I left America exactly a week ago but still don’t feel like I am in another country let alone France. I am currently residing in Aix en Provence, France. It is located in the Southern region. The main area of town is very small, they say you can walk from one side to the other in 12 minutes (just like Ole Miss campus!). The city is full of students, which so far has made it a very fun area to hang out in. I am attending IAU College. My apartment is about 3 minutes walking from school so it is very convenient. It is on the top floor of my building. Inside you can find three tiny European twin beds for my roommates and I, a kitchen, and a small space with a table. We have an amazing view over the town and distant mountains. Every morning there is a flower and farmers market right outside where we have gotten fresh foods to cook and picked up the most amazing sandwich I have had here yet.
Most of my first week has been spent in orientations and getting settled into my apartment. There have been many “first” experiences here already that have shown me just how different life is in this small new town I can call my home. From discovering that toilet paper is pink and food is always accompanied with cheese I have loved every new discovery.
My most unusual discovery thus far was during a tour of Aix given by an Art professor at our school. During the tour we came across a fenced area where archeologists are doing a dig! I saw a full exposed skeleton no more than 10 feet from where I was standing. They told us they were digging at the site of a former church cemetery. The church they were referring to is still standing, but the cemetery area had been planted over. It blew my mind that this dig was taking place in the middle of town and people were just passing by not even looking. I think that was the only moment I really felt like I wasn’t in America, because I just could not imagine that even happening at home so nonchalant.
Something unique to the area I am living in is getting to experiencing the mistral winds. This is the wind they have here that comes from the north and is very strong. The third day here it came out of nowhere and almost blew us over walking down the street it was absolutely hysterical. You probably had to be there to understand and appreciate the joy I found in that one.
My most successful moment so far has to be ordering food alone in French! The language barrier has been a bit of an issue here, but I was alone one day and it was either starve to death or take a stab at ordering. I went into a place called Paul, which is a European chain bakery but still amazing, and got a sandwich. It may have had ham and butter instead of ham and cheese like I thought I was ordering, but it was still amazing.
By far my most savory experience has been finding raclette in the market outside of my apartment. Raclette is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that is usually in the form of a large cheese wheel cut in half. It is then heated up and scrapped onto food. In the market we found a man serving it on a baguette with cured ham. It was absolutely amazing and only 5.5 euros! My first days here been nothing short of amazing and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead.