It’s crazy to think that this time last year, I was sending in all my paperwork to finalize my exchange trip and had no idea that I would be planning on embarking on the most amazing experience of my life. There’s no denying that I was nervous about the entire process. New city, new school, and new lifestyle. Stepping out of my normal routine in Vancouver was something that had me feeling uneasy, but I have no regrets about choosing the beautiful city of Grenoble, France and studying at Grenoble École de Management (GEM).
Grenoble is located an hour outside of Lyon, surrounded entirely by the beautiful French Alps, which seem so close that you can reach out and grab onto them. This aspect made me feel right at home as the scenery was very comparable to Vancouver – luscious green forests and snow-capped mountains. This 2,000-year-old city is rich with history, which is evident through the amazing architecture in the buildings and numerous squares filled with large fountains and French café patios. Even though a great transit system exists, everything you need is within walking distance or, if you’d prefer, roam through the city streets with a classic French bicycle. There’s always something to do in Grenoble! Take a shuttle up to the mountains and snowboard down the French Alps on the weekend, walk through the famous Museum of Grenoble which houses paintings and sculptures from artists such as Matisse, Monet and Picasso. Or, attend one of the various pub nights put on by the GEM student societie, or climb the Bastille mountain and see the incredible view of Grenoble which actually has the longest boulevard in France. You can also simply go to the park with a couple mates and have a pint (or two). Grenoble always managed to surprise me with the amount of events happening.
However, if you do plan on going on exchange to Grenoble or realistically anywhere in France, I do have a couple tips you should consider!
The most important thing I can tell you is to always have patience. France’s bureaucratic system requires tons of paperwork for even the simplest requests and don’t expect any sort of response in a timely manner. Always give yourself more time than you think you need and then give yourself even more time than that just to be safe! Make sure to note the opening hours of the stores you need to go to. Almost all stores and restaurants are open in the morning then close for a couple hours in the afternoon (for some reason I still have yet to understand), and open once again in the evening. And always make sure your fridge is stocked for the weekends, as nothing is open Sundays! That tip comes from a couple of my own hungry Sundays.
All that aside, I’m so happy that I decided to embark on this journey as I not only learned so much about the world, but I also learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. Living on my own for the first time in my life allowed me to hone my cooking skills and to learn to deal with whatever comes at me. I’d highly recommend an exchange trip to Grenoble, or anywhere in Europe, to anyone as the ability to travel easily and for cheaply allows you to see the world and indulge in different cultures. I’m currently at roughly 30 cities and counting and I could not be more grateful for the experience that I have been lucky enough to get. Grenoble has become a second home to me and is a city that will always hold a special place in my heart.
Curious to experience Grenoble Ecole de Management for yourself? We are currently recruiting 15 Beedie students to study Entrepreneurship with 30 French students in our Joint Semester in Social Entrepreneurship. The program is co-taught by Beedie and Grenoble professors and the curriculum includes lectures, projects, open labs, industry visits and social events. This is an amazing opportunity to get global experience in your own back yard. Learn more at beedie.sfu.ca/gem or sign up for our Info Session on Burnaby Campus here: http://websurvey.sfu.ca/survey/251085129.
Aria is in his third year at the Beedie School of Business, concentrating in Finance, Operations Management and Management Information Systems. He finished his wonderful semester at Grenoble École de Management and received a Certificate in Global Management. Aria is currently travelling all over Europe and has visited over 10 countries during his time here. He loves travelling to new places and indulging in different cultures. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!