I have now been in the lovely city of Aix-en-Provence in the south of France for an entire week! I have gotten so absorbed into French culture that it seems much longer since I was in the United States, though. I am part of a full-immersion program at the American University Center of Provence, so since my arrival I have been hearing, speaking, reading, and writing in French almost all the time. I was definitely a little daunted by the prospect of not being able to communicate in English, but for the most part it has not been as difficult as I had imagined, and in fact rather rewarding. We had an entire, exhausting week of orientation learning the more practical aspects of living and speaking in Aix. Every evening I came home exhausted and hungry and only wanting to crawl in bed and sleep, but instead I would help my host mom with dinner and watch some French TV and try to adjust to a new life. Although I miss my friends and family, I was only truly homesick for one afternoon after getting frustrated trying to find school supplies, but once I got home and had dinner I was back to loving life in Aix.
I am excited to see where this semester takes me both in terms of physical places but also regarding my personality and how I will change internally. I know I will face many more difficulties and challenges living in Aix but I do my best to find the lesson in each issue and use it to build my character as an Aixoise (person who lives in Aix), and a human being.
Life in Aix is very different from the United States, but still relatively easy to adjust to. My first day walking around the city with my host mom I was amazed by the huge number of people walking around EVERYWHERE! In the parks, in the streets, in the markets, there were people everywhere. But that is just normal life in Aix. People walk everywhere, to visit their friends, buy their food, have a meal, everything. It helps that Aix is a reasonably small city so it’s easy to walk around everywhere, but I think it is more because people in Aix focus on life in the present and enjoy the journey to buy cheese at one store and then bread at another and fruits at the market, etc., while in America people are more focused on the future and desire getting things done quickly. It is a difficult concept to comprehend in order to explain reasonably well, but it’s definitely a way of life I could get used to!
Classes officially start tomorrow so I must go prepare, but I will provide an update soon on my first few weeks of classes and further adventures!