Hello, my name is Enrico, I’m an Irish-Italian and I live in Ireland. I went on a short-term language programme in France (Antibes) with EIL when I was 16.
I was very hesitant to go, as I’m not a very adventurous person and going to France, where you need to take care of yourself and your laundry, was intimidating for me to say the least. However, this trip was amazing and I would like to share my personal thoughts as to why it was such an interesting and learning experience.
I stayed in Antibes, which was a fantastic little place near a small town and a nice local beach. I stayed in campus residence, and the rooms were lovely. I stayed in a two-person room, sharing with a good friend of mine, which was lucky. I know a few people who had to share a room with a person they didn’t know, or they had to share a four-person room. However, it didn’t make the experience worse for them, as they met new people.
There where a few days when a group of us (students) would meet up to watch a movie or a TV show. Everyone was laughing and having fun. I would go around the room asking people if they wanted tea and pasta. I learned basic cooking skills over in France because I was given the opportunity to be independent. Bowls of freshly made pasta were passed around and everyone was singing the “iCarly” tune as the next episode played on the laptop.
It was a genuine, unbelievable atmosphere of pure fun. It allowed me to get over being shy and allowed me to make friends quite quickly. I did keep in touch with people from home using social media such as Snapchat and Instagram. Other people from Ireland that were in Antibes at the same time as me are now good friends of mine and we hang out on weekends.
The location was truly beautiful, with a captivating view. I was so taken by this magnificent view that I would sit outside on the balcony and watch the stars, the lights of houses upon the mountains, and streetlights below shine amongst the blackened sky. It was a personal routine of mine which really added to the overall experience. The older people, 16 and over, could explore the town during the night by themselves. Luckily for me, I was allowed.
The town was wonderful, with people relaxing on the banks of beaches and older people playing pool outside of open bars. It was a calming atmosphere that was fun to explore and take in all the surroundings. I would highly recommend going on this trip when 16 and over, because if you’re younger, you miss out on experiences, such as this and many more, and you must stay in the hostel grounds. You do icebreaker activities, which aren’t bad, but generally not for me, and it would be better to explore the charm of the town with your friends.
I’m not going to lie, I liked the school and learning the language. We had to do a written and oral test to show our French speaking ability. Personally, I’m not the best at languages and I didn’t score very high, so I was put in a lower class, compared to most of my friends that scored higher. Once you are put into your class, you can’t change. So, I was put into a class with younger people and it was kind of embarrassing. However, I did learn more French this way, so it wasn’t all bad. The teachers were very nice and encouraging.
All the staff on the trip were nice and really tried to immerse you in the language, and would help translate words for you if you were completely lost like I was many a time. There are some extra classes that you can sign up for, which take place at the end of the day. I would not recommend it, unless your main purpose of the trip is to learn the language and you want to get better at it.
There are many more stories to tell about Antibes and my experience there. There were trips to different and new places. You go to many theme parks, do a lot of exploring, and become closer with the people around you. You gain a sense of independence and freedom. Antibes teaches you about maintaining yourself, there’s no one to hold your hand.
Even if you don’t like learning the language or if you had previous experiences with a “language college” that has ruined any chance of you ever doing a language course again, I would most highly recommend you give this a shot, as this is one of a few trips that I have enjoyed in my lifetime. This trip was honestly the greatest, and it created a lot of memories that I still talk about nearly a year later.
I thank EIL for this opportunity and I hope you enjoyed reading.