Semester abroad in Nice, France

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Me (middle) and some Erasmus friends

My name is Roseanne Clement, and I am currently in my 5th year of the MPhys course at Strathclyde. This semester I am participating in a semester abroad as part of the Erasmus scheme with the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in France. I am working with the the Labatoire Physique de la Matière Condensée (LPMC), which is headed by both the University and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

I have been attending the University since the start of September, which means I have been able to enjoy the sunshine for a month or so now, although with the warm weather also brings the dreaded mosquitoes! However, with views such as these at the beach, it is worth a few bites.

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Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Going by my surname, and the fact that I am studying in France, you might think that I can speak French – but all I knew before coming were the basics of bonjour, merci and the names of a few animals. To study at the University, it is recommended that you have at least a good competency with the language as most of the courses are taught in French. Thankfully, due to the nature of the 5th year of the MPhys course, I am not doing any classes this semester – only a project, and with a supervisor who speaks English.

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Place Masséna in Nice

I am glad to say that I am now getting along with a mix of French and English, which makes things a little easier in certain situations. I am also taking advantage of the free French classes which are available to Erasmus students of all levels, which is especially useful for a beginner like me.

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ESN group on a night out in Nice

As for the social side of my stay here, I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying myself. At first, it was incredibly hard to communicate with others who did not know English, or understand my attempt at French. However, I quickly became involved in the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), which boasts students from a large number of countries and therefore a vast amount of languages, so everyone is in the same boat. ESN is run by a group of students who organise events in order for the international students to experience the French lifestyle and they also assist in activities such as opening a French bank account. Last weekend, the ESN organised several party buses to take over 150 international students to go to Monaco for a night out. In just over a month I will be getting to travel to Paris to visit some of the cities many sites, including Disneyland!

Nice is a great place to travel around and explore as the public transport system is very well done. A tram operates through the centre of the city, and there is also the vélo bleu (blue bike) service, which is the same idea as the bikes that have been implemented in Glasgow. Nice is an absolutely beautiful city, and I would urge anyone who has not been, to visit or even do a semester abroad here.