Good day everyone...
As i am about to finish one of the first but remarkable adventures of my life, i would like to criticize the five months i have spent in Nice and elsewhere. Erasmus, the cities, the ambiance... Simply, everything.
The first three weeks was extremely though because it was so hot that i was sweating all the time and i was barely sleeping. I had to find out how the things were going in France, i had to deal with the paperwork, French phone number, opening a bank account in France etc. And honestly, the bureaucracy in France is absolutely slower than the other developed European countries. Despite the bureaucracy, the language problem i have already mentioned in my Paris article had just begun. I was definitely: "What the... ?!" because my French course planted a logic on my mind and this logic bushed out with my personal contribution of ambition: If somebody speaks French, you shall respond him/her in French. If somebody speaks in English, you shall respond him/her in English. But you shall not speak English with a French unless there is a non-francophone in the conversation. In fact, sometimes i broke the third law when i was really drunk (after 3-4 beers).
After those three weeks, i definitely settled down. Thanks to those ESN meetings and events, i got socialized. I met with many nice people from Czech Republic, Belgium, Serbia, Germany, Italy etc. They were really joyful.
In the beginning of October, i had to deal with the paperwork in school again. I am going to talk about it later but for now, all i can say is that i had to waste two weeks to fix the error of the Erasmus office.
From the middle of October till my return from Prague, everything went better than ever. We went to bars and clubs, we drank, we danced, we partied like there was no tomorrow, i met with the guys in my Master courses one by one till my departure to Brussels. Even i was the wing-man of somebody!
After that, i started to get bored because the Niçois are usually more sensitive to cold than the others and most of people in this town started not to go out. I thought that i was dying especially in the Christmas week because every shop around my apartment was closed and i had to go downtown in order to go shopping. On the other hand, most of my friends had gone back to their homes in order to spend the Christmas with their families. But thankfully, my Paris trip made me forget about it.
But in January, the nightlife in Nice has revived.
The Erasmus Network
There were enormous amount of Germans by probably 50 percent. They are not antisocial but most of them prefer to stick to each other and speak their language even in a group (But it does not mean that i do not like them. It is just an objective criticism. There are some Germans i really like). Alongside Germans, there were many people from Spain, Italy, Turkey and ex-Czechoslovakia.
About ESN in Nice, there are 10-12 people who are working on behalf of it but especially three of them were so nice and helpful (as a principal, i do not reveal names but i can give some tips, two of them has Algerian descents and the third one is a tall smiling blonde girl).
The school i went was Université Nice Sophia Antipolis and i had courses from two faculties: ISEM and IAE. The courses i took from IAE were Master courses and there were just one class with almost 30 students from 16 nations! We were from France, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Portugal, Serbia, Albania, Russia, Poland, China, Guinea, Senegal, Germany, Italy and Ireland. And honestly, i am really glad that i got a chance to meet them because they are all smart, gentle and amazing people.
The professors were also wise, caring, warmhearted people and they had extreme quality. One of them arranges a meeting with the class to go for a drink, the other ones bring either croissant and chocolat au pain or traditional sweet Italian bread. Everybody especially likes the professor of Issues in Global Economics & Business. He was one of the best 7 teachers i have ever had (my teacher in the 3rd grade, three professors from my uni, the second teacher and the last teacher in the French course).
However, the deal of ISEM is exactly the opposite of IAE. Exactly.
The only thing i hate about the school is the International Relations Office because that lady has no idea at all neither about her job nor about the world. I will order her mistakes chronologically.
- She did not inform me about the debut of applications so, i came to Nice one week earlier.
- When i asked her where the post was, she said: "France actually does not have post.".
- After the registration process, she said me that eventually, i would have to open a bank account in France. I asked her to recommend a bank and she sent me to Crédit Lyonnais. However, Crédit Lyonnais said me that i had to stay in France more than a year because one year was "too short" (?!) for them. Then i went back to her office and she said me to find another bank. This time, i went to BNP because it was the only bank i knew. When i wanted to make an appointment to open an account, they said: "I do not understand. We already have an agreement with ISEM. Why did they send you to Crédit Lyonnais?" and he asked me their names. But i did not give. While i am considering how awful the office was, i say: "I wish i gave."
