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Journals from AUCP, Marseille, France

2011-11-30 Conquering mountains

 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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