I SURVIVED MY FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL…kind of. My mind is a little tattered after the first week, a couple of classes left me bind boggled you could say. They speak so darn fast! But I came out un scared.

My courses consist of my internship class, grammar, contemporary history of monotheism with a focus on judaism, multiculturalism and conversation. In my monotheism class every student had to read a book off of the syllabus, I was panicking on a number of grounds 1. because I had to read in front of people, which I do not enjoy doing even in english 2. the books had the dates that they were published, and anybody who has taken french knows that saying the years is one of the hardest things to do because there is no correlation to the numbers in english! Sheer panic. So another american student was before me, she read fine, when it came to my turn I read it and the teacher stops and says “oh mademoiselle, you have such a pretty english accent, where are you from”. Ugh. Spot the foreign kid in your class. Everybody turned to look at me. I was absolutely mortified. But on a positive note he now knows that his class contains foreigners and when he is giving his lectures and comes across a word that is difficult he will translate it for “the Canadian” in the classroom.

My classes I think will be good, I just know that I am really going to have to try in them. My one class was in an amphitheatre of probably over 100 students, which isn’t an obscene amount of people, but from somebody who come from a small campus where the largest class size was 30 students. That was big. Otherwise I think my transition into the new school has been fairly smooth. I have already found my favourite spot to people watch. Bonus.

Yesterday my family took me to a wedding of a couple from their church. Now having that been my first wedding ever it was pretty cool! It was in an old church my host dad said was built in the 18th century I think, very beautiful. Now, I wasn’t totally aware of what was going on the entire time as the ceremony was in French, but it was a very lovely ceremony, and after we walked around the little town to take pictures of the bride and groom and then returned to the couples home where we dined on an obscene amount of French food. I was in heaven. I felt bad because this poor couple had no idea who I was, let alone why there was a little Canadian student at their wedding and here I was eating all their food! The wedding was fun, I was able to meet a couple young girls who live by my family who were very nice at helping me with my french and they wanted to practice their english which was a nice break! And I met a couple from Britain who was at the wedding and I didn’t feel as bad, the man had an even worse accent than I did and he has been speaking french for 5 years. Thank you, there is hope for me.

I have made a couple of observations since being in France. Number 1 being the bread here is fantastic. I don’t care how cliche it is to say the French have good bread, they do. So if you go, eat it all. Number 2, I will never drive a car while I am here. Not only are the cars tiny ( I can count on one hand how many trucks I have seen here which is a change from my Alberta setting ) but the roads are just as tiny. Half the time when I am driving with my host parents, I’m sure that if we’re not going to knick the cars parked on the side, were going to hit the pedestrian on the sidewalks, or have a head on collision with the cars coming at us. These drivers are crazy and I dont think that I could keep up with them. I dont know if any of you have ever seen the Italian Job, but in the film there are a bunch of mini coopers that they drive around like race cars, dipsy doodling through tight spaces and that is what I think of every time I get in a car here. Number 3, I will marry a man who owns an orchard. That way I can eat all the fruit I want, and live in a beautiful sunny location. My host mom took me to this gem of a market not far from our house and they grow the best fruit. The fruit is always so fresh, and always locally grown. There are these tiny markets throughout Montpellier on any given day, and if anybody knows me, I cannot give up a good market/flea market/vintage shop which these markets have everything, from fresh fruit to meat & cheeses, clothing, books, they have it all. And I have become completely enthralled in attending these markets. Number 4, I love the beaches. To me the beaches have a kind of California buzz to them, but a little more relaxed. Luxurious houses all along the coast and vendors pulling pull carts selling coffee and ice cream through the sand. Makes you never want to leave. However, I dont think I can get used to the size of the bathing suites for men. Men in speedos everywhere, i’m not sure if i’m just not used to it, but it always seems so strange seeing all the men in the tiny bathing suites!

Today it was a cold 27 degrees so we decided to go to the beach and have a picnic. It was so nice to lie out in the sun in the middle of september which seems ridiculous that its still this hot! There were probably hundreds of boats out and about and not a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect sunday. Take this for what it is, as cliche and cheesy as it sounds, I was out floating off the shore watching everything happen on the beach and I felt very calm and serene and I felt truly thankful for all of the opportunities that had been given to me that have lead me to where I am. To anybody who has contributed in my endeavours and supported me to this point, Thank You. This is one of those experiences that no matter how hard it may be at times, is helping me grow and become a better person. As of today I have been here an entire month which seems preposterous, the time is flying by and I look forward to every new day.

Ashley Wilson is studying abroad at Université Paul-Valéry in Montpellier, France, with the University of Minnesota.