The Truth About Aix-en-Provence

I’ve been living in Aix-en-Provence for three weeks now and haven’t been able to write a damn thing about it. That’s right – three whole weeks in the city that inspired so many hundreds of paintings of Montagne Sainte-Victoire, which I’ve had the pleasure of seeing on multiple occasions. The city that some refer to as “the city of art and light.” The city famous for lavender fields and homemade almonds, crushed into a paste in the Provençal Callisons. The city that’s dripping with honey, Nutella and cultural nuances. The city that has a different type of market every single day, selling everything from kitchen appliances to homemade spoon jewelry.

Culture and history surround every inch of this city, and yet here I sit next to my 5-foot high window, watching the wind blow the light beige curtains onto my desk, starting out at the city of Aix, uninspired.

It’s not so much that Aix doesn’t have enough beauty to write about. It’s not that I’m caught in the shuffle to and from classes and permanently seated in the library. It’s the opposite.

How can I accurately articulate the unique scent of lavender, espresso and cigarettes that hangs in my room right before I go to sleep? Or the noise from motorcycles zipping through the too-narrow streets and how it’s somehow louder than New York City traffic on a Friday night? Or the life that happens in front of me every single day – the homeless woman that holds a cardboard sign reading “S.V.P,” the intercultural festivals that bring people onto the street at 9 a.m. to dance the Bachata, the cobblestone streets filled with young French students kissing each other on both cheeks in greeting and shouting, “bisou, bisou” in parting.

And how could I truthfully describe the feeling of hanging 120 feet in the air with nothing but a thin rope keeping me alive? Or the heart-stopping moment when my foot slipped while rock climbing against the side of the mountain? Or the view of the gorgeous water and the young French kids zipping around in kayaks?

I cannot. I could write a novel describing each and every activity I do, every cultural nuance I encounter, every life that resonates as I walk by, and I probably still wouldn’t have enough time or pages. Describing the distinct sound of heels against cobblestone, the lilt of the mellifluous French language and the church bell that tolls every hour would take up 20 pages in itself.

And I’m not sure if I could describe it that I would want to. Aix is worth more than a secondhand account. It needs to be lived and breathed. It needs to be experienced and not summed up by a 20-year-old college student with a pen in hand. It needs to be tasted, slowly, like trying a certain flavor of wine for the first time. It can’t be explained or described – it can only be felt, seen and heard firsthand to truly understand its writer’s block inducing magic.

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48 Things I Wish I Knew as a Teenage Girl

