Hello from Nice, France! Let me introduce myself. I am Elysia Lopez, a current 2L student at Thomas Jefferson. I am here, studying in Nice for the next four weeks, and let me just say this – what a wonderful experience already! For those who do not speak any French, luckily there is a lot of assistance from Professor Susan Tiefenbrun (Director of the Nice Program), the assistant students (who are fluent this year) and the local people of France. While some do not speak English at all, they understand common phrases and are more than willing to try and help you get along. For those who took French in school, like me, it is an excellent way to practice what you have learned and grow in your skill. For the most part, though, most people speak basic English, so it is easy enough to order food and ask for directions. There are a few guidelines for living in Europe as an American and they are easy to pick up with a little work (for example: learning to be polite, trying their food, speaking at a lower volume and picking up some simple catch phrases in the native tongue). Living here for a month will not only educate us in the law, but in the beautiful French culture and customs!
On Saturday we all got to our hotels for the month. It was an exciting time for all – I am living with two friends that I met in my 1st year section and our apartment is gorgeous, surprisingly spacious (for Europe) and 1 block from the ocean! Going to the beach after an intensive 5 hour block of classes is absolutely rewarding – the best way to de-stress. Exploring the awe-inspiring old city of Nice is also a great way to de-stress after class. A good plan for summer school is to go to class, take a couple hours break exploring or swimming and then hit the books. If you work hard and focus, you may be able to finish around 8 or 9 pm, and have some time to explore the nightlife before bed for an early morning of classes.
Sunday morning we booked some trips for our three day weekends at the train station and found a grocery store nearby and bought some necessities. One of the best things about living abroad is checking out the local grocery stores. You can tell a lot about a culture by the foods they sell. Here in France, there is cheese of every kind imaginable and it is out-of-this-world delicious! Their breads are freshly baked daily and perhaps the best thing about this country. The wines are affordable, delicious, fresh and local. In general, the food in France is simply amazing and there is something for everyone to try and enjoy. Today I had the most amazing raspberry tarte, made with fresh berries. As for my weekend trips, I plan on seeing Montpellier, Florence, Cannes, Monaco, Antibes and Annecy. I am very excited to explore more of Southern Europe as I have previously explored more Northern cities and countries.
Monday was the first day of class and, while class is certainly intense and stressful, it is enjoyable. We all take 2 classes each, and have a choice between four interesting topics: International Human Rights, Internet law, Comparative Constitutional law, and Reconciling Cultural Diversity in Free Trade. The classes are different and intriguing, but don’t underestimate the work load. There is a lot of reading each day to complete for class, due to the fact that the program is only 4 weeks long and must be intensive by its nature, but also because there are only two classes, which are held daily. We also have guest lecturers about once or twice a week, and they speak on unique cultural or international topics. There is much to stimulate the mind in the classroom here in Nice, and it seems so far to be an enjoyable way to earn four credit hours while enjoying a summer abroad on the French Riviera!
Until next week…
Photos taken by Andrew Schiffman