Well, I’m already nearing the end of my first month in Aix, and it’s safe to say I feel perfectly at home, even in the classroom!
Most American students in Aix attend IAU college, and it’s an amazing way to get to know students from all over the states during your time in France. It's comforting to have people who are in the exact same situation as you as far as being in a new country goes, and they're friends that you'll be able to stay in touch with once you get home as well. IAU offers a lot of different events, from conferences and lectures to wine tastings, so you never find yourself sitting around with nothing to do!
|IAU Wine Tasting|
This doesn't mean that you're confined to only meeting American students! IAU has a lot of opportunities to meet and befriend French students. The buddy program pairs you with a French student at the same language level as you so you can learn or perfect your French while making a lasting friendship in Aix. IAU also hosts events with free food and invites students from the French university nearby so everyone can mingle in a relaxed environment. One of my roommates even met and befriended a student from Germany at one of these events!
Unfortunately, IAU isn't all fun and games. When it comes down to it, we're all here to study. Classes have been really interesting, especially when it comes to French. All of my French professors are native and actually speak very little English, but are also very understanding when it comes to the fact that we as students don't speak perfect French. It's been very helpful to have that push that forces me to get comfortable with speaking French, which is pretty much the most nerve-wracking part of being in a foreign country.
In addition to my French classes, I'm in the Global Wine Studies Certificate program, so a few of my classes focus on wine trade, marketing, and tasting. You definitely know you're in France when your homework involves pairing a wine with a cheese and doing a taste test!
IAU also offers a lot of field trips, you can count on going at least two. This semester, I have a trip to the Milles battle site just outside of Aix, as well as three wine tasting trips. We went on our first tasting the third weekend we were here, and it was really interesting. We visited two wineries just outside in Aix: Chateau Calissanne and Terre de Mistral. We spent the day learning about the wine making process and, of course, tasting!
|Entrance to Chateau Calissanne|
All in all, IAU has already provided an amazing study abroad experience and I absolutely can't wait to keep making memories this semester with their help!
McKenzie Smith is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a Sophomore at Hofstra University.
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