Some tips we learned in Aix-en-Provence, and general travel advice for young people:
1. It is always a great idea to go to the local tourism office (if one exists) in person, because they can often provide great deals and advice on trips! If there is a website for the tourism office, that can work too. For us, it worked best to verify the bus schedules and fees in person at the tourism office.
2. Cheap flights exist! Two sites that have helped us are Skyscanner and StudentUniverse.
3. We stayed in an Airbnb for the week, which had a kitchen. If you’re staying in an Airbnb for longer than a few days and think you’d like to cook, it’s a great idea to see if a full kitchen is in the apartment! That provides the opportunity to buy groceries in the local city and cook for yourself, which can save a lot of money. We made some great meals in our little kitchen, which also created a great atmosphere to enjoy each others’ company without the pressures or customs of a restaurant.
4. As a college student, it is always a great idea to carry your college ID with you everywhere you go because you can get a lot of discounts for transportation, museums, and sometimes even certain restaurants. To go along with this, be sure to ask at places like museums if a youth/college pass exists, even if one is not clearly advertised. Often times, it does.
5. This nugget of advice is geared more specifically towards those speaking another language abroad, but in new places never be afraid to ask for clarification or ask for people to speak slower. In some instances (and luckily this hasn’t happened to me), vendors, cashiers, drivers, or other individuals might recognize an American accent and attempt to swindle you. Just because you are not a native speaker of the language does not mean you’re naïve or able to be duped, so it is important to stick up for yourself. Make sure you fully understand the conditions of an agreement, the price of a ride, or the situation of living place before proceeding. It is also helpful to know simple phrases such as Ça ne m’intéresse pas (that doesn’t interest me) or Pas aujourd'hui (not today) if people approach you in the street (which is quite common).
6. Along with this, do not be afraid to ask questions if you are at all unsure of the route of a bus, or your location. When we took the bus from the center of Aix-en-Provence north to Montagne Sainte-Victoire, we missed the stop for the mountain because the stops weren’t well signed. We asked the bus driver, after a while of driving where to get off the mountain to learn that we’d missed the stop. You can never be too prudent, so in the future we’ll most likely: 1) Tell the bus driver our desired destination upon boarding the bus and 2) Follow the stops on the bus route to make sure we don’t miss it.
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<p>I remember creating things from a very young age. What began as duct tape figurines and short stories as a child have transformed into projects of scale today. One of my favorite activities is to sew, but I also love to write. Self-expression through art and writing has always been a strong part of my identity. My hope for the future is to bring my creativity into the world in new ways by creating relationships with people and helping to create solutions to real-world problems. Learning another language is, I think, an important piece to understanding the world a little better, and to knowing how to better serve the people in it. As an IES Correspondent, I hope my writing can help other students to understand study abroad, me, and the beautiful world around us through my daily adventures!</p>