The highlight of my last summer was studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, with 27 other students from Princeton. The program was housed in a French language institute, and on alternate days we had local French teachers and Princeton professors. The classes were a mix of everything: reading Zola’s novels, interviewing local nonprofits, writing poetry, presenting on current events in EU, lots of local excursions to museums, castles, Paul Cezanne’s studio and even attending cooking atelier. The program was a legit Princeton course, and it condensed a semester’s worth of material into four weeks, so you can imagine how fast-paced it was.
That being said, the program was much more than just moving the classroom to France; it was living the French life. My host mom made exquisite four-course French cuisine almost every night: salad, main course, cheese platter and dessert. Her cooking was fabulous, and with the aid of lots of guessing and hand gestures, sometimes our dinner table conversation naturally flowed for two hours. The city of Aix was very pedestrian-friendly. Wandering around, my classmates and I would go to the open-air market to buy fresh-picked strawberries and boiled fish with aioli for lunch; spend a few hours reading, chatting, people-watching in street corner cafes just like the French would; or relaxing and watching little kids play with pigeons around the fountains (fun fact: Aix is known as the City of a Thousand Fountains). You may wonder how we juggled between studying and exploring the town, but hey, isn’t “work hard, play harder” Princeton’s unofficial motto?