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Grenoble, a small city nestled in the French Alps, is the perfect destination for a student looking to immerse themselves in French culture. With five universities located in the city, along with a large international student population, the locals are welcoming to students and very eager to help improve a student's language skills. Grenoble attracts a certain type of student and therefore, is not as popular with American students compared to cities such as Barcelona and Florence.
Students who attend Universite de Grenoble-Stendahl are usually looking for an immersive French experience. Or, serious business students looking for a unique destination can be found at Grenoble Ecole de Management. The city is also home to a plethora of activities to keep busy! From endless outdoor adventures to a bustling nightlife, it's impossible to be bored in Grenoble.
Due to Grenoble's location in the Alps, skiing and snowboarding is a popular pastime. Many local shops offer semester long rentals and there is a bus service that runs to the local ski resorts. The city parks also provide a great way to be outside without having to go down a mountain. They are scattered about the city and are a great place to catch up on some reading or homework.
Grenoble also has a fantastic collection of museums that are free the first Sunday of each month. The Musee de Grenoble is an extensive art museum covering almost every style of art. La Musee de la Resistance et la Deportation is a unique perspective in Grenoble's past role in The Resistance during World War II. If military history is your thing, be sure to make the beautiful hike up to the Bastille or take advantage of the student discount (and the views) and ride Les Boules to the top! Continue past the Bastille to Mount Jalla to find a perfect picnic spot and a panoramic view of the city.
Grenoble has plenty of shopping, and with sales occurring only in January and July, it's best to take advantage of it all! There are numerous pedestrian only streets filled with all sorts of shops. Or, you can take the bus or tram to Grand Place, the major mall in Grenoble. Scattered amongst these streets are the equivalent of fast food restaurants that offer student discounts (such as Mezzo di Pasta and Mr. Taco).
Compared to major metropolitan cities, Grenoble is not an overly expensive city to live in. The best way to keep costs low is to seek out free or student discounted activities. Additionally, choosing a study abroad program that provides a transportation pass will help you get around the city freely. Choosing a to live with a French family may also help keep costs low as they usually provide two meals a day as well as services such as laundry.
Scholarships are also available to help off-set the costs of a semester abroad. Many program providers provide their own scholarships as well as different colleges and universities. Outside organizations, such as GoOverseas, also offer scholarships. The State Department offers the Gilman Scholarship which can be put towards a semester abroad.
The benefits of going abroad with a program provider are numerous, but the biggest one is that there is an in-country support readily available to you. Resident directors are available around the clock to help out in any emergency or to provide advice on day-to-day situations.
Naturally, culture shock is expected no matter which country you visit. France is no exception. Dinner is much later than it is in the States, with families not eating until 8 or 9 o'clock at night. Since lunch is still eaten around noon, it's best to keep a snack on hand for the long drag between meals! It is also customary while shopping to greet shopkeepers and to thank them when you leave. France, as well as the rest of Europe, is known to go on strike so it's important to pay attention to the news while making travel plans.
It isn't difficult to find delicious cheap eats in Central Grenoble. What is surprising is the abundance of Mexican food that is fantastic! Definitely be sure to check out these places during lunch or after class:
Also be sure to ask if there is a "formule etudiante" at your favorite restaurant! Mezzo di Pasta offers a 10% off discount with your school ID.
When not on strike, Grenoble has a very reliable public transportation system. However, it runs very infrequently at night and sometimes your best bet is to just walk to your destination. Also, there are cabs that can be taken.
Be sure to take trips to surrounding areas, such as the Chateau du Vizille and the Chartreuse Monastery which are both easily accessible from Grenoble.
If you're looking for a welcoming city in which to improve your French skills, Grenoble is a fantastic choice! With a vibrant culture and bustling city life, you'll never be bored and won't even notice how quickly you are learning.
France did not earn a reputation of luxury by accident. While being known for its culturally signifant sights, it is also known for its high costs. Check out scholarships to help alleviate your financial concerns.
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