About time I posted something about where I am right now! I am studying at a branch campus of Sciences Po University in a little town on the Azure Coast in the southeast of France. It is within walking distance of the Italian border to the east and to Monaco on the west (top right-hand corner of the map below). The town, while quite touristy and a haven for the on-in-years and their rat-sized dogs, is charmingly Mediterranean with orange and yellow-colored buildings, lovely stretches of strollable coast road, and palm trees. It is famous for its lemons and its lemon festival, an extravaganza at the end of February. As it is basically on the Italian border, it is not uncommon to hear Italian here and there, especially since many of the cafe and restaurant owners are Italians, and many signs are multilingual around town.
The weather is decent this time of year, cold but not unbearable, compared especially to Pittsburgh around now. I have already proven myself the crazy foreigner by trotting out my sandals and sundresses to the horror of beparka-d locals. Walking by myself in Nice last week, a man sitting on a stoop watched me approach and yelled out “Vous n’avez pas froid dans les pieds? Alors, vous avez le coeur chaud!” (“Aren’t you cold in your feet? Ah! You must have a hot heart!”)
The campus is small, only about 180 students, and it seems everyone knows everyone, or at least knows of everyone. After so long maintaining relative anonymity jet-setting from place to place, or being one in a school of 28 thousand for two years, I am feeling claustrophobic. Hell, even my high school was seven times the size of this place. At least if I get cabin fever it is easy enough for me to head elsewhere for a weekend.
Being the south of France, almost everything closes very early–between 6 and 7 usually–and businesses, government offices, even our administrators often take 2 to 3-hour lunch breaks. The town is near-dead late at night, with only us youngsters out on the street. Despite the quiet, this little city maintains its postcard-worthiness at every angle.