Life in Aix en Provence is pretty laid back and chilled, making it a wonderful destination for any year abroad student! You'll soon join the locals around the central plaza, enjoying a café or a nice drink. It's a great studenty town, you're close to some fantastic landmarks (I went to the breathtaking Mont Sainte-Victoire and highly recommend it, although it's a bit of a trek).
Marseille's pretty close, and it's great for shopping, you can enjoy some really pretty walks around the port and tuck into some fresh shellfish served in most of the restaurants. I also went to nearby towns like Saint-Tropez, Les Gorges de Verdon and Arles, for a few weekend trips. One place not to miss is the Iles d'Hyères which were beautiful - transparent water, sandy beaches and picturesque ports!
Useful local words: 'Aixois, 'je kiff'.
What not to pack: There's no need for sheets or kitchen equipment as flats generally come furnished.
What to pack: Some sunblock and a student card.
Couldn't have done without: My headset for Skype.
Word of advice: Make friends with the locals, you'll get to grips with the language and they might even have a car! Great for trips round the Southern Riviera.
Donatella, French and Spanish, Bristol