- On our first month, we could drop a lesson and choose another one but i did not want to change it because it was the best schedule i had. The deadline day was 31st September and we had to give our ultimate lists and i was so sick that i had totally forgotten. I was a bit late by just one hour but she looked at the list and accepted it. However, she send me and 10 other Erasmus students an e-mail saying that Erasmus students could not take Master 2 courses and the credits were changed. I was extremely pissed off because she had 5 months to read at least one of those documents required but she did not and she expected me to fix her error. That is why she stole my two weeks by fixing it. I clearly remember my attempt before the last one. I just lifted my hands as i meant: "Oh... God damn it!" but she looked at me with empty eyes and a silly smile and said in her Franco-Spanish which all foreign students cannot understand at all: "Vi monsieur, vu deuvé leu fer dé keu possiblé"(Oui monsieur, vous devez le faire dès que possible/Yes sir, you have to do it as soon as possible). Eventually, i fixed it but that period was simply exhausting. The credit change and her clumsiness was nothing but making the students the victims.
- After this terrible experience, i started to consider to go back to Turkey no matter how i adore France. Because i want to gain my economic liberty as soon as possible, i wish to move to the country i adore as soon as possible and the fastest way to do that is to graduate as soon as possible. On the other hand, i do not know how many courses the committee in my main university will count and her clumsiness was putting me in uncertainty and maybe, in jeopardy. And as long as she remains at that office, there was no guarantee that i would not face with the same problem again. That is why, after i consulted my Erasmus coordinator in Turkey (Like everyone who has the ability to think would do). Then, i went to her office in November or December to declare my willingness to return to Istanbul. She asked me why and -as a person with good manners- i just said: "Because i want to graduate as soon as possible.". Then, she started to question my decision by claiming that i can also graduate from this school. As if the invisible hand will automatically fix the market and make my professors count all the courses i took in Nice(!). When i said something, she responded me with an irrelevant opinion showing that she did not understand what was going on. As if she was really caring me and believe me, her care was not sincere at all. Eventually, i could not prevent my nerves and i said: "Ma'am, you are not paid to question my decisions. You are paid to help the students. I want to go back to Turkey in the end of this semester and i-demand-you-to-help-me.". She was frightened and she said me that it was too early to start the process and asked me to come back in January.
- As she asked, i went there in the second week of January. This time, she asked me to come back next Wednesday and until then, my documents would be ready. But when i went there again, she said that my papers are not ready and she would sent them to Istanbul via post.
Okay, you may ask what is wrong with the last one. Because the systems in France and in Turkey are different. There is an Erasmus office in Turkey plus, an Erasmus coordinator in each department. The Erasmus office takes care of the paperwork whereas the coordinator works more like a consultant but (s)he also manages the Erasmus presentation and the selection process. And they ask me to deliver the documents by myself. However, in France, there is just an Erasmus office. Nothing else... I told this difference and what should i do every time i went to that office but she did not listen to me (as if she is like Yoda of her job) and every time, she did what she wanted to do.
Normally, those people exist to help the students but she -despite helping the students- makes everything much more complicated. I met with many regular students and nobody likes her. Everybody complains about her clumsiness, the difficulty to understand her and her never lasting coffee breaks.
The Pros and Cons of Nice
- First of all, the city is like a piece from heaven. Otherwise, i would not name my blog as Etranger au Paradis :)
- Warm climate
- The city offers you to be able to swim until November.
- Old people are warmhearted and helpful.
- In fact, people are warmhearted in general.
- The language problem i have already mentioned on my Paris article.
- If you are born and raised in a metropolis, you may get bored after 4 months.
- As i said just a second ago, Nice is very beautiful but it is not a proper city for Erasmus because it is not as suitable as Paris, Lyon or Strasbourg for a student life.
My personal ranking about the cities i visited
- Nice: As its name, nice city, warm climate, warmhearted people (especially older people and if you already speak French, it is a pro because most of them does not speak English). But the social life (including open markets and restaurants) ends after 9 PM in Nice except the Old Town. Also, the sidewalks are very dirty due to dog poops because of irresponsible dog owners. But it is also impossible to witness in the Old Town.
- Monaco: Honestly, -as everyone does- i thought that Monaco would be so expensive. But in fact, the price levels of Nice and Monaco are similar. Comparing to Nice, it is rippled and cooler. Besides, the streets are extremely clean.
- Brussels: To be honest, i went there with low expectations but the truth was far beyond my expectations. As i am thinking of it right now, i get speechless but for sure, my opinions on this article remain the same. Adorable.
- Amsterdam: As a pure Mediterranean, i could not get used to the climate but the rest was amazing. Normally, the people from cold countries are as cold as their countries. However, the Belgian and the Dutch were so gentile (but the Belgian were a bit more, to be honest...). Especially my proprietor... We spent just three days together but she was like a second sister to me. That is why, sometimes i miss her friendship because she was the kindest, coolest and smartest Turkish lady i have ever met. I hope everything goes well on her side. Anyway, hopefully she said that i could be her guest next time.
