Hofstra Summer in France

Hofstra Study Abroad in France

Eleven Hofstra students, two Hofstra professors, two French professors, a host of experiences, a lifetime of memories — amazingly awesome opportunities to learn, see, and be absorbed into a new culture.  

Au revoir France — and we WILL return!

Our farewell dinner at La Favola — an awesome restaurant where we all gathered to say our official au revoir — and promising that we’ll return to France and remain lifelong friends with everyone on this trip!

At Neptune Plage, the private beach!

It’s my birthday!

by Taylor Miller

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As I’ve said in previous posts, before arriving in France I did not know any of the other Hofstra students on this trip.  But I did know that during our time in France, I would be celebrating my 21st birthday — and spending this birthday with a group of essential strangers made me feel very unsure about leaving my friends at home. 

But lucky for me, our group of students has become extremely close on this trip and celebrating my birthday was a great ongoing experience. Since we have all been in Nice for about a week and a half we have learned about some local cafes and bars and last night,  I had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me by two different live bands at different bars. 

My birthday may be remembered in Nice as the day a tornado hit the city! We  planned to spend a half-day at a private beach for one of our last days here in France, but the storm in the morning made the water unsafe to swim in. We all still went to the beach, however, to soak up some sun, and to my surprise Prof. Loucif and Madam LaRoque had arranged for a birthday cake, complete with sparklers and candles, to be brought out to celebrate the three of us with birthdays during the trip. Chris, Corin, and I got to blow out our candles together before spending the rest of the afternoon eating cake and laying on the beach.

My host family knew that my birthday was going to be during this trip so I was curious if they would have a surprise for me as well. We sat down to dinner in the house at 8 p.m. just as we always do, to my new favorite food — ratatouille. And once we were finished with dinner, my host mom, Nicole, brought out a stack of crepes with a candle and the number 21 on top. I blew out my candle and we all made our own crepes for dessert.

I am excited to go home and continue my birthday celebration with my family. But I am so glad I was able to experience celebrating my birthday in a foreign country with a group of the greatest people I have come to know.

Meeting and making friends

by Lucie Sorel

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My time here has been truly life changing.  Traveling around France this summer has been one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life.  I had no idea what to expect from studying abroad but I am beyond happy with the decision I made.  It is sometimes difficult to put into words how incredible it is to spend more than a month in a different country.  While I am very sad to be leaving France in five days, I will definitely take pieces of this country back with me.  The bonds I share with my friends on this trip are unbreakable.  We will always have the memories of France to hold on to.  When I arrive back in the USA, I also hope to run into people who are either French or have been to France so I can bond with them about my love for this country.  I cannot wait to share my stories and experiences with my family and friends.  I am beyond thankful and appreciative to have been given this opportunity.  I would love to come back to France again one day!    

In my opinion, the best part about travel is meeting people.  Traveling around France, it is very easy to strike up conversations with fellow travelers and locals alike.  Especially as a young college student, fellow students are friendly and easy to connect with.  However, what is especially welcoming is coming across fellow Americans. 

After struggling to understand or speak French for four weeks, one day at the beach we met some fellow travelers from Los Angeles.  Emma, Taylor, Chris and I were going for a casual swim when we heard — in very west coast accents — “Hey, do you want to play Frisbee?”  Of course we accepted the offer gladly and enjoyed some Frisbee toss in the water while exchanging names and stories of our travels.  It is interesting to hear others stories and reasons for taking the trip from America to Europe.  These two young men in particular had graduated from college and wanted to take a trip together before the real world became too demanding.  They were best friends in college at San Francisco State and are still very close even though one lives in Los Angeles and the other San Francisco. 

It was inspiring to see the close bond the two shared and to hear about their adventures traveling from Paris to Nice and then on to Italy.    We even joked around about the differences in lingo between New York and California.  It was enjoyable to be fully understood and share many things in common.  We also discussed the different places we visited in Paris and “oohed” and “aahed” at how beautiful the city is.  It is a special bond to share with fellow Americans.  Even though we are nowhere near our country, we still happen to run into Americans and make new friends.  While meeting Europeans is always exciting it is also nice to connect with people over the same culture and customs even in a different continent. 

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! 

by Corin Wray

Upon coming to Europe and being essentially on my own here without my family,  naturally I was told to be very cautious of strangers, to constantly guard my belongings, and be aware of my surroundings at all times. While in Paris, I took heed to all of these precautionary warnings. There was never a time when I wasn’t conscious and aware of my surroundings.

When I got to Nice, for some reason, I began to get a bit more comfortable. Sure enough, as soon as I let my guard down a pickpocket snatched my smartphone out of the side pocket of my satchel purse. Almost immediately after I put my phone in the side pocket of my purse I felt the sly guy take it out of my bag as it hung on my shoulder by my hip. I immediately knew that my phone was gone. I felt him bump my bag ever so gently. All of the sudden, my purse lost some of it’s weight. I frantically searched the side pocket of my bag about two seconds after I realized what happened. I even remember seeing the culprit sprint into a store after taking my phone but the whole situation still had not yet clicked. Instead of running after the thief I proceeded to frantically search through my bag for my phone! When I was completely sure it wasn’t there I was so mad at myself for not reacting fast enough to follow the guy into the store and accuse him of taking it. He was gone. It just happened so unbelievably fast.

