Building a Community in Aix

The beauty of travel always lies in the unexpected.

A fellow student (Kathy) with Paul Cezanne.

A fellow student (Kathy) with Paul Cezanne.

Studying French at IS-Aix, Kathy and I have been lucky in several respects. Our teachers are bright and have a sense of humor. We’re in separate classes so we’ve met twice as many people. The students in our classes – from Switzerland and Ireland, Brazil and Russia, China and Australia, Canada and Great Britain – have ranged in age from their 20s to about 70. And, like us, many are here for extended stays so we’ve had time to make friends as we’ve studied – friends across cultures, across generations, across political perspectives.

What we all share, it seems, is a love for the French language, for daily life in France and for our school’s international ambiance.

It’s true. Our conversations are sometimes opaque, but they’re generally lively and often filled with laughter. Next week much will change. Kathy and I will end our first round, at least, of study. And many of our newfound friends are leaving, heading back to Switzerland, a month in the States, a business trip to Italy … whatever. And so Roger from Switzerland and Sunil, from Great Britain and it seems just about everywhere else, organized a spur-of-the-moment dinner for 9 at a tapas restaurant in Aix tonight.

The food was great, the company even better. Tomorrow is salsa day at IS after classes end so our collective fun should continue at least one more day. And stay tuned: our Australian friend Sarah and I will try our hand again at bridge with the geriatric French card sharks next Monday.

Don’t tell anyone, but we’re already plotting our revenge.

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