- Prague: Actually, i did not go to Prague for touristic purposes and i went there when i was on a right tight budget. But it does not mean that i could find some time to walk around the city and i regret it. No, no, no... I visited many places and i find Prague beautiful. But to be honest, when i think of it, i recall the person i visited at first. Not the city... In fact, i mentioned her three times on this blog and i know that it sounds bizarre when i describe her as the person or the girl. But it is because even i do not know how to describe her when i talk to my bff. Girlfriend? Non, pas du tout... Friend? Does not feel right. Flirt? Maybe but nobody would mention her flirt on his awesome blog... Well, the decision is yours.
- Paris: I wanted to finalize my travel writings with a magnificent final and this city totally satisfied me about it. Imagine that you want to visit a friend you appreciate the most the same as your mom and your sister and he lives in Paris and his only break is during the New Year's Eve. I do not have to mention how marvelous Paris is. However, spending some time with him during the New Year's Eve was as marvelous as the city itself. I could not wish for more.
Last but not least, my objective ranking is:
My ranking when i add my memoirs and the amazing people i met:
- Nice (for being a pioneer to all including this blog)
- Brussels (my housemates in Brussels were also really nice people and they added me many stuff as well but the other ones were more special.)
To sum up
Today, i feel sad. Sad because of leaving the city offered me memories, opportunities and people made of gold. But, i do not regret leaving there because i had to. To take a step for the one of the two biggest adventures of my life. To get rid of the things attaching me anywhere but France. In fact, i took the first step two days ago. I went to Institut Français to register for DELF B2. I have just 20 days to study but weirdly, i am not even anxious at all.
Despite being sad, i feel quite disoriented and exhausted as well.
I feel disoriented because i was not totally used to France and the first three weeks were extremely hard. I am in the country i was born and raised at the moment but, even if i know the customs and how the things work in Istanbul, even not getting a reward for your good morning or good afternoon wish when you see somebody from your apartment feels strange (Seriously, Istanbul people seems much colder than the French right now just because of that). Thinking in French at first and mixing Turkish and French when you try to speak Turkish as well. And as i observe my friends who have already gone to Erasmus (and they are the majority of my friends), i can say that it will last long.
I feel quite exhausted because at first, i had to say goodbye to each point of Nice. Then the flight... I had to see my family, neighbors and friends and then, i had to look for a room to rent. Hopefully, a room in my best friend's apartment was available and i took it. Now, i am staying with four people including me and him. Seeing the pictures of some of my friends who is living with a housemate/roommate encouraging me because it makes me feel like we will continue to get along pretty well.
I am sorry to declare that this is my very last article. And saying goodbye to Etranger au Paradis sooner than i expected is as hard as saying goodbye either to somebody you care or to a country you really love. But unfortunately, everything has an ending and the time has come. Being so stupid (!) to deal with an awesome (!) Erasmus office and having to leave France just because of it, it is not fair. But i have to concentrate on everything i oblige myself to do in order to shape my future and make my dreams come true. All i want for now is to work as hard as i can. Because i do not have another option for now (in fact, i want to feel like that) and i do not want to think of a possibility of a failure. And my friends, this is what underlies all those Well Done's, Congratulations' and Good Job's. It has always been like that and it will always be. Parce que c'est la vie... Non, c'est comment ça va dans ma vie...
P.S. Around 60% of the people i meet usually compliments on either my English or my French or my Serbian and they ask me how i speak well. i say them that i do not know it either but i think i have a strong theory now. In my opinion, it is about being able to think fast and especially, the self-confidence. Because in December, i was really freaking out to speak French even when i was buying a cigarette in case of a response in English. And fast thinking helps you to start to speak fluently more rapidly. On the other hand, you have to be versatile. What i mean by versatile is not supporting everyone for your bad purposes. No, it is about getting rid of the dogmatic ideas on the languages.
I would like to say Thank You to the people who offered me magnificent, unbelievable and unforgettable memories. Simply, memories made of gold. I wish had more pictures with more people like my housemates in Brussels, my locator in Amsterdam, 4 people i met on my last Saturday night in Nice etc. but unfortunately, i do not have. Even if i do not have, their faces, their personalities and their memories will always be safe and sound on my mind.
I would like to Thank You too. You, the readers. When i opened this blog, i expected to barely reach approximately 1k visitors but reaching approximately 7k visitors in six months is absolutely far beyond my dreams.
I tried to add some of my story, my emotions and how i am affected but i tried to balance these and the subject i was judging as much as i could. Because i did not want to be a blogger who is paid to travel and to introduce their sponsors' products and who has nothing but (mostly) her fit body and i wanted to help who would eventually need for a help.
The second and the last surprising fact was... Normally, an article about a city is mostly read by the locals or the citizens of that country. However, my Prague article is mostly read by the Polish. The runners-up are the Czech whereas the third place belongs to the Turkish.