Seán’s Leaving Cert Prep in Nice

My name is Seán Callis and I’m going into Sixth Year in De La Salle College Churchtown. I wanted to spend two weeks in France to not only improve my French, but to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people and experience a completely different way of life. I would like to study French at university so when the opportunity to study in Nice arose, I knew I had to take it.


I was quite nervous on the day of my departure from Dublin Airport. A lot of negative thoughts were racing through my mind. What if my French isn’t as good as it should be? What if the family doesn’t like me? What if I start speaking Irish to them instead of French? Okay that was a joke! It was my first time travelling on my own and the thought of that alone was making my palms sweat. I was sitting beside two French guys on the plane to Nice. They seemed like fun, approachable people. Their bad jokes were putting me at ease and when they asked me why there was a delay, I said the word many French people have heard too many times before, “une greve”. A strike! By just saying that word and seeing their reaction gave me a little bit more confidence in speaking French.

I was greeted by my host mother at arrivals and she was very nice. Changing from thinking in English to French was going to be a challenge but even if I could just understand what my host family was saying would be a bonus.

I forgot that they drive on the right side of the road so when I opened the door to get into the car I was greeted by a steering wheel. The roads seemed narrower than in Ireland and the traffic lights worked differently too. The buildings were very well kept, and the streets were very clean. Mopeds are very popular in France and the same can be said for roller skates.


I really enjoyed the activities that were offered to all the students, which included a tour of Nice and a pizza party on the beach. I loved the way the tour was in French as I could hear words that I wouldn’t normally hear in a classroom in Ireland. Visits to Cannes and Monaco were also very enjoyable. The classes were completely different to those in Ireland. The teacher spoke in French most of the time. A lot of the classes were based on oral work, so it was the perfect environment to speak French with those who were at a similar level as me. The friendly environment in the classroom allowed me to gain confidence in speaking French. The things I found difficult were trying to adapt to the speed in which French people talk. Even if I understood something, it was difficult at times to come up with something to say.


“La Fete de la Musique” or “the Festival of Music” takes place every year on the 21stJune in France. Concerts are held all around France and everyone comes together to enjoy live music of many different genres. A concert was taking place in Nice. It was free but you had to book your tickets online. When I checked to see if tickets were available there were none left. That’s what I thought. After watching the France v Peru match in a restaurant my roommate and I could hear some music being played at Place Masséna (the name of the square in Nice.)

As we strolled towards the barrier a woman approached us. She had a big smile on her face as she asked us if we had tickets for the concert. We shook our heads and replied with a “non” in our best French accents. She told us that she had two extra wristbands and we couldn’t believe it when she gave them to us. We didn’t know what to say. Not because our French might not have been up to scratch but because we were speechless. So, in we went to enjoy some live music and sing along to our favourite French songs. It was a unique way of learning French.

I really enjoyed my two weeks in Nice and my French definitely improved. It was challenging but very rewarding at the same time.


Seán Callis