possible excursions and I really wanted to go. We get to go horseback riding! There are a few trips throughout the week, like to a museum or a cheese tasting, etc.
So I guess this is it for this post.
Thanks Kendall. The homesickness isn’t as bad anymore. The first weekend in the home stay was rough but it’s better now. I’ve just had to get used to being without a roommate and living in a new place. I can’t wait to see you when school starts!
Last week of class for the June session. Class from 9-1. Later in the afternoon, we met up at the bus station and Vivienne took us to a vineyard that was just outside of the city. At this vineyard, the owner took us through the fields and told us about the vines; how they care for them, the different types of grapes they grow. He showed us the machines they use to crush the grapes and the process they use to make the wine. Before we left, there was ton of picture taking in front of the fields and the trees planted at the entrance. Fun fact about these particular trees, three of them planted together acts as a welcome sign. I thought that was pretty cool.
(Learning about the vines)
(there is a three tree tucked behind the first)
We had normal classes from 9-1. In the evening, we had a “happy hour” at Carrefour café to welcome the July students who had just arrived. We have six new girls; 2 from Toronto, Canada, two from California, 1 from Kentucky, and 1 from New York. These girls seem really nice and I can’t wait to spend time with them this next month. Later that night, we all got together to hang out. Tuesday is ladies night in Aix so everyone wanted to go out. I hung out with everyone before they went out to a bar. I went back to the apartment and watched a movie before I went to bed.
Class from 9-1. We had our welcome July students/farewell June students. We met at a park and we played pétanque, which is like Bache ball.
We played for a little over an hour and then we had dinner. Dinner was a BBQ, which in this case was grilled sausages, bread, cheese, teboule (a couscous like dish). The food was really good. What was really great was just being able to hang out with everyone; those who are leaving and those who just got here.
Other than class, Thursday was pretty uneventful. Elizabeth and I had been packing on and off throughout the week as well cleaning the apartment. We did go out and get ice cream on the Cours Mirabeau. I got dark chocolate and raspberry and it was great! We walked along the Cours Mirabeau and ate our ice cream and we wandered into H&M for a little while. Fun fact: this time of year is known as “les soldes” meaning sales. Stores in France can only have sales in the summer and in the winter and the sales last like a month and you can get clothes like 75% off. We didn’t buy anything but it was nice to spend time with my roommate before she left.
Last day of June classes. Class went really well and at the end, one of the girls in my group, Nikki, asked about classes for those of us who would be staying for July. I was told that I will be moving up to the next level for July! Yay! I’m looking forward to being at a higher level for the second months. Later that night, a bunch of us met up on the Cours Mirabeau. We walked around looking for ice cream, specifically lavender ice cream, Marlee really wanted to try some before she left. So when we found a place, several of us got ice cream. Marlee got lavender, Courtney got Calisson (which we discovered tastes very good when put together), I got framboise (raspberry), Josh got lemon meringue, and I think Brantley got cherry. We all tried a bit of each other’s ice cream. The ice cream here is really good. So far, raspberry is my favorite but I think it’s more of a sorbet than ice cream. But still, it’s my favorite. After we got ice cream, we sat down on some stairs to wait for a few others to show up. Once everyone had arrived, we went back to the Cours Mirabeau and went to the fountain in the middle of the rotund in the center of town. Everyone who was leaving jumped in the fountain, as is CEA tradition. On the last night, students jump in the fountain. We took pictures of everyone and we did this very quickly, for two reasons, 1) we wanted to make sure we didn’t get in trouble; turns out it wasn’t really a big deal because there were other people doing it too and 2)it was really cold. We were in the middle of a Mistral, which is a north wind that makes everything really cold. It’s like the opposite of a Santa Ann in California. We got there just in time because a few minutes after we finished taking pictures, the fountain was shut off for the night. After the fountain, we said our goodbyes. There were some tears and lots of hugs. We have only been here for a month but we became really good friends. It was hard to say goodbye.
(Elizabeth after she jumped in the fountain!)
I got up early to finish packing a few things before I left for the excursion that way I would be ready to go to my home stay when I got back. I said goodbye to Elizabeth because she was leaving later that morning. I was sad to see her leave. Elizabeth was a great roommate and I’m going to miss living with her.
