I have finished my first full week of classes at IAU and it has been surprisingly nice to have a routine. It was intimidating at first to walk into a new environment such as this, but it has not been as different as I expected. Class sizes are small and the professors are very personable–just like at Linfield! I was told from previous students that the workload would be small, and although it is not suffocating, there is still a decent amount. What I have found to be really cool about IAU are the staff themselves. They are very diverse and have unique stories of how they ended up where they are today. I have teachers from all over the world, not just France. This is enriching in understanding the cultural diversity that is in Southern France. I have professors from the local city of Marseille and others from outside of Europe such as Iran and Morocco.
On a side note involving school, I would recommend bringing certain school supplies to France if you are as particular as I am. I brought my folders and some pencils but no paper because my professor told me how nice it was here. The quality is great, but it is almost impossible to find lined paper. There is mainly grid paper in France that is longer than standard paper in the U.S. This is because children learn how to write with it and from there they do not switch. The paper is also cheaper in the states. It is not super-inconvenient, but I would have liked someone to tell me that beforehand.
The weekend of September 14th there was a trip associated with IAU to Monaco. You pay for the bus fare, but the rest is provided. We made stops to the palace, Monte Carlo, and a perfumery. There was a good amount of free time at each stop, but I would not do this again just because there are limitations to what can be done and one day is not enough for travel. Although, this is something easy, cheap, and fun if you have a short weekend with a class excursion. Monaco was beautiful and full of color. If you are feeling tight on money but still want to go places, know that IAU sets up fun and cheap trips such as this. (It was only 30 euros!)
The weekend of September 21st, I went on my first excursion with my Prehistoric Art and Archaeology course. At IAU they have educational excursions for courses that you are enrolled in. It was seemingly an inconvenience because of wanting to travel with friends on the weekend, but it was actually beneficial in multiple ways. For this trip specifically, we went to the recreation of la Grotte Lascaux (Lascaux Cave). In this cave there was prehistoric art created more than 400,000 years ago. The art was technical and beautiful. It was fascinating to see these creations and try to understand why humans would go into these dark, dangerous caves to create the art. There is no way of knowing why because there was no written language yet, but the theories were fascinating. This experience was also beneficial because I would not have gone to this cave nor this part of France without this push. My advice would be to take advantage of these FREE trips and take everything you can out of it. We also decided to go as close as we could to the actual cave which ended up having beautiful scenery.