This happened two days ago and I still feel pretty angry and violated. I keep replaying what happened in my mind over and over. In order to keep this from ruining the last few days of my trip, I keep telling myself “at least it was only my phone and nothing more.” I’ve certainly learned my lesson about keeping my belongs safe and being fully aware at all times. I will take this as a learning experience and keep my new found awareness when I’m back home in New York.

Apparently, pickpockets are not uncommon here.  Here’s what the U.S. Embassy website (USEmbassy.gov) has to say:

“The first rule of thumb is don’t have anything more in your wallet than you are willing to lose. Try to keep only what is essential: ONE credit/ATM card, ONE piece of identification, and no more than €40-50. A hair brush can be easily replaced, but something like your passport or your social security card is much more difficult and its loss can cause much grief. Make a copy of your passport, and front and back of everything that you have in your wallet. In case something happens, you have all the numbers and contact information to cancel your cards and replace your passport.

Ladies, only carry purses that zip. Carry your purse tightly under your arm and slightly in front of you. If you have the backpack-type purse, swing it around so that it is slightly in front of you as well. We don’t have eyes in the back of our heads, so keep your purse where you can see it.

Gents, put a rubber band around your wallet and put it in your front pocket. This is going to make it extremely difficult for someone to get it out without you knowing.”

My advice, from experience, is to understand that these pickpockets are professionals. They literally do this every day like it’s their job. Watch out for them, because they are watching out for you!

Going to le plage

by Jenny Rowe

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The beaches in Nice are far different from any other beaches I have ever been to. I have swum in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans before, however, the Mediterranean Sea stands out from them all.

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These beaches contain smooth stones, rather than sand, as the content of the shore line, which then runs right into the magnificent clear salty water. Not only does the water look beautiful, it’s at a desirable temperature too! I love being able to jump right in and float along the gentle waves gliding towards shore.

In Nice they keep the water clean by using boats called Pelicans, which have nets attached on the side to collect trash and waste as the boat cruises  along the shore line.

Another aspect that stands out on these beaches is what you see when you look among your fellow beach goers. Here in Nice, going topless at the beach is considered normal and culturally acceptable for women and girls. At home everyone freaks out and seems prudish when it comes to exposing body parts. Men here also feel completely comfortable wearing very small bathing suits that inevitably attract attention. The attitude towards nudity and openness to being exposed in public is not even second guessed in the culture of the French Riviera.

Overall, my experience with the Mediterranean and the time I have spent on the beach has left a lasting positive impression on me and I never want to leave! 

Antibes and Cannes!

by Chris Swenson 

My stay in Nice has been like a dream vacation so far. The way I always saw it, there are two types of vacations—there’s the tropical vacation, and the “European” type tour vacation. Well…here, I have the best of both worlds.

While living in Nice is amazing, it was nice to catch a break from the beach-shopping-repeat daily routine and visit two other cities—Antibes and Cannes—for a day. Of course, with this still being the French Riviera, the beach and shopping were the main activities of those two cities as well, but it was still great to experience someplace new. 

It’s really amazing how simple it is to meet at the train station, purchase inexpensive tickets, and be on a train to anywhere from the next city over to even cities in Italy. Just yesterday, after an excursion to Monaco, a bunch of us decided to swim at a beach in the city of Menton. Just like that, for less than 5 euros, we were getting off the train there. I feel so free here.

In Antibes, we went to the Provencal Market. The Provencal Market is a food market, featuring the various specialties of Provence. There, we found various fruits and vegetables, seasonings, flowers, olives, vinegars, oils, jams, and soaps. There was tons of lavender, either in sacks or by the bundle, which is really awesome. My favorite part, however, was the stand selling macarons at a euro each. I may have eaten 10 over the course of the day…

Cannes is the city that holds the  International Film Festival each year. There, my favorite part was walking along the extravagant promenade and seeing hotels that celebrities stay in while there for the festival. And one extra perk — at this beach, there was sand, not the rocks we’ve become used to.  My feet absolutely thanked me for visiting a beach that didn’t have rocks all over it. I don’t mean to hate on the rocks though—there are benefits to both. The sand is great to lay on and walk on, but it is so awesome to leave a beach with rocks and not have sand in every crevice. 

Each day in Nice is amazing, and each day we spend traveling elsewhere is just as awesome. I am falling in love with the south of France!

The country of Monaco

by Taylor Miller 

One thing I love about being in Europe is the easy access to other surrounding countries. Today, for example, we took a 20 minute train ride to a completely different country, Monaco.

