Monday, February 3, 2014

Two more weeks and many new experiences!

The three major things I have done in the past couple weeks were traveling to Lyon for a couple days, skiing in the French Alps, and planning my upcoming trips.
On January 25th at 9:24 AM myself and seven other girls caught a train straight from Grenoble to Lyon. I sat with Lucy on the train and we chatted for a while (like 15-20 minutes), then me being me fell asleep for the rest of the trip. We arrived about an hour later in Lyon. We found a map and ventured into the subway. We had to take two different subway lines to get to the center of the city. When we stepped out into the city we were welcomed by an extremely large ferris wheel. Four of us decided to pay to ride it and got to see an amazing view of the city. At first it seemed like a great idea, but the further up we went the more terrified I became. I would not let go of the center pole. It went around about 4 times, and by the end I was definitely more comfortable. I was too scared to turn around to see the view behind me, but I was still able to get some good pictures, just from a strange angle. We later found out that the pole in the middle could actually turn the seat in circles to get a better view of the entire city. I was happy we hadn't discovered this until later, I would have been even more terrified. After we got off the ferris wheel, we took a few more pictures and then headed to the Cathédrale St-Jean. From there we grabbed lunch and walked around the cobblestone streets.
Isabelle and I
After finishing lunch we discovered the Musée Miniature et Cinéma. At this point our group of eight decided to split in half. Some of the girls wanted to wait until the next day to see the museum, others weren't interested in going at all. The museum was definitely one of my favorite parts of Lyon. To some people this might sound a little strange or lame. But I really learned a lot while I was there and it was interesting seeing movies that I was very familiar with and learning how they created the special effects for various scenes. Also, there were tiny rooms with tiny items and tiny furniture and tiny people. I was truly fascinated by the attention to detail in each piece and the complexity of every room that was created. I took so many pictures in this museum, unfortunately the miniature rooms looked completely normal, so it was hard to tell how cool it really was.
After the museum we decided to wander through the streets a little more. Mona had booked a hostel for the night since she had decided to join us after we already booked our hotel. She had brought a suitcase with her so we decided to walk with her to the hostel to drop off her luggage and get her checked in. We had planned to meet back up with the girls in front of Cathédrale St-Jean at 4 PM so we headed there next.
Our next adventure for the day was to take the tram up to Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière. It was on top of a mountain overlooking the city. We wanted to make sure we were able to see the view before the sun set. We got halfway up and got off so that we could see the Théâtres Gallo-romains (Roman theater). We were standing across the street from it and some of the girls worried we wouldn't get to the top before the sun set so we ended up walking the rest of the way. It was very steep, but once we got to the top it was definitely worth it. The view was incredible. We went inside the Notre-Dame which was in the middle of a service, but it was absolutely beautiful. After walking around the grounds for a while we decided it was still light enough and we wanted to head back down to the Roman Theater.
Théâtres Gallo-romains
It was very fun to see and take pictures there. It was only about 6 PM by this point but we were all already getting tired. We went back up the hill a little ways into a garden and sat on a ledge and watched the sun set. The city at night was pretty spectacular. When we all were about to turn into ice cubes we decided to head back into Lyon. Two of the girls wanted to stay and enjoy the view a little longer, so we planned to meet up with them again later. We made our way back to the hotel and got all settled in; I stayed in a room with Miki and Lucy. Lucy wasn't feeling to well when we arrived so she decided to stay behind while the rest of us went to find something for dinner.

We wanted to find food that was traditional to Lyon so we found a place called La Mère Cottivet that looked like it would do the job. The prices were reasonable, it looked pretty crowed so we figured they probably had good food and it looked like an interesting restaurant. I had French onion soup, some sort of fish that I can't remember the name of with rice, and a brownie that all five of us shared.

We got back to the hotel around midnight and fell right asleep. After such a long day, a warm bed was exactly what we needed.
The next morning we got a late start although I was up and ready at about 9:30. I am so eager to see everything that it makes it much easier for me to get up and moving in the morning here. Sunday was a little more laid back. We mostly walked around the city. We found a shop to get food for bunch. They had sandwiches, drinks, and dessert for only 5 euros. Lyon is famous for their wall paintings which are suppose to look three dimensional so we ventured around the city looking for a few of them. We walked through a market, then to the opera house and the art museum, and saw 3 different wall painting along the way. We headed back toward the Cathedral and walked into different shops and tried to relax a little. After everything we had done, we were all pretty worn out by this point (it make me worry about my stamina during my future trips). At 4 PM we headed back to the train station and rode back to Grenoble.

Monday I started off strong with a full day of European Business Environment from 8 AM until 6 PM. I had two more sections of it on Tuesday coupled with 3 hours of French. Wednesday I had 4.5 hours of European Business Environment again and finally finished the week on Thursday with 3 hours of international business law. Needless to say, by thursday afternoon I needed a nap. Thursday night I attended an International student party and Friday I finally had a whole day to myself to relax.

