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Journals from American University Center of Provence, France

2010-09-07 Arrive in Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en Provence, September 5th 2010 It was very dark outside. I looked around the campus one more time thinking how many things I will miss when I’m in France. Neysa was there with me; she assured that our trip will be great. Chelsea and her mom came to pick us up by the post office. So we left McMinnville at 4:30 a.m. on Friday 3rd.

I had my American host Mom helped me check the weight of my luggage carefully before I left the house. Fortunately, I had enough room for some of a friend’s luggage so she didn’t have to pay the extra fee. We met Kayla at the airport. There came the four of us entering our new adventure. 

The first flight wasn’t bad except one of us left an iPod on the airplane. We ran all the way across the New Jersey Airport to look for it but it wasn’t there anymore. "Tant pis"I guess the iPod didn’t want to leave the U.S. then. Anyway, we got some cinnamon sugar pretzels at the sample girl on the way back. When you are hungry and tired, anything which doesn’t cost money tastes good. We came back just in time for the next flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

*** Never put your belongings in the bag in front of your seat even though you think that you won’t forget it.

Here we are on the airplane to Munich. I thought I was having trouble hearing until Chelsea told me I was listening in Germany. Then, I tried to impressed her by translating some of the Chinese conversation in the movie we watched. After the second movie, we were all asleep. Suddenly, I woke up hearing that we would arrive in ten minutes. So I woke Chelsea up, “Còn mi phút na là 'n ni r"i.” She said, “say it again Mai, I promise I will understand what you said this time.” I repeated,“Còn mi phút na là 'n ni r"i. OMG, sorry, I don’t know why I was speaking Vietnamese to you.” It was hysterical.

*** Languages are amazing; they can be used to communicate, to represents culture, as well as to create humor.

While waiting at Luftansa Airport, we met Nathan, one of the two male students who were coming to our school with us this semester. We found the internet, free drinks and a guy. How awesome!

My host Mom is Christian Cioffi. A woman at the airport told me that I was lucky because she was the best. She is retired now, and has hosted 14 students before I came. We live in a lovely apartment out of town with Mami, my host grandma. She even brought me some roses. I will devote another time to talk about the house later as I only had about an hour there before we had out for the Salon des Sport in the afternoon. I had no idea what it was, but I said yes when my host Mom asked me if I want to go.

It was very sunny at 30 Celsius and it took us an hour to find the right bus stop but we finally got there. So, it was a special sport fair where all the sport clubs and companies present the sport activities they have around here. I watched a tango dance, some martial arts, and some people with parachutes flying down from the sky. It was surely kind of special.

After that, Christine, my host mom, took me for a tour in the center of the city, starting with my cute little school which is across from an engineering university where all the smart French guys are studying. We walked though all the small shopping streets marked with many pretty fountains. And we had "crêpes" with some "cidre" downtown for dinner.

*** "Cidre" is different from cider in America; it has alcohol. That I didn’t know until my third drinks. Way to go, Mai! Got drunk on my first day in France! I remember I was so tired that I didn’t bother to climb under the blanket to sleep.

Sixteen hours of sleep. my host Mom knocked and came in to my room, and I sat up saying “Good morning” with a bright big smile. I heard she said something in French and got so embarrassed. Not again. I spoke Vietnamese to an American girl and English to a French woman. My host mom said Elodie, my dear friend in Germany, gave me two calls when I was sleeping. It was cool but I had no way to contact her again since my host mom said there was no internet in the house, and I had no international phone card. I thought I was going to die when I found out about the unavailable internet access at home. Think about the bright side: I can finally stay away from Facebook.

I need to get out of here. So we went out to down town again because there was another important event in the city. It was the 20th anniversary of the traditional candy factory at "la Place des Quartes Dauphines. We got some free samples. After seeing my host mom taking my picture with the candy, the journalist turned around and asked me to model for him as I was biting the candy gently and smiling happily at the same time. My host mom made sure he knew that I had just come from the U.S. (We’ll see if I am in the newspaper later on.) The journalist was lucky to find me anyway. Nobody else bothered to take a picture with a piece of candy at all. 

After that I met Andréa Ferréo, a famous actress who lives in Aix. I had no idea who she was but my host mom said she is super famous. So my host mom helped me to get a picture with her and asked for her autograph on a piece of paper which has the lyrics of a song in Provence’s native language.

We took a walk in the center of the city again. The antique fair was going on. My host Mom said it was also an occasional event of the city. Somehow I came at the right time when there were all kinds of things going on and instead of sleeping and relaxing, I got to see all of them. How cool is that?

We came back for dinner. I had a very tasty piece of chicken with potatoes, salad, lots of cheese and bread. We had something flavorful: the queen of plums and red plums for dessert. Then I had something that looks like tea but not tea with a square of sugar while putting my clothes in the closet. I watched a French movie with my host family and called it bedtime in 3 hours as I was supposed to get up by 7 tomorrow for school because I live far away.

So my arrival was incredible. I was welcomed by my host family, the mayor of the city, a famous actress. I got kisses all over my face. I tasted real French food and wine. I walked all over the city… bla bla bla. This is not heaven, just a place where 48% of French people want to live the most. Mai Doan

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