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Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

Posted by on Sunday, July 8, 2012 in Academics, Food, General Information, Music, Student Life.

Bonjour!  The string quartet and I arrived in Europe on the first of July!  Though a missed connection because of a delayed flight and some lost baggage hampered the grandiose entrance into France, everything since then has been absolutely amazing.

The view from our room at the FIAP Jean Monnet.

First impression of Paris was one of awe.  Most of the buildings are very old and very beautiful, and the Parthenon was our first tourist stop we took as tourists in Paris.  Classic Vandy kid move.  From there, we visited all the hotspots: from Notre Dame, the Louvre, Saint-Chappelle, the Obelisk, and the Hotel National des Invalides, to the Champs-Elysee, the Sacre-Coeur, and the Eiffel Tower (which glitters every hour at night), Paris is all you imagine and more.  Of course, I had to visually capture the experience, so I was snapping away all day long.  If you are someone who loves to photobomb, Paris is the place to jump into people’s pictures.

On Tuesday, we arrived in Aix-en-Provence by train.  Note to future French travelers: you know the quiet car in American trains?  Well, every car in a French train is a quiet car.  Another note: even if you sound silly trying to speak French to ask for directions, to order a croque-monsieur at a café, or to inquire how to arrive at the Arc de Triomphe (which is at the center of a five-lane roundabout) without getting run over, the French people seem to appreciate the effort and are much more willing (maybe because they are so humored?) to aid the helpless tourist.

A croque-monsieur, which is a fancy bread topped with ham and cheese.

We arrived at the Vanderbilt-in-France building in the evening, where we were heartily greeted by Professor Verrier, Malte, and Alexia, who run the Music Academie program, which is celebrating its fifth year this summer.  One of the first programs we attended was a master class instructed by András Keller.  We’ve all heard the saying, “Music has no language barriers.”  During this master class, we were not expecting to understand anything, but instead of French, Keller spoke in heavily accented English.  Though it was hard to understand, every time he transitioned from his broken English to singing as he coached the quartet, what he was trying to communicate became so much clearer.  The saying is true!

Quartets have a two-week residency in Aix to perform in master classes.

I took French in high school, so I gained a lot of head knowledge about French culture, but experiencing it for myself has been so fulfilling.  Vanderbilt has been so generous in providing this opportunity for me to be the enthusiastic nomad and immerse myself in the French life!  Excuse me, now I must daintily bite into my croissant.  Segue for the next post… on food!  For now, au revoir!

P.S.  There is one underground pathway to get from the sidewalk to the Arc de Triomphe, which is hard to find unless you know where to look.

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