En Provence 2013

Airports and Aix

Today I left my parents, friends, and country. I’ve only been overseas once before and it was with a high school program that held my hand every step of the way.

After a very emotional goodbye with my family at Indy’s airport (Keegan wouldn’t stop singing “The Cup Song” as we hugged goodbye), I cried through security. I cried trying to find my gate. I cried while boarding. Then I immediately fell asleep and woke up in O’Hare.

O’Hare was crazy. I spent over five hours in the same area (the most secluded seating as possible, of course) and people-watched. I saw children on leashes, the Asian trend of wearing hospital masks, so many high socks and Crocs, a private college’s golf team (if only you could have seen the vast amount of perfectly coiffed hair), and at one point of time, was sitting next to some New Age hipsters. They were very polite, but their conversations were just too good not to listen in on. I’ve never heard the phrase “perspective is reality” used so many times. While these self-proclaimed “world wanderers” were well-travelled, the image of being poor but satisfied with a simplistic lifestyle was slightly blemished by the fact they all had brand new iPods and iPads.

I landed in Munich at 9:30 on Thursday. I slept maybe three hours. I was only at the airport for twenty minutes. Thank God I went immediately to my gate because they boarded forty five minutes early. It was amazing flying over Germany. Everything was neat and organized to the extreme. The mountains were absolutely breathtaking.

In Marseilles, I was immediately greeted by my host mother, Armelle de Vergnette (how awesomely French is her name?!). This is her eighth year hosting. My roommate had already arrived so we drove the quick twenty five minutes to Aix.

I now live in a perfectly adorable apartment on the second floor. My room is small but spacious, and situated so that I absolutely have to keep it clean to make it livable. Sarah, I will have to become the impossible: spotless! *gasp*

Emma, my room mate, is from Wheaton College and she’s a senior. I heard her playing “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, so Rosie, I’m sure you can assume how I feel about her. She’s such a blessing to have. We both have questions and answers and it takes the stress off of saying something wrong.

So after getting maybe four and half hours of sleep, losing time, and being completely discombobulated, I decided to stick the whole day out and wait to sleep at night. (Here’s to hopefully having no jet lag!) I ended up having the greatest afternoon possible.

Armelle (who I’ll call Madame) showed us Centre Ville (where all the main shops are) and where our school will be. We ended up walking up all the charming streets, tiny cobbled rues, and pointing out boutiques and various shops on our to-go-to lists. Aix is a wealthy city so it was very clean and had crazy nice stores like Chanel and Dior. We went into the cathedral, which was predominantly made in the 12th century, and is one of the most gorgeous sacred spots I’ve ever been in. We listened to a tour guide, who was a friend of Madame, and I learned a lot (of what I did understand, which was surprisingly more than I had first thought).

After that, we enjoyed café (coffee) at “Les Deux Fréres”, the oldest and most renown café in Aix. Paul Cézanne and Emilé Zole used to spend time there regularly and it was visited by several famous people like Édith Piaf and Winston Churchill.

So here’s the kicker that I know my mom and Taylor friends will appreciate. We’re going to a Protestant church on Sunday. France is incredibly secular now; it can easily be called post-Christian. I’ll get to go to a modern service, which I was really unsure if it really existed.

We just ate dinner (poulet with zucchini, cucumbers with mint, and of course, fresh fruit and bread with every meal. Guys, I’m really suffering here). Tomorrow, I go to meet my director of the program and the other students. Between me and Emma, we know very little so I’m excited to actually find out what the heck I’m doing.

I was too exhausted to even think about bringing my camera with my this afternoon so I’ll get pictures to y’all soon!

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