Student Voices 2012: ROSS

3 07 2012

Going to a new country for the first time is an experience in itself. But visiting a hospital in another country, well that is an experience at a whole other level!

What started as an ear infection, no thanks to getting a cue-tip stuck in my ear, turned into a thrilling adventure of strep throat to eventually tonsillitis. And I say” adventure” because that is exactly what it was; a week’s worth of doctor visits to a foreign doctor who can speak little English, three trips to the pharmacy to only receive medication that did not even work in the end, and ultimately a trip to the hospital that ended up lasting for three whole nights! A heads up for those who have not had tonsillitis, it is not fun! It is like strep throat on steroids. It is almost impossible to swallow, at least if you get it as bad as I had it. I never thought I would be able to go 3 days without eating or drinking any fluids, but I learned that anything is possible when a curse hits you. Just a friendly tip, get your tonsils out while you can.

Now I have been to the hospital many times, but never have I had to stay for an overnight visit. I knew right away that it was going to be an experience, knowing that the first time I would be staying in a hospital overnight was going to be in a foreign country. I was a little nervous at first when the doctor told me that I would have to stay for the night, which I later would find out would be three nights. Upon arrival I was taken to a room and hooked up to an IV, which was also a first for me. After that, I was taken up to the third floor (orthopedic floor) to have more tests done to me. The tests were running smoothly until the final test came, running a camera down my throat. Now I did not think much of it at first, but when they told me that they would be sticking this “snake” looking camera down my nose and to my throat I became a bit concerned. Having a camera shoved through your nose down your throat is not a fun task, and breathing out of your nose instead of your mouth is not as easy as the nurses demand!

After about an hour of tests being performed on me, I was finally taken to my room. Fortunately, I had a room to myself too. The room was a typical patient room, but held a beautiful view of the mountains outside the window, which was different from any other hospital I have visited. Other than that, and the language spoken of course, everything was quite similar to what a hospital is like in the US; the food sucked, the beds were not very comfortable, and a nurse would come check in on you every so often.

The first night at hospital was not fun. I had no computer, a dead phone, and not even a book to read. It was a long night of boredom to say the least. Fortunately, the next day I received my computer, charger for my phone, and a book, so boredom was starting to become less frequent. However I was woken abruptly that morning to doctoral students surrounding my bed. This was not the most pleasant wake up, especially hearing students talking and not even knowing what they are saying!  I was still very uncomfortable at this time too and was not able to swallow, which meant no food and not necessarily a bad thing either. The steroids would eventually kick in allowing me to eat the next day, and this is when I found out how nasty the food would be, with an exception of the bread.  I was really hoping I could leave at this point as I was starting to feel better and anxious to visit Paris, but the doctor insisted that I stay at least one more night. I did not like hearing the “at least” because if I needed to stay two more nights that would mean missing out on the Paris trip. Fortunately with some pushing from Dr. Nasco and our student assistant Catherine, I was indeed able to leave, which was a huge relief. That Friday morning I was feeling much better thanks to the steroids and anxious to finally leave the hospital and head to Paris! It was a great way to end my hospital visit in France.


Student Voices 2012: ALEC

3 07 2012

It’s hard to choose one specific thing to write about from the trip to France. While I was given just the first two weeks to choose from, the number of experiences jammed packed into a single day are enough to write 5+ pages about. With that being said, I decided to write about our weekend excursion to Lyon, because for one, it was my favorite weekend, and two it was my birthday weekend.

To start off I want talk a little about the planning and research that it took to make this an enjoyable experience. When Dr. Nasco or whoever else tells you to start planning your free weekend months in advance you should most definitely listen. It was a serious mission to determine the location of where we wanted to go. Then once we finally were able to decide that, we still needed tickets to get there, and then a hotel to stay in once we got there. So I will tell you again… plan ahead, because as the date gets closer the price gets higher and the flights become more and more limited. I just remember sitting in class looking around at everyone and seeing no one paying attention, because everyone was scrambling to find trains or hotels or whatever else they could get. Granted it was a holiday weekend so travel was slightly more expensive than normal. I seriously spent hours and hours looking at hotels on Expedia, Hotwire, Hostelworld, you name it looking for the best deal in the best location. Then finally at midnight the day before we left, and after a few glasses of wine, I found the Boscolo Grand Hotel on It was perfect! It was in the center of Lyon, half a block from the best bars, and near all of the best restaurants. I jumped on it as soon as I saw it and recommended Nick and a few others to check it out and book a place there too… which they were able to do the next day, right before we left. We seriously lucked out on our trip. We had a short train ride, a classic French hotel, and plenty of sick activities and excursions we could hit up in the area. So we left Grenoble excited for the good times we were about to have.

