Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monaco, Monte Carlo, & Marseille


This weekend was filled with lots of fun and excitement. I decided to sign up for a trip to Monaco which was awesome and then decided to have a relaxing day at the beach in Marseille

Saturday:  I wasn't sure if I was signed up or not for the trip to Monaco because it was all online. I received an email saying that the excursion was full but then I received another saying that more spots opened up so I responded quickly but because I did not get a response from the last email I was unsure on whether or not I was on the list. Luckily the meeting place was only about 10 minutes walking form my house and there was one of person from my class going on the trip. The bus took about 2 1/2 hours so most of us slept on the way there. Once we got there we were able to walk around and enjoyed the wonderful place that is Monaco. Shortly after we got there, they had the changing of the guard. This brought back many memories from last time I had the pleasure of visiting Monaco, which was 5 years ago. It was great to walk around and enjoy the sights. The one thing I did not have the chance to do last time I was in Monaco was the oceanographic museum so I made sure I had the chance to check it out. I was really glad I did. There were so many cool things. They had an aquarium on the bottom floor which was really neat. There was so many different kinds of ocean life to see. On the two floors above the aquarium, there was a museum which was also filled with lots of interesting things and cool facts. After I finished with the museum I still had time to spare before the group left for Monte Carlo. Since Monaco is so small, I decided to walk around a little more and enjoy everything around me.
Monaco & Changing of the guard
Oceanographic Museum
We then left for Monte Carlo. It was great to explore and walk around. When we got there, me and another friend from class stopped at the casino to check it out. You have to get a ticket to go inside (which is pretty cheap) but once we got inside we saw that the line was ridiculously long and that we wouldn't really have anytime to get inside and enjoy it. So, we just peeked our heads inside the main doors to see the inside a little bit. We weren't able to see much but it seemed pretty cool. After that we walked to the beach and enjoyed a little relaxation and some sun. The water was a little cold but it was worth it.  Before leaving I made sure to pick up some souvenirs and even a few post cards. On the way back since I was not sleeping, I enjoyed seeing all the different cities we passed through on the way back and especially the mountains. I cannot get over the view of the mountains here, it is amazing. Once we were back, I grabbed a small dinner and enjoyed the night with a few friends in Aix.

Sunday: Beach day in Marseille. I slept in and enjoyed a relaxed Sunday morning. I then decided to go to the beach with Nikki. I had not ben to the beach yet since I got here so I was really excited. We met up and we took a bus to Marseille and then took the tram where we stopped at view port where the beach was located. Before taking the tram we stopped to get some food. There happened to be a McDonalds in the station, which we were originally going to pass but Nikki had mentioned someone told that she has to try it in France so we figured what the heck. Nikki is not a fast food eater so it is still kind of new to her. I asked her how her burger was and she said it was good but the problem was that she has never had McDonalds in the states so she has nothing to compare it to. I was shocked to hear this because it is everywhere in the U.S. that it is almost impossible to avoid but some how she did. I had just a simple cheeseburger. The burgers here are much better then the ones in the states but we soon regretted the decision to stop once we started walking to the beach.

Once we got the beach it was VERY crowded, but we managed to find a spot. We realized Sunday probably wasn't the best day to go because that is when most people are off of work and can go to the beach and it was also father's day. It is the same day here as it is in the states (Mother's day is not). I almost forget how the atmosphere at the beach in not only France but Europe in general different from the states. Topless is a norm here, people don't really pay that much attention to it since it is so common. After we found a spot, we settled down and just enjoyed the sun. Since there was only the two of us we went it the water one a time so our stuff was not left unattended. The water felt great, and it was great day for the beach. After relaxing for a while on the beach we decided to go so we wouldn't get back too late. On the walk to the train we stopped at this little ice cream shop that had some of the best ice cream I have had in a long time. I was addicted to the strawberry. It was a perfect way to end a nice beach day. Once we got back into Aix we called it a night and rested up for the beginning of another week of school.

Overall it was a great weekend. I was happy I was able to profit from the wonderful weather.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

week 2


Another week has come and gone. I am getting into the swing of things. Since Hilal and I live a further away we have to get up earlier to take two different buses. we have slowly gotten used to the routine. It is nice having someone to walk with. We have many discussions on life and various other things and I am usually helping him with his homework. We have gotten into a routine.

Monday: Presentation day. I was a little nervous about having to do the 5 - 10 minute presentation on Champagne, mostly because we are still getting used to each other and the class. Once class was over, I was happy to have it done and out of the way. Since everyone is finished at 1 o'oclock, a lot of us have started eating lunch together and walking the city or going next door to a place called Zam & Zam's. We have a workshop almost everyday after our class is done. I was excited to start a new one today. It is about French music. Once the workshop was over some of us walked around for a bit before Hilal and I had to had to catch by 6 to get back.  We've slowly gotten used to each other around all the time.

