Today marks my first full day in Aix and it has been a full day indeed. I slept in a little (and was still a little tired) but had a lovely breakfast of coffee, orange juice, and croissant, watched some french news and then my host mom and I went out for the day. Her name is Catherine but goes by Cathy and is very kind. She has two children, a son a year older than me named Olivier and a daughter also in college named Natalie. Olivier is leaving tomorrow morning to finish his last year at school and Natalie is already away on her own study abroad! Cathy has a nice apartment and has given me my own room, which is very nice of her. It is right on a main bus route just outside downtown but we’ve walked into the city twice and it takes only about 20 minutes. There is a lovely park pretty close by which I will hopefully go running through in the next few days. She seems to like me and I sure hope so, I’ve been trying to be helpful. I helped with the dishes after dinner and breakfast, and forced her to let me pay her back for my 1 euro bus pass, and for lunch which she wanted to buy for me, hopefully little by little we will become close.
Today we took the bus downtown and explored the city. We got lunch at a boulangeire and ate it in a little garden called the Pavillon de Vendome that housed a small museum of paintings and drawings from the 1700s. While we were walking around Cathy pointed out all the best café’s, pizza, boulangeries, and chocolate shops (I’ve made note of her favorites for surprises). We also strolled through a few markets. The markets are Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday (I think), and today being the first Sunday of the month there was also a book market (usually there is just fresh produce and flowers and some gift-y things). We stumbled on the museum of Natural History which also has free admission the first Sunday of the month so we wandered through it briefly and saw some replicas of dinosaurs and animals. We had plans to see a movie with one of Cathy’s friends so we stopped at a café to spend some time before it started. And this was my first true French café with all the chairs facing the street to people watch, and ordered “un café” and enjoyed my first true little tiny cup of French espresso. I never understood the little cups before, I figured I would just down them, but it’s actually hard to drink them fast, and I didn’t want to seem American, so I sipped on it and enjoyed it. And hopefully will have many, many more. At 1,90 euro they are much cheaper than American coffee (thankfully for my bank account).
We went to see the movie “à perdre la raison”, which was a winning film at the Cannes film festival. It was all in French, and I didn’t understand most of it, but I understood the gist enough to know it was very sad and tragic. I also understood enough to be able to talk about it with Cathy as we walked home, which was a nice way for us to bond. I would provide a synopsis of the film from what I understood, but it’s sad enough that I don’t want to ruin your day, so I won’t, but it was an excellently made film if you are interested in watching.
I am really enjoying being in France so far. I can understand a lot more than I thought which has been nice; I’m starting to think in French too (which makes writing in English a little awkward). Tomorrow is the first day of orientation, which means a 2.5 hour French placement test…I’m hoping that they don’t kick me out if I test into the “incoherent” section. I haven’t had to focus on anything that long since…probably an AP test senior year of high school…
That is all for now, hopefully I will post some pictures when I have more time!