2013 Introduction blog

20 06 2013

Welcome to another year of study abroad in Grenoble France! This year’s group of students went from May 12th to June 10th, 2013.

Take a look around and read the experiences of Southern Illinois University students in the College of Business study abroad program. Every blog entry labelled “Student Voices” is written by a student. I am obsessed with grammar but I try not to edit their entries, so don’t blame me if there are grammatical errors!

Sometimes you may note some additional commentary by me, Dr. Suzanne Altobello. I will often write these as “ALTO NOTES” in bright blue at the bottom of a blog entry.  I have been conducting these faculty-led study abroad experiences since 2003, making the 2013 trip my ELEVENTH year taking students abroad.

Eventually, I will write a book about the most hilarious, most annoying, most amazing scenarios of my trips and students on them. For now, the blog will have to suffice.

Dr. A


Student Voices 2012: SHELBY

11 07 2012

I am writing about the last two weeks of our trip. What I would like to tell everyone about is the trip that the group took to Paris. We were all very excited to be getting to go to Paris as part of our trip. We took the train and that took about three hours to get there. Right after we got off the train we had to meet a bus that was going to be taking us on a tour of the city. The tour lasted for about two hours and we got to see many of the different sites in Paris. After the tour, the bus brought us to our hotel where had about an hour to unpack or grab something to eat, before we were supposed to meet to go on to the Eiffel Tour.

We went to the Eiffel Tour at night so that we could see the light show and see the view from the top of it as the sun was setting. We had about three hours to do what we wanted at the Eiffel tour and after that we were going to meet back at the bottom again. Most of us decided to go up in the tour and we walked all 669 stairs to the second level where then if you wanted to go to the very top you had to take the elevators. The view from the top was unbelievable; a picture just doesn’t even do it justice. After we left the Eiffel Tour we saw a Merry-Go-Round across the street and of course we had to go for a ride. Not everyone can say they have done that!Later that night we went to the part of town where some of the young people hang out (The Latin Quarter) and just went to a couple of bars.

The next morning we woke up and it was beautiful out. We got some breakfast and then headed out on the town. The first place we went that day was to the Notre Dame Cathedral. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. It was the most beautiful church I had ever seen. We were there for about two hours and then we just did some walking around that area. We soon got hungry so we decided to go to the Bastille. There were a lot of different places to eat but we decided on a small place where we could sit inside. We enjoyed a nice long lunch then decided that we wanted to go to a market that was nearby and do a little shopping. The market had all kinds of interesting things for sale; a lot of jewelry, shoes, purses, and art work. After the market we walked to another little street that was just full of little stores to go in so we walked in and out of a couple before we thought we should start heading back to the hotel to get ready for what we were doing that night.

Saturday night we were going to the Moulin Rouge at 11:00. We went to dinner first and then had to get there about an hour early so that we could get good seats. The show was very good and definitely worth seeing and it only lasted about two hours. After the show got over we decided that we should probably get out of the Red Light District, since it is not the safest place to be that late at night.

On Sunday morning we got up and it was raining and kind of cold so we thought it would be the perfect day to go to the Catacombs. The Catacombs was rather busy when we got there and there was about an hour and a half wait to get in. Once you got in, you go down a bunch of stairs that lead you to this small room. In that room there were a lot of pictures that told you about the Catacombs and how they came to be. After that you follow a small dark tunnel to that leads you to where all the bones are. The walls are made of bones and skulls and the floors are muddy and wet. Sometimes it got a little slippery and really dark. You were allowed to take pictures but you could not use the flash so some of the pictures didn’t turn out very well. We were down there for about two hours and then you head back up some stairs. There was a lot more of the Catacombs that we didn’t get to see but it was very interesting and I would recommend seeing that if you ever get a chance.

