Journals from AUCP Marseille- Spring 2008
2008-03-09 Life in Marseille
The Callanques in Marseille
I started my second semester abroad with hesitation, but after 5 weeks here, I feel completely at home. Marseille is a city unlike any other in France; it is unique in many ways, it has its own culture, dialect, peculiarities, population, all assembled beneath a gorgeous Mediterranean backdrop. I am studying at AUCP, the American University Center of Provence which has two campuses; one here in Marseille, and one in Aix-en-Provence, where I was last semester. The program here in Marseille focuses on the relations between France and North Africa, both social and political. Being a Mediterranean port, Marseille is home to a dense population of immigrants from North Africa, specifically Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, a region known as Le Maghreb. My classes include Political Developments in the Middle East, the History of France and North Africa, Immigrant Identities in Contemporary France, Linguistic Strategies for Integration, and Arabic. All the classes are in taught in French, so challenging does not begin to describe it. Challenge is the word that best describes my study abroad experience; every experience is an opportunity to learn, so the challenges are welcome.
Living with a host family is one very important aspect of being abroad, and I have found it to be pretty fun. I live with my host mom, Solange, in an apartment about a 10 minute walk from school. At first it is awkward getting settled in a new house, but now I feel at home. Solange is an amazing cook, and I look forward to dinner every night. She is also a movie buff, so many of our conversations revolve around films; French, American, good, bad, and otherwise. She has 4 kids and 9 grand kids so we have visitors frequently. Her 10-year-old grandson Theo stayed with us during his vacation, and we watched Remember the Titans together, in French. It was really fun for me to help him understand what was going on, but explaining the idea of segregation to him was kind of difficult, but in the end he asked if we could watch it again the next day, so I figured it was a success.
Marseille is a big city, with all the aspects of a highly populated urban area, but right outside of town is the most amazing spread of nature I have ever seen. We are right on the coast of the Mediterranean and I love being able to escape to the ocean. There is also an area about 30 minutes away by car called the Callanques which is great for hiking and spending time in an expanse of nature not so far away from the hustle and bustle of people and cars in the city.
We are going to Morocco for a week as a group in April, a trip I am really looking forward to. I cant believe that we only have one week until midterms, a fun time that one can not escape, even in France!