I’ve been in France for almost a month, and I’ve met some pretty amazing people so far– although I’ve met far more international people than French people.
Our neighbor in our apartment building is French, and she’s sent us some lovely handwritten notes. One note said to please be quiet when we close our door in the morning, and the other said to be quiet when we close the door at night. I saw her in the lobby today, and she said “merci” as I held the door for her. This is the most we’ve ever spoken to each other. I think our friendship is really off to a great start.
There’s a cafe below my apartment that I usually visit at least once a week. Last time I went in there, the manager greeted me and asked what I wanted to order. I hadn’t decided yet, so I hesitated and the woman immediately said, “Oh, do you speak English?” and switched from French to English. I let her know that I spoke English, but I continued to order in French. People in Nice tend to prefer if you try to speak French to them, so I wanted to make it easier on the woman in the cafe.
Other than my encounters with locals in places like restaurants and stores, I’ve mostly met people from outside France.
On orientation day at my university, I met a girl from Armenia and we talked a little bit during our lunch break. She was pretty quiet and didn’t elaborate when I asked her questions. Last week, as I waited for the bus back to Nice, we stood at the bus stop and talked. I still don’t know her name, but I know she’s in two of my classes and studies at the American University of Armenia. I hope to get to know her better.
Over a third of the students at my school are international, and I have been making an effort to talk to a lot of different people from my classes. The French students tend to hang out in groups and stand outside smoking, so I haven’t tried to mingle with them too much. I also have to admit, I am a bit intimidated by their impressive (and expensive) fashion, hair, and makeup.
I’ve also started hanging out with students from the Erasmus exchange program who are attending the University of Nice. I am so happy to have met this group of people. Last Saturday, about 12 of us spent the day in Monte Carlo, Monaco. We were an eclectic mix of artists and writers and future political scientists from Spain, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and a few other places. I love the way the conversations change from English to French to Spanish to Dutch. This weekend, I met a few more people from the exchange program, and we spent an afternoon in a small town called Èze, a 4000 year old seaside town on a hilltop. I really enjoyed sitting and chatting with everyone for hours and hearing their stories.
I haven’t made any French friends so far, but I’ve met some lovely people from places I’ve visited and other places that I know nothing about.