Back in September, AIFS in Cannes, France alum, Jessica Watkins, prepared to venture back to the city she called a second home for a semester. It’s always a unique experience returning to your study abroad location, and you often begin to reflect on the impact it made on your life, both past and present. As such, Jessica spoke with us about what made her time in Cannes so special and why she encourages prospective study abroad participants to consider it as a study abroad option.
Back in late December of 2004, after a fall semester of calling it home, I stood with my suitcase outside the front gate of the Collège International de Cannes and thought to myself: I HAVE to come back here.
The notion seemed so impossible at the time, but as I type this little love note 13 years later, I am preparing to take my second trip back to visit Cannes in the fall.
Of course, the city of Cannes is unbelievably gorgeous; it looks just like the images I am sure you will, or have already, searched online. The “fancy” part of town glitters on the water like remnants of the stars that stun the famous film festival each spring (I speak, of course of La Croisette, with its designer boutiques and majestic hotels). Cannes precedes itself with its reputation, unless one is lucky enough to live there, even for a short while — and especially lucky enough to study and live at the Collège, which is steps away from the water (the Mediterranean waved to me each morning from my dorm window) and the glitzy Le Croisette. Living there, my friends and I made Le Suquet our haunt (Cannes’s “Old Town”), with its cozy cafes and bars lining winding cobble-stoned streets. There, in Le Suquet, is where I would take my French lesson for the day and put it to action.
For those considering studying at the Collège, so perfectly placed in that space of “far enough away to be peaceful and quiet” to “close enough to walk anywhere in 10 minutes,” know that it is the perfect place to study. Living on campus, my classes were just steps from both my dorm, as were the cafe and cafeteria. It is a cozy and intimate setting that encourages socializing between classes “Jessica! En français, s’il vous plaît!” I can still hear Mme Christine say as I would slip into English during an espresso break. The quality of the education is unparalleled: though I haven’t spoken French in years, the learn-as-you-go situations I found myself in each day (at the market, cafe, asking for directions to Monoprix) while learning French in France have stayed with me. That, along with small class sizes and the constant opportunity to converse in French on campus, truly makes it international! I met (and enjoyed many a cafe au lait… and, of course, rosé) with new friends from Finland, Japan, Scotland, and from many a state in the U.S.
In fact, my upcoming trip back to Cannes will be with my dear friend and fellow Collège alum, Miranda!
This all being said, I highly encourage you, dear reader, to choose to study at the Collège. The experience will most certainly polish your French as well as give you an extremely special “second home” to someday adventure back to.
As for this upcoming trip back to Cannes, I will be staying at the Collège, as Sandrine (simply the BEST AIFS advisor/mentor/treat provider there ever is or was! Pictured above.) has so graciously let me know that former students are always welcome back to visit. I can’t wait to be standing at the front gate of the Collège International de Cannes once more, and plan to return many times over.