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My First Week, A Week of Firsts!

Turning to wave goodbye to my parents one last time, I take in the sight. My dad, as usual, is cool, calm and collected. My mother, wiping away one last tear, grins and waves incessantly. Their baby girl is off to take on the world! Of course, I’ll miss them. But, as the woman sitting behind the checkpoint asks for my identification and boarding pass, a small smile plays on my lips. I glance over my shoulder to give my parents a final, reassuring grin, and repositioning my backpack, head up the ramp towards security. The butterflies in my stomach and my growing excitement reaffirm that my adventure- my dream since freshman year of high school- has finally begun.

 
15 hours of traveling and one full week later..... 


Sitting on a friend's balcony enjoying my first official "view" of Aix

It’s been a little over a week and I still can’t believe that I am living and studying in Aix! This has been an incredible time filled with firsts for almost everything, including the discovery that French food truly is amazing; that the language is beautiful and romantic; and that the country provides some of the prettiest scenery in the world. Through this blog, I hope to include you on my unique journey, and all of the opportunities and experiences offered by this lovely city, its fascinating culture and its people. I will share with you the best places to eat (food is of the utmost importance, especially to college students); an inside look at what it’s like living in an apartment with both American and French students; the greatest places to shop (you know you have to take home gifts for family and friends); the inside scoop on classes and getting around; the coolest activities and hot spots for college students, life in general and so much more. Let’s begin by understanding a little more about the city itself.
 
With over 150,000 inhabitants, and nearly 40,000 of that population consisting solely of college students, Aix is referred to as both a city and college town by natives and tourists, alike. Ideally located in the south of France and with easy access to different modes of transportation, it is very easy to venture out into other cities. (To be discussed in the next post!)

Aix’s main street, known as Le Cours Mirabeau, runs through the heart of the city and beyond, and is home to some of the most popular eateries, shops and bakeries. If you’re not the best with directions, know this street and you’ll catch on quickly. For your own reference, keep in mind that Le Cours Mirabeau also runs directly into what may be the city’s most recognizable monument- the fountain located in the Rotonde. 



La Rotonde during both the day and night


However, if you happen to get lost during the first few days, don't panic. Sometimes getting lost and taking a walk is the best way to discover something interesting and new. That has been the case for me. As a matter of fact, I happened to come across the “best place in Aix to get coffee”, The Provence Shop, according to three different groups of people, each of different nationalities. With that being said, I will leave you with this tidbit of advice (as I shall do to conclude each blog post): 
 


During your time, especially for the first week, be prepared to say yes to everything and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. More than likely you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.
 
*Check out all of my photos to see the many “firsts” experienced during my first week.

First taste of gelato from the one and only Giovanni's. One can never go wrong with vanilla


My first look inside a Macaroon shop! I have yet to taste one, but hear they are quite delicious



My first time visiting the super market, held in one of the town's main squares several days each week! That same day I had my first visit to a French museum, the Pavillon Vendome, and my first bite of delicious food!





My first taste of French street artwork and coffee! 



I tried a Macchiato from Coffee to Go with two of my classmates, Chelsea and Jonathan. From the way he's eyeing it, Jon isn't the biggest fan of the Macchiato. At least he was willing to give it a try! *thumbs up*
 
Kara Henderson, CEA MOJO, Aix-en-Provence, France

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