Of all the various travel adventures I’ve embarked on, the most enriching experience was Exploring Nice, France with Abbey Road Programs during the summer! The few weeks that I spent there with them were the highlight of my summer. Going in, I was very excited to meet the students, I had heard that they came from not just all around the US, but also all around the world. This was an excellent opportunity to become more independent and self-sufficient, as I was told that we would be living in small apartments with our own small kitchen and we could go out into town by ourselves (with at least one friend and permission of course). In short, I couldn’t wait.
When I arrived, most of the students had already been there for half a week exploring Nice, France… so it was a little hard to make friends at first since everyone already got to know each other. However, I was fortunate enough to meet another girl who also arrived on the same day as me. She was very friendly and we hit it off right away! After eating dinner at a delicious pizza restaurant, the teachers- also considered mentors- brought us to watch the soccer tournament at another restaurant. They had reserved the venue, so we had a whole room to ourselves and they were serving drinks and snacks to munch on during the game. The whole town was buzzing with excitement because Germany and France were playing. All the townspeople were out and about late at night, cheering on and then celebrating their team. I am not a big sports fan, however, that night was very eye-opening to how sports can bring people together, even from different countries, as a community.
We as a group were given the option to either cook for ourselves- they would supply us with the food, get ready-made food from restaurants which the mentors would order for us, or go out to eat either as a big group or individually. In order to balance the costs, we chose to eat out altogether some nights and then eat out in our own smaller friend groups on other nights. This worked out perfectly because we were able to explore the town on our own, experiment with different foods, and practice our French, as well as spend time with our mentors, interact with other students- as we were a big group of nearly 30, and save some money for souvenirs.
During the weekend we traveled to different cities in France, specifically those along the French Riviera coast and during the week we were in Nice. Every morning we got up at around 8 am, walked down the hall, and were fortunate enough to find fresh bread, croissant, fruit, and more every morning. After breakfast, we had a class inside for about one and a half to two hours.
The classes were separated into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I was in the advanced class and we learned the subjunctive, how to write recipes and ask for quantities, the names of the various French stores, French habits, French education system, prepositions, and idiomatic expressions to name a few. However, what I loved most about the classes wasn’t just that we got to learn a lot of information from a native French speaker and French resident, but also that once we learned them, we went out into town for a few hours and directly applied them to our daily conversation! For example, once we learned how to ask for and give recipes, we were instructed to go into Vieux Nice, a beautiful and quaint part of Nice, and ask the local people for recipes! For our next unit, our assignment was again, to go out into Vieux Nice, and identify and count as many store names that we learned as we could and then record the names of a few foods or objects sold there. As for when we learned about French habits, after class we were told to perform a sondage, or survey, and ask people from the town what their habits were. I found this hands-on experiential learning to be extremely effective and at the same time, very enjoyable and Exploring Nice, France opened up new insights for me in a different culture.
—Emma Ricci-De Lucca