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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Day in Nice

A Day in Nice-June 14th, 2009
My summer program in France is conducted through Alliance Française, a French language program with locations all over the world, and in many places all throughout France. My first stop, therefore, is Nice. Now in my second week here, I have fallen in love with the place, and have adjusted delightfully well to the amazing weather, beaches, and great food.

I moved into an apartment owned by an older French woman, a divorcée that I have breakfast with each morning, talking about the United States, my life, her grandchildren, or what is currently playing on the radio. My room is remarkably large, with a large balcony that overlooks the Place Garibaldi, one of the larger squares in Nice. I have a full sized bed, a dresser and a wardrobe, a closet, two desks, and large windows. My apartment is right on a bustling street, so each morning I wake up to the sounds of the city waking up. My language courses start in the afternoon, so I have the morning to myself-usually to walk around and explore the city. There are a great number of people, tourists from all over France, Europe, and overseas. Wandering by myself, I walk through Vieux Nice, or the old city, weaving through the narrow streets that are lined by souvenir shops, small cafés, and other boutiques, ultimately ending near the Marche de Fleurs and the beaches. I peruse the market, where there is freshly caught seafood of all sorts, spices, souvenirs, paintings, and of course-a huge assortment of flowers.

After pausing near the beach (I usually preferred staying near the Beau Rivage plage), where all sorts of people can be found (topless elderly French women and their speedo-wearing husbands or a man wandering around in a penis costume), I head back towards the Place Garibaldi. I stop in a small bakery in Vieux Nice on the way, picking up a freshly baked baguette-its glorious smell making me hungry as it burns my hand. A small interjection about this bread: people line up outside to get bread from this boulangerie, and often leave with a minimum of two loaves. It is also amazingly cheap, and perfect for making sandwiches. After reaching the Place, I swing into Monoprix to pick up some gouda cheese and tomato, then back to my apartment. There, I make a sandwich of sliced gouda, tomato, along with some basil and a sprinkle of dried mint. I head back out to the Place and sit on a bench, eating my sandwich and people-watching.

Some observations about Nice:
1) Everyone smokes.
2) There is a large population of elderly people.
3) Just because someone’s French does not mean they’re native to Nice-they’re probably a tourist as well.
4) Dogs are extremely popular-everyone has them, from small terriers to German shepherds. The more macho the guy, the smaller his dog. Scrawnier guys tend to have larger dogs, and women and the older population tend to have terriers or other pocket-variety canines.
5) The streets are an obstacle course of dog poop-it is not required to pick up after your pet, unfortunately.
6) Everything is within walking distance and walking is the best way to discover more about the city.
7) The beach is extremely popular.
8) Oh yeah, in case I didn’t mention it-the beach is extremely popular.

After eating, I head to class-four hours of grammar, listening comprehension, and oral practice. My class is extremely small, consisting of three other Americans, a Finnish girl, and two Mexicans. We move at a fairly slow pace, trying to allow the weaker students to keep up-and it allows me to refresh the French I learned three years prior. When class is over, I walk back to the Place, and jet towards a popular place that sells socca, a specialty of Nice. If I get there in time, I can avoid the long line that inevitably piles up. Socca is a pretty simple dish, made with mostly chickpeas and olive oil. It’s baked on a huge dish, somewhat similar to a giant crepe. When served, a portion of it is scraped onto a plate and then sprinkled with a pepper-seasoning, then eaten by hand. Delicious, albeit oily-and is great to eat from time to time. I take my food to the beach, where I eat it and spend some time on the rocky beach, enjoying the sea breeze.

Towards the evening, I head over to McDonalds, where I get free WiFi-there, I check my email, get on skype, and get told how lucky I am to be in Nice. It’s true, I am-and I love it.

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