Read about Elise’s experience during her Spring semester in Cannes on the French Riviera.
Voila! Cannes is essentially French California–a fact which I will elaborate on in this post.
The town is absolutely beaming with life now that the sun has finally decided to come out from behind the clouds that hid it away in winter and early spring.
I think, at this point, reflections have arisen naturally since we technically only have a month and a half of school left. Though it is a sad thought to have to leave this lovely place, the consistent sunny days that we have been having has distracted me from thinking of anything other than enjoying the simplicity of things here.
I’m sure that many people still think that I’ve been studying in Paris all this time just because I am in France. Upon telling friends, family, and acquaintances that I was going to study abroad in France, I can’t tell you how many times many I was met with the question, “Oh Paris, right?”
Two and half months later and after visiting Paris for 4 days in March, I can say that I truly feel like I made the right decision to study French here. This is where one truly gets the best of both worlds (a semi-vacation and a learning experience).
So why Cannes? Why AIFS Cannes? Why not Paris or another provider?
I can only explain in so many words since this whole experience has been indescribable at times, but here are a couple of key reasons…
Though we’ve had our fair share of rainy days, the weather is what makes this place amazing.
Indeed, February and March were not ideal for breaking out the sundresses and bathing suits that many students decided to bring more than enough of, but it was never terribly cold. Or rainy. Or snowing for that matter! “Bad weather” for the Cannoises is just what Californians like myself define bad weather as–anything below 50 degrees Farenheit. Most of the time, colder temperatures are bearable and are certainly nothing serious compared to Paris. Now that hotter days have hit, we can retire the coats and leather jackets.
What comes with warmer weather are warmer people.
The locals in Cannes are still French at their core. They prefer you speak in French whether you feel confident or not. They like their cheese and their baguettes. The young ones may say “ooh la la” here and there. However, they are truly kind. They are patient as well if you at least try to speak in French. Being that Cannes consists of primarily an older crowd (50 and over), they seem to much more relaxed. If you want to start up a conversation with the French person beside you while waiting at the same bus stop, you can. If you want to go out at night with friends, you’ll most likely meet younger locals that are willing to talk with you if you want. And since the Collège International de Cannes is the main place within Cannes for non-french speakers to learn french, most people will understand that you are still in the process of learning the language. The atmosphere in Cannes allows you to ease into French culture rather than being dropped in and told “Sink or swim.” The atmosphere in Paris leans more toward the latter since people have got places to go and people to see.
Le Collège International de Cannes gives you the opportunity to make friends with other international students trying to get their “bonjours” right as well.
In the time I’ve spent as a student at the collège, I’ve been able to meet people from all over the world–Japan, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, England, Mexico, Spain, Russia, and so on–who came bearing the same goal:learn French. Conversations in class were always great because the dialogue usually involved applying whatever the lesson of the day was to comparing what something is like in another person’s country (love, work, food, etc.) You soon realize that you’re learning more than just French and will usually end up with a new friend as well!
The AIFS staff goes above and beyond to ensure that you are truly enjoying yourself while you are here.
Sandrine, the AIFS resident director, and Aude, her assistant, have been absolutely incredible when it came to planning out excursions, picking classes, applying for an internship for the Cannes Film Festival, and any other concern someone had. They are so attentive to each AIFS student and are approachable as well. Not only do they make great mentors as we are all trying to comprehend the language and the culture, they are genuinely great people to sit and talk about normal things with. They embody the type of people that are needed to make a study abroad experience memorable for all the right reasons.
The city, though much significantly smaller than Paris, will continually keep you surprised.
Cannes has been a great “home base” after weekend travels to here and there throughout Europe. It has a small town feel and you will become very familiar with the popular student spots quickly (i.e. Leader Price, Monoprix, Zara) , but at the same time, I still have yet to explore everything. Although I’ve been here 2 and half months already, there are still shops to go into, restaurants to eat in, Saturday markets to browse around in and hikes to do around the city. In that sense, I find it charming. And if you’re really looking for a day out for a bigger city adventure, Nice is only a 15 minute train ride away. But most of the time, staying in Cannes for the sandy beaches rather than the rocky beaches of Nice is the better option.
If a day of 3 hours of French class in the morning and then heading to the beach with friends or for a run on the boardwalk with the constant sparkles of the Mediterranean sea in your view doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what else to say!