In the Spring of 2012, I studied abroad in Antibes, France, a small village along the French Riviera, and it was simply the best decision and experience of my life. Having never been out of the Unites States before, I was naturally nervous, but as soon as I arrived at Nice International Airport, I felt more welcome than I had imagined. Antibes was a beautiful village full of history with the Picasso Museum right in the heart. During the winter months it was full of older locals who spoke mainly French, and often I would find myself in lengthy conversations with them. During the spring, Antibes became heavily populated with younger Australians and English because they came to work on the Yachts, as Antibes is home to the wealthiest yacht port in Europe. There were countless restaurants along the Mediterranean and in random back alleys.
I attended Skema Euro-American Institute, which was located about 20 minutes to the West of Antibes. My classmates and I would either take the bus to school, or if we got lucky, catch a ride with local French students. The university was much different than what I expected; the community was tight knit and the classes were more intimate. The school was located on top of a hill behind tall trees, and there were, as my friends and I counted, 113 stairs leading up to the school. Once I made it to the top of the stairs out of breath, I was welcomed by several French students (and sometimes professors) smoking and socializing outside the front door to the school. Attending Skema was entirely different than attending an American university. The students and professors had a more casual relationship, although at this school teachers were very strict with attendance. Each class was three hours long but only once a week, and homework was very rare. It was harder for me to succeed in this University due to the lack of homework, even though no homework is typically the college student’s dream! One thing I enjoyed about attending this school was that most of my professors spoke French, even if the class was supposed to be taught in English. This helped my French comprehension and speaking skills and I built a stronger vocabulary.
During my time abroad, I was fortunate enough to visit three other countries as well as a dozen cities and towns in France. I went to Istanbul, Turkey for six days during Spring Break, and that was by far my favorite place I visited abroad. Every meal I ate was exceptional and the locals were all very welcoming. I also spent a long weekend in Amsterdam, Holland. I visited several cities and Islands along the French Riviera such as St. Marguerite Island, the island where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned, St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Cassis. I also went to Marseille, Montpellier, Grasse, Gordon, and Paris (of course) to name a few more.