I don’t even know where to begin. That’s how incredible this weekend has been, Perhaps I’ll start with the sentiment I felt the entire weekend. I kept saying, “I feel like this is a dream, I keep feeling the need to pinch myself to make sure it is real!”
Life is a series of events, decisions, and choices. Some occur daily and have little effect on our overall life. While others have the chance to completely change our future! Kristoffer kept referring to it as a series of coincidence that brought us all together and made us become friends. I like to think of it as a mix of coincidences and choices that we each made that alined to bring us all together!
For each of us individually it began with our choice to study abroad and then to do so at IAU in Aix-en-Provence! Now there were many different factors and choices that lead us each to the point of studying abroad and then choosing to do so in Aix but each of our decisions to do so set off the chain of events that began notre histoire (our history).
Deciding to study abroad was a huge deal for me. I am so thankful to all the people in my life who supported my decision to study abroad and encouraged me to go for it even when I was scared of going off on my own. As the weeks before I left began to disappear the fear mounted. Everyone asked, “Are you so excited to be going to France,” I of course replied, “yes” but I was thinking ‘No! I’m terrified!’ I was nervous about leaving my family for so long to go live in a foreign country who’s language I barely knew. But it was too late I was going…and thank goodness I went!
There were certainly ups and downs throughout my stay in France but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world! I learned so much about myself, France, and the world we live in! The best part of study abroad which I never expected was the amazing friends I made and have kept! I met Caya my first week in Aix during the early start program. After a week together we were as thick as thieves and did everything together! Then in the middle of the semester our group grew thanks to an unexpected trip to Paris! Post-Paris Aix consisted of Friday night dinners and lots of fun with Kristoffer and Scott! It was a group brought together by a mix of chance and choice and who will continue to meet up and celebrate the amazing trip that began our friendship! Je vous aime! Aix-O-Aix-O Toujour!
If you are taking the time to read this blog I am assuming that you already know about my obsession with Ultimate!
One of the worst parts of graduating colleges was leaving the Gunx! After 4 years of non-stop Ultimate 3 of which I co-captained the team, I was suddenly Ultimate-less! It was a sand thing. Fortunately, Rockland Ultimate saved my life!
Rockland Ultimate is a great group of Ultimate lovers who get together for pickup on Wednesdays and Sundays. I was ecstatic after my first game playing with them and discovering that not only are they cool people but that they are great and serious pickup players who love to have fun! Every time I play with them I get a great workout and play some fun but competitive Ultimate!
Now I was just happy to have some competitive Ultimate to look forward to twice a week. Never could I have imagined finding Ultimate, new friends, and then getting to play more Ultimate with these new friends!
Now I am playing Wudi fall league and carpooling with Pat, Jon, and Adam (new Ultimate Friends). Life is good and full of Ultimate again! Thanks Gunx for getting me hooked
Last minute, aka the night before I left for Ireland, Caya convinced me to meet up with her in Venice after Ireland! I was a little freaked out about planning it so last minute but I couldn’t be happier that we did!
Venice (English), Venise (French), Venezia (Italian), it the city of water, I have no idea why that was not on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe! Thank goodness it was on the top of Caya’s because I love water and to be in a city in which you took public boats instead of public buses was amazing!
Not only is Venice a gorgeous city but it is in Italy! Thus it has amazing food! Every meal Caya and I split a pizza and pasta dish! It was so good. I wish I could have eaten everything! Then of course there is the amazing Gelato too! I was is heaven in Venice.We stayed in a nice host, had great weather, delicous food, and good company. We spent our two days wondering Venice. We saw most of the tourist sights but also got to discover part of Venice I am sure most visitor miss out on. Caya and I make a great travel team
This photo is of Marco Square, one of the most popular sights. However, they have a slight problem with the tides. Especially with the full moon. This was their solution. It worked pretty well. Wish I had brought my rain boots. Although the tide is a bit troublesome it provides an amazing canvas for some great photos!
After Mom’s stay in Aix we took the TGV up to Paris to meet Dad! Upon arrival at the hotel we had a great spread of cheese, wine, and olive we had bought in Aix-en-Provence. Then we had a nice French dinner. It was wonderful to be with my parents again he he.
Our first full day in Paris we toured all of the typical sites. First Sacré Coeur, then Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel tower, and Notre Dame de Paris! In the middle we stopped for some amazing French Onion Soup! Just what we needed to warm us up from the cold and rainy weather. Then we returned to the hotel to change for a fancy French dinner with Stéphane and his wife.
We had a traditional 4 hour French dinner at Le Grand Colbert, a really nice French restaurant. We started off with drinks, then appetizers. I tried my first escargot which was much better than I expected. I refused to try the frogs though. For my entree I had a really good stake au poivre, and a delicious chocolate mousse for dessert. It was a fantastic dinner and great to finally meet Stéphane who has helped us so much in France.
