Alors, my excellent housemate Laura saved the day by loaning me her adapter. I’m still not clear exactly why mine don’t work, but it seems easier to go buy some that do than to keep pondering this mystery. There is too much else to be pondered.
Oh yes! I have a housemate. Here we are with Paul Cézanne:
We had a quiet morning, though we both got up early because apparently neither of us can stand being haphazardly unpacked. I think I’m going to have to get used to eating less for breakfast; Madame our host-mother is wonderful, but appears to be a bit lassiez-faire about le petit déjeuner. When in Rome, eh? Well, it used to be Rome. In 123 BC. Can’t complain about dinner, though – the quiche Lorraine was déliceux!
At 14:00 (that’s 2:00 PM to you rubes in the US – ah! joke!) we set out with Madame for more walking. P.S. I love walking. I’m going to walk everywhere, all the time. There are a fair amount of cars around (très petites, by American standards) but pedestrians rule the roads by sheer force of numbers. Want to walk in the middle of the street, instead of the very narrow sidewalks? Pas problème. In the old city none of the cars can go faster than a stately 10 kph anyway. We retraced our route to school, then circled around to the Place de la Rotonde (a central roundabout with the plus grande fontaine in the middle and a giant statue of le Roi Réne, last King of Provence – appropriately, this is where Monsieur Cézanne resides also). On the way we saw the end of a performance of traditional Provençal dancing, in le costume folklorique, which I didn’t get a picture of because I’m the worst travel photographer evar. We also sampled that particularly Aixois speciality, the calisson – an amazing sweet made of candied melon-almond-orange peel jelly sandwiched in royal icing. I didn’t get pictures of these either, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities. Nom.
We ambled back to IAU in time for the open house at 16:00, a chaotic but enthusiastic event attended by almost all the incoming students. Even the open house refreshments are different here: palmiers and Orangina instead of potato chips and Coke (although le Coca is omniprésent). The extremely noisy meet-and-greet was conducted without the aid of an officious adult on a microphone or neatly computer-printed name tags, which was great. Almost no one knew anyone else. I remember only a handful of names, but seeing any familiar face again will be a cause for mutual celebration.
Finally the noise and heat became a little much and Laura and I escaped with a group of other girls (the boys in this program are quite outnumbered, though they put up a good showing) who also live in the southeast part of the city. With an hour plus to kill before any of us had to be home for dinner, we stopped at a boulangerie et café and made the mademoiselle inside roll her eyes at our precocious but terrible attempts at mannerly ordering. If the rest of my baguette is still edible in the morning, I plan to slather it with Nutella and thus augment my breakfast in an acceptably French manner.
We got all the way back to our neighborhood trying to find Sara’s house, without luck, and resorted to asking the père of another friend’s host family for directions. Much pointing at maps and incomprehension of French ensued. Finally, but with good grace, he threw up his hands, said, Ai ai ai, des Americaines!, and took us there himself (Laura and I tagged along because Sara had only arrived in Aix this morning after a harrowing journey, and was having the same language trouble we all had yesterday when we were still exhausted). Regardez, he said, pointing out that the numbers on the street go up in one direction and down in the other. Il n’est pas compliqué. We said thank you like a hundred times (de rien, de rien) and dropped Sara off.
Also, a photo of my room! You can’t see it off to the left, but I have the most awesome wardrobe ever, which holds all of my worldly possessions. When I grow up, I want one.
Tomorrow is orientation. We’re walking down to school with Candice and Valerie, who are staying RIGHT next door. To keep you updated on my language panic, today I understood perhaps ten words in thirty, which was very encouraging. My responses were also considerably less vapid, though I still employ the smile-and-nod rather frequently. À demain, les lecteurs!