As I sit here, thinking about all the things I need to get done in the next few days before I leave for France (and obsessively looking up Arles on Google Maps), I keep telling myself not to stress out. I may have a lot to do, but I know that I also have a lot to look forward to.
My name is Aine, and I’m a Journalism and French major at Northwestern University who loves to eat, explore and tell stories. After my time in Arles, I’ll be heading to Paris for the fall to pursue an internship at a French magazine with IFE (Internships in Francophone Europe), and I couldn’t be more excited for the next six months in France. I’ve been taking French classes since second grade, so this trip really feels like a culmination of all the time I’ve put in to learning the language – I’ve been waiting to go abroad for so long, I can’t even believe it’s finally happening.
Obviously, I’m super excited to get less shy about speaking French and to improve my conversation skills, but I’m also excited to travel to lots of different places, meet lots of different people, and try lots of different foods. What I’m most looking forward to, though, is the fact that there will never be a dull moment in Arles. Almost every week or weekend, there’s a new festival. Philly (my hometown) may be an entertaining city, but it’s nothing compared to Arles.
- During the first weekend of the program, la Fête de la Musique, featuring free concerts all over town, is bound to be a fun welcome.
- Then, just a week later is a festival that’s super unique to Arles – la Fête du Costume, or Pegoulado, when arlésiens dress up in traditional costumes, walk through the streets, and meet for a celebration at les Arènes.
- The first week of July is the opening week of Les Rencontres d’Arles, a world-renowned photography festival featuring famous names and amazing photos.
- And of course, on July 14th we get to celebrate la Fête Nationale, a.k.a. Bastille Day, but we also get to experience a week-long music festival called Les Suds that invites musicians from many different countries and cultures to entertain the crowds in Arles.
- Plus, we can’t forget all of our class field trips and group outings to beautiful, exciting places like les Baux de Provence, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence.
Obviously, boredom won’t be a problem during the next six weeks. I can’t wait to check out all of the exciting festivals going on in the culturally vibrant town and to visit other quaint Provençal sites, but I also can’t wait for the quieter moments, like sitting in a coffee shop, people watching and taking in the everyday sights, or enjoying a relaxed dinner outside with my host family. But I know that no matter what I’m doing, whether I’m sitting peacefully or dancing wildly, my Arles experience is going to be the time of my life.
Although I may be nervous and unsure about some aspects of my trip (like meeting all the new people in my program, navigating life with a host family and adjusting to a different culture), I try to remember one thing – keep an open mind. Going with the flow isn’t always easy, but I know that it’s the key to having an amazing time abroad. So, let the adventures begin!