Dead camera + power outage = no photos for you. At least I think it’s a power outage – maybe it’s somehow an extension of French electrical thriftiness. I will ask my host mother. (note, later: we’re not sure what that was about, but it’s probably our fault. I assume we leave lights on all over the place like the Americans we are).

Classes today! Well. Two of them. So that 307 French class I’m in isn’t a mistake as far as the administration is concerned; my theory is that they saw COM/JOU 307 and remembered the number wrong when entering my French classes, but I’m on the roster and everything. However, everyone else in it has at least seven semesters of college French (or equivalent), which is two – count ’em – TWO ENTIRE MORE YEARS than I have. On the other hand, I understood almost everything that our professor said, she seems awesome, I like the other students, and I really want to take a conversation class – doesn’t that just sound better than “grammar and usage”? What better way to give my speaking/understanding skills a good kick in the rear? If I wanted easy French classes, I would’ve stayed home. So my plan is to stick it out until the drop/add deadline and see whether a) my optimism is entirely unfounded and b) she flunks my first composition assignment. If so, it’s the three-day weekend for me. What a choice.

Happily, Painting & Drawing has no such caveats. We walked out to the atelier today, which is about a thirty-minute walk south from the school, right by the Parc de la Torse, Aix’s biggest and most popular park. The class is a real mix – all majors, all skill levels, even some boys (if you’re counting, they comprise 5 of the 20 students, which fully 25% of the program’s male contingent). Monsieurs Alan Roberts and John Gasparach, our laid-back, personable, wiry salt-and-pepper-haired professeurs, have been painting together at the Marchtuz School since the 1970s (!). They have a special relationship with Aix’s best art store and have set up accounts for all of us there. We get Army surplus backpacks AND easels and palettes to tote around in them. This week and next we’re sketching nude models; after that we’ll be out in the countryside for five weeks, visiting Cézanne’s beloved Mt. Sainte-Victoire and having other painterly adventures.

No photos, but look! That's the mountain! That's my city, too. It's kind of hard to tell.

When asked why they were taking this class, lots of people had the same answer as I did: we like art, it sounded like an adventure, and we never would have gotten into the intro art classes at our home schools. Although we were all thrilled to be there, that’s kind of a shame. There should be more classes open to the unexperienced.

Okay, it is très bizarre to go from the block schedule to this. I don’t have class until 15:30 tomorrow, and I don’t get out until 18:55! Also I have huge breaks in the middle of every day, wut? I’m reeling. It’s also strange not to have piles of extracurriculars eating up my in-between times. Not that I’m not working on that – remember I’m meeting with that choir directer tomorrow, and there’s a meeting with a volunteer-placement group on Friday. I read somewhere that you can volunteer to pick olives. I really want to do this. I don’t know why. But I would be the happiest olive picker in Provence.

Part of my genius plan to conquer this totally-out-of-my-league French class is to not fall asleep while I’m in it. So I’m gonna go to bed. Alors, à demain, j’espère avec des photos.

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