After the Catacombs we wanted to go to the Louvre Museum but the line was so long when we got there that we didn’t think that we would have enough time to go through it and see everything. We did get our pictures taken in front of the Pyramid though. We decided that we would try the Musee d’Orsay instead. The line there wasn’t as long and was moving rather quickly so we waited in that line. When we got inside, we got to see many Monet’s paintings, but the highlight for me was getting to see Van Gough’s Starry Night! It is not as big as had always thought it was but it was very beautiful. There were many other paintings and sculptures that were also very pretty but nothing quite compared. We were at the Orsay for about two hours and then we decided that we were hungry and wanted to get some gelato. We could not find anywhere to get any gelato so we gave up and found a park where we laid down for a few minutes to rest. After that we thought it was about time to head back to the hotel to get our stuff so that we could make it to the train station on time. When we got back to the hotel ,we were still a little early so we walked across the street to get something to eat at the McDonalds. The funniest thing to us was that we could get a beer with our meals, so of course we all did. After finishing eating we went back to the hotel and got our bags and waited for the bus to take us to the train station. Once at the train station we knew our trip to Paris was coming to an end and it was sad to leave. This was one of the best parts of my entire trip to France and I am very thankful that I got to experience all that I did.

Student Voices 2012: LAMETRIA

9 07 2012

Leaving the country for the very first time was such an experience. Just the plane rides alone were completely surreal. When I arrived to Grenoble, France I still could not believe that I was there. It is such a beautiful place. The mountain view from my hotel room was so humbling and peaceful. To start off, out hotel Caserne de Bonne was a very great hotel. The rooms were up to date in furnishing and style; very comfortable place to stay for the entire month that we were there. Right next to the hotel there was a pretty nice shopping mall and grocery store Monoprix… BUT DON’T GO TO THIS GROCERY STORE! Go to the grocery store up the street called Int

re Marche. It has a wider selection of goods and the prices are much more reasonable.

The welcome dinner up in the Bastille was an amazing experience. We traveled so high up that we had a great view of the entire city of Grenoble. It was beautiful, and then we had dinner. The food here is amazing, if you know what to try; but try EVERYTHING!

We went to a neighboring town Annecy, about 30 minutes away where we got a guided tour of the city and then had a big feast at a local restaurant! This was a restaurant where they served you raw meats and you cook it yourself on the cooker that’s at your table. They served us so much food it was ridiculous! Annecy was amazing. Then there was zip lining in the rain forest. This was one of the most fun planned activities of the entire trip! If you’re afraid of heights, as I am, STILL DO IT! It was so much fun.

France was amazing and all these activities I’ve just informed you about took place in just the first week! If you’re debating about attending this study abroad trip in your near future, let this blog be your deciding factor! Please go! It was worth every dollar… or euro LOL 😉

Picture 1- Me over Grenoble (Welcome Dinner)

Picture 2- Zip Lining

Picture 3- Best dish I had in France (Alfredo pasta with smoked salmon)

Picture 4- Annecy, France

Student Voices 2012: STEPHANIE

3 07 2012

While spending a month in France, the thing I enjoyed most was our weekend trip to Paris! When we first arrived in Paris I was super excited because I’ve always wanted to go to Paris.  The first thing we did when arriving in Paris was took a bus tour around the city.  After that we checked into our hotel and made our way to the Eiffel Tower.  We walked up 669 steps to the second platform and had to take the lift to the top.  When we arrived at the top it was beautiful.  I only dreamed about actually visiting the Eiffel Tower so it was a dream come true.  The view was amazing and I was really excited to have been up there.  After leaving the Eiffel Tower, some friends and I made our way to the Moulin Rogue.  The Moulin Rogue was a fun experience and cool Broadway type show, only with topless girls.  The next morning we got up and made our way to the Notre Dame cathedral, It was beautiful as well and we just toured the inside for a bit and after leaving did a little shopping.  That same night we attended the Kanye West and Jay Z Watch the Throne tour, which was EPIC! I had already attended the concert in Chicago but in Paris it was 10x better.  The concert to me was not only the best thing I experienced in Paris, but in France as a whole.  Now that brings us to the last day. That Sunday we went to the Louvre museum, which is huge! We only saw a few sections of the museum because it was way too big.  One thing we did see was there was the Mona Lisa.  It was crazy how people were surrounding the portrait and eager to see it.  I mean it was cool and all but those people were crazy.  After leaving the museum there wasn’t too much else to do so we just killed time until it was time to board the train back to Grenoble.

