Alright, time for an update. I don’t have internet in my apartment yet, so this has been challenging! Anyways, I got into Aix late on Monday night, and was brought to my apartment. We’re on the top floor, which means every time I come home I have to go up four flights of stairs. I am going to have some awesome legs by the time I come home. My apartment is pretty nice. There’s a big living space, with a kitchenette on one side and a bedroom/bathroom on the other. The kitchenette is really just a nook in room with a sink, hot plate, and mini fridge, but it works. The bathroom is also tiny, and learning to shower with the 5 minutes of hot water we get has been interesting. For the first day I had to just keep telling myself, “It’s all part of the adventure!”. My roommate Clare is awesome! Abroadco did an amazing job matching us, because we get along great. I can already tell we’re going to have a really great time together.
So Tuesday morning I got to meet the rest of the people in my program. There are 8 other girls and 1 boy. We spent the morning walking around Aix a bit, all got lunch, and then had our orientation. We then went to Monoprix, which is the closest thing to Target, to gets sheets and towels and such. The first night I spent laying on a mattress with a light blanket thrown over me, so sheets felt like a huge luxury! I also got my cell phone, which is BIC brand… like the pens! That night Clare and I wandered the town, went into a Fromagerie and learned a little about cheese, and then sat in our apartment and chatted while enjoying our French wine, fresh baguette, and stinky delicious cheese. We had hot chocolates at a café, and then called in a night.
Wednesday was the placement test, and started out really not so great. I was feeling really sick, but after a little nap I got the day going, and we ended up wandering around a bit and doing some errands we had to get done. I had my oral exam, which went really well, and I think I’m going to be placed in the highest level, which would be awesome! We had a free afternoon on Wednesday, so Clare, Mike (the only boy in the program! Lucky guy!) and I wandered into an internet café/bar called Hub Lot, and it was pretty empty, but we had a great time talking to the owner and some of the people there. At one point Clare and I were both on the computers (we still don’t have internet in our apartment) and the owner of the place asked Mike if he knew how to play guitar. Mike did, and the owner pulled out a guitar and an amp, and Mike started playing. A while later an older French bar patron came in and asked if he could jam with Mike, and so they started to play together. Then the owner grabbed a microphone and got Mike to start singing, so he made up words and sang about our trip. Everyone in the bar was listening to them, and when we were leaving, one lady wanted to know when he would be playing here again. It was insane! It was one of those “I can’t believe this is actually happening right now” moments, and we loved it. I think we’ll become regulars there! Wednesday night we had our official Welcome dinner, and we went to a cute little place and had a very French meal. It was delicious, and I’ve had a great time just getting to know everyone in the program better.
Thursday started with a walking tour of the city. Pam, the program director, showed us around and had a lot of great info about the city to share. It’s very old, and there is a lot of old Roman influence and ruins still around, and I just love all the history there is. I swear this is the most beautiful city I have ever been in. It’s very quaint, and I just want to stick my head out the window and yell Bonjour every morning, Beauty and the Beast style (although I don’t think that would go over too well). Anyways, after our tour on Thursday, and bunch of us went to a restaurant called The Olde Bulldogge, and when we walked in there was actually a little bulldog on a leash tied to our table! He sat under our table for the whole meal, and was super sweet. Sarah, I immediately thought of you! The rest of the day was very relaxed. We went to a café and spent a couple hours just sitting, and then Clare and I had dinner on Cours Mirabeau, which is the well known street here. Last night we experienced the French bar scene, and that was pretty interesting. I’m pretty sure half of the people were American everywhere we went, but we had a great time! My favorite part was probably the fact that there was a drink called a Sexy Zombie.
Friday was pretty relaxed. We didn’t have any activities planned, so we’re just took it easy. We got the results of our placement test, and I placed in a pretty high level, which I’m happy about!
Today we took the bus to Marseille, and Pam gave us a tour of the city. We went to a beautiful church, Notre Dame de la garde, which sat on top of a hill that over looked the city and the Mediterranean. We also walked along a fish market that had a ton of fish fresh off the boats, and even a live octopus or two up for sale! It was a really great day! When we got back, a couple of us went shopping to get some more weather appropriate clothing. The California girl was soooo not properly prepared! Then everyone in the program came over, we got pizza from the bakery next to our apartment, and played mafia. It was really great fun. Tomorrow we’re touring the Luberon, which I am very excited about!
I promise there will be more updates once I get internet in the apartment! I am having the time of my life, and there are so many times that I just stop to take it all in, and think, “Oh my Gosh! I am actually in France, doing this right now! I am actually here having this amazing experience!” Don’t want to worry anyone, but I just might not ever come home!