Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Les Derniers Jours

Bonjour tout le monde!

This week is the last post you will hear from me (insert sad face). Time sure has flown by. I am sitting here trying to come up with words of what I have just experienced and I am in silence. I feel like I just got in Aix, yet I have stories and adventures of what feels like years upon years. The normality of being here in Aix and seeing the people and places on my daily routine seem impossible to change. This semester has by far been the best time of my life, and that is not an exaggeration. I would like to point out that I do not say that lightly. I have had the most amazing semester meeting people, traveling, and exploring.

As I am writing my final blog, as a literal and figurative last chapter to my adventures in France, I find it extremely difficult to leave this behind. The friends I have made who seem like family, as well as this apartment I have lived in which seems like home,  and the town which I know like the back of my hand; leaving, perhaps, is the hardest thing I have yet to face this semester. Of course, I miss my friends and family so much, but this place too, has a large pull on my heart.

This place was the by far my favorite place I have been to this semester. I have gone on and on in previous blogs on why I love Aix-en-Provence so much, but in case you may have forgot I thought I would sum it up once more. To me, Aix was the best possible city because it felt like home. To recap: I never took public transportation once in Aix because I could get around it; and for weekend travel, there were easy ways to get to and from the airport and train station. The city itself is beautiful, not in an over the top way, but in a way that is only possible to get to know after living there. The food, the people, the shops, all add on to this amazing appreciation for the town. The history, art, and simple beauty of this town is exquisite; and never overwhelming, but never boring. Of course, people make a place, and luckily I have met some of the most amazing ones in Aix.

However, despite the possible tears I had shed, have shed, or will shed this week, I am undoutably grateful and extremely optimistic, of not only the great memories I have made, but the people I have met, who have helped me have an amazing time, but who have also shaped me in years to come. I could go on about the wonderful friends I have met, but I do not have years to write about them, because that is how amazing they were. Being able to share a fraction of my time here with them has truly been an honor. It is crazy how just a couple of months ago, I feared starting anew and making new friends, and now saying goodbye is the worst. I have meet some of the kindest, genuine, smart, supportive, true people. So know this, it is true that the people you meet at study abroad will be some of the greatest friends of your life, and to my friends I have meet here, it has been my pleasure to make your acquaintance- Mes amis, c'était un plaisir de faire ta connaissance. I will miss all of you dearly as well as our home in Aix. Au revoir mes amis pas "goodbye."

These last pictures are ones from the beautiful, infamous, Aix! Au revoir!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Le Conseil

Bonjour tout le monde!

This week I have decided to offer some advice as well give some updates on my adventures for the next two months. I hope that my blog has offered you a look into my life, the thoughts I have had, as well as hopefully an honest opinion about things that may happen while studying abroad. Although study abroad is different for everyone, I think that there is a possibility for everyone to get something or many things out of it.

If you are considering studying abroad, my first response will be: DO IT. Of course, if you are asking someone who has studying abroad, you should be prepared to get a biased opinion. I honestly could not tell you how much I have changed over these last four months, and most of these changes will be seen by my friends, families, and peers when I return. However, not all change is bad. Being able to be given a different and expanded outlook and perspective that I could not achieve in the United States has made me grown for the better. I look at things and understand things differently; and new perspective are always something that I welcome.

For a family or friend who has someone studying abroad, encourage them to make whatever decision best fits them. Sometimes, I feel as if it is easy to want other what we want them, and for most of the time this is usually a good thing. However, for studying abroad; making sure the student can make the decision for themselves, helps them can truly decide what they want to do, because studying abroad is not something to be taken lightly; and making the decision is the first step.

My last advice is people have often asked me how I did it, or that they could have never done it. I want to point out that fear can give us strength. I still remember how nervous I was getting on the first plane, and waiting for nineteen hours to land and arrive in France, but take it one step at a time. I believe just taking it one step at a time, and completely analyzing and asking yourself if you are sure you want to do study abroad; that will make you able to take the leap from a possibility to a reality. I didn't buy my ticket, apply, pack, get my visa, and everything else all in one week. I slowly did each, until, before I realized, I was already packed and on the plane.

I hope this advice helps you! Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity and experience, that allows for growth and expansion; and I am so grateful for the opportunity to change, learn, and grow. I also thought as a side excerpt, I would comment on my plans this summer. Until the beginning of July, I will be traveling across Europe. Starting in Paris, to Porto, to Geneva, to Athens, to Aix (again), to Tunisia (possibly.) After that I will be taking a sixteen-day trip from Rome, to Venice, to Vienna, to Budapest, to Krakow, to Prague, to Berlin, to Amsterdam, to London. After that I am meeting a friend in Copenhagen, then I will meet another friend in Dusseldorf, and finally head back to Aix and fly home! 

P.S These photos are from last weekend in Croatia and Slovenia. It was amazing and beautiful!!

Á la semaine prochine!

The castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

My weekend adventure.

Beautiful boardwalk in Ljubljana.

I loved trying to snap pictures of the guy blowing bubbles.