Student Voices 2012: JESSICA

3 07 2012


1)Roman Ruins
2) Astronomical Clock at Saint Jean
3) Me & zebra at Parc de la Tete d’Or

On Saturday May 26th myself and 3 other girls headed to Lyon, France for our 3 day weekend. It took my roommate, Shelby, and I forever to figure out what we wanted to do on this weekend but it turned out to be the right choice. Stephanie joined us and we invited the “new girl” Alex to come as well.

It started with the train ride. I was excited that we booked a hotel 5 minutes from the train station. Turns out we entered into the wrong train station and we ended up having to take a taxi 15 minutes to our hotel. During check in, we discovered how nice the people who owned the hotel were. They were very helpful in telling us where to shop, eat and drink. We were barely in our hotel rooms for 10 minutes before we headed to the shops. This is when I started getting a little shoe crazy. I told Shelby to keep an eye on me when shopping to make sure I didn’t buy another pair of shoes. She ultimately failed and I left Lyon that weekend with 4 new pairs. The following day the ladies and I were determined to see what Lyon had to offer. We asked the woman at the front desk about Parc de la Tete d’Or. She jumped from her seat and rushed over to a giant map on the wall and showed us how to get there. She described the park as “magnificent.” Indeed it was. I was blown away by the amount of land and beauty. We started by walking through the rose garden. I had no idea how many different kinds of roses existed. It was gorgeous. Then we made our way through the zoo. All the animals were out and showing off which made for great pictures! Giraffes posed, alligators were like stone out in the open, pelicans were close enough to touch and monkeys swung from the tops of their cages. Then we moved on to the botanical gardens which was full of green houses and thousands of species of plants and fungi. I have never been to a park to large that offers all these great things and for FREE!

The day was only half over at this point. It was time to cross the rivers and trek up to the churches and ruins. The first stop was Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste. I walked into this church and immediately got goose bumps. The stained glass brought tears to my eyes, which I tried to hold back to avoid embarrassment. The Cathedral was more amazing then I could have imagined and brought a new meaning of Catholicism to my faith. I dropped a couple euro into the donation box and lit a candle with prayers for my late uncle and grandfather. Sad to leave, we started our trek up Fourvière Hill to Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. On our way up it began to drizzle but I was firm in my desire to see the next church. While this church did not move me like the other, I did get to witness mass in progress, which was wonderful. On our way down the hill we stopped at Theatres Romains de Fourviere. These ancient amphitheatres have special meaning to me because of my love of theatre and the arts. I was ecstatic to learn that Lyon is in the process of restoring the amphitheatres and use them for their original purpose of plays and concerts. Night was starting to creep on us at this point and we started our way back to the hotel. I left with a rosary, pray cards, beautiful pictures, and irreplaceable memories.

The rest of the weekend was made up of a night of drinking, and more spectacular shopping at Lyon Part-Dieu shopping center which houses over 300 stores.

We were ready to head home to Grenoble, seeing as how our feet ached and we were out of money. This was the best weekend I spent in France. Lyon is a beautiful city with so much to offer.

Student Voices 2012: ALI

3 07 2012


Our second day in Grenoble, we went to the Bastille and had an amazing welcome dinner.  This was pretty much my first culinary experience on the trip.  There were many to follow.  When we first got there we were given an aperitif which we learned is a before dinner drink.  It was yummy!  Our first dish came and we enjoyed salmon carpaccio.  At first, we were all a little apprehensive about trying it, but after some encouraging words, we all tried it.  I loved it.  I couldn’t get enough.  The main dish was an amazing chicken with a yummy sauce.  The sides were a carrot puree, and another veggie that I did not like.  I think the chicken was the most amazing thing I had ever eaten though.  The dessert was some fruit dish that was pretty good as well.  After the meal some other girls and I decided to enjoy a digestif.  This is an after dinner drink that is usually a harder drink.  We thought we ordered one drink but I’m pretty sure we accidentally ordered Limoncello, which was fine because it was delish.  After the dinner we went out and experienced a little bit of Grenoble’s night life.  All in all, it was an amazing night, and it was the perfect welcome to France!

