It all started when I was having lunch in the cafeteria at the USF Reef. I was stopped by Natalie, one of my classmates. Natalie wanted to know if I was going to be a part of the study abroad program in Nice, France. With a smile on her face she informed me that by taking the study abroad class it would satisfy the last credit needed for our French minor. Since I wanted to finish my French minor over the summer this felt like the perfect opportunity. She continued by telling me that “It would be a great experience! We will learn much more than the language.” I knew that Natalie was right, I had already experienced the life changing opportunity she was telling me about in 2012 when I spent two months in Nice. However, this itself made me a little hesitant when thinking of applying to the program. Being that I had already experienced a study abroad program in Nice, I was uncertain that I could experience something much different than my previous experience. With all of this in mind, I went ahead and decided to apply to the program. After being accepted, unsure of what I would discover being back in Nice, I bought a plane ticket for three months, and I packed my bags.
As I set foot in Nice I was quickly reminded of how much I had forgotten. I had forgotten how gorgeous the Mediterranean Sea is. I had forgotten how much history there is in each narrow street and how much I enjoy hearing the stories of backpackers and students from different parts of the world. Being back in Nice also, showed me how much I had grown and change since the last time I visit.
This time I arrived to Nice understanding and speaking an intermediate level of French. I also arrive with a set of new values and beliefs, that can be seen in my vegetarian diet. I arrived to friends and family,whom I met and grew close to in my last visit. I was filled with gratitude and joy to be reminded of the non-material gift that I was getting when coming back to Nice.
After the study abroad program ended, I was fortunate enough to be able to become a volunteer at Le Centre de Découverte du Monde Marin (The center of discovery of the marine world). CDMM is an association, founded in 1991, that specializes in the management and protection of the marine environment by educational outreach activities in environmental exhibitions, conferences, and awareness workshops. For the past three weeks I have participated in two of their programs Bibliomer and Ecogestes.
Bibliomer is a campaign, held on the beach, aimed to educate beach users on major environmental issues. Ecogestes is part of a regional campaign directed to boaters, its focus is to promote eco-friendly practices and environmental actions in order to preserve the Mediterranean. While volunteering at CDMM I have being able to interact with locals, I have visited different cities in the area and I have learned about the effort being made in La Côte d’Azur in order to preserve our environment.
As I spent my last few week of the summer, I am grateful to be spending them in Nice. The experience that I have lived this time around are experiences that would have never crossed my mind back in March when I was considering the program. Not only has this experience helped me to further develop my French, but it has also helped me become involved in an organization that will help me within my major and career.