Life in Grenoble

Life in Grenoble

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Alessa's thoughts on the Battle of the Boys

Alessa sipping coffee and pondering the enigmatic world of men

It's kind of a challenge to describe French men. I mean, one can easily resort to the stereotype that French guys are forward and huge flirts, but that's not the case, really. Of course, you see the type from time to time. I personally have experienced a few catcalls and have been approached by strange (bordering on creepy) French guys at the tram stops and at cafés and bars. But if you kindly reject or ignore them, and they leave you alone. And of course the guys that have the courage to approach you in that manner are never the young and attractive guys...

Anyway, for the most part French guys are respectful and a lot of fun. When my friends and I hit the night scene, we usually end up meeting really nice guys that can hold an interesting and intellectual conversation on diverse topics for hours, which is a lot harder to find back in the US. Another big difference is how French guys dance (they have moves!). Here we can actually see and have eye contact with the guy dancing with you. Unlike in the States, where the grinding phenomenon does not allow you to see the guy while you dance. 

Finally, French men are not afraid of phones. Back home girls are never really sure when and if a guy they met are actually going to call them. But here the guys ask for your number and diligently contact you the next day. Yeah, I know, crazy. 

So I don't know if French men are better then American boys but my friends and I are sure having fun making guy friends here in France!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Meet the new Grenobloises

Bonjour! As promised, you get to meet the other girls who are participating in the program. They each wrote a few words to introduce themselves, so scroll down to see who's who.


As a junior at Ohio University, studying French as well as pursuing minors in both Spanish and Linguistics, I could not be more pleased to be studying in Grenoble this semester. I began studying French in high school, but this is the first time I've actually been here. I couldn't ask for a better way to put my learned skills to the test.

I've been with my host family for a week now, and I really feel this placement has been the highlight. My host mom is the director of a modern art studio here, while my host dad is an engineer. They have two daughters, ages 9 and 12. Between the four of them there is plenty of conversation to be found. Thankfully, this keeps me from retreating back into my introverted shell. In many ways, my host family exhibits ideals that seem very classically French, and yet in others they are a modern family with their own distinct way of doing things. In short, they're really kind and encouraging people and I can't wait to learn more about them as I'm immersed in their culture. 



A little about me: my name is Alessa Rosa, and I study journalism at Ohio University. I've studied French since high school, and I decided to take the learning outside the classroom to better master the language, which is the reason I'm here today. France is indeed a foreign land. I know that that is a very obvious statement, but it didn't hit me until a few days after arriving here. My adventure began at the airport in Paris in which I managed to get lost within five minutes of being there (that Charles de Gaulle is a tricky airport). Thankfully, a nice gentleman came to my aid after expertly hitting on me. I didn't mind much since he was nice and not creepy about it and pointed me in the right direction. The rest of my days there consisted of better getting to know the people in my program (who are all very awesome and fun people) and the city.

While I thoroughly enjoy sightseeing in Paris, I'm glad my study abroad experience is taking place in Grenoble, a city that one can look up and see the beautiful snow-covered mountains, walk along the majestic rivers, go out for coffee or drinks in the busy downtown, or partake in all the different activities offered at the college. Grenoble has a little bit of everything which is sure to make my experience unforgettable. That is not to say that there aren't a couple downsides to being in Grenoble, including the shower situation. My host mom is lovely and very helpful, and I'm thankful she has opened her home to me, but the shower has given me great difficulties. First, the shower head is not installed on to the wall, but instead one has to hold it in one's hand which makes only one hand available to wash one's whole body and hair. Second, the hose is too short, therefore when one washes one's hair one must squat the whole time. It is quite an exercise. Another downside right now is the language barrier which hopefully won't be a problem much longer as my French gets better. I'll keep you updated.



My name is Marjorie Saunders; I’m a sophomore at Ohio University studying political science, global studies, and French. My host family is comprised of a mom and dad and 4 of their children who are all moved out. Caroline and Xavier, then Marjorie (31), Jean-Baptiste (30), Francois (25), and Alice (21). Xavier is really athletic and likes to go hiking and run marathons. Caroline stays at home and is full of energy. They gave birth to god-like children; they’re all so pretty.

