Well here it is: my final entry. I have no idea how all this time flew by in what seems like an instant, but I can say that it has changed me as well as the way I see the world. From the international colleagues encountered in classes, to the friends both from around the world and Loyola that I hope to keep in lifetime contact with as we somberly return back to our realities, I have been impacted. What started out as a short study abroad program in a beautiful city to alleviate my schedule and polish my French somehow became a turning point in my life. There is no way I could ever say I regret a single instant of my adventure, and I am beyond thrilled and so incredibly grateful that I was able to experience all that was offered.
My last week in Aix was memorable to say the least. Monday after class we headed out to the Atelier Cezanne (or Cezanne’s studio) to see the inspiration and workplace of one of the most well known painters in the world. In the atelier still stand some original pots, sculptures, skulls, and fabrics that were painted over and over again by Cezanne and hang in museums near and far. Only by seeing his inspiration in person have I come to truly appreciate and recognize his artistic genius.
On Wednesday, Professor McKenna was generous enough to organize and host a wine and cheese evening in the gardens outside his apartment building in Aix. All the Loyola students purchased some specialty French cheeses together at a fromagerie in town and headed to the garden soiree. The evening was filled with wine tasting, cheese sampling, a whole lot of talking, and oh, ice cream too! We can only thank our professor for his wonderful generosity, thoughtfulness, and continued sharing of knowledge.
Thursday was a little bit different from our standard day. Instead of going to class, we attended a Gregorian mass at the Cathedral Saint Sauveur in Aix to hear monks chant in honor of St. Jacques. It was an experience unlike any other. Grand cathedrals are hard to find around Chicago, and the mass was well worth attending if even to only admire the colossal turquoise organs, gothic architecture from ages passed, and glorious voices filling the nooks and crannies of this long-standing cathedral. Once mass finished, we headed out to scour the markets one last time and wander through the streets of Aix before washing up and heading to a soiree hosted by the university (which we got to communally DJ!) and then move further on to some night escapades in centre ville. Remember what I said about the fact that the French don’t sleep? Yeah, well then consider us now very French haha (yay for cultural immersion?! …and coffee!).
Our last day of class was bittersweet, filled with the excitement of finishing school contrasted with the need to say goodbye. But as we started losing friends who were embarking on their travels back home, we headed on our last excursion to the Chateau Val Joanis vineyard. There, we learned about everything from planting the grapes to the fermentation process of producing white, rose, and red wine. That was all followed by a amble through beautiful gardens in which with had a wine tasting. The colors and ambiance throughout the vineyard were vibrant, unique, and inviting of slow promenades in an effort to take in and appreciate everything from the buzzing of bees to the colors seeping out of every crevice.
Now, I sit in the corner of the Brussles airport waiting for my connection delayed by storms knowing that I will forever be nostalgic of these three incredible weeks. I know that I will be back soon to visit friends, revisit memories, and write new adventures in a city I fell in love with.
Until next time,
Another great thanks to all the professors, staff, and friends both international and from home that played a roll in making all of this possible. I can’t thank you enough.
WINE & CHEESE
CATHEDRAL ST. SAUVEUR
STREETS, MUSICIANS, MARKETS
VAL JOANIS VINEYARDS