I met everyone else at the bus stop for our excursion. We stopped at a farmers market and we all bought food for lunch and afterward we went to Le Lac de Sainte Croix. This lake was so beautiful. I’m still amazed how the water could even be so blue. Some people rented paddle boats and went out on the lake. I spent my time taking pictures of the lake and the mountains. It’s so beautiful there. We ate lunch by the lake and just we were just amazed by this place.
Later, we went to Moustier Sainte Marie which is a cute little stone village in the mountains. Our guide, George took us to this fountain that according to legend the water in the fountain can make you live forever. You fill up you water bottle and then take it to the chapel up on the side of the hill (which was very high up) and drink it and “it will change your life.” To me, this sounds like something out of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. At least that’s what George says. I wandered around and took pictures. It was a really cute little village and I got some great pictures of it and the valley below.
(the holy water fountain)
(chapel on top of hill/mountain)
We got back on the bus and we went to the lavender fields. I think this was my favorite place I’ve been to so far. There were so many fields of lavender that just seemed to go on and on. It was so pretty and as soon as we got off the bus, everyone suddenly became a model and many photo shoots ensued. This does include me. My friend Noelle took pictures of me and I took pictures of her. It was fun to walk around in the field; to see and smell the lavender. It smelled amazing out there. Lavender is a major product in Provence and you can buy it in every souvenir shop. I will get some before I leave.
(Me and Noelle in the lavender fields)
After we finished taking out pictures, we got back on the bus and went back to Aix. I walked back to the hotel with the new girls and brought them back to the apartment that I had been living in. I gave them a quick tour of the apartment and Vivienne came by to talk to them about the apartment. When she finished talking to the girls about the apartment, she took me to my home stay, which is only a few minutes away from the apartment. Vivienne stayed and got me settled while my host mom, Mady, showed me around the apartment. Once I was settled in, Mady went out for the evening. I had been told about this before and I told her I was okay with it but later on, I didn’t feel so great being in the apartment by myself. I was in a new place, I was alone and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone because I couldn’t connect to the internet. I felt very alone. I unpacked and I ended up sitting in my room watching a movie. For the first time on this trip, I felt homesick. I wanted to cry but I tried not to.
I couldn’t sleep very well. New place and I haven’t adjusted yet. I got up as Mady was going out to get food for breakfast. I got ready for the day even though I had no idea what I was going to do. Mady and I had breakfast when she got back. We had bread with jam and butter, coffee, and yogurt. After breakfast, Mady and I finally figured out why I couldn’t connect to the internet, the password written on the Wi-Fi modem wasn’t right. Once we found the right password, I got my computer connected. Part of the homesickness went away now that I can keep in touch with my family. I checked email and Facebook, etc. While do so, I saw a message from Noelle asking if anyone wanted to go to the beach in Marseilles. I didn’t have anything to do, so why not? I called Noelle and we met up and went to Marseilles. I was surprised at how simple it was to get there and it’s not even that far. We took the bus using our ticket treize. This pass allows you to use the buses for 24 hours for only 2 €. During the scavenger hunt in our first week, we all got this card and put 6 € on it. We got on the bus and in about 20 minutes we were in Marseilles. One we got to Marseilles, we had to take the metro which brought us closer to the beach. Once we got off the metro, hopped on a bus that saved us from the 20 minute walk to the beach. When we got there, I was surprised to see how many people were there. It was so crowded. It took a little while to find a place to sit. There isn’t much concept of personal space here. I found myself missing the beach back in San Diego and even the ones in Maine. We took turns going in the water to guard our stuff since this place is known for pick pockets which we didn’t have a problem with. We sat and talked for a while before getting back on the bus. We stopped and got smoothies and cooled off in a café before getting back on the metro to get back to the bus. We got back to the bus station and then went back to Aix. I enjoyed spending time with Noelle. It was fun hanging out with her. I went back to my homestay and took a shower and ate half a sandwich that I bought in Marseille and worked on this post. Started feeling homesick again when I got back. I still feel like crying and I’m trying not too because I hate crying. I’m not sure what to do. I’ve never been this homesick before. I live in Maine and go to school in California and it’s never been this bad. I’m not sure what to do. If you have suggestions, please let me know.
I guess that’s it for this post. July classes start tomorrow so more on that to come as well as more excursions (I don’t know when or where these are yet but I’ll find out soon). Hopefully, my speaking skills will improve during this course. I understand just about everything someone says to me but I cannot form sentences on the spot in order to respond. It’s very frustrating and I’m hoping something will click and it will become easier.
