Day 1 & 2 of Early Start

Another view from my homestay in Aix.
Gifts (les cadeaux) for our host parents. We didn’t know the proper way to give them to them, so we just left them on the table one morning with notes! 

Yesterday was my first day of the Early Start program here in Aix. Basically, we take French classes for a few hours a day then have fun excursions to explore and learn more about Aix. 

We left a little late from the house and arrived at IAU to (the yummiest) croissants and various other breads with orange juice, coffee, and water to drink. Probably not necessary details, but who cares. We had a brief introduction to the staff and then the counselor spoke to us about wellness while in Aix. She told crazy horror stories about a girl who had been raped by her French boyfriend and one girl who almost got kidnapped! Basically, be smart and you’ll be okay, but I’m honestly not worried about this. I don’t plan to go out and get wasted at night and I don’t plan on meeting anyone romantically here, so all should be well!

After our brief talk, we were split into groups based on levels. Somehow I ended up in the Advanced class! If we’re speaking honestly, I should be in this class based on my experience and how many French classes I’ve taken, however I was in no way prepared for that class and the rest of the day. I learned so much in high school, but when I came to OCU all of the classes were just a review of what I had already learned. Add that I haven’t taken one of those review classes in over a year, and I was just too rusty for the advanced class full of near fluent speakers. This really flustered me and once again I felt homesick and overwhelmed. 

Le Jardin du Pavillon Vendôme that we visited during our tour of Aix. 

Later in the day, we were split again into groups for a tour of Aix. I thought the groups would be mixed, but of course they weren’t! Once again, I was placed in the Advanced group and the tour was conducted in French… at least the first half. Thankfully, our guide got a little lax with her French about halfway through and told us the rest in English. At the beginning of the tour, I was so overwhelmed I had to hold back my tears… so I’m really thankful the day made a turn for the better. 

After our tour, we returned to the school. My roommate and I had agreed to get gelato afterwards, but since I couldn’t find her, I decided to walk home. Ten minutes after arriving home, I got a Facebook message from Murphy that she had been waiting at IAU for an hour. Even though I really didn’t want to walk another 20 minutes back, I wanted to relax in the city and explore a bit more… so I walked back. We got gelato then returned to the house around 7 with many blisters on our feet. We wore tennis shoes instead of sandals today. 

Lemon Gelato

Lemon Gelato

The gorgeous Repetto store. I want a pair of their ballet flats so so badly, but they’re near $200!

The gorgeous Repetto store. I want a pair of their ballet flats so so badly, but they’re near $200!

This morning, we left early so I could talk to a professor before class to try to switch. I could have jumped for joy when with 10 minutes until class, I found my prof and she graciously allowed me to switch. My new class is much more on my level and it’s such a relief to not sit there in total confusion! I just have to change two of my classes for the semester now (Phonetics and Linguistics), but I hope that won’t be a problem here and to transfer back to OCU.

This afternoon, we got to take a small cooking class. The chef was absolutely hilarious as he demonstrated how to make caramelized plums with almond brittle. It was nice because as the last group, we were pretty small with only 6 people, whereas I think all the other groups had 15-20 students! The cooking place was super cute and the guys working there were all really really funny. We could hear them singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody while we enjoyed our creations!

Today I Ate

  1. A baguette with jam for breakfast
  2. A panini with chicken, tomatoes, and mozarella for lunch with fresh squeezed OJ
  3. Battered fish with ratatouille, an egg thing with peas, and of course more bread. I tried a new cheese tonight that Murphy likes.. I think it’s called Cambert? I don’t know. It has the texture of cream cheese and the color, but it tastes a little sour. It’s really good!

Regan Shorter

42000 Saint-Etienne

Regan is a freelance photographer and travel blogger.