Silly Ideas AND QUESTIONS
I’ll miss my friends from Warwick!
Maybe you will, maybe you won’t but that’s part of the experience. They’ll view it as a wonderful holiday destination! Also, you’ll be surprised about how many people take a year abroad or have a 4-year course, so they’ll be loads of people when you return. And you’ll meet loads of new friends! Finally, I should add I was surprised about how many of my English and German friends with boyfriends went on a year abroad! Skype is magic!
How do I sort accommodation for when I return?
You get told all the information for this by the Erasmus office, but currently you’re guaranteed accommodation on campus for when you return as long as you apply within the given dates (it was November for me). Keep an eye on this!
I’m scared about living abroad!
So is everyone when they turn up! There are over double, maybe triple, the amount of foreign students in Grenoble compared to fresher’s at Warwick. Everyone wants to meet people and despite my words of caution about the French, there are a lot of helpful ones wanting to help all the time! Also, I'm hoping my introduction isn't too shabby because its better than what I had!
Is there an Erasmus Orientation Week before term starts?
One of the main reasons for me writing these pages is because I turned up not really knowing what I got myself into. I kept telling myself I had come for an adventure and managed to drag myself through. There is no Erasmus Orientation Week or nothing that I heard of. Integre organise trips around campus and town but I didn't attend any of these. You have to attend a meeting for all the people at UJF (Université Joseph Fourier), like Maths people, Medics, Biologists etc. Here you need to have a photocopy of your European Health Card and that stops you paying some French Tax. If you don't have a photocopy then there's a 0.20€ photocopying machine on the top floor of the EVE building. In the meeting they tell you about the university, student life, french language tutoring, the different departments, pratical advice and you get a free UJF backpack to make you feel cool. Other than this and the maths introductory lecture, there's not much but this could and probably should change in the next few years.
Despite UJF being really bad at integrating new students, there are other departments and Universities that are a lot better. My English Coloc was at the Science-Po studying politics. At the start of every semestre they have something like two weeks of visiting a different pub/bar every night. I jumped along into some of these, which was great to meet new people. They has had some sort of drinking initiation and a weekend away. I heard that people studying medicine had something similar. Maths does not have anything like this, and the only Maths event I was invited to was a BBQ by people organised by people on the course at the end of the year.
Can you suggest any helpful things to get done before going to Grenoble? Any useful items to bring/not to bring to Grenoble?
As I have mentioned make a massive effort with your French. Then make sure you get at least 10 passport photos done, you quickly use them up. Photocopies of all major documents are always helpful, as a file to keep on you for the first two-three weeks when you sign up for everything. Getting a translation of your passport done in the UK can be free (ask the Erasmus Team) and although I didn't need it you might as well get it done, just in case. I talked about buying skiing stuff in Grenoble so it depends on whether you want to bring your own stuff with you. Other than that, just prepare for the cold weather. I didn't have a cold winter but some nights are still freezing. If you get a bad winter (good for skiing) then you have to be properly prepared - no point spending your Erasmus year with a full-time cold.
How can I find out about current term dates?
Search on the UJF website for their email or the Grenoble Mathematics department (http://www-fourier.ujf-grenoble.fr/?lang=fr) and try and get the contact information of either the third year mathematics receptionist or the current Erasmus Coordinator.
Are you now fluent in French?
I always consider this a silly question. It is more now that I have confidence of living and taking part in a foreign culture including the French language. Furthermore, A-level looks good on the CV but saying that you've lived abroad for a year moves you into a different category.
Do I need to wait until I a student card from UJF before doing everything?
It depends. If you do a summer language course at the CUEF, they will give you a temporary student card and you can use that to get on with administration stuff. Some places accept your English Student Card or a confirmation of attendance that you get from UJF in around June (if I remember correctly).
Can you get food on campus?
There are actually many restuarants on campus. The one I used most often was the Diderot. You have to go there as soon as you have a student card (if you do a language course in the summer they will give you a temporary one so use this) and buy an electronic top-up card. Unfortunately the office is only open in the morning and when term starts it gets stupidly busy. You have to have this eating card to use the University Restuarants and can top up in cash at the office at Diderot or with a bank card on one of the machines. After that, it cost €3 to get a main dish, bread and two choices (a salad, dessert) and this was good value for money in my view. It is definately something that Warwick lacks. These restuarants are only open for lunch and there is a variety of choices at the different ones. One has an organic meal selection, still for €3.
There are also shops where you can get chips, sandwiches and paninis by the tram stop near the maths building. You can also get food near at the Politics "Sciences-Po" which isn't far from the Maths building.
How do I get an IT username? Does the Maths Department have a computer room? Can I connect to the Internet on Campus? Where can you print and photocopy on campus?
When you get your student card from UJF after a meeting with the Maths department receptionist, she will also give you a sheet with the details of your IT password and username. My password was mixture of random numbers and figures and I did change it but can't remember how. When you change your password, it does take a week for it to update. In the meantime, you can sometimes use the username etudiant with password etudiant to log on. In the Maths department there are two computer rooms. Sometimes they are booked out but you can actually print for free there. Obviously, you are not meant to print loads. There also a photocopiny machine in a separate room. Otherwise by the tram stop near the Maths department there is a printing and photocopying shop although this sometimes gets very busy.
I believe that you can connect easily to the Internet on campus using Wi-Fi but I just used the University computers so I'm not the person to ask for this, sorry.
Does the Maths Department have a separate library?
Yes it does. It is nice and quiet but it is not very big, especially the working area, and so I didn't revise there during exam periods as there wasn't much space.
Was this the best Uni year for you so far?
If I hadn't had shoulder problems then without a doubt but I still missed my rugby. I think this says a lot for such a sport obessed person.