Life in Grenoble

Life in Grenoble

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The end draws near

Classes are officially over here in Grenoble and with exams starting next week, there’s definitely a sense that the end of our time studying in France is drawing near. There’s something really bittersweet when semesters end, and that feeling is amplified here. Knowing that there are people you’ve gotten to know in or outside of class that you may never see again is really sobering, but I’m so grateful to have been able to share this experience with students not only from the States, but China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Nigeria, and even Iceland.

Hearing our professors wish us well after a semester of hard work and lots of learning helped me once again recognize what an amazing opportunity it is to be here to study.

For our final language class, our professor organized a cultural/hiking excursion to Le Sappey, a small town right next to Grenoble. We were able to split up into groups to discover a bit of the town’s history (and admire the views) before reconvening at lunchtime to enjoy a picnic together. Each of us having brought something to share with the rest of the class, we were able to enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company for the last time before exams.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

An afternoon at Château de Vizille

This week I took a quick trip to this little town called Vizille to visit an old castle turned museum and picnic in its park area.

The castle was built by François de Bonne, duke of Lediguières from 1604-1619 to demonstrate his importance in the French Court. It was later sold to a businessman who turned it into a textile factory. Finally, it was sold to the government, and now it serves at the French Revolution Museum of Vizille.

While the castle is beautiful, just as impressive is its surrounding park which houses birds, ducks, swans, geese, deer, peacocks, and ponies one can feed bread and admire. There is also a running stream that runs through the park that is beautiful and a surrounding landscape that takes your breath away.

We spend several hours eating and strolling around the park and it was a great and relaxing experience.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Natalie's encounters with the good, the bad, and the funny of French

That there is only about a month left for me here in France is really just unbelievable. I have a hard time trying to put into words how great it has been so far. Having real conversations in French, the food, the traveling, it’s all been unforgettable. But I think part of what makes this semester so great is actually the things that have been difficult to deal with. The miscommunications, the culture shock, the homesickness, all these things (and more) have ultimately made a huge impact on my time here… for the good.

I don’t want to exaggerate the times that have been rough, but there’s no denying that there have been plenty of times where I’ve thought, “What am I doing here again?” Like, for example, the time early in the semester when I thought my host parents asked me to pick up my host sister from school, but apparently they didn’t, and consequently thought she might have been kidnapped and were about to call the police. Yeah. Or smaller things, like eating at restaurants from time to time trying to order food without “parler petit-nègre,” speaking using incorrect and oversimplified language and gestures to get my point across. The fact that people can tell you’re American without even hearing you speak. And then getting stared at.

So where is the good in all this? Well, for one thing, they make great stories that I can laugh at now. But honestly, there’s this feeling that comes from suddenly realizing that I no longer need a pre-food-ordering pep talk, or knowing that if there’s a miscommunication, I can just explain myself… even if it takes a little more work to get the point across. Mistakes? Who cares? We’re in France! We’re learning! We’re living! And that’s what it’s about.  

This picture corresponds to how I feel my experience in France has been. After three hours of hiking (half of which was extremely steep and felt never-ending), sweating a ton, falling/sliding on my butt, there we were at the top! And what a view it was.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Alessa's favorite escapes

We have made it into to April and I can't believe our time in Grenoble is coming to an end! For our last month here I want to spend most of it enjoying the city itself and doing the things I still haven't gotten around to. But for this blog, I want to talk about my favorite places and experiences. 

First, my favorite place is the Musée de Grenoble. It's a fine arts museum that features works dating to the 15th Century all the way to contemporary art. Some of the works displayed include artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Kees Van Dongen, Modigliani, Gromaire and Andy Warhol. The museum also holds temporary exhibits from time to time. Although the museum is small, I really enjoy the atmosphere and the paintings. The size of the museum is not overwhelming like some can be in Europe, and most of it can be seen in a day. I enjoy going for an afternoon when it's empty and just walk around, sit, and enjoy art. Very calming!

Second, the mountains! Being as we are surrounded by them, they are hard to miss. Although I have not visited all of the three ranges, my favorite is by far Vercors. During one of my first weeks in Grenoble, I went snowshoeing there, and it was by far the most amazing experience. It was a beautiful, breathtaking day and the mountain was covered with snow. It was just so beautiful. The Chartreuse, however gives the beat view of the city. And a quick trip up to the Bastille, is a great workout!

Finally, my favorite thing to see and do is walk by the Isère river. It's really close to my house, and in a nice day there's nothing more relaxing than taking a stroll along the river. 

These will be only a few of Grenoble's aspects I will tenderly miss. 