  1. Your mother is always right, no matter how much you don’t want to admit it.
  2. You should learn how to cook at least one meal.
  3. Those 5 or 6 Oreos won’t kill you – eat them while you still can.
  4. Being a nerd is more attractive than purposely acting stupid.
  5. You won’t miss the party of the year just because you decide to stay in one weekend.
  6. Most people drink in college, but it’s okay if you don’t.
  7. In moderation, alcohol isn’t poison.
  8. A man that doesn’t respect your decision not to have sex is not worth your time.
  9. Sexism still exists – never stop fighting for what you want.
  10. You won’t automatically gain the freshman 15 just from drinking a couple of beers and binging on pizza every now and then.
  11. Running sucks, and there are so many other ways to stay healthy and exercise.
  12. Brussel sprouts don’t suck as much as they did when your mother made you eat them before you left the dinner table.
  13. Bubble baths are not just for babies.
  14. No one will remember or care what clothes you wore to school.
  15. College is nothing like your high school english teacher says it is.
  16. You shouldn’t have sex in high school – not for a religious or moral reason, but because it’s inexperienced. Men don’t understand how to make it a pleasant experience until you’re older.
  17. Your number doesn’t mean shit.
  18. Every person who enters the women’s bathroom gets their period. You don’t have to try and muffle the sound of your tampon wrapper.
  19. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a practice for an after-school sport.
  20. College is so much better than high school.
  21. Most of the friends you have freshman year of college won’t be your friends by senior year and that’s ok.
  22. You don’t have to be friends with everyone and it’s ok if you’re not loved by everyone.
  23. Bars are not the place to meet quality men.
  24. Your mom’s cooking really isn’t that bad, especially compared to dining hall food.
  25. Making money during the summer is a lot more important than taking days off to work on your tan.
  26. A tan isn’t worth the risk of getting cancer and using a tanning bed wastes a lot of money.
  27. Being an undeclared major is almost smarter than coming into college declared – most people change their major anyway.
  28. It’s ok to quit a club because you don’t like it anymore, even if you hold a position of leadership or authority.
  29. Taking a personal day every now and then won’t ruin your GPA.
  30. Ben & Jerry’s can heal all wounds.
  31. Wine has the same power.
  32. If your friends don’t like your boyfriend, they’re probably right about him.
  33. Everyone gets zits.
  34. Remembering to wear your retainer every night may be a pain in the ass but you’ll be thankful when your teeth stay straight.
  35. Coffee is not bad for you, it is not disgusting and it is 100% worth the risk of stained teeth. That’s what Crest white strips are for.
  36. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but sometimes it’s not doable. Keep snacks in your car.
  37. Sleepovers suck. Don’t be angry when your mom says you can’t go.
  38. Your siblings will be your biggest allies in the future – don’t burn bridges.
  39. Always have an umbrella handy and dress in layers.
  40. Bagels don’t cure hangovers – iced coffee does.
  41. Sit near the door in class if you’re hungover.
  42. Never leave the house for an extended period of time without a phone charger.
  43. You have your entire life to make your own rules so abide by your curfew. Staying out past 10 isn’t worth the consequences.
  44. Never go shopping when you’re hungry.
  45. You don’t have to be nice to everyone – stand up for yourself.
  46. Don’t buy every “required” textbook for a class.
  47. Don’t get caught up in all the crap life hands you, because in 5 or 10 years it won’t be relevant. Live a little and enjoy the time you have.
  48. Nothing will make you happier than doing what you love.

What Does Being a Bonnie Really Mean?

The age-old question at St. Bonaventure University is, to put it bluntly, what the fuck is a Bonnie? If I know one thing, it sure as hell is not a wolf.

Like many other prospective students, I was fed the “it’s a wolf” answer and immediately googled it. I searched, but to no avail.

After going to Bona’s for at least a year, students start to put together what being a Bonnie really means.

The problem is, there isn’t one definition of a Bonnie.

To one student, it means being part of a team. To another, it means pulling fellow underage Bonnies through the window at the Burton. It could mean holding the door for an outrageous period of time, waiting in line for a Hickey omelet, spotting one of the Dev bats, midnight breakfast, wasting all your money on drunk Mangias, or chuckling about the fact that we’re too under-enrolled to keep Francis open.

But what about those Bonnies who don’t drink? Or the ones who don’t play sports? Or the ones that never lived in Dev, or never went to midnight breakfast, or never ate a Hickey omelet?

And what about the Bonnies that went here before us?

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Small-Town Saturday

Flashback to June amidst a crowd of thousands of people in the blistering summer heat and there I am – black dress, black shoes, headed to work at Victoria’s Secret. The smell of typical street meat was enhanced and mixed with the smell of sweat and sewage. The sound of little children screaming as they slid down an inflatable and the blaring music from street vendors’ tents echoed in my ears.

At this time in my life, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The mixture of diverse people all coming together in the middle of the street drinking, laughing and shouting was truly breathtaking. Not to mention the fact that incredible skyscrapers surrounded the scene, trying desperately to block out the blazing sun.

Oftentimes, I’d find a bench on the side of the street and just sit and watch the festival unfold around me. I’d watch couples hold hands and pick out Christmas gifts for relatives under the tents; I’d watch kids run between the feet of adults and get scolded for it; I’d watch friends laughing at each other while they all tried to gracefully shove whatever food they were eating into their mouths without dropping it.

At this time in my life, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Then I went to Oktoberfest in Ellicottville.

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