GEM has welcomed another round of fresh incoming students from all over the world in January 2015.
For every intake period, the Welcome Desk, organized by the International Student Integration Service and with volunteers from ESC, GGSB and Aloha team, helps international students in GEM and in its associative activities to go through all the administrative procedure when studying in France and at GEM. These services include school registration, housing, insurance, immigration, banking and CAF information which are the formal procedure all the incoming students have to go through.
In addition, the Welcome Desk will offer both daily activity and city culture tour, such as pick-up service, temporary housing service, showing students how to go for furniture, to enjoy a typical French breakfast, or to participate in a trip to Grenoble city center or Lyon, etc. The purpose of those services are not only to make the incoming students feel at home and get adapted quickly but also discover the amazing features in or near Grenoble.
Comparing to the August/September intake of 2014 which accommodated more than 400 incoming students and lasted four entire weeks, the January intake is relatively a shorter period of one week to serve around 100 intakes.
“We have the Welcome Team Volunteer Program. We are also making full use of the January intake period to train our new team members to prepare them for the switch of the August/September intake in 2015. Because when I participated in the team to provide service in the first place, I was overwhelmed by too much information. To have the new members to be well-prepared is very important to make sure we are able to continue provide better service to the incoming students” said Nino Rowlands, team leader of the Welcome Desk.
Nino and his team work very closely with Ana Cecilia MAUCHAMP, the International Student Services Coordinator, for meetings and discussion on how to improve the services. “Our preparation started a year ahead before all the new intakes came to France and GEM. We prepared different fact sheets with necessary information that the students need to know. Last year, we took advantage of the Cloud to put relevant materials online to facilitate students to access information more easily.” said Ana Cecilia.
“The biggest problem for the new intakes to solve is the housing, especially for the August/September intakes.” said Nino. In France, for incoming students, it is a normal procedure for a landlord/landlady to ask for a guarantor but most of the international students don’t have that. While all the residence is full and not able to provide enough places for the students, it is a real headache. Another issue is immigration. As in France, there is some kind of paperwork and procedure to go through in order to get the resident’s permit. Sometimes the students just need to be patient and wait for the next move. “Our service doesn’t stop after the Welcome Desk service time. If students have other request or questions, such as reading a French letter from the bank or other service offices or making free copy for documentation, they could come to us as well.”
Article written by Miki Lin for the Center for International Affairs.