By Isabella Kallan
I am currently on my year abroad in Saint Raphael, a small coastal town in the South of France between Saint Tropez and Cannes. I am an English language assistant at two French schools. In order to practice my Spanish on a daily basis, I have chosen to live with a Spanish language assistant, Moises. He is from Venezuela, so some of his Venezuelan slang is rubbing off on me. There is a group of Spanish language Assistants in this area that meet up every so often for celebrations and travelling, which has been an ideal way of practicing my Spanish and discovering this charming part of France. I have been able to explore the French Riviera, visiting lots of small quaint villages, beautiful rocky beaches and vibrant towns such as Nice.
I wondered through the small narrow streets of rural Nice called Vieille Ville and climbed up to the top of Parc de la Colline to discover the breath taking views and get sprinkled at the fountain. I have also been relishing the French cuisine, which includes their variety of cheeses, their sweet grapes and a plethora of desserts. I also have to point out that the fantastic weather doesn’t hurt!
I have also been able to travel to other countries in this area. I visited a small town in Italy called Ventimiglia for a daily excursion, to sunbathe under the warm sun and amble through the town. I also went to Monaco, walked to the top of Montecarlo to see the view of the harbour.
During the Christmas break I returned to Jaca, my little cozy Spanish town tucked in the Pyrenees. I went for a few cold hikes in the mountains and enjoyed some hot chocolate and churros. Although it is small, Jaca is a lively town, filled with life in winter and summer. Whenever I go to Spain I always end up in a bar, having a cold caña and some delicious tapas. I also got to spend some quality time with my Spanish childhood friends, who come back to Jaca whenever they can. I then spent a week in Begur, a town an hour north from Barcelona, right by the beach. It is a cute little town, with narrow streets of Moorish architecture. There are some prepossessing neoclassical mansions mixed with contemporary modern houses. I spent hours walking along the coast, soaking in the sun and watching the waves crashing against the rocks. As it is close to Girona, we decided to spend a day in this medieval city, wandering through the small narrow streets in the walled Old Quarter, known as Barri Vell, and visiting the grand Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona, featuring Romanesque and Gothic style. I also got to practice my Catalan, which was a little rusty but I was able to ask for directions and order an ice-cream.
It is thanks to the Edith Baer bursary that I have been able to travel as much as I have and really made the most of where I am. I can finally fully enjoy my year abroad and just focus on enjoying every moment.