ISEP Site Visit Tour Days 1–4: Aix-Marseille Université
My visit to Aix-en-Provence was the first leg of what was supposed to be a four-campus trip of site visits. Because of last minute travel changes, I left for France with no knowledge or planning of where I would go or where I would stay once my flight landed in Paris. Let me preface by saying that I haven’t been to France since 2007, and I’ve never actually used the train system!
Everything went surprisingly well given my decision to wing the whole travel thing. If you want to catch a train from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to another city in France (or specifically Aix-en-Provence), it’s very simple - the train station is at the airport. So convenient! Simply follow the signs with the little train symbol, approach a SNCF ticket counter (or ticket machine if you can pay by credit card), type in or tell them your destination, and you’ll have yourself a TGV train ticket. You can also be proactive and buy yourself a ticket online.
After purchasing my ticket, I waited in the station for my platform number to be listed on the screen - make sure you pay attention! You only have about two minutes to board the train before it’s off again. I got on the train to Marseille, where I got off at Aix-en-Provence TGV, in case you ever find yourself trying to get from Paris to Aix-en-Provence. From the train station, you can take a shuttle bus for 4,30 Euros to Aix-En-Provence Centre Ville (city center) and walk to campus from there.
You should note that you can also take a flight straight to Marseille where you will be picked up by your host coordinator on your first arrival date.
When I got to the city center, I had no idea where my hotel was. I was very much in awe of the city, so I made the silly decision to wander around first to see if I would just run into it. What a crazy idea … that actually almost worked! I didn’t have wifi or phone service, so I stopped at an adorable café and ordered a latté. The waiter thought I said “du thé,” so he brought me tea. Another silly mistake on my part - from then on I ordered a cappuccino…and spoke in French. I managed to draw a short ‘around the corner’ map to my hotel, only to find that I was literally one street over. I almost made it by simply walking around for 20 minutes!
Commence the adorable city photos of Aix-en-Provence - because that’s what you really want to see!
Our hotel for the week, located right in the heart of the old city.
Sciences Po building
Thursday morning produce market. There are often markets in the old city. The flower market was my favorite.
Waking up the next morning, I had the entire day to tour the city by myself and get over my jet lag. I managed to find a great café where I enjoyed a lovely cappuccino and a delicious baguette with smoked salmon. I then wandered the streets admiring the great shopping. January is the time of year in France where they have their sales - unlike in the States, sales only happy twice a year. While Aix-en-Provence isn’t a large city, it truly has everything you could want right in walking distance from the campus.
That evening, I met up with a great group of ISEP students currently at Aix-Marseille. They were so nice and only had great things to say about their program. Interested in learning more about ISEP programs from students? Reach out to them on the ISEP France Facebook page! The students had a lot of great advice for future incoming students as well.
The awesome group of ISEP students at Aix-Marseille SM2 2015
Day three was the official start of the tour. I met up with the ISEP coordinator at Aix for a tour of the city and campus. Our first stop was the Sciences Po (pictured above), where students can take a full course load of regular university courses in French or English in specific fields of study. To learn more, visit the program page for Sciences Po. The Sciences Po is located right in the old city near all the great shopping and dinning.
From there, we walked down to the main campus, about a 20 minute walk from the old city or a quick minibus ride. This is where the dormitories, the FEG and Humanities building, and the SUFLE building is located. I wasn’t able to get many pictures of the main campus, as quite a lot of it was under construction. The SUFLE (Language & Culture) building is brand new and very nice. I managed to sit in on a great theater class and was amazed by the quality of the professors. After class, it was time to head back to the hotel to meet up with all the members of ISEP France who were arriving for the General Assembly meeting.
Beautiful view from the dorms
A peak inside a grad student residence. Undergrads are housed in very similar rooms (just slightly smaller) with private baths.
The outside of one of the dorm buildings.
Each residence hall has a communal kitchen on each floor where students can cook and meet with other international and local students.
The Law building on the main campus.
The final full day in Aix was very exciting! Coordinators from all 18 members of ISEP France came together to discuss their programs. Some exciting topics of discussion included a Coordinator’s Campus Tour set to take place Fall 2016 and an ISEP France Spring Break in Nice in 2017 for all ISEP France students - very exciting! It was wonderful to get to meet all the coordinators in person and hear more about their programs. I truly felt like I learned so much from this meeting. It was an incredible experience, and I can honestly say that, based on my personal experience, these coordinators are incredibly friendly and really care about the students they work with each semester!
Touring the city at night with ISEP France coordinators.
Group photo at dinner with members of ISEP France
Like this Story? Also like us on Facebook.