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The First Five Far From Home

Day 1: I’m in Chicago O’Hare waiting for my flight to London to board. Does this count as Day 1 if I won’t even be in Nice until tomorrow? I guess I can count this as Day 1 of experiences and journeying since this is the first step to Nice, even if I’m not there yet. London is my only connection, so I’ll take British Airways from Chicago à London à Nice. Easy. I don’t think my brain has caught up with my physical state of being ready to board a plane to London. Weird.

            Still not real.

The guy sitting across from me in the waiting area at gate M12 let me read his newspaper. He had the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel! Woohoo! I guess I’m not even that far from Milwaukee right now. Oh well, it’s the little things.

           Also, by “read his newspaper” I mean I read the comics.

           And by “comics” I mean Pearls Before Swine. I took a poll and 1/1 would recommend this comic (me). Stephen Pastis, you’re probably not reading my blog, but you are a funny man. Well done, sir.

Day 2: Part one of day two takes place in London. What a dream! The London airport is simply delightful. I have since leaving the plane discovered some near water damage to my laptop and stood in lines for about an hour and a half! Finding some way to bid farewell to such a lovely airport will be quite dreadful. I also can’t for my life stop thinking with a British accent.

Part two of day two is surprisingly awake! I thought for sure I was a goner once I arrived in Nice and hit the afternoon. Miraculously, I felt energized and ready to take on a new city all day up until dinner. That is, until my second dinner. After mistakenly eating out for an early/American-time dinner, my roommate, Paige, and I came home to a later/French-time dinner and ate twice as much. For the record, not a bad decision. Everyday? Maybe then a bad decision.

Day 3: After a wonderful night’s sleep, the jetlag hit me. Anytime I wasn’t moving around I felt half dead. This didn’t make for great dinner company, which in France is not a good state of mind, as they love the socialization of their meals. Generally, I think of this as a very healthy cultural tradition; however, by this time I could barely think in full sentences, let alone have an intelligent conversation with my new host family. This is how the end of dinner went:       

            *great conversation about the teaching of language in schools* (this is a common conversation that I have)

            *conversation simmers down*

            Madame: You really are tired. It’s ok, time to go to bed. 

            My mind: Yes to all of that.          

                        (This is what I meant by not being able to think in full sentences. Yikes.)

Day 4: Today was calm, which makes for a perfect time to begin exploring Nice without worrying about time. In other words, living an authentic afternoon on the French Riviera.

I had my first goûtée, which is essentially a glorified and well-deserved snack to hold you over before le dîner. This is often something a bit sweet; personally, I chose a pastry baked with chunks of apple inside! Delicious. I think I will like it here.

I’m still adjusting to having so much time on my hands before dinner; it’s strange not going home until 7:30pm. With little school work and a lot of free time, I walked down to the beach (something else that’s new for me in January). Little by little, I am adjusting to this perpetual summer.

Day 5: Today was a day for piling into a van! The students and staff of IES Abroad traveled to as many small villages between Nice and Italy as possible. These villages included L’Eze, Le Menton, Monte-Carlo (not quite a village but nonetheless), and Villefranche.

Accompanied by our fantastic tour guide, Loic, we learned histories dating from the Roman Empire to Napoléon to the World Wars. This captivated our attention all day, not to mention it also felt a little bit like a family road trip. Everyone packed into the car, stopping every once in a while to stretch our legs and take some pictures, and with Loic recounting interesting tidbits of history as we passed by landmarks. 

This trip has also inspired in my peers and me ideas for future trips along the coast! There is une fête du citron every spring in the village of Menton, where they sell fresh, juicy citrus fruits and where people create detailed sculptures out of oranges, clementines, and lemons! Incroyable!