As half of us headed out for Nice, we were so excited to once again escape the cold and the rain from the beginning of the week, as we heard it almost never rained in Nice. By this point in my fall break saga, I feel like you can probably guess what the weather was like when we arrived. Yep, it was pouring. And cold. And we couldn’t find the bus to take us to our Airbnb, forcing us to stand out in the rain for about half an hour or more. But…then we found our cute little place. It stopped raining, and we walked around Nice that night, just happy to be there. We went to a fun candy shop and checked out the beach and then stayed up until around 2 or 3 a.m. just talking. One of my favorite things about fall break: so much happened in one day that it was impossible for a day to ever be completely bad. Oh, and just FYI for you readers, it is pronounced “niece," not “nice”…and please don’t make a pun if you see me…I’ve heard enough Nice puns for this lifetime.
Thursday…it happened to be my birthday. I got to spend my 22nd birthday in the SOUTH OF FRANCE with some of the best friends. Life is such a drag. What I didn’t expect, though, was to wake up to my favorite coffee from Starbucks, provided to me by Micah, who ran 40 minutes just to get it for me before I woke up. I also didn’t expect to have an amazing breakfast of sausage, eggs, fruit, and chocolate croissants prepared by both Kyle and Micah, who didn’t let me lift a finger or wash a single dish. And I certainly didn’t expect a cake, decorations, being sung to, sparkling wine, or one of my favorite meals to be made for me that night thanks to Jenny, Micah, and Kyle. Truly, the best birthday ever. These people made me feel so special and celebrated when I’d only known them for a few months, and it meant the world to me. We spent that day wandering around Nice and going to a neighboring town (Villefranche), just taking in the views of the mountainous terrain encapsulating the bluest water we had ever seen, sitting on the shore soaking in the feel of the sun warming our skin, and enjoying the company of each other. We ended that day by one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, so it’s safe to say that day was a complete success.
Friday, we got up, once again had a small breakfast in our little apartment and headed out to explore Nice again for the day. We walked along the Promenade des Anglais (one of the most iconic parts of Nice), figured out some of the public transportation, marveled over how clean the city was, went to a museum and a church, tried one of the famous foods customary of Nice (socca, almost like a crepe made from chickpea flour), and once again saw an incredibly breathtaking sunset. For our last night there, we went to dinner together at a place not too far from our Airbnb. I don’t remember the meal being anything particularly special, but I do remember laughing. We laughed on the way there as we shivered about how cold it had gotten after the sun had set and we laughed all throughout dinner as the waitress told me she couldn't understand my French and we laughed on the way back home as we passed a water dispenser on the street that dispensed sparkling water (only Nice, I’m telling you). There were so many incredible moments on that trip filled with breathtaking views and crazy incidents and once in a lifetime stories, but the ones I will always remember most clearly and hold most dearly are those that involved spending time just living and laughing with my friends.
The next day, we got up once again at an ungodly hour to catch our train back to Paris. When we finally got to Paris, we checked in at the hostel, and then the four of us went our separate ways since we all had slightly different plans for that day. I went to the Louvre to meet up with the others we were with at the beginning of the break because I had never been there before. It was incredible and so fun, albeit somewhere you could spend a week if you really wanted to look at everything in there. After that, Juliana and I did something we had been wanting to do since the beginning of the trip: go to the catacombs. We broke off, telling the group we’d meet with them later, and descended into the catacombs of Paris. It was a super exciting part of my trip, and one that made me incredibly thankful for my adventure/travel buddy that has been Juliana since we left America. We met up with all the others after that, as well as a few other people from our program who were in Paris that weekend as well after their own busy week of traveling. We somehow found a dinner place that seated all of us, and that evening was spent catching up, telling stories, and of course, laughing and probably embarrassing ourselves in front of all the fine French diners.
The next day, we caught our train back to Nantes. I remember when I finally got back to Nantes, everything felt so small. Not necessarily in a bad way, though. I remember the feeling of “home” and “safe," something that before being in France for a few months, I don’t think I ever would have thought would apply to Nantes. The idea of coming abroad was so scary and daunting. I used to be so nervous about the public transportation in Nantes, the people, the city, and just everything. After fall break, I was finally hit with the realization that for all my fears, I did it. I moved to France. And not only did I move to France, I traveled around France. I figured out metros and buses and trains, discovered the best way to ask the people around me for help, and I learned how not to panic when things don’t go as planned. For all of fall break’s stress, fun, excitement, and novelty, the one thing that I think I can say I’m most grateful for from it is confidence. It gave me the confidence that no matter where I am, I am capable of getting through whatever situation is thrown my way, and that’s something I don’t think I could’ve learned anywhere else.
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<p>Hey! My name is Clare Hogan and I'm a senior at Wofford College. I'm majoring in Psychology and French, with a minor in English. I hope to become a counseling psychologist one day, which is why I majored in Psychology. At school, I'm in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and I love to participate in various events with that, such as dances, philanthropy events, and more! I adore reading and writing (hence the minor), hiking, playing tennis, and all things relating to dogs. Also, a fun fact about me is that I sneeze every time I eat chocolate (which is quite often)!</p>