by Lauren F. Hi everyone! I am Lauren and I am a part of the Aix-en-Provence summer program ! After a very long journey–two planes and a bus–we finally arrived in Aix! We settled into our apartments, unpacked, and recovered from our travels. After dinner we walked around the town of Aix and experienced this incredible city for the first time. Aix is what I expected plus so much more. It is unlike any city I have ever been to. On Friday we all met for an orientation and to go shopping for groceries at Monoprix, which is a large target-type of store in France. Included in everyone’s purchases were of course fresh baguettes and French cheeses. We returned to our apartments to cook lunch for ourselves and it was delicious! We then took a tour of Aix by trolley, which was very interesting because it taught us a little more about the history of the town. That night we ate at a delicious restaurant in Aix. We sat outside along the street and received the true French dining experience. For dinner, I had roasted chicken or poulet roti and it was very good! I was extremely nervous to order for myself as it was one of my first experiences speaking French with a local, or aixois. We finally returned to our residence and I went right to sleep as I was still jet lagged and extremely exhausted. On Saturday morning, we had an early meeting time for our trip to Cassis! I did not really know what to expect from Cassis as I had never seen pictures or done any research. Cassis was better than anything I could have imagined. It was just so beautiful. The bus ride to get there was quite long but very scenic. Once we arrived we went to a little shop to purchase some beach towels, hats, sunscreen, and other stuff like that and we were all ready for the beach! We arrived at the beach to find that it was very crowded but we still managed to find a spot that was big enough for our group. A bunch of us went swimming in the water, which was so nice and refreshing but a little cold! After our time on the beach we had a picnic lunch in a nice park and visited a bakery or boulangerie. We spent more time walking around the area and exploring different sites before heading back to Aix-en-Provence. During our trip back we visited Cézanne’s house, which was very interesting. Cézanne was a very well known artist who lived and painted many of his pieces in Aix-en-Provence. Finally, we returned to our residence and ate different quiches together for dinner, which were very delicious! I was exhausted by the end of the day so I quickly went back to my apartment, showered, and went right to bed. Monday morning consisted of a very long French placement test and elective classes in the afternoon. I am taking photography as my elective class. During our first class, we spent our time learning the French terms for photography and some basic rules for taking a good photo. For dinner, we were split into cooking groups to prepare our first home-cooked French dinner. On the menu was a salad with goat cheese and walnuts, a melon salsa, quesadillas with goat cheese and peppers, and sautéed string beans. My job was to cook the string beans and they turned out great just like the whole meal. After this, everyone just hung out, watched some movies, and ate ice cream. It was a very fun and relaxing night. Tomorrow consists of our first French class and some more elective classes in the afternoon. À bientôt!