Bonjour et Bienvenue à mon voyage!
Hello and Welcome to my journey!
Today is day 12 out of 19 days abroad. It has been fun, exciting, amazing, shocking, and beyond exhausting. Our agenda is packed from roughly 8am to 7pm everyday, but we have had some shorter days. While it is exhausting, I wouldn’t change the constant pace of moving around for anything. I am exploring new places and seeing new things everyday, and I can’t even begin to imagine how I would plan all of that on my own.
In my mind, though, this still isn’t real. While I realize I am no longer in North Carolina, it doesn’t feel like I’m in a whole different country, which may as well be a whole different world. I think this over and over, but then I go to the store, or out to dinner, and I’m in a position where I can’t understand what the person serving me food or ringing up my groceries is saying. A lot of people here do speak English and are very pleasant, but there have been a few people here or there who do not speak English and we realize they get frustrated with us. However, it is the same in America. And I do not expect someone here to speak English; I am the tourist on their land, not the other way around.
As far as the things I have seen so far:
Day 1 was very, very long. The journey started on May 11 and consisted of a plane ride from RDU to JFK, and from JFK there was an 8 hour plane ride to Nice, France. Do not expect luxury planes for a flight that long; I have been on trains here that are much more comfortable. So, sleep was not an option during that flight. When we landed, it was the next day and roughly 12pm. There was no relaxing period, we were immediately on the go, and to avoid jetlag–you just suck it up and stay awake. The town we are staying in is Antibes, and we began our trip by exploring the area and a picnic on the beach.
Day 2 was Juan Les Pins and Cap d’Antibes. Juan Les Pins is a very night-life and shopping kind of beach town, and Cap d’Antibes… well, it was mind-blowingly beautiful.
Day 3 and 4 were a blur of busyness. We went to Monaco and visited Prince Rainier’s castle and watched Formule 1 historic races that consisted of cars from the 50s and 60s. And the next day we went back to Nice to actually tour the area. It is the second largest city in France, and has many, many shops (many recognizable ones), and the most beautiful pebble beaches.
Day 5 was Cannes and the Film Festival was going on! It was absolutely packed, and for me, that was a bit unenjoyable, but an experience that would be unfortunate to miss out on. We watched the red carpet intros for the movie Loving, but there were maybe 5 people that I actually recognized.
Day 6 was a Winery tour. It was one of the more mellow days we’ve had. I think it was the first winery tour all of our group had done, considering none of us are of age in the US. It was very beautiful and relaxing, and I would recommend them to everyone at home.
Day 7 we visited a perfume factory in Grasse and saw the process of how it is made including the extracting of scents and packaging. Afterwards, we went to our teachers house and had dinner. Dinner in France is like nothing you’ve had before. It’s literally like a 5 course meal. You begin with a drink–typically wine, and then you have bread, sausage, and some other kind of appetizer type food (but NOT cheese), next is the main meal- ours consisted of sausages, rosemary potatoes, and ratatouille (ALL SO DELICIOUS!), next was bread and like 8 kinds of cheese, and then dessert. As soon as you think that’s the end of the meal, there is so much more.
Day 8 was an intense day! We were told we were going kayaking on St. Marguerite Island. I kayak all the time at home, so I was really excited and confident in my abilities to do this successfully. I was so, so wrong. It was one of the windiest days we had had here, and kayaking in the ocean is a whole different level of skill. Needless to say, it was one of the hardest and most exhausting things I have ever done.
Day 9 was a relaxing day after the previous day we had. We visited a small countryside town called Valbonne and explored the market and town area. We also tried our first real French lunch, because for the last week a lot of us were scared to order things off the menu not knowing what exactly it was.
Day 10 and 11 consisted of staying with a host family to immerse ourselves into the French culture more, as well as see the day to day lives of families in the area. Our family consisted of the parents and two kids, a 17 year old girl and 15 year old boy. It was really interesting to hear about their schooling and extra curricular activities. There’s a strong drive for be culturally diverse, and I wish the States were more pushy about that in education.
Day 12, today, consisted of biking 30 miles in San Remo, Italy along a bike trail that was once a train track. There’s a similar program in the States that also turns old railways into biking paths.
Studying abroad is an opportunity I wish upon everyone, and I am very fortunate for such supporting parents, as well as an amazing school that offers such. The reason for this trip is that it is through CNR and the PRT program. My concentration is Tourism and Commercial Management, so for me, it only makes sense to travel and explore the world for the experience, resume booster, and cultural diversity. I am also very happy that it is a 3 week program; it really is just enough to know if traveling is for me or not. (And I’m absolutely leaning towards yes.)
“There’s so many different places to call home.” – read Abigail’s reflection on her experience