As a lifetime resident of our little town of Andover, but still a traveler of the country and the world, I had been looking forward to every aspect of European Art Classroom since I first heard about it as a prospective Proctor student - which, as a ‘faculty brat’, has really been since I was born.
Leaving home, setting out by myself as an independent individual for the longest period of time in my entire life, was as much exciting as it was daunting. It was hard to leave my family, since my dad had passed away from ALS just a week before my departure, but I knew that pushing my boundaries and exploring the wide world that was ever so readily at my fingertips was the right path, the path I needed to take.
Arriving in Aix was like stepping in to a dream. Leaving rainy, cold, snowy New England and landing in this brand new world full of emerald cypress trees and red clay soil, of blackened vineyards and white limestone rocks shining in the sun, was a feeling so intense, so incredible it did not seem real.
Even now, a week and a half into the experience, it still does not quite seem real at times, but rather some wonderful illusion that could shatter at any moment.
But it does not, and we continue to explore the narrow cobbled streets, dodging the moped drivers who do not fear death.
We continue to meet every night for dinner, laughing our way through whatever happened that day and learning more about each other with every passing moment. As each day goes by, we learn so much, but steadily realize we have so much more to learn.
This world has only begun to unfold before us, and we can do nothing but absorb as much as we can. Exploring the house and the surrounding trails, taking in the views of Mont Sainte Victoire, painting unnoticed in the shade of some stranger’s vineyard trees, and abandoning the American traditions we have always held in our heart in favour for the new traditions, customs, and quirks has opened our eyes more in a week than any traditional education has in four years.
Aix itself has already wormed its way into our hearts, with its fast-paced drivers and slow-paced dining. Life here is a wonderful blend of thrilling and comforting, with a perfect blend of new things to try every day.
Adrenaline is constantly pumping through our veins, as is the lifeblood of France, which we ingest and embrace wholeheartedly. It’s hard to accept that one week is already gone.