Monday, May 2, 2011

Aix-en-Provence, France, *Matthew Williams

Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, just north of Marseille in the south.

For how long? (and why did you choose that length?)
I decided to go to learn French, so I chose to go for a year with this goal in mind. Many PhD candidates and friends told me that to achieve what one may call "fluency", a year is incomparable to a semester. Plus, I was bored in the US and I needed a changeup.

Which program did you go through?
My program was through the University of Michigan Office of International programs.

Pre-departure preparations
My preparations included listening to French music, reading French novels, and speaking with natives when I could. I also did my best to look at pictures of the city and get as excited as possible.

Beginning experiences and feelings upon arrival?
I loved the city. The arrival was a bit tough because when you first arrive it is hard to find your way around. But this is something everyone goes through, and there is no way around it.
Other than that, I was nervous when I arrived to set up my phone, learn my way around, start cooking, etc.. It can be overwhelming, but it was easier when I took it one step at a time.

Culture shock? excitement? nervous?
Aside from what I said above, it was all excitement. I left home knowing I would come back, so this let me take in everything much easier. I missed food in the US, but once I experienced the new cuisine I easily adapted.

Best part
The people, the beaches, and the weather. I loved passing days at the beach drinking wine with my French friends!

Overall experience
The best decision of my entire life. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Matthew Williams is a student at the University of Michigan

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