Ringing in the New Year with welcome and wishes of success for new exchange students at GEM.

It’s January in Grenoble! Which means snow-covered Alps, and a throbbing GEM campus with students eager to start the new semester after the holidays. The Center for International Affairs is happy to welcome more than 85 new international exchange students onto our Grenoble campus. Most of these students have arrived for a semester long exchange, and this year we have welcomed students from nations all over the globe including Canada, China, the United States, India and Singapore.

The first step upon international students’ arrival at GEM is to start some of the administration processes. For these procedures, the Welcome Desk, a week-long help desk is available for international students during the first week of classes. One of the student-run associations at GEM, called Aloha, is the organization in which most of the students on the welcome team are members. The overall mission of Aloha is to help integrate students throughout the entire school year while promoting different cultures to both international and French students.

According to the team lead of the Welcome Desk, Camille Ortholand, who also serves as the vice-president of Aloha, the object of the Welcome Desk is to help integrate international students into the school as well as in Grenoble and in France, both logistically and culturally, “The Welcome Desk helps students to meet people, to settle, and to just be properly integrated into life in France.”

The Welcome Desk organized several events during the first week. One of the highlights of the week was the first event, which was a networking event for the new international students at a café near GEM. The event helped the students feel welcome and it also allowed them to meet new friends. Camille explained that if she had to think of an event she would want to attend at the beginning of a semester abroad, it would be a gathering like this so that she could begin to meet her colleagues in a comfortable atmosphere. That’s exactly what the new students did at the event, and they quickly began to feel at ease in their new city on the very first day of school.

We got to sit down with Nicolas Gerresheim, an exchange student from Mannheim, Germany, to talk with him about his arrival in Grenoble. Nicolas is currently on a semester exchange within the Masters of Management program of GEM. Nicolas said he choose Grenoble École de Management (GEM) for a variety of reasons.

 A few of Nicolas’ top deciding factors to study at GEM included:

 The school’s good reputation among students, the rankings and the notoriety the programs receive among employers in Europe and worldwide.

  1. The wide variety of programs which allow international students to broaden their expertise or add to their current specialization.
  2. The school’s location in France. Nicolas said he would like to explore France and to improve language skills. He also chose France because of its cultural relations with Germany.

 And his expectations for GEM were high, but the Welcome Team delivered:

 “The events during the welcome week were great. Aloha did a good job.” The highlights of the integration week for him included the Thursday city tour and the social gathering that night. Nicolas said he also really enjoyed the weekend trip to Avignon where he had the chance to meet a few French students and connect further with other international students.

 “The support of the Welcome Desk was very good. They were able to answer all questions.” He said the Welcome Desk was especially helpful for students outside of Europe and it was a good length because students could come back later in the week to finish procedures.

 First impressions of GEM?

 “The school is very modern. The building represents what GEM stands for: innovation and technology. Grenoble has commonalities with Mannheim. It’s a very nice city that offers a high standard of living for students.”

Any words of wisdom to future exchange students?

 His main points of advice for new exchange students are to be prepared as possible with all the necessary paperwork and to lock-in housing for the length of your stay before arrival. He also said that is very beneficial to have some French skills upon arrival.

The semester at Grenoble École de Management is in full swing and we couldn’t be happier to successfully welcome another great group of students from so many different ends of the earth.

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(By Katie Tebbe)

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