Bonjour tout de monde!
Bienvenue à Arles, where the stone buildings are steeped in history and soaked in sunlight. Where the summers are filled with festivals of music and art. Where Vincent Van Gogh resided in 1888 and contemplated the perfections and imperfections of all that is the sunflower. Speaking of sunflowers, they are everywhere. As I sat on the bus bound for Arles I saw my first field of sunflowers (les tournesols) and came close to tears because for some reason I have been dreaming of being in the presence of a field of sunflowers in France in the summer for a very long time.
As you walk through the winding, cobblestoned streets, you look up and notice colorfully painted shutters on either side of the narrow road. You see clothes lines strung from window to window, allowing shirts and dresses to be dried by the afternoon sunlight. You see bikes propped against the sides of buildings, you see lavender being sold everywhere, you see vines clinging to the cracked stone walls. You’ve stepped back in time.
This evening happened to be the Fête de la Musique, so a few of us decided to explore a bit. It was lovely, music everywhere, families dancing in the streets. What was a bit funny though was that a lot of the music people were playing was American music. I smiled as locals danced to “Love Shack,” and “You Make Me Feel Like a Woman.” We did come across a large group of people doing traditional dances. We watched, enjoying the liveliness of the culture, but were quickly pulled into the dance! We joined hands and side-stepped to the accordion music in front of Roman ruins that were alight and spectacular and in that moment I thought it all was a dream.
There is so much to see, and I want to do it all at once! I look forward to visiting the Van Gogh museum, exploring the photography festival, going to the beach, trying the local foods, passing the time with my host family…Everything is beautiful and everything is exciting and suddenly I’m speaking French all the time. It’s difficult, I’ll be honest. A bit of a shock really to be conversing solely in French, but I can feel myself accumulating phrases and words already and it’s only the second day, which I think is reassuring. “Tournesol.” I didn’t know that word a day ago, and now it’s my favorite.
Classes begin on Monday, giving me all day tomorrow to explore!
More Blogs From This Author
<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);">Hello! My name is Hannah Jacobsma. I am a French and English double major at Hope College. I am studying abroad in Arles this summer for six weeks, and couldn't be more stoked! To explore and be immersed in this culture, meeting people of all kinds along the way, is what I look forward to the most. I'd love to share my journey with you all, and tell you stories along the way. ~Peace and Blessings</span></div>