Harrison W. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. He comes to SYA from Phillips Academy in Massachusetts.
As the train rolled out of the Rennes station, I knew I had embarked on an incredibly enriching two-week break. Passing through the countryside of Brittany on our way to Paris, I bid farewell to the familiar. Arriving in Paris, I felt still a degree of acclimation to the city, unaware of the big change I had yet to experience.
Only four hours later, I exited the SNCF train into Marseille, somewhere completely foreign. My first glimpse of the south of France and....it was cloudy. Our thirty-something group meandered outside the train station with our belongings. I took a glimpse of the city line to my left, and astonished, gaped at the sprawling metropolis now in view. The buildings were different, or rather, a blend of various French styles of architecture. In the south, clothing was left on balconies to dry.— impossible in Rennes. From there, we got on a bus to go to our hotel in Carry-le-Rouet, just outside of Marseille.
Fast forward 24 hours, and our group arrived in Marseille proper. The cacophony of sensory input deluged my senses. Buildings and urban structures had a maritime feel in their structure, color, and ornamentation. In all honesty, the buildings’ vibrant colors surprised me — distant from the bleak austerity of Breton architecture.
The people of the region of Marseille also have a different accent. They tend to have more nasal sounds in their pronunciation. This difference was a reminder that all languages have their own nuances based on region.
Throughout our trip the weather has been spectacular! Outside of Marseille, the Calanque National Park was an amazing day trip. The day began with a hike beneath the brilliant sun along the Mediterranean coast. The afternoon, we went into the town of Cassis. If you ever find yourself there, I must insist trying the ice cream! Every shop here has unique flavors — try them all.
As SYA begins to draw to a close, I take note of the fleeting moments. Remembering experiences depends on being present, and I intend to be for this last stretch.
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