Slovenia's version of the Lock Bridge.

The boardwalk again.

And again.

And again: I'm pretty sure we ate all of our meals here.

Here also.

Morning tea on the boardwalk.

"Life's a climb, but the view was great."

Another view from out climb.

The view obscured with our shoes. 

I loved how the light hit the trees.

The sunset on the boardwalk was beautiful. 

Cathedral in Zagreb, Croatia.

The buildings in Croatia.

Beautiful panoramic view.

Different view.

Me looking at the view through bars

Me on the boardwalk in Slovenia.

Me with the Alps behind me in Slovenia.

Me trying to be artsy with my ice-cream in Croatia. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Choc de Culture

Bonjour tout le monde!
 This week was my third to last week in Aix- (bring on the tears), but I thought I would just talk about culture shock, and how it is affecting me as I am about three weeks away from being done with my studying abroad experience. Although I talk about this a lot, this is something that I think is relevant to every study abroad experience; and it is something you cannot control, but will most likely face one way or another.  I think it is important to talk about and prepare for because like I have said before, it effects everyone differently!
For me personally, I haven’t had as much of an initial culture shock being France.  Because Aix-en Provence is so different from anything in the states, it is almost better because you are not reminded of things at home, and I was able to fully dive into this program. I feel like because I am in a small town in France, and I am not in close proximity to a McDonalds or a Starbucks. However, despite my semi- easy transitions to the life in Aix, I also came across somethings that have affected me while I have been here.
While I am here, having the most amazing time, I think it is easy to forget that people’s lives keep moving on as well as time. Somehow it is easier to think that everything is paused while you are over here. Things such as a friend being in a relationship or news from home can really shake you up. The realization that you are more unconnected then you feel because of social media, and that realization and acceptance that because I am here I sacrificed an active presence in some people's lives become real. Of course I would not exchange my study abroad, but you still are reminded that time goes on.
The best motivation or advise I can bring, is culture shock will happen no matter what. Some people have a hard time adjusting here, some have a hard time adjusting when they get back, and some have a mediocre time both here and there; but either way, it effect everyone in different ways. It is easy to handle and the resources we are provided with are great, being aware sometimes is also helpful. Also, I think  a huge important thing for me was having a positive attitude. I know it sounds easy, but constantly reminding yourself of how lucky you are and focusing on all the great things instead of things and people you miss, help bring a positive perspective.  

The positives that come with study abroad are tremendous. However, even with the most incredible things, nothing is perfect, especially study abroad. That was just a small example of how little things somehow make you come into terms with how you future relationships and friendships could experience a change, especially during the months of your absence, and how to work through that and maintain one’s with people you want to be close with. Being aware and having a great attitude can help you appreciate this wonderful experience even more! 

Á la semaine prochine! 

This is me trying to be a photographer.

In the streets of Oslo.

Olso "castle"

A cool body of water in Oslo.

My lovely friend (and host) Pheobe.

A photo of the tourist and tour-guides. 

The beautiful view from the plane.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Suède et Danemark

Bonjour tout le monde!

This week I was planning on taking a different topic for my weekly post, but considering that I was able to do some really cool things this past week, I thought that instead I would share! This past weekend me and my friend Pheobe were able to go to Gothenburg, Sweden to spend time with a Swedish family. It was an incredible experience to have meals, spend time, and learn from such a kind and helpful family!

Firstly when we got there, I did not know who we were meeting because it was my friend's friend. She showed us around her town all day and that evening she allowed us to have an Easter supper with her family. For me, not only did they allow us to spend time in their home, but during the meal they made a huge effort to make us feel welcome and included. While there we played games, went on a treasure hunt, celebrated Easter, and, of course, ate Swedish meatballs.

While there, it did not feel like we were two outsiders of the family, but just apart of the family. I know it sounds clichque, but they all made an effort to speak in English, the games they played included things about America, and they all asked us questions and made us feel extremely welcome. On top of that, that night, our friend's mom suggested that we went to Denmark for a spontaneous trip! It was like a three hour drive and then we spent the day in Copenhagen! It was the most incredible spontaneous trip I have ever taken. We were able to take a road trip and listen to road trip music. Not only did I fall in love with Copenhagen, I was just extremely happy that these people we met were so kind!

I suppose my purpose of this blog is to point out how nice and kind people can be and never lose hope in that. I think the importance of people in our life and our world is often forgotten. People make a person, people make a place, and people make the world.The importance of people and how we treat each other is much more then just effecting one person. Because of how lovely and kind these people were, my views of not only them, but about an entire place also become more better just because of how awesome they were.

Á la semaine prochine!

The little mermaid statue in Denmark.

A beautiful windmill in Copenhagen.

My spontaneous travel buddies for the weekend.

Nyhavn street.

A smaller version of the lock bridge.

Some sweets in the street.

Haga street in Gothenburg, Sweden.


Just some of the architecture.

The most beautiful cinnamon roll ever.

My adopted family for Easter dinner!

Just the Sweden flag and some flowers.

The Easter egg that they got for me!

My favorite picture from Sweden.