When I first arrived in Grenoble, I immediately noticed how beautiful everything was. A lot of the town was built in the 12th century, and there is plenty of history here. There are three large mountain chains surrounding the city- Belledonne, Vercors, and Chartreuse. My family and I have hiked up to the Bastille 3 times already, and my legs are killing me. While I’m here, my expectations are to have my French speaking skills increase greatly.

I’m currently writing this post at my family’s castle in Provence, 3 hours from Grenoble… being rich is fun. It dates back to the 13th century and I feel like a princess. All of the kids have their own room and there’s a chapel and other buildings on the grounds. Yesterday I walked around the grounds in the rain and I felt like Taylor Swift in her “Love Story” music video.  



It’s hard to believe I have only been in Grenoble for just over a week. I feel like I am finally finding my way around the city and getting acclimated to French norms like taking the tram and having to keep track of its schedule. After waiting twenty minutes in the cold rain, I quickly learned I needed to know exactly when the tram was coming BEFORE I went to the stop. After just a little bit of exploring and walking around, I learned my way around the city and in doing so found a lot of cute shops and things to do! There are so many pretty buildings and squares here, it’s fun discovering new places!

My host family is wonderful! I am living with a single woman who is in her sixties and her cat. However right now her daughter and grandson are staying with us for two weeks. Her daughter speaks some English but my host mom does not speak a word. Even though her daughter speaks English, we communicate solely in French. Her grandson is only two and a half months old and is really cute. His mom calls him “petit cornichon” which means little pickle in English, which I think is adorable. We are living in an apartment in the center of city that is only a three minute walk to the tram stop and train station, which is quite nice. The apartment is smaller than my house in Ohio, but is much nicer compared to the small dorm I was living in at Ohio University. The bathroom consists of two rooms, one which only houses the toilet and then another room adjacent to it which has the sink and shower. I thought this was really interesting when I first saw it! Also the apartment has metal shutters which make the rooms really dark, even during the day, so I’ve been sleeping in quite a bit without even realizing it! I wake up at noon thinking it’s nine am!

So far I absolutely love Grenoble! It’s a lovely city that isn’t too big but isn’t too small. However it does feel ginormous compared to small-town Athens where I attend school in the United States. Even though Grenoble is much bigger than I am used to, it still feels manageable because you can walk to anywhere in town or you can just take the tram, which is much faster, but with the weather being in the fifties right now, it’s nice to walk. I can’t get over the amazing mountain views. You can see them from almost anywhere in the city! I’ve never seen anything like them before! I would say Grenoble is a great college town, and it’s also great for us foreigners because it’s not too difficult to navigate and everyone is really nice and accommodating. I’m having a great time so far and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for me!



Well dear readers, I'm assuming that most of you have already made my acquaintance and don't need the introduction...but what the heck, I'll jump in with the others and write a few words about myself too. As I previously mentioned, I'm a first-year graduate student and teaching associate of French at Ohio University, and when I was offered the opportunity to accompany a group of OU students participating in this study abroad abroad program, I jumped at it. I had just returned from France a few months previously and the lure of going back to a country where cheese is savored as a dessert, bread is employed like a utensil and shops actually close on Sundays, was simply too strong. So after a mere five months in my homeland, I packed up my purple suitcase and set off for my third round of la vie française.

One of the joys I discovered while living abroad was that of sharing my experience in the country with other foreigners, in order to lessen the anxiety that inevitably accompanies traveling in a foreign country. When my parents and brother came to visit me in France, I was delighted to impart what I knew of the country's cultural norms and social practices to them. For example, the average American frolicking around France might not realize that it is perfectly normal (and desired) for a waiter to stop by your table only two or three times during a meal, or that when leaving a shop or restaurant you're expected to say "Au revoir, merci," as you go, even if you only stayed for five minutes and didn't buy a thing. These little nuggets of knowledge can take a visit from ordinaire to extraordinaire, and the best way to uncover them is via a living person, rather than a guidebook. Most of the girls on this trip have already travelled to Europe and are aware of practices different from home, but the two years I spent living in Dijon helped make me into a resource for them when they're in doubt. It's nice to feel useful from time to time!

