First week in France!

Hi! My name is Dorrie Brennick and I am a senior in the Interior Design program at UNH, and I’m spending my semester at IAU in Aix en Provence, France. We live with host families here in Aix, which was one of my biggest worries coming here –along with not knowing any French– but, my host mom is absolutely amazing! I live with a single woman, as do many of the other students in our program. She doesn’t speak any english, so it’s an adventure to say the least.  I actually love that she doesn’t speak english because I am forced to learn the language. Every night we have the most amazing meal that we eat with our neighbor and her american student, who luckily speaks french! We are going to Spain as a “family” the weekend after this one. I could go on and on forever about how much I love it here!  Just a few things that are very different than home: the shower head is not mounted on the wall (yes, I’m allowed to shower every day!) and the toilet is in a separate room than the sink and the shower… even in pubic bathrooms! There are very rarely separated men’s and women’s rooms, if there are bathrooms at all. At school you have to go down to the end of the hall way and there are two stalls, with a sink in the hallway.. it’s very strange.  They don’t keep their milk in the refrigerator until they open it, and we eat dinner really late. The dinner lasts for two hours because we always talk while we eat bread and cheese at the end of our meal. Now that I have been here for 2 weeks I am finally getting settled, and life is starting to slow down a little bit. The French live a lot slower, and they just enjoy life… which isn’t hard when you’re in the South of France!

In terms of classes, they are all so interesting! Of course my senior studio with Jesse, our professor from UNH, is amazing. We are designing a library and we are studying how people behave in places like cafes, which is perfect for Aix! I’m also taking creative writing which, is very interesting, and I hope to improve my writing skills so that I can better express myself when presenting projects in my career. I’m taking 6 credits of French, which is awesome, but I wish I had more! Coming here with no french is VERY difficult, and although I am learning fast, I want to learn faster! I’m so ready to interact more with the people of Aix. I’m also taking painting at the Marchutz school. Our first week we jumped right in and drew a nude model! Its an amazing class and I’m learning a lot about drawing, and the psychology behind it. The last class I’m taking is Art history. We get to go to Paris for five days in November, to see the Louvre and many other museums! SO excited!

Our first weekend in France was amazing! We went on an excursion with all of the IAU students to Nice, Monaco, and Monte Carlo. The day started at 8am, meeting downtown for the bus to Nice. We spent the day on the pebble beach and swimming in the amazingly blue water! It’s really weird to swim in the Mediterranean because the water is so salty, which makes you more buoyant, but at the same time it’s more work because it’s harder to move through. Around 3pm, we went for a hike up a hill to take pictures and to look around at the view! We then tried to take a tour of old Nice, but we got gellato instead. It was delicious and they have every flavor you can think of. They even have beer and tobacco flavors. Gross. I got chocolate and raspberry. It was a very relaxing day. Then we got back on the bus to drive a little over a half our to our hostel in Monaco. It was unbelievably beautiful! It has this huge garden with little rows of rooms. We all showered and got ready quickly before dinner at the hostel, and then headed off to the Monte Carlo casino! To be honest, I expected the casino to be like the Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods, and have like a mall or other entertainment beside gambling, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was a great big beautiful Baroque-looking building, and that’s about it. From the Architecture side it was really interesting to see, but once I talked to Jesse, our professor who came on the trip, she pointed out all the little details that showed that it was from a different time period. The casino was very sophisticated, it had live music, and there was a 10 euro cover to get into the gambling room. The drinks were around 12-20 euro, and I mean it was pretty and all but I did not need to spend two hours there because everything was too expensive and as a college student abroad there is not much room for gambling. It was much more sophisticated than imagined it being, and I definitely was not disappointed in the experience!

The next day we watched the changing of the guards at the palace of Monaco which was interesting and then we walked around a little bit. We went into the aquarium which was amazing! We saw all of the fish that are native of the Mediterranean sea. We then got to go on the roof of the aquarium for an amazing view. Everything is just so beautiful it’s a lot to take in.

Thats all for now! Miss you all at UNH!!




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  1. dear dorrie, sounds like you are having a great time and expeience! I miss you! your photos are great! I got a rug and curtains for Sean’s room and downstairs looks great! Thanks for your help! Now I know how to read your blog I can’t wait to hear in person! Wow Monaco! I always hear of all the rich people there! Good thing you have a great host family! Sean mentioned some that would have been a totally different experience for you! So Dorrie, Sweet dreams Love you! Kathy 1 you