Friday, February 22, 2013

Marseille and my week


Even though I only spent a few hours in Marseille I'm excited to go back. When I was there last weekend I saw the markets, the port and the fish market. I would really love to go back and see the fort and Notre Dame - Marseille, which is up on a hill overlooking the city.

 Frenchmen playing Boule in Jordan Park in Aix

 My elephant friend in Marseille
 The fish market. Some lobster from Marseille! Each fishermen was lined up on one side of the port with his fresh catch right off the boat. They were cleaning and cutting the heads off the live fish as they sold them
 Sailboats in the harbor of Marseille

The fort from the opposite side of the harbor

Today, my french class and I went to Aix's library called Cité du Livre. We saw some beautiful books from medieval ages and newer. We also got to see the original declaration that was posted in Aix when the treaty with the United States was made during World War II. The library has many different genres of knowledge. There is a video library and an art library as well within the same building. The building itself is an old train station as you can see from the architecture that has been adapted to function as a library.

Another cultural adventure happened today. The fridge stopped working and so Arlette called up her neighbor to come look at it. Apparently, electricians and plumbers are very hard to come by in France because none of the young people what to take up those professions. So this little old french guy comes over and pulls the fridge out of the wall and starts trying to plug it into every plug he can find. As far as I could tell, the fridge worked in the oulets on one wall but not the wall it needed to work on yet the microwave was working on all the walls. So no one know what's going on. Watching my host family handle a petit crises was such an interesting experience for me.

In my creative writing class on Monday, we went to Vendôme park to write and observe. It used to be the home of the Duke of Vendôme's mistresses in 1665 but now it has been turned into a museum and public area.

Shout out to Tess! I can't wait to go to Florence in two days!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013



I know I haven't written in over a week so you all must be dying. Last weekend my friend Mike from UNH came to visit me in Aix and Marseille. He is studying abroad is Barcelona and wanted to see a bit of France. We spent all of Saturday walking around Aix and eating French pastries. My favorite is Mille Feuilles, which means 1,000 leaves. I wrote a whole paper on it for creative writing because I was so moved (below)

I am beginning to realize that Aix is a bigger city than it feels. It is very safe but I didn't realize 100,000 people lived here. I've really only seen the downtown area of it because I live so close to the school. It was nice to get out and go to the parks or just sit and eat a crepe on a street I had never been before.

My new favorite TV show is Les Ch'tis à Las Vegas. Just hysterical. It's just like Jersey Shore except with French people in Las Vegas. Gotta love terrible TV. I have no idea what they are saying most of the time but I can usually just guess based on content.

One of my favorite things to do is eat out at a restaurant (or just eat). I love trying a new dish or dessert. I had duck yesterday for lunch and it really did taste like chicken. Just juicier so you probably wouldn't like it so much if you're a-strictly-white-meat kinda person. My American friends and I like to have dinner together occationally but usually there is a little problem with our check. In europe, you don't ask for separate checks so we have to work out the payment together. Somehow we have always end up getting what we think is the wrong change. I don't know if it's because we are obviously American or we just don't know how to count (very possible). It has been a petite problem.

More on Marseille when I get the pictures!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Everyday Life


NERD ALERT. I'm going to talk about my classes so if you're not interested or don't want to hear me gush about how great all my books are then feel free to stop reading.

I am taking four classes, two in English and two in French. My favorite would have to be French Civilization, even though the entire class is in French, I really enjoying straining and pushing my focus every second for that hour and a half. Last week we briefly cover some of France's history and culture by identifying clichés. Now we're digging into French politics, which I must admit I wasn't all that excited for but I realized it's the debating and lying part of politics that bothers me, not so much the systems themselves. Anyway, France has somewhere around 12 political parties with all different viewpoints and shades of gray. Their left party (gauche) is similar to the American Republican party in that they believe in big government and not a lot of change or taxes. BUT the left party is ALSO all for social progression and reform like gay marriage for example. They are also called the "socialist" party. Confusing. The opposite side (reminder: nothing is completely opposite), or the right party, is for the states and adores taxes but with social issues they are against change. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is abortion. Everyone is pretty much okay with it. STRANGE since that's a hot topic in the states. Once you understand the parties, during the election, France has somewhere between 10 and 22 candidates. Yup. Enough on that topic.

