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Eleanor Kaminski reflects on Maryland-in-Nice

Program: Maryland-in-Nice 
Term: Spring 2024 
Major: French, Linguistics

Studying abroad in Nice had a profound impact on my future career interests and reinforced my love for traveling and meeting people from different parts of the world. I found my class experience in Nice unique and very rewarding. I was attending a French university, taking courses in a specialized department for non-native speakers of French wishing to improve their speaking, writing and reading skills. My classes were entirely in French, taught by French natives. 

There were very few Americans in my classes. I got to meet people from all over the planet. There were students from Russia, Ukraine, China, Iran, South America, all located in Nice under very different circumstances. French was our common ground, and I really enjoyed making meaningful connections with my classmates under our unifying goal of improving our French. I genuinely enjoyed sharing perspectives and experiences and hearing about the lives my classmates came from. My teachers deeply inspired me, and affirmed my interest in international education and teaching language as a possible career.

I had a unique experience early on in my semester in Nice where I felt that I really got out of my comfort zone. I was at dinner with my roommate one night, before we had met many other people in Nice, when we met a girl from the United States who was studying at a different university than ours. She told us that she had met a few other international students and advised us to reach out to her in the future to make plans with her and her new friends. The next weekend, my roommate was traveling and I was alone at our apartment. I decided to reach out to the girl we met. It turns out, she and her friends were planning a day trip to Antibes, a nearby town that Sunday. It seemed like a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and meet some new people on my own! That Sunday, I got a message from the girl I met from the U.S. saying that she was sick and was not going on the day trip. I was already in contact with everyone else in a group chat that was planning to go, so I decided to show up. I arrived at the train station alone to a group of very nice girls that I had neither spoken to or seen before. Everyone was so kind and welcoming and we had a great time exploring Antibes! Barely anyone knew each other, but we spent the day exchanging conversations, experiences and perspectives. I was with girls from Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, all exploring a new place together. I was proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone that day. I felt so fulfilled afterwards to have had this time with new friends from all over the world. It was a day that made me feel truly content with my decision to study abroad.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad:

As a young woman who traveled alone throughout my semester in Europe, I recommend being cautious of your surroundings and belongings at all times. Even though this is a typical precaution to have anywhere you travel, I often felt vulnerable and targetable as a younger woman-presenting person in the places I was going. If you are traveling with a group, I think it is productive and helpful to discuss your own fears regarding your identity and even develop a possible plan of action in case of an emergency.

I would tell students who are hesitant about studying abroad or think it is not possible, that they should absolutely go for it. There are so many opportunities in study abroad programs for all disciplines. I feel that the experience improved my confidence in communicating with others and traveling to unfamiliar places. I felt so fulfilled at the end of my program, that I just cannot compare it to any other experience.

While I was in Nice to study French, there was still somewhat of a language barrier as I am not a fluent speaker. It can be difficult at times to attempt to practice speaking with locals because there is a fear associated with being judged or not taken seriously. I found that I typically did not regret practicing everywhere I went, because I ended up having a lot of special conversations with French people. This was one of my goals going into the program, so it was very beneficial for me to get over that initial discomfort.

If I hadn’t studied abroad, I would have never been able to run next to the Mediterranean sea everyday! I was lucky enough to live right on the water, so I made sure to take advantage of that everyday by going on lots of runs and long walks. Nice has some of the best views I’ve ever seen, so I made sure to not take that for granted.

Instagram: @ellekaminski 
LinkedIn: Eleanor-Kaminski

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