Some really big news: after a series of unsuccessful attempts to get tickets to UEFA Euro 2016, held in France, I finally managed to get hold of a pair through the official marketing website. It basically took a whole day of signing in, queuing for about half an hour and hunting down tickets that would pop up. However, I got them in the end, at the point when everyone around me including the ‘External relations of the EU’ professor was cheering for me.
It happened that the very same year I’m living in Aix-en-Provence, Budapest Festival Orchestra was giving a concert in the city. It also happened that my father is playing in it, which led to a very unlikely family reunion. I managed to get some tickets for those of my friends who were bored by the Aix music scene (there is no such thing).
It’s almost the end of winter but the alleged South French warmth does not seem to be approaching. It turned out that the nice January weather was merely a scam and although the temperature is nothing like a hard winter in Eastern Europe, these spring mistral winds can chill to the bone.
Christmas break has passed and there have been lots of happenings in the South of France. Although returning to Aix was undeniably easier than my first arrival, there were some elements that made me like I’m at the beginning of a completely new journey. Lots of new people arrived on their exchange programmes, and there was the usual introductory period, not to mention the struggle with the French administration. In terms of travelling around, I took a trip to Amsterdam, and visited one of France’s most beutiful places.
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.
My initial enthusiasm to write this blog has been seriously disrupted by the events in Paris and the frenzy that broke out afterwards. First, I absolutely hated the idea of writing anything other than condolences. Not as if I had anything against people sharing their thoughts, but especially during the first days, Facebook was full of hysterical and later deleted statuses, pointless debates, and religious expertise. The second thing I really wanted to avoid was to take up the role of the survivor or someone who is really involved; Aix is 750 kilometres away from Paris, and although Marseille is close, this place is hardly targeted by anyone other than tourists and exchange students. Continue reading
It’s been more than a month since my arrival, but things have only recently calmed down. I believe that I’m past the first few weeks of trying to sort my life out, finding friends, going to ridiculous Erasmus parties every day, and visiting the neighbouring tourist sites (Although there’s still an average of 1 ridiculous Erasmus party and 1 neighbouring tourist site per week). So far, life in Aix has been incredibly easy and inexplicably hard at the same time. Unfortunately I couldn’t say I’m making it easier for myself.
This is the second time that I’m going to live and study in a country that I’m completely unfamiliar with. This time this is even truer as I don’t speak any French (although the Geordie accent was a hard one too). Not that I’m trying to overestimate the situation, obviously everyone involved knew this before accepting my application, so it’s fair game. But apart from my studies, everything will be in French and these people aren’t famous for speaking any other language. So overall, I’m slightly worried, but also looking forward to my year.