With Valentine’s Day upon us, I figured it was appropriate to talk about why I’ve fallen in love with Nice and what makes us so compatible.
The attraction, of course, begins with Nice’s good looks. Because my childhood summers were always marked by a vacation to the beach, I have always been drawn toward the water (perhaps the fact that I’ve lived in landlocked states my entire life (Galveston, TX doesn’t really count as the beach) adds to the allure). When I realized that I had the opportunity to study abroad somewhere with a beach, I jumped on it. And the water has not disappointed. Aesthetically, it is beautiful. But the Mediterranean Sea is so much more than a pretty sight.
Being able to sit on the shore and eat my lunch or chat with a friend is incredibly calming and comforting. In a place where almost every aspect of my life is foreign—school, friends, meals, culture, shops—I love having the constancy of the water. It reminds me of my childhood and thus reminds me that even when I can’t seem to get a grip on my new reality, I am still the same me. I know this sounds painfully symbolic, but I truly believe that as long as I don’t lose the water, I can’t lose myself.
I also love Nice because it takes care of me; it has everything I need! It has big city amenities, yet small-town problems. When considering French cities to choose from, I knew that I didn’t want to study abroad in Paris, partly because of the hectic, metropolitan atmosphere. Nice, on the other hand, has some of the best aspects of a big city, without the downsides that inevitably accompany largely populated areas, such as overly crowded areas, rampant homelessness, or sellers that prey on tourists.
When I’m hungry or in need of a hot chocolate fix, there are a plethora of restaurants and cafes to choose from. When I’m tired of walking, I can hop on the tram, part of Nice’s well-oiled public transportation system. When I need to blow off steam, I am welcomed by the unspoken community of joggers that share every morning together on the promenade. When I want a dosage of culture or history, I simply have to walk through Old Town to find a variety of historical museums, architecture, and cathedrals. Essentially, I’m never lacking or bored in Nice; all of my physical and intellectual needs are met here.
Lastly, I think the reason that Nice and I go so well together is because of its personality; there is simply a carefree liveliness about this city that just resonates with me. And don’t let the stereotypes about French people being mean fool you! I have found the people in Nice to be cheery and accommodating during day-to-day interactions. Some people call Nice the “Florida of France” and as an unabashed “old soul” this works well for me. From the access to culture and art to the proximity to both beach and mountains, I’ve found that the people of Nice, like myself, strive to live a full life. And despite the Bastille Day attack last July, there has been a city-wide resilience to overcome fear and enjoy life. I can see this in the persistent Carnaval celebrations, the frequent promenade strollers, and the museums that preserve and boast of French tradition, rather than cultivate fear around horrific events.
Who knows, maybe Nice and I’s relationship can stand the test the time and maybe one day I’ll come back to live here!