Monaco is a small country on the border of France, near Italy. One of the best things about Monaco is that it is home to actual royalty. Though a kingdom for several centuries, many Americans became aware of Monaco in the 1950s when the beautiful Hollywood star Grace Kelly fell in love with and married Prince Rainier of Monaco. Their son, Prince Albert, now rules the kingdom.

Monaco, home to the Formula One Grand Prix race, is also known for the city of Monte Carlo, where we visited the exquisite casino.

We started our day in Monaco with a view looking toward the Alps on one side, and the Mediterranean on the other, and the Royal Palace  right in the middle. The palace, built in the 17th century, is absolutely beautiful and looked over by a royal guard dressed completely in white during the summer, and black during the winter.

After taking a few hours to look around for ourselves and have lunch we took a trip all together to the beautiful cathedral where the Prince and Grace Kelly were married in 1956, and are now buried today.

Once we had all left the cathedral we made our way down the huge rock that the palace is located on to the Monte Carlo Casino which is surrounded by stores such as Van Cleef and Arpel, Chanel, and Cartier. The world-renowned casino was beautiful inside, although we weren’t allowed to take pictures. None of us really understood how to get any of the machines working because they were all in French so we played around looking at the machines and the tables before leaving.

I am still astounded by how beautiful the views in Monaco were, and I can’t believe how short of a time it took us to get to another country — we didn’t even have to bring our passports!

After leaving Monaco a group of us took the train to a little town called Menton, which is the last city in France before crossing the border to Italy.  While there we went to the beach, and spent some time shopping in stores specializing in Italian and French souvenirs. 

Being able to visit Monaco was a highlight of our time so far on the French Rivera. It’s so amazing to feel the culture from two countries mesh together in a completely separate country all together.

A Tour of Nice-Matin

by Corin Wray

For me, spending time with my host family and locals that we’ve met is the most significant part of this trip. This is mostly because of the differences and similarities that I find through socializing with people from another part of the world. I am very fortunate to have such a sweet and welcoming host family here in Nice. My family consists of a husband and wife named Pascal and Marie. They have been very helpful in telling us all about their wonderful city in which they’ve lived in for more than 15 years.

Pascal was  nice enough to take us on an excursion today! At 10 p.m.this evening, we were able to take a very extensive tour of the main headquarters of Nice’s major daily newspaper, Nice-Matin. The tours are so late because they make the actual paper at night and send it out to the public the next day. Our tour guide spoke only French so Pascal translated to my roommate and me throughout the tour.

Nice-Matin was founded in 1945 by Raymond Comboul and Michel Bavastro by fusing together two newspapers,  “Combat” and ‘I’Espoir du Matin.” together. Bavastro became the paper’s chairman and managing directorn and remained so for almost 50 years. . Bavastro remained a news media boss for almost 50 years. Nice-Matin’s current head of operations is Frederic Touraille.

During the tour, our guide showed us the various newsrooms, the printing room, the paper warehouse, and the paper’s graphic design areas. In the printing room, there were  huge machines that printed designs and layouts that were previously made by the newspaper’s graphic designers and image coordinators. The machines were made by a German company called “Manroland.”

Many workers were at still hard at work at the newspaper even when our tour was over around midnight.  It was so exciting to see the front page of the next day’s newspaper — an article and photo of  none other than Kate Middelton and Prince William with their new Royal bouncing baby boy! 

The National Chagall Museum

 by Lucie Sorel

 

Though Nice is the fifth largest city in France, it is the second largest in number of museums and home to many famous museums.  Though the museums are not as large and grand as those in Paris, they have amazing paintings and are mostly free to enter.  Some of these include the famous museums of Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse.  Today our group visited the Chagall museum. 

While Chagall originally came from Russia, he spent much of his life in the French Provence region.  He painted in a surrealistic style.  He was influenced a lot by Jewish tradition and Russian folk tales.   Chagall’s paintings are imaginative, colorful, and incredibly beautiful.  Though I had heard of the painter and seen some of his pieces in books, I had never seen a Chagall in person.  The fine details and textures Chagall created are unique and magnificent. 

Up close one can see the incredible details and brush strokes Chagall used to create such an intricate piece.  The museum was having a special exhibit of Chagall’s self-portraits.  Some he created to make himself look younger while others were more fanciful and had few details.  The museum had many large canvases of dark blue and green hues with surrealist religious scenes on them.  The style could be interpreted in many different ways.  My favorite piece was a scene of the heavens looking down on a man holding a sword and a woman.  This was a heavily emotional piece.  Chagall used a lot of reds and blues to depict the scenario.  Though the museum was rather small, this made the artwork more accessible and easy to enjoy.  We were able to stay together as a group and comment on what we felt about the paintings.  In the farthest room of the museum was a wall with stain glass windows designed by Chagall.  The windows combined a mixture of old architectural design and modern surrealist art.  The museum was laid out very well and visiting it was an enjoyable experience.  I would definitely go back the next time I am in Nice.