Alex Ingram ’10 – (Written July 23) – With one day left in France, it´s painfully clear that I don´t have enough time to finish everything on my to do list. However, I´m sure I will be more than content on my return home, maybe even excited to return to normalcy and begin the fall semester.
I feel saturated with a whole collection of information from my trip. I´ve taken in a wealth of information ranging from French cuisine to French culture, etymology and the French economy, and much more. This experience has opened my eyes and allowed me to view a grander picture than I was able to see solely within the United States.
I´m certainly going to miss Nice once I´m back in the states, or at least some of it’s characteristic qualities. To be honest, the cuisine will be the greatest loss, but certainly not the only one. Leaving my great (and eclectic) group of friends and classmates, the metropolitan life, the mediterranean, and the mystery of a completely foreign culture to return to a sense of normalcy will be rough. But, of course, it will be nice to have the conveniences of home, and some regional American food, waiting on my return.
More importantly, though, I feel that this trip, which I expected to feel like a psuedo-vacation, was one of the most rigorous mental exercises I´ve experienced. When you´re forced to grind your gears just to communicate the most basic of concept, or to pick up on the conversations carrying on in, say, Spanish or Italian, you can´t ever turn off your mind or zone out until it’s time to sleep. It’s even become fairly difficult for me to communicate as well as I’d like in this blog because such a relatively small portion of my day is spent speaking or listening to English.
The week has been amazing though, and relaxing, of course, even as much as I complain about how hard I´m working to just communicate or comprehend anything. I’ve found a secluded beach under a rocky coast about 100 feet tall that is perfect for snorkeling with school´s of fish completely unafraid (or unaware) that I´m even around. The snorkel set, which I bought about two blocks from my house, was probably some of the best spent money this whole trip. I can say with a good degree of confidence that my last afternoon will most likely be spent snorkeling on the coast.
For my last night here, we´ve planned to go back to the family-style all-you-can-eat mussels restaurant at the port, which I´m beyond excited for. The rest of the evening will most likely be spent wandering aimlessly around the town for gelato and espresso and, admittedly, some touristy shops for me to buy the rest of my souvenirs. We are also tentatively planning on taking a trip to the observatory in the alps that is just outside of the Nice city limit, which should of course provde some outstanding pictures for my last night in south of France.
All in all, I don´t know that I´ll ever have the chance to do something like this again, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. In one month, I was able to celebrate (for lack of any better term) Bastille Day, watch the Tour de France from arm’s length, go to the Casino at Monte Carlo, ride in a Lotus FX, travel to Italy and all over the south of France, eat some of the best food I´ve had in my life, and even expand my already-holistic view of general wellness and nutrition, all because I have been completely immersed in this place for the past month.
And I´m just as thankful for every nuanced experience of the trip as well; the small conversations, the street food, the new friends, everything. It´s unfortunate that the trip is over, but I can at least return home having gained so much.