Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Language exchange in Aix-en-Provence

I'm heading to Aix-en-Provence and since I'm fed up with highways, I decide to get there via Apt and make it in two rides. The road is very picturesque, with many switchbacks, crossing the Luberon Mountains. Once again, I feel I miss the Alps.

I'm staying in Aix with Alejandro. He's Spanish, doing his Erasmus exchange in France for one year. We talk about studying systems in Spain and Poland and I'm really surprised that they have to do compulsory two years at a foreign university during their study course. After his Erasmus in France Ale is heading to Munich, Germany for the summer and after this to Limerick, Ireland for another one year. He's finished with his classes and now he's expecting his final exams. Right the day after he's flying to Paris for five days and hopes to be successful at all his exams so that he doesn't have to think about retaking them during his holidays. He's upset because not many trips are organized for the Erasmus students and if there are any, they're high price for low quality, leaving in the morning and coming back in the evening. During this time they visit three towns and have very little time to see the place, take photos, have some lunch, etc. We both agree that such traveling is not traveling at all, since you jump from one spot to the other, don't take your time to really experience the place, but focus on taking cute photos. We say strict "no" to "one hour here, two hours there".

We're both passionate about languages, so we make a language exchange. We're joined by Fatima, Ale's French friend of Moroccan descent and together the three of us speak nine languages: English, Spanish, French, Polish, Danish, Arabic, Greek, German and Korean. We write words using different scripts and I realize that learning a language that uses different script doesn't always have to be difficult. We use google translate and then correct its mistakes, laugh our heads off when the other person struggles to read some freaking tongue twister in another language, talk about different hacks to learn a language. We can't stop talking and finally go to sleep at 4.30 in the morning. Just before going to sleep Ale shows me his birthday gift, a German dictionary with mainly dirty expressions. I come to a conclusions that German is definitely not the most romantic language and hearing "Ich will dich ficken" would make me want to laugh rather than make love.



The next day we wake up quite late so our walking tour of Aix also starts late. We see the cathedral, main walking street, mairie, Fatima's faculty. Ale gets really excited when he sees that a store with Spanish products is open and can't resist the temptation to buy some sweets, four times more expensive here than in his home country.


Aix reminds me of Paris, with its big walking street, stores with the most fashionable brands and heaps of tourists. It reminds me of it, but doesn't impress me so much. It also reminds me of Poland, because of big blocks of flat whose condition is not the highest. It looked much nicer at nighttime, when we walked from Ale and Fatima's friend's apartment - all illuminated with lights, in much brighter colors than during the day, with people enjoying their dinner outside at the tiny streets. Maybe when you discover it better, it becomes a beautiful city? Nevertheless, I really enjoyed passing time with Ale and Fatima, and Ale really enjoyed the cake I made for him.


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