Grenoble Ecole de Management

Monday, April 24, 2017

Going to school at Grenoble Ecole de Management has been the most unique education I've ever had. I've never attended such a specialized school where the focus is entirely on business studies. International Business is my major and area of interest so I fit right in. Students here are extremely talented and passionate about business and I've learned a substantial amount from my peers. Every day I feel lucky to be part of Europe's 17th top business school and to be able to take advantage of all it has to offer.

In France college or "uni," as they like to call it, is 3 years long instead of the typical 4 years in America. There are full time students that attend GEM just like at any other university and there's also exchange students. You can be on the French or English track but everyone at the school knows English. In fact, most students you meet here know more than 2 languages which I find fascinating. In America, this is not as common.

My classes are all in English and I take 6 different business courses and a French language class. You are placed on a specific track so you don't choose your classes like at college in the U.S. This I don't mind since schedule planning always made me stressed! The most unique part about how GEM functions is your class schedule changes every week. You never have the same routine and I've learned to embrace this. One week you may have 2 classes every day, while another week it may be just 2 classes during the entire week! When we are given our full schedules for the semester in advance, this makes planning trips very easy. I love looking at my schedule and seeing an entire week open for possibilities!

Since GEM is an international business school, students flood in from around the world. In my classroom there are students of 13+ different nationalities. I think this is the best part about GEM and what makes the education so rewarding. People come from so many different backgrounds, cultures, and religions yet we all come together in one classroom and share who we are and where our home country stands in a business mindset. I cannot begin to explain how much I've learned about the world from my time at GEM. I know so much now about different countries, business practices in them, and about the EU which we really don't learn about in the U.S. It really has opened my eyes to actual global issues and keeps me up to date and informed like I never have before. Basically, I am more than ever being exposed to real life concerns that matter and this experience is what will help me most post-college.

Being surrounded by such bright students and internationally renowned faculty can definitely be intimidating at times, but I know they are helping me grow. During my time here I've done countless group presentations completely eliminating any fears I used to have about public speaking. European education focuses more on group work and team interaction than individual assignments and projects. This produces a more engaging learning process and how to really do business with people from different cultures (again preparation for the "real world!") My school back home as great as it is, could not offer me such an international perspective and context. That is what is so wonderful about studying abroad and expanding your horizons!

Business aside however, students here are truly the life of the party as GEM is known to be a "party school." Everyone I've met here is genuinely welcoming, fun, and knows the proper balance of "work hard, play hard." I've met so many amazing people at this school who have become great friends and acquaintances. There are also numerous student organizations that you can be part of but they are mostly incorporated of French natives. Exchange students may not be members of them but we fully engage in all their fun events, bake sales, and parties.

Overall, I am blessed for my opportunities at this school I've grown so fond of. The 3 hour classes may be tough, but I can always count on their 50-80 cent espresso to-go drinks to perk me up during break time. My experiences at GEM are unfortunately coming to a close now that finals week has approached, but I know I've come a long way since I began my studies here in September. I hope I'm making my home university proud becoming a truly international business student. :)

21 Years

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

21 years... that's quite a lot of memories, experiences, lessons, joys, and times to be treasured. I have been blessed in so many ways throughout my life and am extremely grateful for everyone and everything in it. So, in honor of my birthday this year, instead of 21 shots (oh jeez), I thought I'd write out 21 things I feel grateful for past, present, and future.

  1. My mom and dad. I am half of each of them and life wouldn't be the same without them. They have provided me a wonderful life thus far guiding my path, bringing me up in faith, and showering me with love and opportunities.
  2. My three younger siblings: John, Gemma, and Peter. I am so lucky to be their big sister and to have the memories of growing up together. 
  3. My friends... (you know who you are!) They are all scattered around the world but each one means so much to me and life would not be the same without any of them!
  4. My childhood home. The first 10 years of my life were spent there and only happy memories blossomed from it. 
  5. My elementary school. I owe all I learned and who I have become to the education I received and all the wonderful teachers who helped me grow there. Plus the countless field trips, fairs, and friends made.
  6. Soccer. Since I was 5 I've been part of the best team sport out there which taught me about teamwork, kept me active, and boosted my confidence.
  7. Girl Scouts was also a wonderful group to be part of teaching me life lessons and values.
  8. Living with both of my grandmothers. At the time, I disliked it because it was an enormous age difference but now I know just how special it was. I'm lucky to have them both aged 93!
  9. Vacations spent in Santa Barbara, CA. The best of times. Enough said.
  10. All my relatives: aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family. They make life more fun and it's even more love to go around.
  11. Attending St. Luke School in Indiana. At a big transition in my life, it was a positive atmosphere for me and I made good friends almost immediately.
  12. My long hair. I've never cut it short for a reason!
  13. Camp Tecumseh. 3 fabulous years of going to the best sleepaway camp on earth. I gained so much from my experiences there building my faith, friendships, and skills.
  14. My very first trip abroad. Going to France when you're 15 years old is unforgettable and totally impacted my life.
  15. St. Francis High School moulded me into the person I am today, teaching me valuable lessons and academia, and providing me countless opportunities.
  16. My health. I've been blessed in this way and I'm very grateful.
  17. My Horatio Alger Scholarship Award. Hands down changed the course of my life forever. 
  18. Chapman University. The school who made it possible for me to return to my beloved home state of California. 
  19. Kappa Kappa Gamma. I'd always wanted to be part of a special sisterhood and have gained a lot from my membership.
  20. Grenoble, France. The best year of my life. Can't even begin to describe how it's shaped me.
  21. God. I am eternally grateful to be loved by Christ, to have Him move in my life, and to show me the way. I'd be lost without Jesus.
There are still so many aspects of my life I am grateful for. I can't wait to see what's ahead of me and what God has planned. For now, I'll take each day a step at a time and keep pursuing my dreams. This year as a 21 year old will be the end of my year long study abroad journey, an opportunistic summer, and my senior year of college. Definitely a year of change, reflection, and growth. 

