The final goodbye

Despite knowing that endings are a part of life, goodbyes are never easy.

Group assessment and final exams completed, marking the end of my life studying abroad at Grenoble ecole de Management. We finished the month in style, spending an evening together (all the students) enjoying a three-course meal, presentation of certificates and did as students do and continued our celebrations well into the night. After all, we deserved it!

Reflecting back, studying abroad taught me many lessons and was a fantastic experience. I encourage all students to study abroad at some point of their University degree. These are my reasons why:

You learn as much inside the classroom as you do outside the classroom

Inside the classroom, you learn similar course material as you would in your home country. Only difference is, studying abroad incorporates more of an international influence. The diversity of culture from your teachers and your peers allows greater discussion and depth into the subjects, giving you a greater perspective and understanding of whatever it may be that you are learning.

Outside the classroom you can learn everything from the history of the country, the culture, mannerism and the different lifestyles of those around you. Make the most of your time outside the classroom by sightseeing and experiencing as much as you can. Before you know it, you could be riding bikes everywhere, eating baguettes and cheese and feeling like a local Frenchy, as did I.

Stress Less

Firstly, you got chosen to study abroad, well done! Remember this is a fantastic oppourtunity so enjoy yourself. At times the study load can be overwhelming but with the grades not counting towards your GPA, understanding and passing the course is more then enough. The teachers and more then supportive and there to help you. If you are tired or feel it is too much, then make the teachers aware.

Enjoy!

Enjoy being out of your comfort zone. Yes, it is daunting being on your own in another part of the world but reality is, you are on your own in another part of the world so you can see, do, taste, experience what you want and when you want (be safe of course). You can create a whole new chapter of your life and share your experiences for years to come.

Also, enjoy the chance to meet and network with a whole new group of people interested in the same subjects and travel as you are. Take the time to chat with everyone from fellow students to teachers to local business owners. There is so much to learn about others and about the world. Advice: get networking.

Just remember, this is your experience so tailor it how you wish. Your home University are sending you on a study abroad program so you can learn in a new environment and by learn I mean both University material and cultural experiences. My trip to Grenoble was unforgettable. The course material for my courses: International Business, Digital Marketing and French Language and Culture, was very detailed and made to be very interesting. I was also able to create a whole new set of memories with a new group of friends from Canada, America, India, Saudi Arabia and even Australia. Overall, the trip was educational (as expected) but also allowed me to form strong friendships and networks, unforgettable memories and live an experience I never dreamed of.

Found the Aussie in amongst France

Last week of the four week University course and my body clock is finally syncing to the 9:45am starts, overload of croissants and bad coffees (for those coffee lovers, the best coffee is found in vending machines…says something). I am also one week into my Digital Marketing course and already feel I have learnt enough to comfortably analyse websites and recommend improvements for website usability. In other words, we are learning so much so quickly and hoping that we are absorbing enough information for our Thursday presentation and Friday exam.

Outside the school walls and since I last posted, I got to enjoy an “eventful” night of go-karting as organised by the school. Based on my past experiences of misbalancing and driving straight into a wall, you can imagine my nerves and hesitation towards this activity. Needless to say, I put on a helmet and got back into the kart, whizzing around the track and feeling as though I owned it. However, experience short lived. A simple go-kart experience seemed to turn into dodgem cars and I was back to my old ways of running into walls. Overall though, the activity was a lot of fun and another great experience in bringing all the classmates together.

I also just got back from a weekend in Lyon, the third largest place in France. With a river snaking through the middle, roman ruins and fantastic shopping, I highly recommend a trip to Lyon. The nightlife in Lyon is also great and out of all the possible places to party, we happened to stumble across an “authentic Australian club” (on a boat). Yes, I will admit, we played the Aussie card but who wouldn’t right when you are surrounded by French people and find out there is only one other Australian person working on the boat/in the club. Again, anyone visiting Lyon, I challenge you to find this Aussie bar (aka Ayers Rock) and be apart of its fantastic atmosphere.

So with only four more days left of University and the farewells drawing closer, it feels as though time has flown by. I have learnt so much both academically but also culturally and been able to make many valuable contacts along the way. Anyway, it is off to bed and I will post again soon about my final days in Grenoble.

Aussie shot at Ayers Rock, France

Aussie shot at Ayers Rock, France

Lyon France

Lyon France

Lyon

Lyon

Summer in Paris

It’s almost a week since I arrived in Paris and already I’ve been able to learn and do so much!

I’ve finished my first week of classes, which included an eye opening course on European Integration & the EU, Intercultural Communication ( really interesting!) and a few intensive French classes, which I have loved.

IESEG has a very futuristic looking entrance directly under the Grande Arche in La Defense and it’s weird to think that the whole university is underground. The lecturers have been great, the staff are very helpful and we have a great group of students from around the world – making friends from all over the world has been so much fun and so eye opening.