Independent Marjorie

Studying abroad has made me realize how independent I actually am. I’ve found out that I absolutely love traveling by myself and that I’m completely self sufficient when it comes down to it, and I don’t need anyone’s help. Being here has brought up a new desire to study abroad again, but someplace different in the world. This experience has made me want to work harder so I can study abroad again and continue traveling so I can reach my goals in life. You find out a lot about yourself when you’re alone in a different country, and I like what I’ve been finding out about myself.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Alessa on friendships whilst abroad

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

Being abroad brings all kinds of benefits such as learning a new culture, great food, better language skills, and maturity. But it also blossoms great new friendships. 

Since being here, not only have I met amazing people from all over the world (China, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Chile, Brazil, etc.), I have also made great friends from my own program. Most of us come from different corners of the U.S. but we've acquired a certain solidarity being abroad. When we first arrived in Paris, the fear and excitement of being in a foreign country was palpable and we had no choice but stick together. Now, that the need is no longer there —since we've gotten hold of our bearings— we still choose to hang out together because we want to. 

I can honestly say I've made some lifetime friends being here who have helped me grow as person and who have made my experience in Grenoble only better. We've been through the struggling of adapting to a new country, gotten lost together, been through extremely embarrassing moments, cried, laughed, and cried again. These girls have become my support in a foreign land and no one else will be able to understand our experience studying abroad like them. 

I'm excited to keep in contact with them after our semester is finished and to have places I can crash in future trips!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Zoë finds her rhythm

Being three months into the program, I feel I’ve finally found my rhythm here. I’ve made really good friends and I’m used to my schedule which consists of classes and always eating dinner at the same time (this was a change compared to college) and I finally know my way around town, it all just feels right now!

Monday through Thursday I have classes, and then on the weekends I can relax, hang out with my friends, and explore Grenoble and the surrounding cities. It’s crazy how natural this routine has started to feel to me! If I have a day off of classes then my whole schedule feels messed up. Although it’s rough having a schedule where classes take up the majority of my day, it’s nice because I get to see my friends in class, and I know that I am doing something productive with my time. If I didn’t spend so much time in class, I would like to think that I would get out into to town and hopefully explore the area a little more, but I would also probably sleep a lot like usual, and I would hate to sleep this experience away!

It’s nice having 3 day weekends where I can still do some exploring. Now that I have a routine down, it really feels like home. Whenever I go other places around France and Europe, even if it’s just for the weekend, I always miss Grenoble and can’t wait to return. I don’t know if it’s my friends here, my wonderful host mom, or just the town in general but there is just something about it here that is comforting and feels like home. It’s hard to believe that I only have two months left, but I’m going to make the most of it!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Marjorie travels throughout history

I’ve been traveling a lot these past few months. For our spring break, I traveled to Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, and Krakow. A lot of my friends went to Barcelona or Greece for their vacation, but I based my vacation around history. In Amsterdam, I visited Anne Frank’s house. I’ve dreamed about going there since I first read her diary. Amsterdam offers a lot of different museums as well. I went to the Jewish Historical Museum, and exhibition on the Titanic, a Torture Museum, and I went to the Red Light District and went to a prostitute museum… it was very informational.
In Munich, I visited Dachau Concentration Camp- the first camp set in place by the Nazi’s, and, Munich was the birthplace of Nazism. In Berlin, I went on many tours. I visited the Berlin Wall, Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, a bunch of memorials for the victims of World War Two, and Hitler’s bunker. I went to Krakow for one reason only- Auschwitz. I’ve been dreaming of going there since I was little. History has always been a passion of mine and to actually be at Auschwitz Extermination Camp was beyond incredible. Not many young people can say they’ve been there. It was such a heartbreaking experience but I’m so happy I was able to go.


Natalie's new sisters

In the past month, I’ve been so grateful to see a real sense of closeness developing with the other members of my host family. I was so excited to have been placed with a host family with two young daughters (Alice is 9 and Eva is 12), and bonding with them has been great, not only for more opportunities to practice speaking French, but also because I’ve never experienced life with younger siblings!

A couple nights a week, I give really informal English lessons to Eva, the twelve year old, who studies it at school. We’ve read books together, played Bananagrams (sort of like Scrabble), where she formed words in English while I formed them in French. The other night we watched YouTube videos of French and English songs and then helped each other derive their meaning. Lately, all three of us have been playing card games in the evening as well.

When they watch TV in the afternoon after getting home from school, if I’m there I usually try to join them, even though they often watch Disney Channel shows that have been dubbed in French. For a while, Eva was particularly fond of watching reruns of ER.

Having the chance to babysit them every now and then and just spend more time with my host family has been a big factor in feeling more at ease here in Grenoble, and I look forward to the times we will spend together before the end of my time here!