Saniya Pradhan

 France

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: James S. Rickards
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: , Florida
Host District: 1730
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Antibes Juan-Les-Pins


My Bio


Bonjour! My name is Saniya Pradhan and I am an outbound student to France. I am 17 years old and live in Tallahassee, Florida with my parents, my brother, and my dog. I am currently a senior at Rickards High School and will be going on exchange during a gap year. I am part of the IB program at Rickards as well as a member of many clubs including Model UN, National Honor Society, and Photography Club. I also intern with a photojournalist at the Tallahassee Democrat. In my free time, I enjoy taking pictures, watching Netflix, reading, and listening to music. My parents moved to the United States from India so I grew up in a family that frequently traveled around the world. I went to France in the summer of 2015 and fell in love with the people, the food, and the atmosphere. I am so excited to have the chance to now spend a year there! I look forward to so much this coming year, including learning a new language, meeting new people, and immersing myself in a new culture. I hope to come back as someone who was able to overcome challenges and take on new opportunities while abroad. There will be so much to miss about Tallahassee, but I can’t wait to start this new adventure. I want to thank RYE Florida for giving me this opportunity to spend a year in France!

Vieil Antibes

Vieil Antibes

Me and my host family in Cannes

Me and my host family in Cannes

Market in Vieil Antibes

Market in Vieil Antibes

With love, from Nice

With love, from Nice

Showing my colors in Fréjus!

Showing my colors in Fréjus!

Journals: Saniya-France Blog 2017-18

  • Saniya, Outbound to France

    Bonjour à tous!

    Next week will mark four months since I’ve been on exchange. Time is really passing by so fast and things are changing for me all the time. My first month in France was hard, as I was still adjusting to all the differences; but now that I’m used to living here I can see a life starting to build around me. My language is improving every day, I’m making friends at school and with the other exchange students, and I feel comfortable going out in my city and exploring on my own.

    I would say I’ve settled into a pretty comfortable routine. Every Monday through Friday I have school, but the schedule changes every day. This was something that took a while to get used to, but I really like it. French school hours are much longer than those of the U.S., but I see it as an opportunity to spend more time talking to the kids in my class, making friends, and improving my language. I’m in the equivalent of senior year, so all the kids are focused on making sure they graduate. However since I’ve already graduated in Florida, I’m only there to learn the language, and I’m not required to do any of the work.

    Every weekend I either hang out with kids from school or the other exchange students/Rotex in my district. We all live in different cities but it’s so easy to pop over to Cannes, St Tropez, Monaco, or Nice by train or bus! By making sure I do something every weekend, with friends or my host family, I’ve already seen a lot of cities in my region and experienced much of what the Cote D’Azur has to offer.

    Speaking of which, I am incredibly happy with my placement. Antibes is so beautiful and it’s right in between the beach and the mountains. Every day I am in awe of the beautiful sights around me. When I talk to local kids, they always tell me that they don’t find the south of France beautiful, but that they would love to see Florida. I can’t even compare the two. It’s so interesting how you can be blinded to the beauty of something just because you see it every day.

    Every few weeks I think that my exchange is going better than it was a few weeks before. I can feel that it’s constantly improving and that I’m slowly changing as a person. I am more confident, grateful, and comfortable with myself. I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes; and I’m no longer embarrassed at every little thing. Additionally, my sense of style is definitely improving, and becoming more expensive (sorry mom and dad)… Anyway, I can feel myself growing as a person and becoming more independent. I find that because every day is a challenge, I feel more satisfied at the end of every day. Each day brings so many new opportunities because I know I have so much left to learn.

    That being said, I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the support that I have back home and here in France. Everyone at my sponsor and host clubs have been incredibly encouraging. Thank you to Sal, Larry, and all of Rotary Florida for everything that you guys do for us. If anyone from Rotary 1730 is reading this, merci beaucoup for organizing amazing trips and always helping me figure everything out!

    Happy Holidays to everyone and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018!

    With love from the French Riviera ;)

    Saniya

    Click HERE to read more about Saniya and all her blogs

  • Saniya, Outbound to France

    My journey to Antibes was 18 hours, 3 flights, and a thirty minute car ride. I left my friends and family at the Tallahassee Airport and boarded a flight to Miami. I'll admit, saying goodbye did make me question my sanity a little bit, but soon I was relaxed and excited again. I flew from Miami to London Heathrow, where I had a 4 hour layover. I spent this time relaxing and roaming the various stores and restaurants. On my flight from Miami to London I was upgraded to Premium Economy! My seat was bigger (and reclined in three different ways), I got better food, a nicer blanket, and to top it all off it was an aisle seat. Overall, the flight probably went the best that it could have gone for me. It was my first taste of the Riviera lifestyle.

    Fast forward to my arrival in Nice. As we flew over I could see the coast and the mountains and everything there is to love about the Cote D'Azur. As I stepped off the plane I felt a familiar wave of heat wash over me. I was greeted by a few Rotarians, my host mom, host brother, and two other exchange students. Then I headed home. The first night was spent replacing my SIM card (my number changed!), eating a dinner of rice and stew, and getting to know my host family and the town of Antibes. Needless to say, I was beyond tired, so my host family told me to sleep in the next day.

    My host family is the Olson family. It is made up of a mom (Daphné), dad (Conrad), and three children (Eric, Elise, and Bryan). However, Eric and Elise are both out of the country on their own adventures. Daphné, Conrad, and Bryan have been incredibly kind and patient with my broken French, and are really keen on showing me around the French Riviera and teaching me the language.

    The first week here was spent with my host family and getting accustomed to Antibes. Bryan taught me how to ride the bus (go public transportation!!), and now I ride it every day to school and back. It's about a 20 minute bus ride from my house to school, which is a lot better than the 35 minute car ride in Tallahassee.

    Daphné took me to Vieil (Old) Antibes, the charming center of my town. Vieil Antibes looks like a typical small European quarter with cobblestone streets lined with tiny shops and plants climbing up every wall and window. It's a good place to walk around and get lost in. There is also a market here every weekend with vendors selling many different food items. I tried about 4 types of pesto, saw a lot of spice vendors, and tried "Socca," a typical Niçoise dish made from chick peas and spices.

    The day before school started, my host family and I went on a little road trip to the town of Vidauban, where there is a chateau, vineyard, and apple orchard. We picked about two and a half bags of apples and bought two bottles of fresh apple juice. After that we went to a park with a zipline course. It looks similar to the tree-to-tree adventure at the Tallahassee Museum, so I made the mistake of thinking it would be about the same. omg. It was so much more challenging. The course was both physically and mentally exhausting, but a lot of fun. After that, I though we were done, but my host dad and brother wanted to do another (slightly easier) course. By this time what I wanted most was a shower and a nap, but as a good exchange student I agreed. My arms were sore for about 4 days after and I had bruises for the next two weeks but it was completely worth it. There was satisfaction in achieving the physical challenge, and I hope that it serves as a metaphor for the rest of my exchange .

    The next day I started school. I don't want to get into the differences between French and American school but just know that they are very different. After completing my first week I'll admit it was really draining. Rather than being "stereotypically" French, everyone I've talked to has been very warm and accommodating, but it's still really hard to maneuver with a language barrier. I realize now I definitely took cultural competency for granted. In the United States, I know the language, the mannerisms, the social rights and wrongs. I can make friends, hold a conversation, and even write a really long blog post if necessary (sorry!). But here in France, I don't have the same effortless communication, honestly I don't even know how to open their doors. I did know this was coming, but it's impossible to prepare for it. At this point I've just accepted that looking and sounding like an idiot is part of the process.

    Click HERE to read more about Saniya and all her blogs

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