So the next class I have in French is Advanced French II. It's terrible. Right now we are reading articles in magazines or newspapers and then the whole class discusses and debates about them. This is all fine and dandy if your French speaking ability is great -- mine's not. The last time I took French was a year in and a half ago. It was a very hard class so yes, I know a lot and I've been taking French for a long time but because it's been so long I don't remember how to speak. The only thing I've got going for me is that my vocab is better than most people but I can't put a sentence together correctly...

Classic Literature is just what it sounds like. We read books like The Odyssey and Herman Melville's Billy Budd etc. and I have a crazy wack professor who wears glasses with one circle lens and one square. He spends most of the class going off on different stories about religion or philosophy. ZZzz

And lastly Creative Writing. It's not my forte. I like the professor a lot and so far, she has really explained writing in a way that I can understand what I need to do. That whole "doing" thing isn't quite polished yet. We write for twenty minutes and each class and we are starting to edit some of the drafts that we have created. Maybe by the end of the class I'll produce something that is worthy of sharing..yeah probably not! On the bright side, we have talked a lot about France itself and the people here in Aix and we're going to the THEATER to see The Wizard of Oz in March. That's how the professor won my heart.

Here are some pictures of my everyday life in Aix.

Happy 93rd Birthday to my Nana!

This is my room:
                                                                                        The stuffed tomato dinner we had last night:
 My cute little terrace attached to my room

 Brick design in the middle of the road close to my school leading into downtown

The doorway on the far right leads to a staircase and to Salle Lynch where I have Creative Writing on Mondays and Wednesdays.

 The library from the doorway

 Another building where I have Classical Literature on Tuesdays and Thurdays (below)

 ^ This is the lounge/lobby of some of the professors offices

 The Institute for American Universities (right) This is the main building of the university on la rue de Bon Pasteur. I have both of my French classes in the main hall.

^ The French Political Science University next door to the American University.

 A small road (chemin) on my way home from school (left).

The Cathédrale Sainte Sauveur across from my university (right).

The avenue where I live ^

Saturday, February 9, 2013



Already finished with my second week in France. This week I manged to book all of my trips for this semester and what a chunk out of my wallet that was! At least I have everything booked and ready to roll. For winter break I'll be in Florence and Barcelona then later in the semester Barcelona again, Seville and possibly Rome in the spring. I've got a lot to look forward to right now but there is still so much I wish to see.

Monaco was a dreamland. It reminded me of the land of Duloc from Shrek. The whole city was pristine and beautiful. The streets were clean and well kept, the buildings were made of stone or freshly painted peachy pink or cream. The city sprawled up along the mountain side and sloped down to the turquoise sea. Just look at the pictures, it was a beautiful day and 55 degrees F IN FEBRUARY!

Most of the money coming into Monaco comes from the casino Monte Carlo. We went into the casino and some people in the group gambled a little but not I. There were very few people in the Monte Carlo on this Saturday night because all the high rollers have private rooms, naturally.

Of course everything was so magnificent because Monaco is a principality with the most millionaires and billionaires in the entire world. It is technically not part of France so it has its own laws and such. It is a tax heaven (meaning no income tax) ruled over by Prince Albert II Grimaldi son of Rainier III and Grace Kelly. The Grimaldi family has ruled over Monaco since about the 1300's.

I can't wait to come back to Monaco in the spring and check out the beaches all the boats

 The shores of Monaco

The science museum

 One of the churchs

The royal palace at the rock

The left side of the palace

 The royal crest

 The Mediterranean

The village of Eze on our way home