by Katie E. Getting on a plane with eleven strangers is scary. You don’t know anything about their past, you don’t know where they come from, and you struggle to remember their names. Not only are you flying with a group of people you’ve just met (and are about to spend the next month with), but you are also going to a foreign country. A country that is over 1,000 years old and a country where you don’t even tip the waiter–it is entirely different from America.
I was terrified to walk into JFK to start my Aix-en-Provence experience and I was almost brought to tears when I said goodbye to my parents, all because I knew the culture was going to be different and speaking the language would be uncomfortable. It was something I wasn’t used to. But then I realized all of the advantages this trip has, and how what I was thinking of as the disadvantages were actually advantages too. I didn’t know anyone that was going on this trip and because of that I don’t limit who I talk to–I’ve made friends with everyone.
The culture is different and I don’t know everything about it but that’s good, not bad! I am in a country right now that has had centuries upon centuries to create a culture that has an influence throughout most of the world (ever wonder why we set our tables in a very particular way?). I even get to have a trial run of having roommates as I will in college (though admittedly our apartments are much nicer than the average dorm room). Already we’ve gone outside of Aix. On Saturday the excursion was to Cassis which was beautiful. It is a small city but incredibly lively. We took a bus tour around Cap Canaille and it was gorgeous. We also got to swim in the Mediterranean which was amazing, albeit a bit cold. We also started having classes back in Aix and are encouraged to have conversations with shop owners and other French natives during our free time. Seeing how friendly all of the other students are as well as the Aixois makes me realize how ready I am for new experiences and how excited I am to spend the rest of July here.