July 11: Monday we started our first true day of classes after the first week of getting acquainted with the city and visiting various cultural hubs in the south of France. As we near the end of the week, I look back on all that we have done in the past few days, and it is amazing to see how much we have covered in this relatively short amount of time!
Touching on the less academic aspects of the trip, we have learned to cook our very own crepes, gone for a beautiful day hike in the mountains of Sainte Victoire, and even learned some traditional dances at a small night gathering of casual musicians and dancers. Considering that we have mostly been in cities such as Aix, Marseille, and Arles, having the opportunity to see and traverse the mountains in Saint Victoire was a nice change of pace accompanied by awe-inspiring views.
And though I am not much of a dancer myself, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed learning some fairly simple steps. All of the locals at the gathering were extremely friendly and willing to help whenever any of us faltered.
Going back to the actual class portion of our days, we have three hours of class from 9am to 12pm and then our elective or another planned activity in the afternoon. Most people would consider three hours of the same subject to become tedious, but the class is actually very engaging. It largely consists of us giving oral presentations with the occasional worksheet, but the classes have a very open forum form that I think is much more effective than a traditional lecture for learning a language. All in all, the week of classes and extracurricular activities thus far has been a great learning experience with seldom a dull moment.