Weeks 3 and 4
Bonjour tout le monde!
Once again I’m very sorry for not updating every week. I keep getting distracted. So here is a recap of weeks 3 and 4.
Monday and Tuesday
I had my French class from 9am-1pm as usual and I was supposed to have a workshop in the afternoon. But it ended up being canceled due to the professor’s kid being sick. I was really looking forward to this workshop because it covered Poésie and Chanson (Poetry and Song). For those of you who don’t know, I love to listen to Disney songs in French. It’s a hobby I picked up in high school from my French teacher Ms. Duquette. Each quarter, we would get a new song, sometimes a Disney song or a song by a French artist. One time, we learned Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as our last song before Christmas. I like trying to listen and memorize the song in French. One quarter, we learned Je voudrais déjà être roi (I just can’t wait to be king) and I couldn’t remember the words in English for several months because I had listened to it so much in French. For anyone trying to learn a language, I recommend looking up songs in that language and follow along with the lyrics. Try and learn the song. It will help with phonetics and vocabulary.
Other than class, I didn’t really have much to do on Monday and Tuesday.
Once again, class from 9-1. Later in the evening, we had a cheese tasting. So, I’m not a fan of cheese. I can’t just eat a piece of cheese by itself. It has to be melted in something or on something. (This excludes nacho cheese. Eww!) I can never get past the texture of it. It just bothers me for some reason. It took some convincing from my roommate to get me to go. I explained my issue with cheese but she insisted that I go. So I did. It was fun to spend time with the other people in the group and I did try some of the cheese. Of the ones I tried, I liked the Gruyère and the Comté. So yes, there are two types of cheese that I like but don’t expect me to eat it regularly now. We tried several different kinds of cheese from all over France. I tried almost all of them except for the Roquefort. I didn’t try this for two reasons 1) it had green mold in it and 2) it is a very strong cheese and for someone who doesn’t like cheese, it probably isn’t one I would have liked anyway. One of the guys near me tried a huge piece of it and gagged a little bit because of how strong it was. I think it is safe to say I made a good choice there.
Class from 9-1. I ended up wandering down the Cours Mirabeau after class. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, they have a huge open air market. I didn’t buy anything but I wandered past the stall and looked at all the stuff there. Many of the stalls had clothes, shoes, purses, etc. I will get something from here eventually.
Class from 9-1. We had an hour break between the end of class and the afternoon workshop for lunch. So some of the girls and I went to a restaurant next door to the school, called Zam & Zam. It’s a little fast food place. It’s pretty good. The food is priced well and the portions are the perfect size. I got chicken, fries and an Orangina. (I love Orangina! It’s hard to find it back home and when you do find it, it’s expensive. I can find it everywhere here and it’s pretty cheap). After lunch, we had our workshop on everyday life. Our first activity involved going through a recipe for crêpes, which we all know are a traditional food in France. It would have made the class even better if we had gotten to make crêpes.
No excursions this weekend. I spent Saturday on my own because Elizabeth went to Arles by herself. So I slept in a little bit. I went to the farmers market and got some more fruits and vegetables. I like being able to get fresh food from the farmers market. The food is better and it’s often cheaper compared to the produce in the store. I got potatoes, carrots, onions, and peaches. I went to a bakery and bought a croissant and a pain au chocolat (my favorite!). I spent the rest of the day at the apartment. I vacuumed and mopped and tried to keep the apartment cool. This past week has been really hot and keeping the apartment cool has been a challenge. I watched a few movies until Elizabeth got back and then we had dinner. She told me about Arles and I would like to go while I’m here. If it’s not one of the organized excursions I’ll try to find some people to go with for the day.
Sunday was probably the laziest day ever. We woke up really late. We never changed out of our pajamas. We spent the day in watching movies and we eventually did our homework. It was nice to have a day to relax. But I think there will be things to do next weekend.
Class from 9-1. We actually had our afternoon workshop. But now instead of poetry and songs, we are doing phonetics. Throughout the workshop, I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve learned everything wrong. We learned how each vowel has multiple different sounds as opposed to English where the vowels have one or two. It was a little frustrating trying to learn the different sounds. I’ve discovered that I have to make weird faces in order to make the sounds correctly.
Class from 9-1. Phonetics workshop again. This one is was more frustrating for me. The letter “R” was one we went over and I’ve discovered that I hate this letter. There are like four different ways to say it and it varies based on where the letter is in the word. I have trouble with the words that start with “R.” Words like rare, remplir, raison, etc. This is because it requires you to almost roll the “R” which I am physically incapable of doing. It’s going to take some work to get the pronunciation right.
