Tuesday, January 29, 2013

28-29 January

28 January - Monday
  Orientation for the school, nothing too exciting. There will be some cool trips though this semester so that will be awesome. They really have a lot of stuff for us to do besides classes, like ski trips to the French Alps that are 2 hours away or dance lessons, cooking, etc. My friends and I went to the Wohoo bar to see the weekly beer pong tournament they have. The winners get open bar but I think by that point you aren't in much need of one. It was 10 euros each person to enter so as long as you win a couple games you get your monies worth of cheap beer. I didn't play but cheered my friends on and hung out and had a good time. There were tons of people in a small place around 3 long tables. The bartender was a pretty funny young French guy that seemed to love dubstep so he would have little seizures every now and then that was his way of dancing to the music. Pretty entertaining. After that we hung out really late, even though some of us had 8:30 classes in the morning.

29 January - Tuesday
  Having class at 8:30 sucks, just as much if not more than it does back in the States, especially if it's French 101 and 2 hours long. It's fun learning French but pretty difficult. My house family is teaching me a French tongue twister that has something to do about a grey cat. It's a lot of growling in the back of your throat that I haven't been able to achieve yet. Pretty laughable, for them. I switched out of my second class of the day to one that is tomorrow that is about the French Occupation during WWII that is supposed to be cool and that travels places occasionally and I have a few friends in it so that should be fun. My Political Science class seems like it will be really sweet, it focuses on the EU and the professor sounds really cool. I napped in between classes for the first time in forever, I was just dead tired. On my way to class I grabbed a steak fritas so my stomach didn't eat a hole in itself. When I arrived to class my professor said that France has a very strange idea of sandwiches but that the steak fritas is one of their better interpretation. It's pretty much steak on a long hoagie type bun with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, French fries, and topped with sauce (in this case ketchup). It was cheap and very good.

  For dinner, we had an awesome Asian salmon dish with white rice and cooked vegetables. My host mom made an apple cake which was delicious and I definitely want to try to bake one sometime. Then to top it off I had my first crepe in France, topped with Nutella. Everything was so good, my host mom is a great cook. Sometime I would like to cook with her so I can learn everything to make back in the States! We practiced some more French words and the tongue twister thing and made some progress. I can make the gchrrr sound a little but it dries my throat out super fast and then I lost it. Oh well. I learned how the dogs name is spelled too. Ulmine. Another good day but going to finish it off with friends at the Wohoo bar for flag night where you paint your country's flag on your face to get a free drink or whatever, should be fun!

Monday, January 28, 2013

24-28 January 2013

  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 cafĂ© 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!