Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Nutella, Nightclubs & Neon Buddhas

So once again, I was right. My arrival experience was definitely pretty close to rock bottom and I only have gone up from there. We went into Nice twice last week, and I am totally in love with the city. We only live about 20 minutes by train from Nice but that 20 minutes really makes all the difference between ghost down and vibrant city, let me tell you. Don't get me wrong, I totally love reppin' the JLP (Juan les Pins for all you newbs) but in the winter months it's kind of dead.

Nice is a really cool city with a beautiful old section of town, a really nice promenade and ocean view, and of course large neon crystal squatting Buddhas in the town square. It has so many fun shops and cute little restaurants

(I finally had my first Nutella crepe of the journey, first of 1000 I'm sure).

Thankfully, we had some built in tour guides of Nice, so we weren't wandering aimlessly. A couple friends from other schools and one from AU that studied at CERAM Business School (the school I'm attending) showed us around and had us over for a wine and cheese party (so classy and much different than the not-so-classy frat parties I'm accustomed to). After the little soiree, we went out to the local bars and clubs, which was very fun. We went to an English pub called Wayne's, where it is totally acceptable and actually highly recommended that you dance on the tables they line up so neatly near the stage for that very purpose. Obviously, we had fun there.

5 Star Accomodations

After the weekend in Nice, it was back home to our ghetto-fab apartment. I figured you needed to see some pictures of my luxury accommodations, and it really isn't bad until I have seen where other people are living. My one friend lives in a villa, like a legit French Riviera villa and they have their own pool...worst part is she really isn't paying that much more than me.

So we clearly have a deluxe kitchen and the shower is actually a hose disguised as a shower. The bath tub also plays the role of laundry machine in our apartment.

It wouldn't be so bad if the light in the hallway worked so it wasn't pitch black every time we entered the building and tripped up two flights of stairs daily, not to mention needing to carry a flashlight with us at all times to be able to stick the key in the keyhole. And then of course there is the lovely heating problem we have...or lack thereof. For some reason, there is no heat in my bedroom, so every night I have to put on my leggings, sweatpants, 2 pairs of socks, long sleeve shirt, and hoodie (with the hood up because fun fact: all the heat escapes out of your head) and still, every morning, I wake up freezing. I mean I live in Buffalo in a house where my father really doesn't believe in heat either so you would think I would be able to handle this...think again, it's pretty awful. Throw in the construction from 7:30am-2:30pm daily and we got ourselves quite the party.

Old Antibes

But enough about my fab apartment. Saturday morning we went to tour around Old Antibes, which was beautiful. It’s a precious old little town with a bunch of cute little cafes, a really nice view over the Riviera, and a harbor where all the crazy rich people from Britain apparently park their yachts. You would think having a yacht would be enough of a showcase of one’s wealth, right? Well apparently this was not enough for one wealthy Brit, who decided the rescue boat (which is the size of my house) was just not enough of a safety measure. So logically, in case of emergency, they have a HELICOPTER parked on the roof of their own private cruise ship. Seriously?!

After the tour of the yacht club, we visited the Picasso Museum in Antibes. Funny thing about the Picasso Museum, there are very few Picasso pieces. The few that were there were amazing of course but we found the name of the museum misleading. The view from the museum was really the best part about it. We had quite the hike to get up there but once at the top, it was so so pretty. I can’t believe people just live here and see this everyday like it’s no big deal.

Getting Down to Business….

I am in France to study abroad, so naturally at some point I knew I’d have to attend class. The classes were are 3-hour blocks, which isn’t the most pleasant thing, but that way we only have to take them once a week, allowing my weekends to begin at 11am on Wednesday.
My first class Monday was Management Information Systems, sounds thrilling huh? It wasn’t too bad and my professor seems really cool; he’s Moroccan! Then the question came about how many exchange students were in class…and only one hand was raised in the classroom, and it was mine. That was interesting. I already earned brownie points though just because I’m American. Throughout that class and the rest of my classes, I have noticed some differences between classes at AU and here:

1) No one shows up on time here. No one.
2) There is a 15 minute break in all of my classes. It’s just called a break but all the French students dash out of the room with their jackets to smoke. Every. Single. One.
3) It’s not really acceptable to talk amongst yourselves when the teacher is talking, but most French students do it anyways.
4) The work load here is unbelievable…in a good way. In my first class, he said we were going to have a lot of work to do and to be prepared. The syllabus has us reading about 10 pages…per week.

French class we just talked about ourselves and learned things not to say. It’s funny here how if you mess up pretty much any word, the sentence automatically translates into something vulgar. Needless to say, we learned some very interesting phrases the first day. Marketing class and Productions Management both seem like they will be interesting and easy. The challenge is going to be my Spanish class. My Spanish professor obviously teaches in Spanish, but when she has something important to say to make sure we understand, she translates…into French. This would make sense if all the students in the class were French, but clearly, I’m not. So the three hours of that class was pretty much a blur of confusion with her and the students fluent in French and practically all fluent in Spanish and using the two languages interchangeably. She knew I was American so she tried to translate things they were saying in French, but she barely she speaks any English. I also encountered an exception to my observation that most French students are very nice and willing to help. Every time I said anything in that class, three students whispered to each other in French and laughed at me! It was semi-embarrassing but really funny that they were so blatantly making fun of everything I said. Hopefully learning that French slang will come in handy and I’ll be able to decode their secret conversations.

I finished all my homework for the week…it took an hour. I could get used to this but I’m kind of lost without having at least 8 hours a week and a million other things to do every day. I guess that’s where the travelling comes in!

Speaking of travelling, I am going to a condo in the Alps this weekend for a ski trip with a bunch of kids from school! It should be really fun. I didn’t bring snow pants or a ski jacket so we’ll see how that ends up working out.

That’s it for now…I have to clean my beautiful apartment for the wine and cheese party tonight!

A tout a l’heure!

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