Throughout the week I also planned various trips that I will be doing for the next few months. This week I will be leaving on Wednesday headed for Brussels and Amsterdam which is planned and booked. Next week I will be traveling with Zoe and Miki to Bordeaux and Toulouse for four days.
Camila and I
On Saturday I traveled with the school's sports club to Les Duex Alps. It took about an hour for us to get there, which I didn't notice because I was sleeping, and it was so incredible. When I have gone skiing before, even at really large locations, there is usually a ski lodge where you rent your equipment, eat/buy your food, and people are usually trying to escape the cold. Here, this was not the case. There was an entire village in the center of the slopes. There were pubs, hotels, grocery stores, rental shops, and much more. We got off the bus and rather than getting a tag that you wear on your zipper, we received cards that looked like a hotel room key. If you put in in your left pocket, it would scan it as you entered the lift area so you could gain access. Unless you were going way up into the mountains they used a tow lift that had a little black disc that you would sit on. Even the "baby" slopes weren't very small. The most challenging part about skiing in this area was that the slopes were so much steeper than what I have been use to before. Camila, who had only been skiing one other time spent most of the day skiing with me because she felt pretty confident and I didn't want to ski alone so she tried something a little more challenging, and I stayed on a slope that was a little easier which worked at nicely for both of us. we stopped for lunch. I loosened my ski boots are relaxed a little bit. I had a sandwich that I had purchased at the grocery store in town.
Lucy and I renting our equipment
Hot wine and Crepe!
After lunch, we decided to take the large ski lift up to the top of the mountain so we could have a better view of the mountains. We decided we would just ride up and back since Lucy and Laura were both beginners. Even for me and Camila, it looked like it wasn't so bad, but we figured it probably was much more steep than it appeared. We came back down and went on the slopes we knew we were more comfortable with. After several more trips down the hill I felt as though my boots were on properly and they were hurting my ankle. It was really unstable when I went around turns, so I decided that maybe it was a good time for me to stop before I got hurt. I went into a pub that had a nice fire and ordered hot wine and a crepe to warm up. Camila joined me shortly after and we realized we were probably both done for the day. We headed back to Grenoble at 5 PM and I was completely exhausted by the time I got home.

Au Revoir!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Arrival in Grenoble

I have done a lot of thinking about how I've wanted to structure this blog. Before I left for France last week, I had never really made a blog before. I have created a blog that I have been updating frequently since my arrival in Grenoble however I feel as though the elaborate detail of each and every day may not be as appropriate to share with the Clarkson community. I'm not saying that it has anything bad in it, it just goes far more in depth than people outside of my family or close friends may be interested in. That being said... If you are interested in reading my more detailed account of my days in Grenoble, you are more then welcome to do so. Here is the link --->

Although some of the information and photos will inevitably overlap, I will be focusing more on the broader information so let's see how this goes!

I arrived in Grenoble last tuesday, January 7th after traveling for many, many hours. Due to the unfortunate weather we were having on Monday the 6th many of the flights traveling throughout the East Coast were delayed or being canceled. Despite the delays on both my flights from Albany and Philadelphia, I managed to arrive in Paris only 15 minutes later than our scheduled arrival. I took a taxi from the airport to the train station and from there took a 3 hour high speed train from Paris to Grenoble.

Throughout my first week I got lost and frustrated with the language barrier and suffered most nights from horrible jet lag. I finally was able to get medicine to help me sleep with assistance from my friend Rohit (in the masters program from India) who speaks a little French. My apartment is on the outskirts of the city about a 20 minute walk from Grenoble Encole de Management (GEM). Rohit took me on a couple of walking tours of the city over the past weekend, so I am finally starting to learn how to navigate my way around Grenoble.

Over the past few days I have made the decision to rent a bike while I am here. I plan to pick it up tomorrow. Apart from the deposit the price isn't too bad especially if I am saving money by not purchasing the tram pass each month. The cost for a bike for 3 months is the same as one month for the tram! Having a bike will make my journey to and from school and town much better. Unfortunately, people have problems with having bikes stolen frequently in Grenoble so the chance of me losing my deposit is relatively high. My apartment has an underground storage for bikes though so at least it will be safe at night!

For our first week GEM planned 5 days of orientation before the start of classes. On Friday we were given a written and oral French proficiency exam to place us in the proper level course for the semester. We will be meeting every Tuesday to work on our French, which I am really looking forward to. I am a complete beginner so I'm really looking forward to learning the language. On Monday the entire January intake group was taken to go bowling. We all had a blast playing and making some new friends at the same time. It is incredible how many different people I have met from all around the world. My closest friend here, Isabelle, is from Sweden. I have met two other people from Sweden as well, and also students from Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, France, China, India, Nicaragua, Germany, Korea, and Syria to name a few (haha).

On Tuesday we started classes. From Tuesday until next Monday I have a class called Business Development in Emerging Economies. We meet every day from 9:45 AM until 1:00 PM. After we give presentations on Monday we have completed the course lectures. We will have a 'portfolio' due at a later date which is worth 70% of our grade; the presentations are worth 30%. Our professor for this course is Polish but lives in London. It's interesting having such a short class packed with so much information. At 8 AM this morning I had my first lecture for International Business Law. The professor is from France originally but did part of her law school education in the states. She decided that she preferred the American method of teaching and is going to use it throughout the semester. Unlike my other course, this one will last throughout the entire semester and include a wider range of evaluations including homework, class participation, and exams.

Every day is completely different from the day before and I'm excited every morning to wake up and learn something new!