Category Archives: Hannah Hine

Christmas at Grenoble Ecole de Management

The festive season has arrived! Getting to experience Christmas in France is one of the best things about placement year. I have done a few things during these last few weeks in France and I will be sharing these in this blog.

Christmas felt like it began in mid-November here in Grenoble, as the university I study at was filled with skis, boards, boots, poles and all sorts of snow accessories and clothing for an event. The event, known as “Bourse aux Skis” enables students to buy new and ex-display skis and snowboards for low prices. The event lasted for three days, and there was a real buzz around school as students excitedly picked out their gear for the year.

Christmas Market

 

Then at the end of November, the Christmas Market appeared in Victor Hugo. There are huge wooden chalets serving a lot of food, drinks and snacks. It is such a nice atmosphere because people head out in the early evening to share some food together, wrapped up in coats, scarves and gloves. Me and my friends have been a couple of times to enjoy crepes (pancakes) with mulled wine! The market is much smaller than the Birmingham one, but it has a cosy warm feel to it, surrounded by the beautiful mountains.

We got snow!

We woke up on December 1st to our first snowfall! Tonnes of snow had fallen overnight, and everything was glistening in the sunlight, it was beautiful! However, unlike Aston, we are sitting our exams before Christmas. I had to cycle in a snowstorm to get to school and to start my revision.  

Celebrations!

On December 5th we celebrated Noel at GEM. Everyone was off timetable from 4.45pm to 8pm. A huge proportion of the university (which has approximately 8000 students and 1000 staff) were enjoying a buffet (which consisted solely of chocolates and clementine!) and live music. It was impossible to move around the building, and hard to hear over all of the noise, but a fantastic celebration!

Following all of the Snow, we decided to take a ski trip to Alp d’Huez. This is a hour away from Grenoble, so we went on the bus and it was easy and cheap to rent skis in the city. Our university organised 12 buses of students one Saturday morning at 7.30 am to take us there for the opening of Folie Douce. We had a great day skiing, and partying at Apres after, and my friends and I decided to stay the night to make the most of the Sunday too – Alp d’Huez is also home to one of the longest pistes in Europe, claiming to be 16KM long!! We were also very fortunate to have over 1m of snowfall on the Saturday night, it was beautiful!

Lights

The run up to Christmas was completed with a trip to Lyon for the Fete des Lumieres which takes place over four days in mid-December. There are 50 light displays, cleverly composed alongside famous music which are shone across the city. Powerful projectors illuminate entire buildings, with dancing shapes, patterns and stories. Over one million visitors come to Lyon for the long weekend to marvel at the displays, and they are amazing! There are so many people and so many things to see, that you would probably have to attend each of the four evenings to see all of the displays!

If you happen to have a chance to visit in your lifetime, I would highly recommend an evening spent here in Lyon.

I have just 12 days to go until the end of my semester here in Grenoble, but I look forward to sharing my experiences from Paris with you in the New Year!

Merry Christmas to you all!

 

Why go abroad for your placement year?

I am currently undertaking my placement year abroad, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences on why you should consider doing a placement abroad.

 

You can conquer a new language! 

The great thing about undertaking a placement abroad is that you can learn a new language!

I am studying and working abroad with the sole intention of improving my French.  I have incorporated speaking French into my daily routine. I deal with my accommodation, bank, doing my shopping and also my classes are in French.

Don’t worry you still get to speak English! Most of my friends are outside of school and are international students. With them, I do speak a lot of English! But, I also have thrown myself out of my comfort zone by attending buddy programmes without my international friends, and this has resulted in me making some real French friends.

 

Or you can learn the basics…

Alternatively, you can work or study in English in another country. I have friends across Europe who are working in English while living in cities from Amsterdam to Barcelona. I am sure that outside of work they try to learn some of their local languages so that they can use public transport and buy their groceries. I know in France, French people really respect you if you try to speak French even if they realise that you’re not French or that your sentences are incorrect!

 

You can see the world! 

I have already mentioned in my previous blog that I have visited some pretty cool places like Grenoble in France, undertaking a placement year abroad is such a great way to explore. My most recent trip was to Lake Annecy which is BEAUTIFUL! With placement year you have some time, some money and no real responsibilities tying you down to go out and explore. It is your opportunity to make the most of every weekend, to visit other friends from Aston who are living abroad and to see some new places.

 

 

 

Learn about a new culture

Living in a country enables you to learn more about the culture present and get a feel of the country rather than hearing it on social media. The most significant thing I have learnt so far is the difference between the French and English education systems. In France, most lectures are 3 hours and 15 minutes long, with a break after the first 90 minutes!

