Bienvenue à Aix

A lot has happened over the past few days! Monday officially started my semester abroad at the university’s orientation sessions. The university is very small, with only 77 students and three class rooms. But the main building is very cool- it used to  be a church, so the main hall where some classes are used to be the chapel. Upstairs were where monks lived, which now houses offices, the library, and another classroom. Downstairs there is “the cave,” where we can eat lunch, which used to be where the monks went to pray. The building has a lot of character despite being tiny!

the university's main building

The building is right across the street from an old cathedral, the St. Sauveur. This afternoon, I went on a tour of the cloisters with a friend. The church is gorgeous and really old. I think the original foundations were created around 500AD, and over time the rest of today’s church was added.

the cloisters

Another fun fact, the square in front of the church is the original site where Aix-en-Provence was founded in 123 by the Roman Consul Sextius because of its proximity to the underground springs.

Cathedral St. Sauveur

The rest of the afternoon, Martin, Jenna, and I explored the rest of the city. Our stops included La Rotonde, the new opera house, and the Parc Jourdan.

La Rotonde

the view of Aix from the Opera

Parc Jourdan

So far, all my classes look promising. All of the professors are very nice and helpful. There’s a mix of American and French teachers. I understand pretty much everything being said in class, but I still find speaking hard. But that should come over the next few weeks, I hope. I have French Civilization, Phonetics, Conversation and Composition, Politics of the EU, and Comparative Education. Phonetics looks like it will be challenging- we have to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet and our midterm, for example, will be rewriting a text in IPA and changing another text from IPA to French. We’ll also have lots of listening comprehension, dictations, and tests where we have to read a text out loud for the professor to critique.

On the agenda for tomorrow is a run (too much bread and cheese!), class starting at 2pm, and a group picnic. This weekend we’re off to Nice, Cannes, and Monte Carlo!

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