Two Erasmus diaries in and I’ve realised that I’ve been a bit ‘woe is me’ as of late. As much as I love to remind people that it’s okay not to be okay as we deal with homesickness and stress and all the other hard parts of Erasmus, this week I’m back to highlight all the positives. People always talk about Erasmus as one of the best experiences a student can have – and I’m here to confirm that the rumours are indeed true.
This past week I’ve been on my half term break (I am forever grateful to the French college system for the frequent holidays). I spent my week off in Nice with my parents and my brother. To anyone who has ever considered visiting Nice this is your sign. Between the sun, the sea, and the general good vibes, I think Nice may be my favourite place in France so far.
Nice has all the things most other French cities have to offer; rentable bikes for exploring, bustling markets, and great food – I am still dreaming about a particularly delicious Lebanese restaurant we visited. After much debate I think my highlight of the trip can be summed up by my €9 charity shop haul of a new dress, trousers, and a vintage crop top – courtesy of the plethora of second-hand shops avaiblabe in Nice’s old town. Being barrelled down by the waves in an attempt to swim along la Baie des Anges was definitely a close second though. Nice has a different feel to other French cities I’ve been to. Maybe it’s the proximity to the ocean and the Italian border but the city has much more laid back, Mediterranean vibes. Nice has a feels more approachable and friendly than other French cities I’ve visited in the past such as Paris and Bordeaux.
Getting to travel around Europe is definitely one of the biggest advantages of Erasmus, as well as honing your packing skills down to a fine art. Maybe it’s the fact that Ireland is an island but before coming to France, Europe never felt as accessible to me as it does now. Every weekend opens up an opportunity not just to explore Europe but to explore France itself. Before coming to Avignon, I had never been to the South of France, let alone had the chance to travel around all its cities.
This past Christmas I got to spend a weekend in Bruges in Belgium, visiting the Christmas markets and all the famous ‘In Bruges’ landmarks. This coming weekend I’ll be setting off to Milan to celebrate my birthday. If you had told me a year ago that this was what my life would be like, my online college isolated self would have laughed in your face. My Erasmus was just the thing I needed after a year spent inside to shake off the cobwebs and get excited about life again – it really does live up to the hype.