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Nice Program 2011 – Week 2 – By 2L Student Elysia Lopez

July 5, 2011

Nice, France 2011
Nice, France 2011
Nice, France 2011

This week has been monumental: 25% of our summer school session is over, the stress from being close to finals is already sinking in and, yet, we’re in this amazing paradise with tons to see and experience. Life is wonderful, stressful, filled with beauty – and of course, Patriotism.

Thursday, Professor Tiefenbrun threw a “wine and cheese” gathering at her apartment in order to facilitate the American students in the Human Rights class mingling with the French students. It was certainly a success – the French cheeses were tasty, the wines were delicious, and the French, Italian, Dutch and Belgian students were so friendly and social. After the gathering, the Americans and French students went out to local bars, sat and discussed culture, school, France and many other endless topics for hours! It was definitely a great experience because now I have met many new students and I can hear about their impressions regarding the world, education, America, life – it is a great way to learn outside of the classroom.

Our first week of classes finished on Thursday, and it sank in – in 3 weeks we’re taking finals. We have so much to cover in order to get our ABA credit. This means, quite frankly, that the course load is intense. I have had roughly five hours of reading a night. On the flip side, class is really interesting and we’re done each day by 12:30. This is early enough to still explore the city, enjoy the beach, and get homework done! It does leave little time for sleeping, though, but this is no strange occurrence for law students. This week, the former ambassador for war crimes under the Clinton administration, David Scheffer, is teaching our Human Rights courses. It is mind-blowing to hear him speak firsthand about setting up the International Criminal Court, the negotiations for the Treaty of Rome, and the pressures on both sides for America joining the Rome Treaty versus the need to protect American soldiers abroad.  This experience alone has made the entire Nice program one of the best educational experiences I have ever had.

Friday morning all of the students in this program were able to go to the French high court, the Palais de Justice. It was difficult to sit for a few hours listening to French discussions of complicated subjects but, thanks to the French and Italian students, we were able to hear the proceedings translated! It was a great insight into the differences between the Civil and Common law systems and, more specifically, the French and American. After the court proceedings, I left for a weekend in Montpellier!

Montpellier is another coastal town (slightly inland) that has a lot of student life, many Roman ruins and a functioning Roman aqueduct, several Medieval structures still standing in good condition, and a bustling street market! I absolutely love the gorgeous city. Montpellier is the capitol of the Languedoc region and, as such, has a lot to offer to visitors: gorgeous parks, breath-taking architecture, student life, shopping, history, and Roman ruins! Exploring was a great experience, and it was nice to sleep in – even if only for a day. Another perk: I found a coffee shop (Fairview Coffee) that serves bagels, pancakes, cupcakes, Chai tea and all other sorts of American coffee house items. The sweetest French man and Welsh man own the coffee house, and felt that American coffee houses were such a great experience that they had to integrate one into French culture!

Even though school is stressful and the homework is vast and seemingly never-ending, this past week has been beautifully life-changing – I have met people from the other side of the globe, seen beautiful foreign cities, learned interesting topics from brilliant minds and, of course, celebrated the fourth of July in a gorgeous beach town!

Until next week, and a Happy  fourth of July!