Tuesday: Tuesday was pretty simple. We had two more presentations, grammar review, and lots of speaking and listening. Once class was over, some of us went to grab some drinks and lunch to enjoy the Tuesday afternoon. We continued with the same workshop from Monday. French music is always fun to listen to
Wednesday: Another Excursion! Wednesdays are excursion days. This week's excursion is Pavillon Vendome. It was great to see it again and go inside and hear all about the history. Although it was a little hot, it was a perfect day for the excursion.  We also got to enjoy a wonderful walk back to our house as well since it was so nice out.

Pavillon Vendom

Garden of Pavillon Vendom

Our Street: Our walk home

Our Buss Stop

Thursday: We continued our newspaper workshop from the week before. Although the subject very interesting, the teacher  was not. We've had to bring a different newspaper for each time and study and compare different things about them. It's very easy to forget the world around you when you are caught up within your own discoveries.

Friday:  One ending always leads to a new beginning. I have gotten used to getting up early and having to catch the bus to get into the city and being home by 7 every night but time for a change has come. I found a new place to stay for my last two weeks that is much closer to the school. So Friday morning I said goodbye to Daniela and Jean and brought all my luggage with me to school. Friday was also the last day our teacher was going to be with us. We had a presentation on Le Martinique where someone brought in one of the specialty drinks to share with the class. 9am may not be the most ideal time to enjoy/try this specialty drink but it was great for the presentation.  Once the school day was over I was excited to take my luggage to this new home. Luckily I am now only 7 minute walking distance from school. So I was able to drop off my luggage and meet everyone. There are also two other girls from America staying with them for the summer for another program. I was able to meet them and enjoy a wonderful dinner with them. I was excited to be closer to everything. I celebrated this new found freedom by meeting up with a few friends after 8 pm to see the city at night.

Overall it was a great week. It started off relaxed and slow and ended with lots of fun. I can't believe my class is already half over. The days are just flying by. I am learning and experiences so many new things.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

relaxed weekend


It's another weekend here in Aix. This second weekend was nice and relaxing. I slept in and enjoyed the weekend. I did a lot of walking and just hanging out with friends in the city. Saturday we checked out the farmers market for a while and enjoyed finding more small streets to explore. Sunday was the perfect day to sleep in and enjoy the morning. We enjoyed the tranquility of the Sunday afternoon in the city grabbing lunch and walking around. After all the relaxing was done I had to finish working on my presentation of Champagne. After a lot of researching and writing, I was ready for Monday. Although this weekend wasn't very eventful, it allowed me to take everything and enjoy being where I am.

With love,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

and school has begun


I have survived my first week of classes. :)

Monday: Monday morning I wasn't sure what to expect. I arrived to find they had the class lists hanging up so we could find which class we were in and who else was in the same class or other classes. Before classes began, they had everyone together to welcome us and tell us a little more about our classes and our workshops in the afternoon. although we had to arrive a little earlier on Monday, our classes are from 9am to 1pm. at first I was little scared of having four hours straight of class but it turned out to be nice. Before we started she had us all introduce ourselves. There were people from all over in my class. Although we had many Americans (mostly form Colorado or Boston haha), we also had someone from Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, England and Haiti. About half way through our class we stop for a little break. She originally told us about 10 minutes but it turned out to be much more. most of us had come back to the classroom after the 10 minutes to find that our professor had not even left the room yet so we all began talking, getting to know one another. As class continued we found out we had our first homework assignment (we were all a little disappointed to have homework our first day). As the first day wound to an end most of us just went home to eat get our homework done. overall it was a good first day of classes.

Tuesday: Tuesday morning we were all a little relieved to not have to come earlier as we did on Monday. Our discussion for most of the day way gastronomy, so by the time it came for our break we were all very hungry. This time we had about 15 minutes for our break so we had time to grab a coffee. We have come to realize there is no need to rush, we can take our time. This has been a little bit of an adjustment since I am so used to everything being fast paced and rushed. It is definitely a nice change of pace. Since our first 'work shop' did not start until Wednesday, some of us took the opportunity to grab lunch together and hang out. This is where I also got to meet two others from the other classes who were from Libya and spoke Arabic. It was a really nice afternoon to just relax and enjoy the company of others.

Jason(Left) Robert(Right)

Wednesday: I am getting into the swing of things. The four hours of class seem to be going by pretty quickly (the 15-20 minute breaks help a lot!). Wednesday is our first 'workshop'. We had a tour around the city of Aix. Since there would be to many of us for one tour, we were divided into two groups. Our group was the second so we had to wait until the first group finished to start ours. This meant we had plenty of time to pass until our tour began. A lot of decided to go get lunch together and hang out until it was our turn. We grabbed sandwiches or pasta then stopped somewhere close by where we had to meet and enjoyed some wine while we waited. It was then our turn for the tour, which turned out to be very interesting. As we walked around the city, our school director pointed out and explained various things about the buildings, people, or streets.

(L-R) Stanislas, Abdelmoez, Emhmd, Grace.
 Enjoying nice conversation.                                         In front of one of the many cathedrals.
         One of the cathedrals in Aix.                              Having some fun on the tour.
 The statue changes with every new season.                Our director explaining something to us.
               Around Aix                                                                 One of the small streets.