We spent our last day together in Versailles! I absolutely adore Versailles and could go a million times…to the gardens that is. We spent SIX hours wandering the gardens and still did not get to see all of them! It was a beautiful day but to help us access more of the grounds we rented bikes. They reminded me a bit of the wizard of oz but they were a lot of fun. They allowed us to make it all the way down to Marie Antoinette’s hamlet which was beautiful. It was a perfect way to end our trip! I wish it could have been longer but I am so glad my parents were able to come visit! Only a month and a half left till I come home!
This week Mom came to visit me in Aix! I got to show her around all my favorite places and then we went shopping! She loved the markets as much if not more than I did. We got some really cute shoes and some gifts for family and friends.
When we got to the food market she was besides herself. Too bad we did not have access to a kitchen because Mom would have gone to town. She so wanted to cook with all the fresh vegetables they sell! Instead we had dinner with my host parent!
Ha ha that was an experience. Great food and a lot of laughs! I played translator all night which was interesting because my host parents love to talk and would spit out things faster than I could translate them to my Mom. Although hectic I would call it a success and would happily do it again
One day while skyping with Chelsea she demanded that I take pictures and write about my everyday life in Aix and not just the fun stuff. So here it goes:
I start every morning with a bowl of cereal, a banana, and a glass of orange juice. Then I head out with my backpack and walk the 10 minutes downhill to school. If I am not running late to class (which is usually the case Tuesday and Thursday when I have an 8:30am class) I occasionally stop by Fournée de Joseph for un pain au chocolate!
Most days I have weird 1 or 2 hour gaps between classes. During this time I usually go to La Pavillion Vendôme to eat my lunch (either a sandwich that I bought or made, sometimes a quiche, occasionally really good pasta from Mezzo Pasta, or a baguette and cheese) and do homework. If the weather is bad I’ll do work in the library or the computer lab.
After class I go to my locker, pick the books I need to bring home, and head out. Occasionally I meet up with Caya for a bit to hangout, go back to la Pavillion Vendôme or Place de la marie (the square town hall is in), or head home.
At home I spend most of my time in my room, doing home work, skyping with family and friends, writing this blog, reading, or watching a movie. It depends on the day, my mood, and the amount of work I have that week.
At 7:30 we eat dinner. Fortunately my host mother is an amazing cook. I have had theopportunity to try many traditional French meals, all of which I love! My favorite dishes she has made are Beef Bourguignonne and tomates provencales. Both are delicious. Every night she comes to my door and says, “Ce prêt!” It’s ready. We eat in the dinning room in the same seats every night. She usually has the tv on either a game show or the news. I wait until I hear “Bon appétit” before I start eating. After our main course we have salad and then cheese and fruit. Some nights she’ll make a little tart or buy a pastry for dessert but not often. Which is probably a good thing. Some nights we’ll watch a little tv together after dinner and then she’ll let me be for the evening.
I have to admit it is a pretty good life. I am so fortunately to be living in Aix-en-Provence! Just being here is amazing but on top of that I have an amazing host mom and have found some great friends and opportunities. I do not think I could have asked for a better experience abroad…except maybe having all of you here too. <3
Today I ran into Caya after class, just as I was finishing lunch and deciding what to do during my hour and a half break before French. She said, “Let’s go back to book and bar! I want to see if the have J.K. Rowling’s new book.” I said, “why not?”
We had discovered book and bar for the first time last Friday and literally spend 4 hours there, reading, doing homework, and trying their deserts! Book & Bar is one of the few English book stores in Aix, of course the works speak French and English. Not only are all the books in English but it has an awesome atmosphere for hanging out, doing homework, having a quick snack, and reading!
I have rediscovered my love of reading in Aix! I always have a book on me. I am already halfway through my 4th book. It has been a long time since I’ve read this much and I love it! Feel free to send me any suggestions of books I should read! Caya is a book fanatic making Book & Bar a great place for the two of us. I foresee many more visits in our future. Especially once it start to get too cold for La Pavillion Vendôme!
As part of my Comparative Education course I am required to teach English to French student (that’s annoying…NOT!). I started last Wednesday and I absolutely love it! I am more of a teaching assistant so I just help out where needed and get to play with the kids.
The English Bubble is a school/cafe that teaches English. They have classes for all different ages. I get to work with the babies, 3-5 year olds! They are so sweet and I love listening to them speak French. For an hour every Wednesday we sing songs (The itsy bitsy spider, row, row, row your boat and more), make crafts, and play games (they love playing with balls on the parachute)! It is a great way to spend my day off from classes!