I’ve finished up my first week of classes with IES, and it’s hard to say exactly what I’m feeling right now. I’ve made friends, really gotten to like Arles, and am very comfortable with my host family, but the specifics are harder to pinpoint.
Well, let’s go through the story here. I arrived in Paris a few days before IES Arles started, and stayed in a rented apartment room. This was my first trip alone, my first time outside the States, and my first plane ride, so you can imagine that I was slightly nervous. I ended up paying an exorbitant amount for a cab from Roissy to the apartment, got lost in Paris, and felt really alone and scared. The next couple of days were better, though, and I saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, the Gardens of Tuileries, the house of Victor Hugo, and a few other places before getting on the TVG to head south. The French countryside was beautiful, and I actually ended up riding in the same car as another IES student. Arriving in Arles, I met my host brother and some other students, saw the town, and went out to the hotel where we had orientation. No wifi, little cell signal, and pretty disconnected from the modern world, it was definitely an experience. I got to know some of the IES students and made some friends before moving into my host family’s house a week ago.
Then the real fun started. I met my host family, who have been absolutely wonderful, and prepared myself for classes. I’m taking the classes on French theater and French immigration, both of which I have enjoyed so far. The Monday through Thursday routine was the same: wake, shower, breakfast, get ready, lunch, classes, go home, relax and do homework, dinner, spend time with the other students, and go to bed. I kind of like routines, though. Friday, however, we went to Avignon, about an hour’s bus ride north of Arles, where we saw the Palace of the Popes, the contemporary art museum, rode a Ferris wheel, and walked along their section of the Rhone. Both Arles and Avignon are gorgeous places, and while I plan on going to the theater festival in Avignon, I’m happy that I’m in Arles. It’s much more friendly and welcoming.
Honestly, the only real difficulty I had was adjusting. I never really thought of it as culture shock, as it wasn’t necessarily the French culture that I had issues with, but rather adjusting to being alone, doing new things, and having to face an unknown place. Once I got to Arles, settled in, and made some friends, though, it was all good. Every day has been a pleasure, and I look forward to what’s to come each day I wake up.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Miller McLean, and I am a rising senior majoring in English and French while minoring in German at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, but have always wanted to get out and see the world. At school, I am involved in the German Club, the Culture Committee, and the pre-law organization Phi Alpha Delta. In my free time, I like to read, write, and play music. Since beginning my French studies in high school, I have taken an interest in foreign languages and cultures, and I hope that my stay in Arles will help expand my world view and improve my knowledge of French. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that France will offer me, and I hope you enjoy my posts about my journey!</span></div>