Already we have been on a cruise of the Seine and we are going to Versailles on Sunday. For anyone thinking of doing this exchange, definitely elect to do the french classes – in the last week we are going to a french cooking school for a cooking lesson run by a chef in French – this is definitely my type of learning!

Despite the stereotype that the French are arrogant, I have found most people to be exceptionally hospitable and helpful – within the first few hours of arriving in France and finding my way to my accommodation,  3 complete strangers went right out of their way to help me. The misperception of the French partly comes from a misunderstanding of their culture – for a start, “customer service” is very often a foreign concept ( more so in retail, food & drink isn’t so bad), and I think Australians/Americans etc just aren’t as used to staff who don’t have customer service as their first priority – the staff see themselves as equals or even slightly above the consumer ( rather than being “at your service”). This doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly!

I’ve only been here 5 days and already I cannot recommend this exchange highly enough! IESEG is part of the Confederation of Grand Ecoles ( private universities in France that only accept 10% of applicants nationally, and have a strong international focus) and the course content and structure has been great. They’ve really taken care of us in terms of extra curricular activities and living in Paris so far has been an absolute dream!

French Language and Culture

For all you early rises all I can say is that France is not the place for you, however for those of you that like to sleep in, take long lunch breaks and stay up late then I would suggest that you relocate to France.  The shops are open from 10- 12 when the close for lunch and the reopen from 2-8. Dinner doesn’t begin to be served until after 7, so early dinner is not usually an option and the sun in the summer doesn’t go down until 10:00pm extending their days later.

The food consists of lots of carbohydrates, including the famous baguette, which is sold incredibly cheaply as the French government subsidises its production. This bread stick is usually picked up during the daily grocery shop as if the baguette is left for more than a day it becomes so hard it can be used as a weapon. The French do their shopping daily, as they rarely drive and so when shopping are usually on their bikes or walking or if they are driving they are driving very small cars with limited boot space.

Service in French restaurants is very slow as meals to the French are a social occasion so I emphasis do not go out for dinner if you are in a hurry. Even sushi is not quick, I went out for a quick sushi roll and two hours later I was finished.

The French do not smile at people they do not know, when walking in the street one maintains a neutral face at all times smiling can be seen as an invitation to be approached. So girls if you want the French boys’ attention all you have to do is smile at them.

For those of you who are considering going to France without knowledge of the French Language as I did, I have compiled a list of words to get you through without embarrassing yourself too much.

Bonjour: Hello (very simple but necessary as the French do expect that you attempt to speak some French to them before changing to English)

s’il vous plait: Please(manners are very important in France)

Merci: Thank you (manners are very important in France)

Parlez-vous anglais: Do you speak English?  (most people do speak some but even if they don’t this will make them realise you don’t speak French and they are usually very understanding as long as you have tried)

Je suis de l’Australie: I am from Australia (Make sure they know you are Australian they love Australians)

je voudrais: I would like (this is very useful when shopping!)

Pousser: Push (Do not pull a door if it says this otherwise you will look very silly)

Tirer: Pull (Do not push a door if it says this otherwise you will look very silly)

Sortie: Exit (This is very useful when you are trapped in a see of people in the underground train system).

Hopefully this will help anyone heading to France…

 

One down and one to go

Two weeks in and I have now completed the International Business unit. If you are looking at doing International Business, I highly recommend it. Not only did I learn the basics of International Business but also information on trade economics, international marketing and international organisational structures. Thus covering many of the broader factors relevant for International Business. Ignoring the intensity of the course (cramming one semester into two weeks), the course was very interesting and will definitely assist with my future business endeavors.

Further, having diversity of culture within the class, it made for greater insight into the workings of various countries and for interesting discussions. Smaller class sizes of 5-10 people also allowed the greater interaction between students but also greater teacher to student interaction. For me, this learning environment has been much more effective in ensuring I understand and know the content of the class and works much better for intensive study.

As a treat for completing the first subject, Grenoble School of Management took the class on a trip to Paris…

Eiffel Tower by Ellie Bakker

Eiffel Tower by Ellie Bakker

Spending a weekend in Paris with my school summer group was such a fantastic experience. A few of us rented a bike (free for each half hour increment) and traveled to all of the major monuments in Paris such as Notre Dame, Lourve, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees and Eiffel Tower (of course)! I also wanted to enhance the “French” stereotype so I got wine, baguettes and cheese and had a picnic under the Eiffel Tower (photo above of Eiffel Tower).

Versailles by Ellie Bakker

Versailles by Ellie Bakker

I also took a trip to Chateau de Versailles. There I explored the amazing gardens and the house of Marie-Antoinette. Unfortunately, time did not allow for a visit through the Palace but I will be venturing back to see this in a few weeks. If you have a chance, I highly recommend the 45 minute trip from Paris to Versailles. So much history, beauty and amazing architecture.

I will be sure to post again soon about the progress of my next subject, digital marketing and any other adventures I get up to.