Monday, September 29, 2014

Bonjour y'all!

Three weeks ago today I woke up groggy and overjoyed to a beautiful view of the south of France.  Ever since that early morning (thank you Jet Lag) it has been a whirlwind of adventure! As a junior French Major at Wofford College I have been given the incredible opportunity to travel abroad for a semester in almost any French speaking location of my choosing.  What better place to experience that gift than in Aix-en-Provence, a small but vibrant city in the south of France. Here I am a student at American University Center of Provence, a rigorous French exchange program which exposes students to the French culture, lifestyle and language through intense immersion. Needless to say, its been a busy past few weeks after that initial night of rest. Since my arrival I have had a chance to settle into this amazing location and get adjusted to some of the many layers of culture shock. Now, with three weeks of orientation and class behind me, I am rooted in the routine of learning, speaking, breathing, eating and living French!

As you can imagine, after three weeks in a completely new foreign country there are a lot of stories. They range from quite funny miscommunications and the basic adjustment skills we've studied in class, to outlandish adventure defined by an obscene number of photos and two very, very sore legs. Since to record every moment of my three weeks would be quite exhaustive and extensive, putting the length of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables to shame, I will let Victor Hugo keep his record (for now) and focus primarily on this past weekend and my trip to Les Calanques.  Don't worry, future blog posts will be filled with many, many details of about every other facet of life here in Aix!

Photo by Helen Jiang 
So, Les Calanques are absolutely AMAZING! As I began the hike through the park and towards the beautiful sea  the only thought running through my mind was "Oh mon Dieu! La grandeur, c'est magnifique! C'est incroyable!" (translation: Oh my goodness! The grandeur, its magnificent! Its incredible!)  Since I have yet to see the Grand Canyon I have never had a chance to experience such a vast landscape of cliffs and stone. Still, the image of the Grand Canyon fails to compare to this scene since this collection of cliffs borders the Mediterranean and is filled with a diverse collection of plant life and dominated by a strong breeze filled with the mist of the salty sea.  

Photo by Helen Jiang
Our group approached Les Calanques  and prepared for our descent into the cliffs towards the beautiful sea below. When we finally arrived at the Mediterranean we set up our picnic on the rocks and quickly unpacked all the french bread, cheese, chocolate and refreshing salads, filling our hungry stomachs with some simple french favorites. After our lovely picnic our crew headed into the lush blue water for a refreshing cool off.  It sure was cool, at least for a Carolina Girl, but my body quickly adjusted as we waded out deeper into the sea. The rest of the day consisted of climbing the cliffs which protruded from the water and basking in the warm sun of September. 

Photo by Helen Jiang
By the end of the day our feet were aching, our arms were sore and our skin a little burned, but our hearts and minds were overjoyed with the beauty of our day and the incredible opportunity we were all given to explore this unique part of France.  While the weekend has since ended (though the soreness still persists along with the great memories) I am so looking forward to many more adventures ahead.  In the meantime I've got some pretty interesting classes to fill my time!  Speaking of which... they still give Homework here in France, who'd have thought that!?  My studies are calling for now, but I cannot wait to get back to the blog and put up a few more updates on the daily lifestyle here in Aix, the classes I am taking, the French companions who are now a part of my life and so much more!  À Bientôt!  (So long for now! Until later...) 

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