I am attending a business school, and it really does feel like I have gone back to school! I am in a class of 30 people, who remain the same in every lesson. Each group has a different timetable, so I follow my 30 friends from Group A for the semester. The classrooms are set out like you would imagine in a school, and our professor picks on individuals during the lesson to answer his or her questions. The class is mandatory and monitored, and missing lessons results in a mark of 0 for your midterm exams!

Other things you will discover are new foods, customs, traditions and social norms. I have learnt a lot about the local cheeses, wines and the local green liqueur “Chartreuse”.

 

Make new friends 

In my class, all of the students come from French-speaking countries – places in France, Belgium, Chad, Congo, Madagascar and Senegal. I am taking a class to improve my French competencies, and everyone in this class are from China, all hoping to take the Desma exam to prove their fluency in French. My international friends stretch from Australia, Germany, Hungary, Denmark and many of them are American and Irish. I have made friends for life from various countries and have even been invited to visit some of these countries with my new found tour-guides!

 

Have some life experiences 

This could be your once in a lifetime opportunity to try living abroad for six or twelve months. You have no obligation to ever work abroad again if your experience is negative, or you may find somewhere that you absolutely adore and wish to work after university. However, you can only find out about life in a new country by going to live there. I think the first month was where I learnt the most about myself.

I moved into a studio on my own, I knew no-one in my new city and I had a ton of paperwork to do to settle into France. I had to find ways to make friends, speak French with as many people as possible and set up my bank, doctors, financial aid, water, electricity, accommodation without the help and advice of my parents and friends. I also lost my EHIC on the plane which seemed to be a huge problem to resolve and meant I was unable to complete some of my paperwork in the first few weeks – it felt like a weight was lifted when I finally (finally!) received a new card. You find yourself without your close usual support network for a few weeks, and this is when you realise you are strong enough to do anything if you put your mind to it!

Career opportunities 

Following on from my last comment, you will have experienced such a steep learning curve when moving abroad on your own, that you will have endless examples to give in interviews. You will learn to be independent, work in a team effectively and tackle challenges that you had thought were impossible. Secondly, if I haven’t persuaded you yet, maybe you should consider that your work opportunities could effectively be doubled if you have exposure to a second country alongside your exposure to England.

I have had a handful of interviews for jobs in Paris last week and am awaiting a response. I already have friends in Paris and they have told me that they adore it so much that they are already considering working there after university. I can only hope that I will receive a job offer in the next few days so I can experience the excitement and joy of Paris for myself!

 

Why do a placement?

Hi, this is Hannah and I am currently doing a study abroad placement in France! Stay tuned as I will be blogging my placement experience throughout the year!

Why do a placement?

I went to Aston knowing that everyone is encouraged to do a placement year, yet even towards the end of second year, I still had no idea what I wanted to do.

So I’ve put together this list of useful reasons why you may want to consider a placement/study abroad:

 

It can help you to distinguish yourself from other people when you apply for jobs

Employers value students who have undertaken a placement. You will have gained some knowledge of the working world, developed new skills and adapted to a new culture (within your business or your new country) while becoming independent and mature. You will have made decisions for yourself, discovered how you work effectively and efficiently while developing new skills with new softwares or business practices. You can use your experiences as examples to the common interview questions: In what scenario have you been a team player? When have you shown management skills? How do you cope with stressful situations? I know that I can laugh with employers when I explain how I adapted to the French culture or how I overcame the language barrier when working in groups. In all honesty, a placement year is a valuable addition to your CV.

 

You will expand your network and could jumpstart your future career

Your placement could lead to a graduate job if you have impressed your managers throughout the year. If you are an asset to the team then your manager will remember this in the future. Alternatively, by studying abroad, you meet people from all over the world, who have heard of job opportunities across the globe that could interest you. You can use sites such as LinkedIn to connect with people that you meet so that in the future you can use this professional network to regain contact with them and remind them of opportunities for jobs that you discussed months or years ago. Since arriving in France, I have made friends on my course who are native speakers and can help with my CV’s and Cover Letters and who know of internships that are available for me to apply for – from Paris to Montreal.

 

It will be the first time in your life that you have earned a proper salary (or you have an Erasmus grant to spend if you’re studying abroad!)

You’ll finally have some money, and you can treat yourself with it – some people chose to live in nice accommodation for the year or treat themselves to regular meals out, but ultimately most people try to save some of their money. A lot of people decide to travel if they have time in summer before final year, or even after university. If you work or study abroad, then it is so easy and cheap to have multiple weekends away, visiting local towns and cities. I have spent two of my last three weekends in Marseille and in Geneva with new friends, and visiting old friends – I feel like I am on a mini gap year alongside my studies!

If you do decide to do a placement, you will be proving to yourself, your tutors (who most likely will write your first job reference when you leave Aston) and future employers that you are experienced, motivated and ambitious.