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.

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.

Weekend for Students

Wondering what students get up to on their weekends in Grenoble? Well our University had planned a ropes course on the Saturday and a trip to Annecy, France on the Sunday.

On Saturday, myself and the other students were full of adrenaline throughout the entirety of the ropes course largely due to the fact we were up in the treetops and crossing thin ropes and wires with obstacles in our way to make each area more challenging. To start, we completed the beginners course which I found quite easy (luckily). From there, I felt ready to face one of the harder coursers, the “red course”. After a few obstacles on the red course (climbing up a rope ladder and walking across a thin rope with not much to hold onto) I was exhausted and fear got the better of me. Worst problem was that I had to finish the course, as there was no other way down. By the end of the course though, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I had just walked across and weaved my way through thin ropes and down big nets. The ropes course was a fantastic way of facing fears, experiencing a different type of challenge and receiving encouragement from fellow students.

 

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Today (Sunday, 24 June 2012), we took a trip to Annecy, which is about one and a half hours from Grenoble. Annecy is beautiful and I would describe it as being very colourful with the bright green mountains, blue rivers, bright coloured buildings and flowers everywhere. There are many tourists weaving through the streets, markets and little shops and enjoying the food of many restaurants. We got to explore the Annecy goal, explore the town and have lunch at a great little French style restaurant. Many of my classmates hired boats and went along the river as the rest of us wandered the streets. It was such a fantastic day and I would really recommend everyone to visit the beauty of Annecy.

 

However, we are back at our residency now and after such a wonderful weekend, it is hard to get motivated to study. I do however, have to hit the books so it is goodbye for now.

What a week

Hooray! Made it through the first week and what a good week it was. Grenoble is beautiful. Here, we are surrounded by the Rhone-Alps, the buzz of chatter and laughter, pure sunshine (although rain periods have also been experienced) and people out on their bikes or having a coffee at the cafe. The Grenoble lifestyle appears to be waking up late, food from the bakery, work from 10am till 7pm, two-hour lunch breaks and then out for dinner from 7:30pm. Finally, the sun decides to leave this place about 10-10:30pm and it is off to bed.

Bridge, Grenoble by Ellie Bakker

Bridge, Grenoble by Ellie Bakker

View from La Bastille by Ellie Bakker

View from La Bastille by Ellie Bakker

My Grenoble lifestyle feels much like the locals. I grab my croissant and head off to the Grenoble Ecole de Management, for my subjects in International Business and French Language and Culture. I will admit the days are very intense. We learn the equivalent of three weeks of study at QUT in one full day. The classes are kept interesting though by incorporating current world trends and issues and with such diversity in the classes (students from India, Saudi Arabia, Syria and America), the similarities and differences between the countries are greatly emphasized in discussion. French Language and Culture is NOT about learning the language (which I assumed it was) but about French society, history, and places to visit within the country. We have also learnt some basic language phrases which have been useful for day-to-day.

Evenings are spent taste testing the different meals, desserts and wines from various cafes/restaurants followed by some late night revision. Two unforgettable moments of the week included the trip to La Bastille and the music festival. As a class, we took a cable-car over the roofs of Grenoble, over the Isere river and up to the top of La Bastille. The views from above are spectacular, overlooking the entirety of Grenoble, the mountains and the rivers. The view plus a delicious three-course meal definitely made for a fantastic memory.

Secondly, ‘La fête de la musique’ (music festival) was another highlight. To celebrate the longest day of the year, stages are setup around Grenoble with music from genres of pop, rock, electronic, hip-hop and classic blaring from them and children to adults dancing around the stages. Again as a class, we went around to each of the stages and enjoyed people watching and participating in the celebrations, which go well into the morning.

To sum the week, it was fantastic. I have been able to meet new people from all different countries, expand my waistline with all the taste testing, explore the city of Grenoble and undertake studies in a new and interesting environment. For the weekend, we (the class) are off to Annecy for a ropes course and to explore the cute little town. Till next time…..

 

Where it all began

1 new email received – “Congratulations, you have been chosen to take part in our study abroad program at the Grenoble School of Management in France.”

I could not believe my eyes. Quick, post on Facebook, call all members of the family; my excitement needs to be shared!

In the lead up to my departure however, there were a few administrative items which had to be completed. I have created a list below in the hope it can be of assistance.
1. Once you are accepted by QUT, you need to enroll to the overseas Uni directly. It is a fairly easy process as it involves completing your basic information, educational background and references. There is also an application fee. Mine was $130 approx.
2. Book and pay for fights. Send your receipt through to the International Student Office of QUT for reimbursement (if you have received a scholarship).
3. Pay course fees directly to overseas Uni. (They will send you an invoice).
4. Attend QUT study abroad information session.
5. Familiarise yourself with all documentation sent by the overseas University.

Having all that completed and after numerous efforts of packing and repacking, I am now in Grenoble, France. Two days ago, I was out exploring the sites and shops of Paris and stuffing myself full of croissants and baguettes (some photos below). Yesterday, I explored Grenoble and I must say, it is so beautiful here. Reminds me of Kelvin Grove Campus surrounded by amazing hills and old buildings.

Anyway off for my first day of school!

P.S – Huge thank you to QUT for their assistance and support and for also allowing me this amazing opportunity.

Photo 1 – Temptations of France

Photo 2 – Place of Residency