As for my present situation: I consider myself extremely lucky just to be participating in this program, and so when I met my host family I realized that my luck had not yet run out. My host mother's name is Catherine, and she has two daughters: Marianne, who is in school and lives part of the time at home, and Melanie, who is a chef and has recently moved out of the apartment. They took me under their wings right from the start and treat me as a member of the family. In return I baked a batch of peanut butter blossoms for them, which doesn't nearly equal the generosity they've showed me, but at least it keeps their sweet tooth satisfied. If you have any other brilliant suggestions for American treats that deserve to be introduced to the French, send them my way.

A bientôt!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Peek into Paris

Hello everyone ! Considering you're all getting your weekends started, I figured I would help you set out on the right foot by throwing another post your way. Just over a week ago we arrived in Grenoble, but alas, this was not our first stop in France. We all arrived in Paris the beginning of last week—the other girls had little trouble escaping the throes of the Midwest's winter armageddon, but somehow I had the bad luck that landed me with a cancelled flight and a 30-hour period of flights and layovers instead. Needless to say, Paris was a very welcome sight for us all, with its unseasonably balmy breezes and snow-free streets. But honestly, even in the worst weather conditions Paris is lovely.

So, what did we do while in Paris? These photos will reveal all. Disclaimer: your level of satisfaction with your current location might diminish after seeing these photos.
Le Château de Versailles, former residence of the kings of France (photo by Alessa).

 Cathédral de Notre Dame de Paris in the morning.

A close-up of the sculptures decorating the front of the cathedral. 

How did I achieve such incredible camera angles you ask? Well we climbed the stairs of course (all 387 of them!) to get to the top.  

Behold! La Tour Eiffel standing over her city.

She doesn't think we can see her behind the bare trees. (photo by Alessa)

View from La Tour Eiffel. Once again, there's only one way to get such views (actually two: you can either take the stairs or the elevator, but didn't take the easy way out)
Who knows where one can find this gem of a painting? Le Louvre, of course! If you're like me and are wondering why in the world this drap scrap of a painting became so famous, well it's because of the look in the subject's eyes. She gazes directly at the viewer, turning her lips up in a sly, seductive smile. Nothing shocking today, but such an expression was scandalous at the time, thus making it a much sought-after work of art.

 La Liberté guidant le peuple

Voici La Basilique du Notre Dame de Montmartre. Yet another Paris destination that includes many, many steps to reach the top. I always take the stairs because it makes reaching the top that much more gratifying. (photo by Alessa)

Up close and personal (photo by Zoë). 

During the boat tour on the Seine (photo by Zoë).

There you go, a glimpse into our excursions around Paris. Enjoy your weekends everyone, et à bientôt!

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Bonjour à tous et à toutes !
Bienvenue à notre blog, La Vie Grenobloise. That's the end of the French for now, so don't be frightened away. I'm Meghan Devine, the graduate student and French Teaching Associate from Ohio University who is lucky enough to be accompanying a group of undergraduates during their study abroad trip to France this semester. We're a small but mighty group, comprised of Natalie Miller, Alessa Rosa, Marjorie Saunders and Zoe Zawadzki. They will each give you a more in-depth glimpse of their lives in a few days, so if you want to know more you have to stay tuned.

Grenoble is our home for the next few months, and in the rare chance that you haven't already typed Grenoble into the search bar to see where it's located, I'll save you the effort: 

We're nestled in among the French Alps, which tower majestically over the city no matter which way you turn. It's a far cry from the Appalachian Mountains that hunch moreso than tower over our college campus at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. 

(photo taken by moi, so admittedly it's not top-notch..but you get the idea)

(photo taken by Wikipedia member OHIO fan..the aerial view was hard for me to achieve)

While I know we will always hold those humble green mountains dear to our hearts, I admit it certainly is a nice change to behold the snow-capped mountains that are just begging for us to ski, snowshoe and partake in other wintry sports upon their slopes.

About the title of our blog : In case you haven't put two and two together yet, it means more or less « Life in Grenoble ». Although just a week has passed since we escaped from the stormy skies of America and set foot on the much drier lands of France, the five of us will soon be considered « Grenobloise », or people who dwell in the city of Grenoble. While this isn't everyone's first experience in l'Hexagone (France from a geometric perspective), all five of us are sure to have some very original experiences. If you want to hear and see about the adventures that come our way, you better bookmark this blog and mosey on back !