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Aix-citement and Aix-cursions: My First Week in Aix-En-Provence

Arriving to study abroad in Aix-en-Provence was a huge sigh of relief for everyone, as winter storm Jonas was hitting just as we were all leaving the East Coast, so a lot of us ended up of delayed flights (I was lucky enough to make it as planned).

After getting my luggage and being greeted in the airport by the CEA representative, I was sent into town with four other students so we could be taken to our homes for the semester. I happened to arrive at the same time as one of my roommates, and it was really comforting to have someone to make the journey with.
Once we got settled into our beautiful apartment (with a beautiful view), we went to a welcome hour with CEA, where we met at a café for happy hour and got free coffees and drinks. This was a really great opportunity to unwind and meet our fellow CEA students in a nice, relaxed environment.

This little adventure was also an introduction to how incredibly kind and patient residents of Aix are. Everyone is very understanding if your French isn't the best, and are never annoyed when you need a little help with pronunciation or when you're struggling to put a phrase together.

The next couple of days consisted of orientation. This is where I hit my first speed bump of the semester, and where I leave my first pro-tip. The tap water in Aix is 100% safe to drink, but the mineral balances might be different than what you’re used to in the U.S. Bottom line: ease into it. Don’t drink two liters of tap water before bed, because you’ll probably wake up sick the next day.

Back to orientation… CEA students go through two: one for CEA, and one for IAU, our host college. The CEA orientation consists of some general rules, cultural emersion, and a walking tour of Aix! The IAU orientation was technically two days. The first consisted of the general IAU overview, and the second was a field trip to the coastal towns of La Ciotat and Cassis! We spent the day exploring the towns and learning about cinema, since La Ciotat is the home of the first films made by the Lumiere Brothers.

 The Eden Theatre, where the Lumière Brothers aired
their first films, and the oldest theatre still standing.

After a few more days to get accustomed with life in Aix and the IAU campus, we embarked on a weekend trip to the town of Vars in the French Alps, where you could go skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, or just enjoy the view from your balcony like I did. The weekend even included a traditional dinner of Tartiflette followed by a night at the local discotheque.
 My view in Vars!

All in all, the first week in Aix was full of fun and adventure, and I'm looking forward to having the next few weeks to let everything sink in. Until then, à bientôt!

McKenzie Smith is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a sophomore at Hofstra University.

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