This is officially the end of the first semester, and it is really hard to believe that the first half of my year abroad has passed. Uni in France ends almost 10 days later than Durham, so I didn’t have the usual time in Budapest to spend with my friends. On the other hand, I did get an insight into Christmas in Aix, which was probably the first time that the city abandoned its holiday character.
The end of the term also meant that exams were coming, leaving us with less things to do and more commitment to the academic side of this year. Sciences Po Aix is a Grande École, meaning that it is at the top of, and also outside the French university system. In practice, this means that unlike in England or regular French universities, exams are mainly 10-minute orals. Initially, it felt odd, but once the first exam was over, it was clear that they are mostly relaxed.
Once exams were over, we finally had the chance to enjoy the Aix Christmas milieu. Cours Mirabeau was charmingly lit and the Rotonde, Aix’s signature fountain was decorated festively. There was a very French Christmas market stretching the main avenue, offering a wide variety of sweets, pastries, multiple types of mulled wine, and different goods made by local producers.
Amidst all the Christmas cheer, there were some goodbyes to be said. I made friends with lots of people here who were unlucky enough to be staying for only one semester. I’m sure that many of them will come back to visit us next year, and I’m also looking forward to meeting the new people arriving in the second semester. But now I’m finally home, ready for the actual Christmas with family.
(Timelapse shot by Jannis Hagels Photography – https://www.facebook.com/jannishagels/?fref=ts)