Alex Ingram ’11 - The past three days have been hectic to say the least. Sufficeth to say, dealing with an overbooked flight and currency/payment issues is not how I planned spending my first day in France. Regardless, the three days have been amazing as well. On my flight over, I was seated beside a French and Morocco dual-citizen who surpisingly wanted to talk about metaphysics the whole flight. My limited time spent studying philosophy at Wabash left me unable to understand the breadth of knowledge she had gained pleasure reading on the subject, but it was informative nonetheless.
Once I arrived in Nice though, my trip has gone rather smoothly, with a few exceptions. I arrived in the late afternoon, which is early morning back home, but I felt compelled to explore after taking the taxi through the town center. My first day was spent exploring solo, of course. The first thing that caught my eye was an enormous statue nestled into a peak on the coast, that I later learned is a memorial for the ”sons of Nice” killed in the world wars.
I continued to wander around, admiring the architecture in general and dodging in and out of old stone pathways that caught my eye. The city has a beautiful mix of modern architecture and medieval restoration that gives it a good sense of character. I’m sure it will keep unfolding the more I explore, and within the next two weeks we have a few scheduled trips with the school as well.
That said, I think I’ve finally gotten as settled in as I believe I will here in Nice, France. I’m living in a student residence for local and international students, and taking classes during the day at the Alliance Francaise de Nice. As I said before, the town is quite charming; it’s situated on the southeastern corner of France on the mediterranean, and it is very close to the Italian border. The residence is located right on the port, and is a few blocks from the beach and in the center of vieux-Nice, or historic Nice.
With my first day as the exception, I haven’t been trekking around as much as I would like. Dealing with the hassle of blown power converters and a malfunctioning computer have left me with other priorities, not to mention attempting to break through the language barrier and keep up on my class work. However, I can say that the residents have been more than welcoming and exteremely helpful up until now.
However, most people I’ve met to date speak English very well, which is of course a blessing for a complete beginner. It also opens a window for me to learn more about France and French culture without having a functioning knowledge of the language. Talking to fellow students and teachers about the real workings of the EU has been informative, as well as conversations with those students from Bellorussia and East Asia. It also makes for an interesting collage of languages spoken within the classroom, which can become hectic when there is any confusion in the lesson.
Of course, I’d be doing a disservice to you all if I didn’t say it: the food has been amazing, even the cheap eats. Eating seafood pizza and drinking great (and affordable) wine on the cote D’azur is something I won’t soon forget. Also, I’m planning on going to Monte Carlo and Monaco this weekend with my neighbor from the U.K., as he brought his car down for the trip. His car also happens to be a Lotus, which should make for an experience in itself for a midwesterner like me.
Hopefully I’ll know enough survival French to make my way around without any English by this weekend (although I find it amazing how quickly you pick up things when you’re left with no other options).
In photos: Top left, the memorial Alex wrote about. Lower right, the street on which he lives.