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Spend a Semester at the Grenoble Ecole de Management
Kaitlyn Nolan is a recent graduate of Stonehill College and spent Spring 2011 studying abroad in Grenoble, France with API. She enjoys adventures and plotting her next trip abroad.
When: Spring of 2011
Highlights: Academically, I was thrilled to be able to speak French all the time. By having complete language immersion, my French improved considerably. When I left the country, I usually had trouble switching to English to speak to strangers as my first inclination was to speak French. Additionally, I did not have a wide range of French classes to take at my college. Therefore, I was really excited about the choices I was given at my French university.
Study abroad truly was a life-changing experience and I am so happy that I chose Grenoble to be the backdrop to this experience. The city gave me the confidence in speaking and living in a foreign language and giving me the courage to try new things. I had an extraordinary time with the locals, who were more than willing to let me practice my French with them and show me the best places to visit. Grenoble is also only an hour by bus to the Lyon airport which provided me a gateway to the rest of Europe. I was able to visit seven other countries while abroad and each had a profound impact on me. However, Grenoble had the biggest impact and will always remain home to me.
Morning: A typical morning in Grenoble consisted of preparing for class. I would have a light breakfast of toast and Nutella (I couldn't get enough!) or cereal. I would then head out to my tram stop at Notre Dame Musee to get to my university. I lived in the city center so it only took me about 15 minutes to get to school. Morning classes consisted of French grammar. These were organized by language level and had a small class of about 15 students from all over: the US, Europe, and Asia. We worked from a small textbook and also spent time in a multimedia lab. These classes focused more on speaking and listening rather than reading and writing.
Afternoon: We had a break for lunch (usually accompanied by the formule etudiante: a Grenoblois salad, apple, yogurt, and bread) and then spent the afternoons in electives. These were with students of varying language levels and the classes were HUGE to what I'm used to. The sizes ranged from 75 students to about 200. While a bit overwhelming at first, I found it to be an interesting change from the small liberal arts college I attended here. The courses I took fit within my International Studies major and consisted of Contemporary French History, Economics, and Contemporary French Politics in addition to a vocabulary class.
Evening: Once classes were over, my friends and I had free time until dinner which was usually served around 9pm. We spent the time exploring Grenoble's city center, shops, and parks. We spent a significant amount of time walking, but it truly was the best way to explore the city. Dinner was made by my host mom and we were accompanied by my host dad and my roommate Megan (who happens to be one of my close friends from college). After dinner, we either relaxed in our rooms catching up with news from home or explored the Grenoble nightlife.
Lauren Kaminsky is from Glen Carbon, IL and currently studies Hospitality Management and French at the University of South Carolina's Honors College. She is currently interning at IT-oLogy as an event coordinator and occasionally works for a local catering company. She loves traveling, running, baking, and spending time with friends.
GO: Why did you decide to study with API in France?
Lauren: There were so many options, but I chose API mostly because I thought they offered the most for their price. We had five excursions throughout the semester to different parts of France, and I felt like that was a wonderful way to see the country. Not only could I get to know Grenoble, but I was also able to see the other regions and get to know the differences between them. API also offered to pick students up from the airport when they arrived.
People don't even realize what a HUGE difference this makes. When I arrived in a new place, exhausted after having been traveling for so long, it was so nice to know someone was waiting for me there, and Marie (our on-site director) was so happy to see us! API also has programs in French cities other than just Paris and the opportunity to stay with a family. These were both important aspects for me because I wanted to live as much like a typical French person as possible.
GO: What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Lauren: My experience abroad was special to me for a number of reasons. It was my first time out of the country, and I was able to not only see over 20 cities in France, but also able to travel to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany during my visit. I learned so much about all of the different cultures, and while I typically hate history, I actually wanted to, and managed to, so learn about these countries' pasts. My French improved so much while I was over there as well. But I think the most significant part of my tripi, was the many meaningful friendships I made while I was abroad. My host brother was just a year older than me, and we became really close friends. He introduced me to all of his friends, people I still keep in touch with.
One of the guys, Aymeric, is interning in Atlanta for the year and joined my family and I for thanksgiving. I skype one girl, Myriam, every week so we can practice her English and my French while catching up on our friends' lives. She is planning on studying abroad in Canada next semester, and we're already planning on my visiting her, and her coming to my house for Thanksgiving. My host parents were so sweet and welcoming and wanted me to stay all summer, but unfortunately my parents wanted me to come home. My host mom and I continue to email each other, and she insists I come live with them this summer. While I don't think that's going to be possible what with internships, I hope to go visit her for a little while.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Lauren: Everyone says studying abroad is life-changing, and it truly is. I'm so different than how I was before I left. I used to be nervous about having to catch a plane or a train just here in the U.S. By the end of my trip, I was showing up to cities I had never been to, where I didn't speak the language, and while I was completely lost, I was completely calm and confident that I would figure out my way.
Traveling really provides you with a sense of accomplishment. It is wonderful to know that you are capable of things that you never thought you would be able to do. Learning French in France has encouraged me to work even harder to become completely fluent. I met so many people abroad who could speak four or five languages, and they have truly inspired me to work toward learning more. My semester abroad was just a taste of what this world has to offer. I plan to travel as much as possible in the future to learn about more cultures and to meet more people from different walks of life.
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.