So people ask, why France? Do you speak French? And I reply, "hah - none." That sums up my expectations about coming to France, the only thing I was sure of was that it would be a ton of fun and a great experience. What kind of fun and experiences I would have, I had no idea. Oh, and I am taking classes so I guess there will be some education thrown in as well, to graduate and all. The purpose of this blog is to inform you all, my friends and family, of my adventures in Aix en Provence and the rest of Europe (and so I don't have to send out multiple emails and tell everyone the same stories), and as a running journal for myself to remember all the cool stuff. Pictures included.
24-25 January - Thursday/Friday
8 hour flight, Denver to London. Should have slept but watched movies instead. Had a ton of leg room since there wasn't a seat in front of me. Nice. Spent all day in the London airport seeing Brad Pitt's face plastered all over on Chanel ads. Handsome, recognizable guy.
Finally get on the plane to Marseille that night, small plane. Last dude that walks on the plan, none other than Brad Pitt, in the flesh. He sits down right in front of me (no I wasn't in first class, the row behind it)! Me and this French guy that was sitting in the window seat look at each other, nod, and have HOLYCRAPITSBRADPITT on our faces. After the flight he and I got Brad Pitt's autograph (he signed my plane ticket so I will forever know when and where it was, even when I'm old and senile). Super chill guy in person and was reading what appeared to be a movie script or something but I couldn't see what it said. I did spot a landscape picture of camels walking across the desert at sunset or something. After we got his autograph, people around us asked who that was or said that he looked familiar. I laughed.
The French seatmate and the British guy sitting between us was very helpful, they recommended me taking the bus instead of "getting swindled" by taxi drivers. So it only cost me 25ish euros to get to Aix instead of maybe 60-100.
I met my host family that night when I arrived at their villa (super hard to find at night since it's down a long spooky driveway between two large apartment buildings). They are really awesome and nice. The Meyers have 3 kids, 2 at home. Manon (girl, 19) is away studying abroad in Sidney. Charles, 14 and is a cool kid, and Ev, 12. I unpacked a little but went to bed almost right away since I was so tired. I didn't sleep at all in the last 24 hours. I had meant to sleep on the last plane but definitely wasn't going to sleep while Brad Pitt was right in front of me.
26 January - Saturday
Slept in a lot to cure my jetlag. Spent the day unpacking and getting to know the Meyers until it was time to meet the other CEA kids at a café in town. I was dropped off a couple hours early so I had plenty of time to explore and see someone get pushed down and his bag taken. I would have tried to stop the thief but he was past me before I saw the guy on the ground and knew what had happened. There is a huge winter sale going on so the streets were packed. They only have 2 sales a year that is government imposed; they aren't allowed to have normal sales throughout the rest of the year.
The people in the program with me are awesome! We all went out to the bars and clubs that night to check out Aix and celebrate our arrival. The bars here are awesome. Small and crowded but have their charm. Some are traditional pubs but others are hole-in-the-wall places with legit stone cellars in the basement for dancing, music, etc. One club we went to was all in a basement, the doorway led straight downstairs to the cellar(s) where it was divided into different sections. The first had a bar with couches and stuff, down the hall from that was a similar long cellar where a live band was playing, then beyond that was a third cellar that had a live DJ and dancing with a bar at the far end. Super cool.
27 January - Sunday
Slept in, went for a CEA meeting with everyone at 1130 then went for lunch and a tour of the town. Former CEA students named Dylan and Elizabeth led the tour, who are awesome and hilarious. We hung out after until we met at the school for some meet and greet with the rest of the IAU students. Met some professors, faculty, and students. After we met some new friends we all went out to this Australian bar called Wohoos. Really neat place that again has a sweet cellar basement and has a ton of supposedly fun events. After a couple drinks I went back to the house and had dinner with the family, a really good potato and leek soup with bread and cheeses for dessert. Comte and a goat cheese. Super good!