On my 21st birthday, April 13th, I was surrounded by my good friends in Grenoble and was showered with love and positive spirits. The night starting the celebration I was with friends at a local fair and went on the scariest ride ever. I woke up to a spread of croissants and a fresh jus d'orange in my residence's courtyard (the perfect start to any morning!) I then went on a short run. The whole afternoon was spent at my favorite castle Chateau de Vizille where my friends and I had a picnic of bread, wine, and cheese, soaked in the sun, and did handstands. In the late afternoon I spent time with my study abroad group where I was served cake and treats. I took a long nap and almost slept my birthday away when I woke up energized and had a fun party with friends. It may have not been the typical American 21st birthday bash but it was utterly French, memorable, and perfect for me! Happy 21st to me! :)


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nice was very nice indeed! With four other friends, I traveled via BlahBlahCar 
Grenoble-->Nice for a beach vacation! The Cote d'Azur blew me away. Nice features the best of both worlds with the sea and the mountains! The city itself is made up of a multitude of colorful buildings that looks a little crowded but is charming nonethless. The beaches may consist of rocks and pebbles instead of soft sand, but the aquamarine blue water and sunny weather makes up for it. I even got to visit Monaco which I've always dreamed of seeing. All in all, this trip to the southern tip of France exceeded my expectations and I'm still reminiscing...

Our road trip there was unlike any other. Our driver was named Laura and she was a very friendly, accomodating, and talkative lady who shared with us some funny (and interesting) stories. One having to do with her dog (also in the car) who had apparently killed sheep and there was a whole dispute with a farmer... Anyways, she was a character and the expected 5 and a half hour long trip took about 8. But it was all worth it with absolutely gorgeous views of the French alps and countryside out my window. For me it was constant photo snapping while listening to Laura talk away. We also stopped in this picturesque little village for a quick bite at a Boulangerie where I devoured a quiche that tasted like French onion soup inside (may sound weird but it was delicious) and of course a croissant too. She even bought us a coffee since she had been running late earlier. It was an afternoon to remember, but we finally arrived in Nice!

The best part about traveling with others is splitting the cost to live somewhat luxuriously in an Air B&B! Our Nice apartment had pretty views outside, authentic French shutters, and a cosy feel of home. There was a small kitchen and a TV. It was just perfect! 

I loved walking around Nice exploring the old town, strolling by the water, and through the Saturday market. It was beautiful and oh so French. 

Flowers in the strawberries at the local market!
Our day trip to Monaco was unforgettable. Ever since I did a project on Monaco in my French class freshman year of high school, I've always wanted to visit. It's one of the smallest and most expensive countries in the world with a royal family and fancy cars to match the citizens lavish lifestyles. In order to experience just how luxurious and over the top it is, you have to go and see for yourself. I loved walking by the famous Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo Casino, and yacht harbor featuring fancy beach cabanas. Plus, everywhere you look you'll easily spot a Ferari, Lambourghini, or Bentley. I'm not a huge car person but I was amazed nonetheless. We stopped for lunch on the pier surrounded by yachts gazing at the beauty around us. Later in the day I also finally got to see the royal palace of the Rainier family. It was an elegant place and featured the most spectacular views of Monaco. We ended our time in Monaco at a beach, as this trip was meant for relaxing and soaking up the sun!

Panoramic view of Monaco!

Our last full day in Nice was Easter Sunday where I attended mass at the most glorious cathedral in old town decked in white and yellow flowers. The service was in both French and Latin which made it extra confusing, but the songs were joyful, I found time for prayer, and I practiced my French in the pamphlet as church went along. It was truly so special being where I was for one of my favorite holiday's. 

Easter afternoon was spent finding a sandy beach which took much longer than expected but was worth every minute. We ventured through affluent neighborhoods on the coast and walked on a path next to the sea. The water was cold but I sunbathed and relished under the sun amidst perfect views until sunset. A perfect end to the night was hanging out with my friends, getting dinner, and satisyfing our sweet tooths with the BEST ice cream ever which featured so many fun flavors! 

All in all, Nice and Monaco were wonderful and I had an excellent last vacation before heading home in 10 days. What makes a trip of course are the people you spend it with and I loved the accompaniment of my four crazy friends Isabel, James, Andreas, and Alex. We had a bunch of fun together and I think all of us will cherish our shared memories forever! I sure didn't want to leave the warm weather and the beach, but the mountains were calling and sweet home Grenoble was waiting :)