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Home Away From Home in Aix

Traveling abroad for an entire semester is a pretty daunting task. It is filled with many unknowns. I found that most anxiety or culture adjustment for me stems from not knowing. The best way to make your new town and apartment feel like home, a place you are most familiar with, is to put the things that make you comfortable into it!

When I arrived to my apartment I began settling in by making my bed with sheets from home. Preparing my bed before I crashed from jet lag was vital! It hits you like a wall once you stop moving around. I made my bedroom here feel more like home by choosing sheets in my favorite color, blue! After all, I would be sleeping in them every night, white just felt too hotel like and bland for me.

 My bedroom, one of three in our apartment

My large suitcase stayed to visit Paris for a few extra hours (always be sure to pack clothes and necessities in your carry on). When it finally arrived later in the evening, I unpacked all my clothes to settle in. I’m sharing a room with another student and we only had one wardrobe in the room for two girls. Thankfully there is always enough storage space provided in CEA housing. We moved around the furniture in our room and brought in another wardrobe from the living room. I organized all my clothes onto the shelves and hangers just how I like at home.

I packed pictures of family and friends from home in my suitcase. I didn’t realize how much this could help with settling into my new home. It’s nice seeing a familiar image every day. I would decorate my dorm room at school with many photos so I’m thankful I packed them for my semester in France. I organized my five photos on the wall of my bunk bed.

Along with moving around furniture in our own room, my roommates and I decided to move furniture around in the apartment. The kitchen had a large dinner table in it that made a very narrow walkway through the kitchen. This became a problem when all four of us tried to cook at once. We swapped it for the one in the living room making a nice breakfast table in the kitchen and a more spacious dinner table in the living room. We also moved a shelf from the living room to the kitchen to provide equal food storage space.

 Our lovely, little kitchen.

To feel at home I have to feel comfortable and safe. This is why as roommates we all sat down day one to create some basic rules. Most of the rules are common sense but having them in writing makes each of us held responsible. We also have established a chore schedule to keep the house clean in a fair manner. By creating a list of rules and chores, we have eliminated some fights before they could happen.

And finally, my top way to feel at home, food. No matter how scary it may be to you to feed yourself, be sure to do it right away! Dinner is a great way to get to know your roommates and talk about your day. Even when we make separate meals, we typically eat around the same time. All four of us eating together is just like a meal at my own home in the States. Not only will this make you feel at home, you will save lots of money. It has become fun to figure out how to make a meal for one the cheapest way possible.

 Our "homemade" dinner in Aix. Erin and I found delicious rotisserie chicken at the Market that included cheesy potatoes!

I hope my tips have given you some ideas on how to make your CEA housing feel like home. Have any tips for me? Please, let me know!

 
 We added the flowers to our patio table!
 
 Buying flowers at the Market to make our apartment feel more like home.

Sophia Hendrix is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Aix en Provence, France. She is currently a sophomore at Ohio University.

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