I really had no expectations going into the Cannes study abroad program. I knew that I was going to be having the time of my life, simply because I would be studying abroad. Little did I know, my experience in Cannes would succeed any great expectation of study abroad whatsoever.
Yes, everyone is different and will have their own special experiences, but from what I’ve heard and seen from other locations of study abroad, I fully believe that Cannes, France is the number one place for a student to study abroad. Here are the reasons why.
1. You actually get to learn and progress in a new language.
I spent five years of high school and college classes combined taking French. I had always wanted to learn a second language, and regretted not learning Cantonese when I had the chance (from my dad). During the five years I took French, it seemed like I had learned nothing. It was because I wasn’t being immersed. I learned so much more in the four months of being abroad than I had in those five years of classes.
In Cannes, we took a three-hour class of French every weekday. We discussed politics and movies and all the subjects that I was interested in. We learned all about the French people and their hate for “pretentious Parisians.” We sometimes had arguments with other students, but everything was in French. This is how you learn a new language: from wanting to express your strong emotions in word. We didn’t even realize we were progressing in French. We were just trying to get our point across.
2. You are specifically going to a language school.
This opens so many more doors up to meet differing people. Yes, universities are diverse and you can meet people who like similar things, but in Cannes, you get to meet people from around the world, as well as locals. There was an adjacent French journalism school, so the opportunity to speak French with native speakers was always present. Then, there was immense variety of students from around the world. Many of us became close with students from Brazil. Of all places, Brazil. Not to mention the amount of Americans from all differing states that were in the same AIFS program or on their own to study. I know so many people’s couches I could surf if I wanted to travel around the US.
3. The Cannes Film Festival, AKA the most amazing two weeks of your entire life.
You could have an internship in the film market. You will be stepping on the red carpet with the stars multiple times. You will see how the city changes from a charming small town to a film industry hub that is as exciting as it sounds. Forget Los Angeles and Hollywood, you get all the same things in Cannes within a short distance and without the filth and traffic! Then, the tourists leave and you get to enjoy it in its true form.
4. You will learn to live life slower and gain the ability to take it all in.
Before Cannes, I was stressed out of my mind with school and work. After, I can still work hard, but I will have a greater understanding of the things I want to do, rather than the things I have to do. In the south of France, life is more about enjoying yourself. Yes, you can follow your dreams and succeed greatly, but you need to sit back and relax sometimes. You need to grow connections with the people around you. You need to let go. This is what you will learn studying abroad here. It’s a lesson that is greater than any other on the planet.
In my book, it’s easy to go to another university in another country, to stay in dorms, and to travel around to other big cities. It’s harder to stay in a place that is really unlike any university in the world; to open yourself up to meeting people from around the globe; to living in the country as an actual local, rather than an American student; to completely change your views of certain countries by traveling outside of big tourist destinations; to make yourself vulnerable in a lifestyle that is completely different.
The AIFS Cannes program is indescribable, and that’s why you need to go and feel it for yourself.
This post was contributed by Caitlin Chan, who studied abroad with AIFS in Cannes, France.