The Mole Diaries: Aix-en-Provence (Volume 5)
About the university
Registering at Aix-Marseille Université on arrival should be relatively easy, as long as you turn up on time and bring any required documents. For me, the confusion came when I had to pick modules, as you have to go to each department and choose classes from the timetables (making sure of no clashes!). If you are in this situation I would advise you not to panic, and to take your time. At least by the end of it I knew my way a bit better around the maze of the ‘Fac de Lettres’ building.
I found that the classes were different from those of my home university and also lasted longer. Having a three hour class is a normal thing, so it’s a good idea to eat something before it and to bring a bottle of water. Even if it is a hard-going linguistics class, be sure to stay awake in case you get asked a question!
There is a theatre at the university and I would say it’s definitely worth going to see at least one of the performances, which are put on by students (a good chance to improve your French listening skills as you try to follow the storyline!). Take time to read the posters on the walls and to notice boards around the university as you will find some interesting events taking place there and elsewhere.
Aix-en-Provence has a plethora of places to hang out, including some nice cafés.
A personal favourite of mine was Coco Bohème, and I know that it will be a favourite for many other students. No matter what was in store for the rest of the week, my friends and I would manage to make time for the chocolate fountain and tea (there are plenty of flavours to choose from) on a Monday evening, accompanied by board games. There is also a quiz night and an open mic night so it’s all happening there!
Another gem of a place is L’Orienthé, a ‘salon de thé’ which we discovered later on in the semester. I’m glad we came across it as it has a relaxed atmosphere with cool and colourful decor. The mint tea is particularly good, and so are the waffles.
If you are looking to go to a café during the day, L’AIXTRA is ideal. It’s quite small but pleasant nevertheless, and you can buy soup and sandwiches to go along with your chai tea latte or whichever drink you feel like.
Top Ten Survival Tips
1. Take advantage of being a student
There is free entry (for students under 26 years of age) to Musée Granet
Accept that it’s not so serious if the student cards take a while to be ready, or that shops are closed for most of Sunday.
3. Listen in class and take some time to look over notes
It will make lessons throughout the year more enjoyable, and you will feel better for it when it comes to any exams or assessments.
A visit to the market will brighten up your day!
5. Be prepared
Carry an umbrella if there is a chance you might get caught out in the rain. If near a road, you are likely to get splashed by a puddle ... an umbrella makes for a good shield.
6. Don't panic
If you get lost in the streets of the Old Town, find your way back to Cours Mirabeau and start again.
7. Do things, go places and meet people
It was the amazing people I met and the amazing places I visited that made my ‘Aix’perience so ... amazing!
8. Remember to sleep and have some rest!
All that studying and exploring the beautiful places near Aix can be exhausting so take time to recharge your batteries.
9. Practice the language
Speak French and persevere!
10. When it’s finally time to leave, try not to be too upset!
Know that you have lasting memories, and can always come back to visit Aix-en-Provence in the future.