Arrival top tips
So… it has been exactly one month since I arrived nervous, frightened and terrified in Grenoble. After a days long journey hopping on one train and then the next, trying to work my way around the Paris Metro and dodging the pick-pocketers (being unlucky and not managing this) I stepped outside of the Grenoble train station and was on my own.
TIP NUMBER 1- Prepare carefully. One thing I have learned is to properly read the fine print. After having booked my accommodation and planned the journey with this address in mind, I shortly received an email from the receptionist of my future living quarters only to tell me that the day I had planned to arrive was not convenient for them and that I would have to pick my key up the following week. Obviously it was too late to change my travel arrangements so distraught and confused I quickly found myself a hotel to stay for the weekend just days before setting off to Grenoble so I wouldn’t be stranded and living on the streets for a couple of nights. This set me back £200, frustratingly it could have been dodged. Something that I wasn’t aware of was the fact that everything in France closes on a weekend. Please remember this if you ever venture to this country with this frustrating cultural difference. So my first few days in Grenoble were spent living out of my suitcase in a hotel room instead of settling into my accommodation.
TIP NUMBER 2- Use your free time in the first couple of weeks to look around, explore and learn the routes and roads of the place. I can’t even count the amount of times I got lost in the city of Grenoble the first few weeks I arrived. I had so many encounters with strangers who tried to help me back to university, or my accommodation or even to a nearby tram so I could get back into the city (god knows how I managed to walk so far out of town). Thankfully in a taxi that I used the first day, I found a pile of maps in the backseat which I kept for later use; these maps are now completely torn and ruined from how much my head was in them the first few weeks. I feel now after a month I can manage without them but I always keep them in my bag just in case I have a tourist moment again.
TIP NUMBER 3- Make everyone your friend. The first couple of days of university would have been horrible if I hadn’t forced my company onto a few people who were in a similar situation as me. Without them I would have been lost. Try your very best to make friends, speak to anyone and everyone because trust me, you will be thankful in the long run, I promise. These people will be your saviour with everything including transport, opening bank accounts and generally there for support and for a coffee from time to time (again you’re going to need it). Sharing experiences helped a lot so be vocal and put yourself out there!
TIP NUMBER 4- this is the last and final tip before I explain some of the positives about my arrival. It’s probably the most important one. Try not to think about home too much. Its very difficult I know, but if you are constantly wondering what your family and friends are doing back home or are feeling low then you won’t push past that and enjoy your time in a foreign country! My homesick level the first week I arrived in Grenoble was the highest it has been throughout my whole three years of university. The reasoning is because everything literally is completely foreign to you. Push past it and I promise it will get better. My homesickness decreased as the weeks went by and the more I found myself. I worked out the best way to get over this and that is- BE SOCIABLE. Sometimes you may have to force yourself to do this but it passes the time and takes your mind off the fact you are missing the comforts of home. Go out to a new place, meet with friends and experience something different. Do not stay alone in your apartment as it will only get worse.
I didn’t have the best arrival, for sure and it did knock my confidence slightly as I felt everything was going wrong but thats life. We have to move on and think that tomorrow will be a better day and it always is! I am so happy here now, I’ve planned trips to nearby cities and countries with my friends for weekends in advance and do a lot of sightseeing. Its very much like being on an endless holiday with some lessons here and there. I am counting down the days until Christmas I won’t lie, but whilst I am here in Grenoble I am making the most of it and thats the best advice I can give. Don’t look back and think I wish I experienced it differently. Bon Chance!
Charlotte Frances Evans