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Hello again!

I can’t believe it, I’ve been in Paris for 4 weeks already! I’m halfway through my Study Abroad program, which you can check out here; it’s wonderful, and the weather has finally brightened up in time for Paris Plages, where the city creates artificial beaches along the banks of the Seine. However, Paris has nothing on Nice when it comes to the beach…I would know, as I just returned from my amazing weekend in the South of France. As a bit of an update, here are some stories and pictures of one of the best weekends in my life.

My friend Anneli and I had decided a while ago that we wanted to go to the south of France, and chose Nice because her host family knew some people there with whom we could stay. The tickets were cheap (EasyJet) and the plane didn’t even remotely crash during our 1h10 flight, which left around 9pm from Orly. Nice by night is oh so much like California, along le Promenade d’Anglais with all the lights, palm trees, and new-ish hôtels lining the beach. Rollerbladers and cyclists oozed down their lane of the promenade, passing piétons as they strolled in the light of the humming lampposts. The air was warm and thicker than Paris, whose air is crisp and spoiled with pockets of cigarette smoke or exhaust. Our view from our room, above the bed (we thought we were going to sleep on the ground) and through the shuttered windows, breathed out onto the bay, which was lit by the colorful night hues, illuminating the neat lines and sailboats below. Panicky joy ensued.

The view from our window, Nice Harbor


In the morning,  we packed our daybags and walked out into Vielle Nice. My, how lovely it is. Imagine the streets of Boston, or of Paris. Not of New York, erase all of those grids from your mind. Now, cut each block in half with a road. And another, at a different angle. Sprinkle dead end alleyways where you wish. Alternatively, imagine the most rustic Italian quarter with burnt orange walls, which meander up towards terracotta roofs as they slide into open windows, flaking blue shutters thrown wide, inviting in an even brighter azure sky. The roads cut sharply at acute angles, creating houses as skinny as a cabinet that widen out to twenty times that size. Around the corner is a baby-pink church, its belltower peeking out over the surrounding buildings, as if it wished to glimpse the sea that it heard so often. The smell of bread and oregano wafts through an open window. And, somewhere, a thousand tourists fall in love with a city for the first time in their lives.

Vielle Nice

The majority of them can be found on the beach, where we happened to spend most of our day. It is incredibly crowded, incredibly sunny, and incredibly beautiful. Les cailloux are smooth, grey, and warm, not scalding like sand, nor are they as comfortable as their counterpart. They become smaller as they reach towards the water, where they dip, and rise, and dip again before plunging into the sea. It is deep almost immediately, a light salty blue closer to the shore and a brighter hue further out. The perfect temperature, it stretches on forever, embraced by Nice Côte d’Azur airport on one side and la colline, a fortressed hill, on the other. Nice-ville stretches in between, connected by the Promenade. After buying strawberries from an old lady who closely resembled a dandelion, and ice cream from a dim man on the street, Anneli and I walked back to the sea. I slurped up the fast-melting passionfruit scoop, took a lick of coffee, and finished by dipping my strawberries into the rich dark chocolate of my final scoop— and all for 4€. The sun was strong; we bought some sunscreen from a para-pharmacie. Eventually, we figured out how to use the VéloBlue, and spent the next two hours biking around, returning the creaky blue bikes to their stations before the 30 minutes were up and re-renting them to avoid any charge at all. After biking all the way to the airport, we decided that we’d bike to catch our flight at 5 am. Only then did I realize how burned I was, and after another swim in the evening with bronzed Russian children, we rinsed in the beach showers and returned back home to change, taking the long route via climbing the stairs of the fortified hill and weaving through the paths up there. It was silent, and for around 3 minutes I heard nothing but nature, something we both needed dearly. We gazed out at this marvelous town, thanking Harvard for all of the gifts it’s given us.

Nice Beach, one side of the hill

Me chillin’ on the other side of the hill


We finished our first day with smiles plastered onto our faces, and on Saturday  evening we decided to splurge on some dinner. Walking around Nice with the fantastic light charmed us until we returned to Place Girabaldi, where a restaurant with the same name awaited us. The catch? It had fresh pasta. Anneli ordered pesto gnocchi, and I ordered black truffle risotto. Both came with parmesan. Our waiter was terribly bizarre, but the food was phenomenal. I mourned the half of the risotto that I couldn’t eat, knowing that now, as I write this, I would be (and am) craving the delicious earthy flavor and richness of that plate. After eating, Anneli realized that all of the tables around us were full of Swedish people. She is Swedish, after all, and so a lengthy discussion with the portly man and his wife next to us ensued. I loved listening to it, but found myself automatically wanting to speak Italian afterwards, as Swedish is about as sing-songy as the other language I know, and is very different from French. It was hilarious to hear, and we eventually left after Anneli had had her heritage-full, spending the rest of the night on the beach in between tight circles of boys and night-fishermen, who actually caught fish in the warm Mediterranean.

My Risotto…dying

Now that I’m back, I can tell you that it was the best two-day vacation ever. Seriously. The Mediterranean has officially become my favorite ocean, and I know I must return to Nice. You know you’re spoiled when you don’t want to go back to Paris (:

Have a lovely summer, and incoming Freshmen, get excited!!! Harvard is the BEST!

Ciao begli!


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I love movies. I’ve been a film connoisseur since my earliest memories. Actually, though. I remember watching the Lion King and commenting on the director’s techniques in between spoonfuls of my corn flakes, let’s put it like that. And even though I never strayed too far from that Hakuna Matata lifestyle, there were still some things about movies that frustrated me, like: Why was there such a divide between reality and fantasy?

I wanted to fly to Never-Neverland like Peter-Pan, I wanted Eddie Murphy as my guardian dragon like Mulan, and I wanted to befriend an expert chef mouse like Linguini. Why did these things seem so far out my reach? After I got a bit older, I started to face the facts and realized that some things are only meant for the silver screen. As hopeful as I was, there was no point in getting frustrated in how, at the end of the day, fantasy is… well, fantasy: not possible in real life.

Interestingly enough, what I didn’t realize is that along with pixie dust, talking dragons, and ambitious mice, I was also classifying the settings of these movies as fantasy. I didn’t understand that although certain aspects of these stories were fictional, the worlds they took place in were very real. These fantasies have become my reality. I’ve seen aspects of Never-Neverland as my plane flew in to Brazil back in early June; I admired the Emperor’s throne in the Imperial City in Beijing in late August, and at last, I have stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France just this past weekend. These past few months came at a pace I am still trying to keep up with but the blessings that have lined the way have humbled me and made me more aware of what these milestones in my life mean.

Whenever I enter a new country, whenever I see a new monument, whenever I relish a local delicacy, it’s not just me- it’s my family and it’s my community doing these things. I’ve realized that I carry them wherever I go. I am not sharing my experiences in order to breed envy- I’m doing it because I want you to realize that these things are possible for you too. Too long have we accepted “fantasy” as separate from reality. We have to understand that these places, although pictured as far away lands in the depths of our dreams, are actually closer than we think. But how far, exactly? Well, only you can determine that. I can only offer encouragement. And trust me, the hard work is well worth it. There is no other feeling like that moment when you step back and say, “Whoa… I’m here.”

I experienced that feeling this weekend as I stood in front of the Eiffel Tower. I really hope you get to experience something similar as well. Not just for you but also for your family and for your community, remember that you carry them wherever you go. Check out the video below to take part in my experience- it won’t compare to when you feel it for yourself but I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless. Keep working hard.

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