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Study Abroad in Grenoble with API!
Sarah is from Silver Spring, MD. She is a rising senior at Carnegie Mellon University studying Economics and Statistics. She loves meeting new people, eating sweets, and dancing.
When: Fall of 2011
Highlights: Let's start by saying that I love to eat. As the French would say, I am very "gourmande." So, most of my best experiences involve food. The highlight of my trip--food-wise--was the 2 weeks where I ate truffles every night. My host mom and her friends hunt truffles and this year happened to be a good one. I was lucky enough to eat truffles in every way, shape, and form while meeting all of Anne's friends (who were dying to come over for a taste). In my opinion, the best experiences are often had at the dinner table.
The second highlight of my trip was meeting a young french couple through language exchanges at the Bookworm Cafe. They have been so helpful this entire trip: showing me around Grenoble, taking care of me when my host mother wasn't in town, listening to me when I felt homesick or lonely. They have become such close friends and are what I will miss most about France. My suggestion to anyone studying abroad: get to know the locals!
Morning: In general, I have class at either 8:30 am or 10:40 am. I wake up about an hour before class and have breakfast with my host mother and her two cats. Breakfast usually consists of tea, coffee, bread, and jam. Occasionally, my host mother buys croissants or pain au chocolate as a morning treat. I leave myself enough time to head over to the Les Halles market to buy my lunch. This is hands down the cheapest and most delicious lunch option. You are guaranteed fresh fruit and vegetables and can pick up some bread at one of the many bakeries surrounding the market. I spend about 3EU total (on campus you can get a sandwich for that price). Since I live in centreville, I catch the tram to school. The tram ride takes about 15 minutes when there aren't strikes. However, some of the most interesting mornings have been the ones during which there are strikes!
Afternoon: I usually have one or two culture courses in the afternoon--history of art, literature, contemporary history, etc. So, on weekdays, my afternoons are spent on campus. After classes, there are still a ton of things to do. Sometimes I go to the Dauphinois Museum to check out an exhibit or I study in Parc Paul Mistral. Most of the time, you can find students at bakeries or cafes getting an afternoon snack. I have some friends who would take the afternoons off to go skiing or hiking in the mountains. I often spend my afternoons with one or two friends, discovering a new eatery or hiking the Bastille (it's amazing every time).
Evening: My host mom gets home at around 7pm every night. We usually catch up over a glass of wine--talk about our days, what I'm learning, etc. After that we eat dinner, which usually consists of a salad course, a main dish, cheese course, and dessert. This is my favorite part of the day: Anne is a great chef. She loves to cook and goes all out despite working full days. We like to watch the news as we eat so we can discuss current events. She loves having people over; 2-3 times a week we have guests. I get to meet all kinds of people and we talk,eat,drink,and laugh until the wee hours of the morning! It's at the dinner table that I've learned all the expressions and sayings that I know.
Over the weekends, I eat with Anne and go out with french friends or other CUEF students. There are plenty of bars and discotheques and they are great places to go if you want to meet french students.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with API in France?
Kaitlyn: In regards to studying abroad with API, I had the unique experience of having a representative come into my French class as a freshman. The rep presented the API programs in Paris and Grenoble and I fell in love with the Grenoble program. The city had everything I wanted: It was small enough not to feel overwhelming, yet I could still experience "city life". Additionally, I would be forced out of my comfort zone of English and into speaking French.
As for studying with API, the program was comprehensive and had so many great perks that I couldn't imagine wanting to go with another program! I spent numerous hours on their website my junior year as I was applying and felt it was the perfect fit for me.
GO: What do you think made studying in France a unique experience?
Kaitlyn: France is such a beautiful country with an immense amount of history. It was hard to walk around Grenoble and not see a plaque about a historical event that occurred in that spot. The architecture was also unique and how one would picture a French city. There was also the cultural aspect. I lived with a host family and was able to see how the French live their day to day lives. I also fell in love with French food. I had always been a picky eater, but having no choice in the meal, I was forced to try new foods. And finally, the Grenoblois really shaped my experience. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. From shopkeepers to restaurants, everyone wanted to know why I was studying in Grenoble and if I was enjoying my experience. I always felt so comfortable in my adopted city.
GO: How did this experience impact your academic development?