Student Voices 2012: MEGAN

3 07 2012

My entire experience in France was completely breathtaking and I am so grateful I got the opportunity to go on this trip.  However, I would really like to take the time to recognize one part of the trip and that was the 3-day weekend I spent in Lyon with all of my best friends.  It was Sally, Ashley, Carly, and I all traveling together, but then we met up with Nick, Alec, and Billy.  It was honestly the most perfect group because we realized how well we all get along.  When we first arrived in Lyon, I was completely astonished by the beauty of the city.  Hands down one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to.  I am extremely happy we chose to go there for our long weekend.

Both our French history teacher and Odile told us about how awesome of a city it is and if we get the time then we should definitely check it out.  The French teacher told us that it is the food capital of France; therefore, I was practically already sold.  One of the greatest things about Lyon is that almost every person speaks English when you go to a restaurant.  One afternoon, the four of us girls went to lunch on a boat overlooking an extremely beautiful part of the city.  They had the best salmon bruschetta; it was a piece of toasted bread with salmon spread all over it and then melted cheese right on top of that, served with a salad.  Another thing that I loved was there kebab stands, they were by far better than any other place I have ate one.  The meat was not dry at all like it usually is at other places, it tasted almost as if they use different meat in their kebabs, rather than the meat they used in Grenoble.  I was in heaven while I was eating it, I looked as if that was the first time I’ve put a piece of food in my mouth in four years.  Lastly, one night Nick and I went out to dinner at this exquisite French restaurant called L’Ouest.  Everyone was extremely friendly and they all spoke English as well, so that made it easy to communicate with our waiter.  I ordered this delicious piece of meat, I cannot remember exactly what it was, but it tasted phenomenal.  It was also really nice because if you didn’t finish a bottle of wine that you purchased, they gave you a little carrying case to take it home with you.  Overall, Lyon had some of the best food I have ever eaten in my entire life.

The nightlife in Lyon was another exceptional part of the trip as well.  There was this huge strip of bars and clubs near the hotel the boys were staying at.  The bars were open until 1:00 a.m. just like the bars all over France.  However, the clubs were open until the odd hours of the night, no matter what day of the week it was.  What we usually enjoyed doing was going to a bar for a few casual drinks and then heading over to the clubs.  The best clubs were the ones that were on these huge yachts.  There was one club that I especially loved; we went there our first night in Lyon to celebrate Alec’s birthday.  It was five stories and each level was a different type of music, we thought that was really neat.  I am pretty sure we made Alec have an awesome birthday that night, which made me happy.  After this weekend, the seven of us all became best friends.  Generally, the night life in Lyon, France was excellent all the time.

The shopping and the sightseeing was also extraordinary.  We went to several different cathedrals while we were there; not to mention, the best cathedral was at the top of a mountain that we climbed over 500 stairs to get to the top.  The view from the top was absolutely beautiful, looking over the entire city.  We spent the entire day on Monday shopping because they had some of the nicest little shops.  In Lyon Centre Ville were some of the cutest little stores to buy almost anything.  They had a bunch of really nice souvenirs as well, so I picked up some of those.  I also bought a cute purse and some sandals, which were an extremely good deal.

In conclusion, Lyon was one of the most extraordinary cities I have ever visited.  I felt as if it was the Chicago of France and Paris was more closely tied with New York City.  Some of the best food I got to experience while I was in Lyon, plus some of the best clubs too.  I think that if I were to have to pick one place out of the entire trip to go back to, I would without a doubt pick Lyon.  One of the best weekend of my life and once again, I am very happy I got the opportunity to go on this trip and meet some of the most amazing people ever that I know I will stay friends with forever.