An old  home from the 18th century.                 One of the many fountains.

 Thursday:  We were all really tired on Thursday so our professor gave us a good 20 minutes break so could all have time to get un cafĂ©.  After our break we found out we would have to 5-10 minute presentation on a region of France. Everyone was a little worried.

Friday: It's the end of the first week of school. We had one presentation done and I decided I was going to go on Monday. My region was Champagne, So I had some work to do over the weekend.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Weekend


My first weekend was a success. Saturday morning my host that I will be staying with, Daniela, was kind enough to pick me up in the morning from the hotel so I didn't have to worry about my luggage. She dropped both, Hilal and I off in the center and we continued our exploration of the city. We walked all over. I loved walking through all the little side streets. we spent most of the day walking. since we were already in the city we decided it would be the best time to do some food shopping so we have something we can eat for the next week or so.

Grocery shopping turned into a bigger deal than planned. Trying to shop for groceries with someone who does not cook or go grocery shopping is very difficult. Trying to explain to him what to buy with what and different things that we needed was crazy. It was like shopping with a child. As we started to check out, he realized that they did not just put everything in bags as they do in the U.S.,instead you have to have your own bag, which lucky for me I brought the one I received from my pre-departure orientation (Thanks Edgewood).  We finally had everything together and left for the bus. What we did not realize is that there was a big musical event setting up in the center so all the surrounding streets were blocked off which also meant we could not get on the bus we needed. So we began trying to find the next bus stop available where the buses could stop. We then found where we needed to be and got on the correct bus number but as we were busy trying to figure out where we needed to get off, we did not realize it was going the opposite direction we needed. Since it wasn't too long until it stopped and turned around, we decided to stay on and wait for it to turned around instead of getting off and then waiting for the other bus with our groceries. We then think we are good to go, but it didn't turn out that way. Because we had to get on another bus to get us out where we are staying we needed to know again where to get off. Daniela had shown me once before when driving us one morning but because I did not remember the name of the stop I asked Hilal, since she had also showed him. We were both mistaken and got off at the wrong spot and got to enjoy a lot more walking. After we finally got back, I was happy to just relax from the craziness of the day. Even though it was a long day it was a good learning experience for us both.

We then get to Sunday. Since most markets and other shops are closed on Sundays in Aix, we decided to sleep in and enjoy the morning. After having a relaxing morning, Daniela dropped us off in the center so we could view a few places for us to go see since there will be fewer people. After viewing some gardens we came across a "bazaar". What we didn't know is that this bazaar only happens a few times a year. It was kind of like a large rummage sale. There were many people lined up and down one of the streets. it was fun walking through and seeing all the different things they were selling. Once were finished, Daniela came to pick us up to take us to a near by village. She told us that her husband, Jean, and his theater group will be doing acting in a small village near by called Ventrabren. As we arrived, all I could do was take in the wonderful scenery. The theater group had multiple little skits which was a treat to watch. They were very interactive, I was even pulled up to participate with Daniela, which was a ton of fun.

All in all I would say it was a successful first weekend. It was a little crazy at first but it turned out to be great. Once we got back Sunday night we were able to relax and rest up for our first morning of classes the following day.



Saturday, June 1, 2013



After a long day of travel the day before I was well rested for the next day. The only thing I knew I would be doing is finding my school to do my testing, so I was excited to see what else the day brought for me.

My plan was to wake up earlier in the morning to get everything started but my body had other plans. My body decided it wanted to sleep in instead. Once I was all ready I was off to find my school. The hotel was kind enough to show me where the bus stop was and what number to take. Since I am familiar with the bus systems back home, it was easy for me to figure it out here. Luckily, Aix is relatively small so once you know where things are it is hard to get lost (for the most part). After I spent enough time finding my school and discovering many things along the way I was able to check-in. Lucky for me I wasn't the only person arriving late to do testing. I was able to meet another girl, Grace, who was also in the same program as me. After finishing all the necessary tests and paper work, Grace and I decided to explore more of the city together. Exploring Aix brought back many memories I had from my wonderful trip 10 years ago with MFIS.

At this point I still had no idea what I was doing about housing. Although I was a little worried, I knew I would figure something out. When speaking with Hilal, another student in the program, he mentioned that the people he is staying with had another room available. So luckily I was able to meet up with Hilal and he introduced me to his host, Daniella. She is very sweet she immediately afford to show me her place to see if that was something that would work for me. Her home is right outside the city, so it is very quiet which is nice. Once I was there I was able to meet her husband, Jean, who was very excited that I spoke French since Hilal did not.  Everything was working out great. She was gracious enough to pick me up from my hotel the next morning and take my luggage back for me while she dropped me and Hilal off to explore and maybe do some shopping.

I am very excited to have the chance to return to France and work on my studies. I already feel like home here, I love it.  I can't wait to start my classes and see what this journey brings for me.

Avec amour,