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Journals from AUCP, Marseille, France

2011-11-30 Conquering mountains

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Overlooking the town of Puyloubier from atop Mt. Sainte Victoire

 Bonjour encore mes amis,

Climbing 3,300 feet of one of Provence's tallest mountains and seeing the beauty that Paul Cézanne painted 130 years ago is not something I planned on doing. But I did it anyways. I hiked up Mt. Sainte Victoire with some friends from the Aix-in-Provence program (which is linked with the Marseille program) last weekend and I had a blast. It is so nice to carry on my hobbies in France: Whenever I get a chance to admire nature or conquer mountains, I feel comfortable and at peace. Perhaps this is because nature doesn't exclude me linguistically or perhaps because I have grown up enjoying the outdoors, but it is always a rejuvenating experience to reunite with nature like I often do back home.

One of the major travel tips I have learned here is to "Never say no" (within safety and reason, of course). I had planned on spending the day sightseeing in Aix, and a friend invited me to go hiking instead. I was not at all prepared, but we made sandwiches and I borrowed shoes and off we went! And we had a great time. In the States, I feel we sometimes say 'no' to opportunities that come along because we feel we could just go do them another time. Here, I know I don't have another chance. It's an important lesson, to just go for it and to go with the flow. I am learning this lesson with pleasure and I am having a great time.

I am starting to think about my "re-entry." What will surprise me in America when I get back? I have adapted to the formal and bureaucratic society of a very dignified people. The combination of these habits I've formed here and how I live in the States will prove to be an interesting synthesis. Will I keep my fork in my left hand? Or will I go back to dipping fries in milkshakes?!

I'm so happy I am studying abroad. At first I felt enormously overwhelmed, but now I feel so proud to truly be a global citizen. I am looking forward to what is to come in these last three weeks.

Until next time,

Jennifer Derke

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