AUCP students have a lot in common. Whether they’re studying in Aix or in Marseille, they share a passion for all things French, a commitment to go the extra mile to reach French fluency, the desire to become part of the local community and to create lasting friendships in France, they come from top American universities and are often among the brightest in their class.
And while they share a lot, each one is unique. Today, we’d like you to meet Matt. This is part of an on-going series on Le Blog designed to introduce you to current AUCP students, and to show you how, despite their many similarities, they each have their own unique way of living with and like the French at the AUCP.
Bonjour Matt ! For starters, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Comparative Literature Major with a concentration in Philosophy at Fordham University in New York. At Fordham, I’m on the intermural soccer team and I write for university literary journal The Ampersand. I also tutor local Bronx high school students back in New York. I’ve been studying French since my Freshman year of High School, and I’ll be in here in Aix for both the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters.
How do you find your language partners?
They’re great. Gaetan and Vincent are two students at ENSAM – Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers – which is the university that specializes in engineering across the street from the AUCP Aix. I met their friend Pierre-Louis too, so I kind of adopted him as a third language partner. It was cool to be introduced into a group of friends that already existed, so I had a sort of network of French friends right away. Last week we hung out and made dinner at their résidence universitaire, or dorm, and we have plans to hike the nearby Sainte Victoire mountain soon. I’ve obviously learned a lot of French slang words, not at all the stuff we learn in class or read in books, but I’ve gotten a lot of general everyday vocab from them as well.
What are you doing for your community service?
I’m working at the Croix Rouge – France’s Red Cross. I started out helping in the store, but next week I’m going to work in the food service. I started pretty recently so we’ll see how it goes!
Can you tell us a little bit about your host family?
I live with my host mom, Yveline and her son Apo (Apollinaire) who is 14. My host mom is really well-read, and we talk a lot, especially about politics, philosophy and literature. I like how open she is about politics in general. We went on a hike in the neighboring hills recently, and she’s a great cook – she’s cooks with 100% organic food, so it’s a lot of fresh salads, home-made quiches and stuff like that. I’m also a massive soccer fan, so it’s great being able to play FIFA and talk about football with Apo; we watch a lot of the of the local team’s soccer games together too.
What is your favorite class so far?
I really enjoy the Immigrant Identities in Contemporary France class. We’ve read some really interesting books, and I’ve really enjoyed discovering the works of Jean-Marie G. Le Clézio (he won the 2008 Nobel Prize of Literature), especially the novel Désert, that we just finished. It has two simultaneous plots: one centered around a community of nomads in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, the other, an orphan girl Lalla who begins her story in Morocco then moves to modern Marseille, alone. The prose is really beautiful. I actually just finished the midterm. I think it went well, but it was really long and I’m glad it’s done!
I’m also doing the TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language class, and our work-study hours started last week. My first student was a middle-schooler. I think she was a little afraid of me at first – she didn’t really want to speak. But we started talking a bit and it seems that the lessons are going well.
What club or personal interest activity did you choose?
Since I got here I was looking for a philosophy club here in Aix. I FINALLY found one, it’s held in a café called the Café Culturel Citoyen, about a five-minute walk from the AUCP. There was a debate called “Les animaux et nous” – a debate around animals and humans. We talked a lot about industrial farming and animal treatment, and it was really interesting. Most importantly, I almost understood everything- so I’m pretty excited to go back.
Anything else you want to add about your first two months here at the AUCP?
Hmm. Well, I love the weather here, it’s been so nice out lately! I also have to say that I was surprised by how lively Aix is as a town. Coming from New York, I wasn’t really expecting much, but with so many students there really are a lot of things to do. And, it’s really refreshing how much the French read! And, it’s something we learned about in the French Cultural Patterns class – that France and the French have a tendency to value highly literature and education. My host mom and my language partners read a lot; they even know some American authors that I’m not familiar with so it makes for really interesting discussions. We have Fall break next week, so we’ll see what the next part of the semester has to offer!