Class from 9-1. No afternoon workshop today. Some of the other girls convinced me to go with them to a cooking class for lunch.
We made chicken with goat cheese and tarragon with a mix of green beans, pea pods, onions and garlic. When we put the food on the plate, we used these circular frames to arrange to vegetables. We added the chicken and then sprinkled some herbs on top. Then we got to use this balsamic vinaigrette to draw on the plate. Vivienne suggested that we write our names, which is what I did due to my lack of artistic skills. We got to eat the food we made for lunch and it was really good!
Once we finished the food we made, they served us dessert. It was a pistachio sponge cake with raspberries and strawberries with a green tea and berry juice. I was surprised by this dessert. It was really different flavor and texture. But it was good.
Later that night, Vivienne took us to a goat farm just outside the centre ville. We took a city bus and then walked the rest of the way. The farm was really small. She only had about 30 goats. We got to the farm when the goats we being brought in for the night.
We got to walk around in the pen and pet the goats. There was even a baby goat!
We got to see them milk the goats. A few others and I got to try milking a goat, which was something I wasn’t expecting to do on this trip.
We got to try some of the cheese they make on the farm. I wasn’t a fan of the cheese but many of the others liked it. Vivienne even bought some cheese for each of us to take back to our apartments or home stays.
Class from 9-1. After class, several of the girls and I went over to the Grande Marche on the Cours Mirabeau. We managed to get there before most of the stalls were closed. I bought a shirt, a dress, and a sweater. They were a little pricey but it was worth it.
Class from 9-1. We had the afternoon workshop about everyday life. This time, we worked on being able to ask and follow directions. Our professor gave us a worksheet with directions to several locations in the centre ville and we had to walk through town and right down what we found at these locations. We found everything she asked us to find. After the workshop, Courtney, Marlee, and I went to Book and Bar. It’s a little bookstore/café. All the books are in English as well. We met up with Sarah and we sat and talked for a while. I got a café au crème (which is basically a latte). I really liked this place so I will be going back at some point. Later that night, there was a nationwide music festival called La Fête de la Musique. All over France, there would be concerts all night long. It sounded like it would be a really cool experience but once I read all the warnings from Vivienne and my professors, I decided not to go. Very large groups of people + middle of the night + large quantities of alcohol = I am not going. I was told that the later it gets the more violent people would get and that it could be very dangerous. I had trouble convincing my friends that I didn’t want to go out and that I was fine with that. I ended up Skyping with my family for a few hours and then I watched a few episodes of Castle. When I finally went to bed, it was about 2:30 in the morning and I had to use earplugs in order to fall asleep. I live in the very center of the city so we could hear everything. It was really loud. Thank you very much Elizabeth for the earplugs otherwise I would not have gotten any sleep.
I gave up trying to sleep in around 8:30. It sounded like someone was using a lawn mower outside our window. Elizabeth and I went out to breakfast with some friends from school. The café we went to was called Belle Époque. One of the girls, Freya, told us that we had to try the chocolat chaud. When you get their chocolat chaud, you are given a small container of melt chocolate and a small pitcher of steamed milk and you mix it you self. Their hot chocolate is excellent. If you go to Aix, you have to go there and get the Chocolat “Belle Époque.” We had our hot chocolate and croissants and then we went to the market. This market went to for blocks. There was a section just for food. And there were tons of stalls for clothes, purses, jewelry, shoes, books, movies, etc. I bought a scarf and so did Elizabeth. But Elizabeth’s scarf is an Oppa Gangum Style scarf. When we saw this, we laughed so hard. We couldn’t believe that we found this here of all places. Elizabeth decided to buy it simply because we thought it was funny and it we would probably never see it again.
So that’s it for this post. I’m going to try and start doing smaller posts throughout the week instead of once a week. So I’ve been here almost a month and the June session will be endings this week. The June students will be leaving next weekend and the July students are coming on Tuesday. At some point this week I will be moving to my home stay, but I’m not sure when. Most likely this weekend.This also means my trip is about half over. Wow! It’s hard to believe. It’s feels like I’ve been here forever but I know I haven’t. It’s weird. It’s gone by pretty fast. Before I know it, I’m going to be back in San Diego.
So, more to come this week.