As we officially pass the halfway mark of our trip in Aix-en-Provence, it is amazing how well we have already acquainted ourselves with the French culture and language. As I sit in a book cafe, writing this blog and sipping espresso, I could not feel more at home. Even though it has only been two weeks, we are already seeing familiar faces on the streets and in the cafes.
Monday, we started our second week of classes. That morning, we had class at a cafe while drinking coffee, hot chocolate, and citron pressé. We then had a typical lunch break during which we were free to either make a baguette sandwich in our apartments or find a cafe. The afternoon consisted of an art or French conversation class. In art class, we used charcoal to sketch still life scenes. That night, we made chicken cordon bleu in our cooking groups. We all agree that it was the best meal we’ve made so far.
Tuesday, after our morning French class, we all took a bus to a Calisson factory. A Calisson is the pastry of Aix-en-Provence. We got to see how they are made and had a chance to try them for ourselves. After this, we went to work in a permaculture vegetable garden near one of the universities in Aix. Students weeded, hoed, and watered all afternoon. This work was not only satisfying, but it also brought us a greater knowledge and appreciation of natural farming.
That night was one of my favorites of the trip so far. We had a picnic of baguette sandwiches and quiche on the roof of a theater and listened to a gypsy jazz band. The band even let some of us play an sing with them.
Today (Wednesday), we had class and then a lunch break, during which many students took naps. Lizzy, Brandon, and I decided to visit the local music store, because we are all musicians. We spent some time sitting on the floor in the empty store, playing the guitars. Lizzy even bought a guitaulele (a cross between a guitar and a ukulele). After this, in art class, we practiced painting in the same stipple point style as Cezanne. We then went to tour the local dance facility where modern and classical dances are choreographed, practiced, and performed. All of the tours we take are in French, which is an excellent way to practice our comprehension.
Tonight, we have free time until 11:30. Students are free to wander about the city or do whatever they want. A couple friends and I plan to spend the evening at a cafe, perhaps to try escargot for the first time. The free nights are probably some of my favorite times. This is the time when we truly feel as if we are inhabitants of this beautiful town.
I am so glad that we still have so much time to be immersed in this beautiful town. A month seems to be the perfect amount of time to be here. Unlike shorter trips, there is time to breathe, look around, and appreciate what is around you. But even so, I’m sure the next couple of weeks will fly by before we know it.