How I survived going to Nice without speaking a lick of French is still a miracle to me. From boarding the flight in London to finding our seats for the Carnaval festival, the struggle was all too real. And while I’ve been to countries in the past where the native language is not English, I (clumsily) gracefully cruised through my adventures without a worry of the language barrier.
This trip was a little different. As soon as I sat down in my seat on my flight from London the flight attendant began speaking solely in French. I looked to my friend and met her identical, confused and shocked facial expression.
How did I survive the weekend without speaking French and being surrounded by delicious food, beautiful beaches, beautiful architecture and even more beautiful people? Apart from walking around with a blanket expression on my face to warn people of my lack of language comprehension, I survived because Nice is a place where cultures collide.
Nestled among the mountains of southern France and just minutes from the famous Monte Carlo, Nice is a sight for anything but sore eyes. Something that two student development interns needed after spending months working 65-hour work weeks surrounded by enthusiastic and energetic college students. *insert sleep deprivation here.* Nice was a place where we heard dialects from all over the world — Spanish, German, Chinese and (thank God), English.
Admittedly, I previously never had a desire to go to France because of the number of negative stories I received from friends and colleagues who visited the country. I’m ashamed to admit I was a fool to give in to other’s perceptions of such an amazing country and destination. Such a beautiful place that I can’t put it into words, but rather made a video to document the cities stunning features.
“My American is showing” — My Colleague
One thing that we warn the students at the study abroad program where I work is to be subtle everywhere they go. We encourage them to make in effort to immerse themselves in the local culture without being stereotyped as American college students known for being loud and obnoxious. (I promise you I have never been that American college student…)
Sure enough, there were moments when I said stupid things. Far too often I found myself saying “sí” instead of “wé,” or “hello” instead of “bonjour.” Even ordering at Big Mac at McDonalds was a challenge. (Also, yes — We were those Americans who went to McDonalds. Twice).
The response I received from the locals was always the same. A little chuckle at my flub, a slight nod, followed by them resorting to speaking English. So this blog is an opportunity for me to thank the people of Nice of being so nice (I had to say it at least once, right?) Thank you for sharing your incredible city with me. Thank you for your hospitality. And thank God you all speak English.