It’s hard to believe my semester here is more than half over. In many ways I feel like I just stepped off the plane yesterday. The novelty of being on the Côte d’Azur has definitely not worn off, and to be honest I hope it never does. But in many more, subtler ways, it’s clear to me that I’ve started to adapt to life here. I can now find exact change among the euro coins in my wallet in a matter of seconds, something I definitely could not have done 10 weeks ago. I have mastered the art of crossing against the light, and believe me, this is a skill you must acquire if you want to get anywhere here in a timely fashion. And perhaps the most obvious thing, so obvious in fact that I rarely think of it, is that I’m used to hearing French wherever I go; it just doesn’t seem jarring anymore. It’s people talking in English that I now find odd, although this happens more and more now that tourist season is approaching.
But all of these things that I recognize as changes in my life came about so gradually that I barely realized they were happening. There was no point at which I suddenly felt my life to be radically different, which seems odd because I did just move 3000 miles across the ocean to a different country. You’d think something would have had to change. For this phenomenon, I credit Nice. This city is wonderful. Maybe it’s not the same as a college campus, but there are definitely times when it feels like one. Like on Sunday mornings when the entire place is deserted – apparently sleeping late on the weekend is not just a college thing. And the guided city tours I see every now and then could easily be high school students and their parents come to check out a potential university. The atmosphere here is so low-key; it didn’t take me long at all to feel at home.
For me, that really is the goal of study abroad: finding out that you can be comfortable somewhere that you previously would have thought was way beyond your comfort zone. Nice is a great city, and it was so easy for me to have that experience here. I’m sure there are many times when I stick out like a sore thumb because I’m so American (in fact, probably most of the time), but that doesn’t change how comfortable I feel here or how welcoming I find this city. People are so nice. Everything is so easy to figure out, and everywhere you could want to go is either within walking distance (another way in which Nice resembles a college campus) or a short bus ride away.
I could extol the virtues of this city forever, but I think instead I’ll just go enjoy that Mediterranean sunshine.