Kaitlyn: Going abroad had an immense impact on my future. Since I've been home, I've been constantly plotting how to go overseas again. It's also prompted a desire to continue perfecting my French as well starting to learn new languages (I'm picking up Irish this fall and dying to learn Spanish). I was required to take a French class this fall to finish my minor, but since I'm so happy being back in a French-speaking environment, I decided to pick up a French elective for the spring semester. Studying abroad has already had an immense impact on my life and I can't wait to see how it will continue to impact me in the future.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with API in Grenoble, France?
Stephanie: My decision to study abroad in Grenoble with API was relatively easy. I knew I wanted to study abroad since high school, and I started my research first semester, Freshman year of college. After talking with the study abroad advisor at my school, I was certain of two things: I wanted to study in a European French speaking country, and NOT in Paris. I had been to Paris with a school trip a few years earlier, and the most French I spoke was when I asked a waiter for a napkin, "Est-ce que je peux avoir une serviette, s'il vous plait".
I was a French major desperately seeking to improve my speaking skills, so I needed to be in a place where English was not in option. My study abroad advisor recommended I look into API, and that's when I came across Grenoble. I knew this was the place as soon as I found it; an average sized town I'd never heard of, so probably not too tourist oriented, and therefore probably not too much English.
Even more enticing for an outdoorsy person like myself was its location in the Alps and the abundance of activities I would be able to partake, potentially with a host family sharing the same interests. To top it all off, the price for a year abroad in Grenoble was a couple hundred dollars less than a year at my home university. Once I found Grenoble, my search for a program came to an end; I applied and away I went!
GO: What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Stephanie: No two experiences are alike when you study abroad- it all depends on who you are, where you go, who you meet and who you become. I know my experience was very unique and extremely special to me because it's how I met my current boyfriend. I know, cliche boy meets girl love story, but this was different. Alex (that's the boy!) and I were pen pals for two years before I studied abroad, and I mean real pen pals, with letters and everything. I never dreamed we would meet in person given how different our lives were- he lived in the Netherlands and I was in Massachusetts.
But that all changed when I studied abroad. Over the winter break between semesters, I was invited by his family to stay with them for the holidays. I went, I met Alex, and I fell in love. The rest is history! We spent that month together, about two weeks over the spring semester, and I stayed with him for the rest of the summer, until just a week before school started here. We're going on one year together, intermittently VERY long distance, but we became friends this way, we're used to it!
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Stephanie: Studying abroad has completely changed me as a person, student, and professional. My experiences with new people and places have helped my learn who I am, and who I am striving to be. I have become more focused as a student, and more driven in my career goals.
Though I still don't know exactly what I want to do with my life, study abroad has opened so many doors and has given me a good idea of the path I want to go down after school. I have more options and possibilities open to me now than I could have ever imagined had I not embarked on this life changing adventure.
What position do you hold at API? What has been your career path so far?
Anna: I'm a Resident Director in Grenoble, France for the language and business programs that we offer for American students studying abroad. I first came to Grenoble in 2003 during the summer of my senior year to study French at the CUEF. I immediately fell in love with Grenoble and France in general so I decided to make a long-term move to France after finishing up my last year at the University of Iowa.
The first year that I lived in France, I was a Teacher Assistant in two middle schools and a high school. At the same time, I was hanging out a lot at the API office so when my teaching assistant job finished I happened to be at the right spot at the right time because API was looking to hire a new RD. I started working full-time as an API RD in 2005 and have been here ever since!
Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Anna: I studied in Grenoble during the summer of 2003. I would have wanted to do a longer program but I was graduating soon. Though my time would be short in France, I would still learn so much more about the culture and language than if I was to take a regular French course at my university in Iowa.
What country have you always wanted to visit?
Anna: There's so many places and countries I want to visit! I've never been to Asia. I would LOVE to visit Japan during the cherry blossoms in May. That's my dream vacation at the moment.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Anna: In order to really learn a culture and to integrate, you must speak the language. France is my home and in order to feel comfortable with my surroundings and perform day to day tasks, I have to be able to communicate with every person I encounter.
Academic Programs International, API, is an educational organization dedicated to providing challenging and enriching study abroad programs for our students. The experience of living, interacting and learning in an international environment presents invaluable opportunities for each student's academic and personal development.
All of their academic and extracurricular offerings are selected with the goal of helping students to become more self-aware and culturally sensitive. API envisions each student evolving from a tourist, to a resident, to a global citizen; API is dedicated to supporting this lifelong process.
API strives to provide the best comprehensive study abroad experience possible with personal attention available to all students throughout his or her program. API works closely with home universities to offer support before, during and after students' education abroad experience.