Our Meet an AUCP Student series continues, read on to see what an AUCP experience looks like in Marseille!
Bonjour ! For starters, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Salut, my name is Lars. I’m an Anthropology major from Grinnell College. I’m curious, I like learning about things in general. I especially love languages – I speak French and Dutch, and now am enjoying learning Arabic. I also like playing sports (just for fun), watching games and listening to music.
So, what do you think of Marseille?
Marseille is not a typical place to study abroad, or until recently, to be a tourist. But I really enjoyed this fact. Marseille is a city that feels very authentic, where you are able to pick up on the culture and general feel of the area relatively quickly.
What’s your language partner like?
Her name is Camille. She’s really nice; she has lots of friends and knows a lot of people. It’s great, because she has a great network. That also means that we don’t see each other as often as I’d like, but we go get drinks from time to time and we recently went to Marseille’s International Fair (Foire Internationale de Marseille) with her friends.
What are you doing for your community service?
I’m at the Croix Rouge and the Restos du Coeur. I do what is called une maraude. A maraude is a a night distribution of food and meals for those who don’t have the means to buy what they need in different areas of Marseille. We started to load up the food around 5:30pm, and I didn’t get back home until 11:30pm. It was really interesting to see this other part of Marseille that I’d never seen before, and to see that the people we were helping were all so different. There were homeless people, but also couples, young men, retired or elderly people, families…it’s a pretty incredible experience to participate in.
Can you tell us a little bit about your host family?
My host family is just my host mom, Sylvie, but there is also another woman from Macedonia that rents a room in the apartment. Her place has a great convivial ambiance: there are always people over, it’s lively, she has garden parties…it’s great. She goes out often too, sometimes we go out to restaurants together. Sylvie loves to cook and the meals are always great. There is always something to eat!
What is your favorite class so far?
Well like I said before, I love languages. So for me, Arabic is really interesting, because it’s completely new to me. And actually, now that I think about it, the language is new for everyone (no one had done Arabic before in our class). Although it’s difficult to learn a new language, especially with a new alphabet, it’s a challenge I enjoy.
What club or personal interest activity did you choose?
I’m on a basketball team. I like that it gets me moving and active and the coach is great. At times it’s a little hard to understand him because he speaks quickly and he uses a lot of technical terms. But I understand more or less because some of the basketball terms are in English, and the other players on the team explain the rest. My team mates are younger than I am, and it can be hard to understand them as well, because they use A LOT of slang, but I understand better and better. You can’t blame them, with my friends back home we use a lot of slang too!
Anything you’d like to share about Morocco?
Morocco was amazing.. Since the beginning of the semester, we’ve been speaking French and we’ve learned classical Arabic, whereas Moroccans speak the Moroccan Arabic dialect. Moroccans study French in school and they learn classical Arabic to be able to read the Koran, but they speak the Moroccan dialect every day. If we spoke classical Arabic with them, it would be weird, kind of like if we spoke like in the Bible! But overall, we did a lot in one week. I really enjoyed the experience of living with a Moroccan host family and meeting my Moroccan language partner (pictured above). The experience would have been completely different in a hotel; I’m glad I really got to see how Moroccan families live.
How would you sum up your time here at the AUCP?
Hmm. There are so many new things! I have friends studying abroad in other cities…they spend much more time with other Americans. With the AUCP, it’s just not the same. With my host family, the club, etc…I don’t really feel like a tourist or like a typical Amercan. Even though I’m well aware that I’m not French, I like I that I don’t feel like an outsider, but more like a participant in my surroundings. Marseille isn’t very touristy, which makes it easier to understand and apprehend the culture of the city. We’re almost always only around the « Marseillais » every day, I’m learning so much about the people around me and I like that.