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Journals from AUCP, Marseille, France

2011-11-20 I found my niche!

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One of the colorful streets of Cours Julien

 Hello again, readers!


So, I have spent the larger part of November traveling. I've added Morocco, London, and Paris to the list of places I have left footprints. The two weeks of vacation time our program allows us has been an interesting disconnect between the first part of the semester and this final last end. 

Speaking French is now easy and natural. I still forget the right word or mispronounce something every once in a while, but I am so much more comfortable with the language than in September. I have even started using my Arabic language skills here because there is such a large North African immigrant population in Marseille. I get to practice Arabic whenever I go to the boulangerie (bakery) down the street where an Algerian and a Moroccan work. It's a really cool way to feel 'at home' in Marseille, by interacting with the people in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

So I have indeed found my niche here! Just a ten-minute walk to the North and I arrive at Cours Julien. This is my favorite neighborhood in Marseille. There are dozens of world restaurants, bars, tattoo parlors, galleries, folksy clothing and jewelry stores. There is also an organic produce market and often there will be live art preformed in the square. The area is very hip and alive with the vibrations of colorful people. The graffiti takes over the walls, providing a background for everything and the sidewalks glimmer as the sun reflects off broken beer bottles. I like this area because it is not crowded with people looking at maps (tourists) and it is full of people with interesting stories. I've heard a few, and I've learned most of what I know of Marseille in this neighborhood. I work at a bike shop in the area and my friends there have helped show me around as well. I spend a lot of my time in Cours Julien.

I've gotten quite homesick since I have been here. Now that there is only one month before I go home, I am trying to seize the days I have remaining here and profit from this experience! It has been difficult to develop my own life in France that is largely disconnected from my life in the States. What I've learned is that the connecting factor is ME. I have gained so much life experience and I have learned so much about myself. 

 

Keep on keepin' on,

Jennifer Derke

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