CEA's business program in Grenoble is hosted by GEM, one of Europe's top business schools. The professors who teach there are among the leading professionals in each of their fields. Along with that, the chance to speak French in a non-tourist city was really beneficial for my language skills.
Megan is a Business major originally from Colorado, attending Gonzaga University. She loves trying extreme sports, cooking, and is currently searching for the world's best mocha.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The coordinators at CEA remained in contact with me throughout the application process, and up until I left for France. My program was not through my university, but they did sponsor it, so most of what I had to coordinate was the sponsorship application, and ensuring the relevant people were in touch.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Do not forget to bring your charger. The chargers at the airport are ridiculously expensive, and usually you need one before you arrive in your host city.
Once you get there, get to know the locals. My CEA group was amazing, but I learned a lot more about Grenoble from going out on the weekends with my classmates from GEM, either the ones who were also on exchange or the ones who were there long-term.
The final piece of advice is to be prepared for reverse culture shock. I remember coming home and my parents wanted to eat dinner at 5, which was entirely foreign to me, as dinner in France is normally served around 7 or 8.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Given that the professors at GEM are working professionals, the class schedule changes weekly. Some weeks you might have ten 3-hour classes, and other weeks you might only have your language class.
Public transportation is going to be your best friend. The tram and bus systems in Grenoble are great, but also be aware of the strike schedule. You never want to wake up late on a strike day to find out the trams are running twenty minutes behind.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was not getting accepted as I was the only CEA Business student, and that I did know anyone from either GEM or CEA. Fortunately I never really had to overcome it because it never became a problem. The weekly FACE meetings at CEA meant I was always in the loop with the students going to UGA, and I was accepted within the first week by the GEM students.
My views actually changed a lot. Since I was only there for a semester, I stopped caring so much about what other people thought of me, and instead decided to just be un-apologetically myself, and it worked out perfectly! I've carried that back to America with me, and I intend to continue to not be scared of the impressions of others.
What is your favorite memory during your program?
One of my favorite memories from France was a road trip through the Cote d'Azur with some GEM friends. It was originally intended to be a two-day trip to Marseilles, but at the last minute it turned into a four-day tour of the South. It ended up being the best decision I could have made.
I got to see the Cezanne's studio, hiked out to a hidden beach in a national park, and had some of the best seafood in my life. It was an incredible bonding experience that I will remember for a while to come, and I'm much closer with the people I went with because of it.