It started off with an enjoyable train ride in which Nick, Billy and I split a waffle that Nick got out of a vending machine (super fire!) that I would highly recommend to anyone. Then once we arrived we took a short taxi ride to our hotel, which turned out to be right on the Rhone River. When Billy and I got into our room two things stood out: we had a bidet, and we also had a balcony that had a view of the river. It was pretty epic. It was turning into a very solid weekend and was about to get even better at midnight, once I turned 22 years young. S we did a little pre-game session in Nick’s room, where we made Absinthe Mojitos… not the best idea because, as we later found out, we had low quality absinthe. You can tell its low quality by the black licorice taste to it, as opposed to white absinthe, which is much more smooth (and dangerous). Then after getting a nice little buzz on we decided to hit up the Q-Boat. Which is basically three bars in one, located on a barge that floats on the Rhone River, and was only about a block from our hotel. The Q-Boat was an absolute blast thanks to Megan and Nick and their generosity! Because it was my birthday they felt obligated, to my opposition of course, to keep buying my drinks all night. I really appreciated it and thank them a ton for turing my birthday evening into a night to remember. Of course I need to leave details out, but I will say we had quite the night. I think we wound up leaving the boat around 4 am and let me tell you… we were starving! This is something I should point out in France: there are very, very few places to get food after about 10pm, so eat early and plan ahead! However, this night was an exception because as we were walking back from the boat we came across a food vendor that was parked alongside the river. He was dressed in traditional French attire and served the most delicious panini like subs with the french fries stuffed in them. It sort of makes my mouth water just thinking about them. What was really cool is the fact that this guy had been doing this same routine every weekend since 1983, and you could definitely taste the experience!

The morning of my birthday was probably one of the most enjoyable of all the days I had in France. Billy and I, to our surprise, felt great when we woke up. So we decided to walk around a bit and find some food. Of course it was an awkward hour when they weren’t quite serving breakfast anymore and weren’t quite ready for lunch. These odd hours are difficult when you are really hungry! We decided to give up on a cafe and walk over to the river, where we had ate the subs the night before. There we stumbled upon a market that was set up alongside the Rhone. It was absolutely the best thing imaginable at that point in time. We got hunks of cheese, olive spread, egg rolls (sooo good), bottles of wine, bottles of juice, and a few other random items to max on… it was a perfect situation. Billy and I left there with grocery bags full of goodies. We met back up with nick at the hotel and maxed out on our food and drank a few glasses of juice. Then from there we deiced we should check out the rest of Lyon. So we left the hotel on search of the Roman ruins that we had heard Lyon was famous for. Little did we know, when we started the journey, the ruins were at the very top of this mountain that overlooked Lyon. As we were making our climb up the streets to the top, in the blazing sun I might add, our hangovers started to kick in in full effect. It started to slow us down and we contemplated stopping and turning back… then all of a sudden a taxi came cruising by. Saved! I hailed it… which you can’t do in Paris for some reason… and we had the guy take us to the very top. There he dropped us off at an outlook next to a classic Roman Cathedral that had been built in the 1600’s. A truly magnificent piece of architecture. From there we hiked a bit down the road to an old Roman amphitheater. It was so cool to see these ruins and the roads around them. It really is amazing to see ruins, buildings, and other structures that were built such a long time ago… and it became something that I really appreciated about Europe in general. The history and culture that you are able to experience, that Americans just don’t get in the U.S., when you walk do a street in Europe is amazing. I could go on further with the appreciation that I have and also the great time I had in Lyon but I feel as though I have said enough.  As I said before though, I could right a book on all the great experiences I had in France because with everyday came a jammed packed load of great times. I am just glad to have been able to go, see the things I saw, and meet the great people that went as well. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!

Our 2012 Adventure Begins

3 07 2012

Here we are: May 2012.

Another year, another group of at least two dozen SIU College of Business students to Grenoble France! THIS IS MY TENTH  ANNIVERSARY AS AN SIU PROFESSOR AND MY TENTH YEAR TAKING STUDENTS ABROAD! 

It’s been an exciting decade and this trip is what I look forward to most each year. Past participants have become life-long friends and I always love it when I get to introduce my study abroad “alumni” to each other and they start talking about what they did their year, their best memory, etc. All counted, I think I’ve taken almost 350 students with me!

We’ve had quite a few changes in the trip from the last year. I’ll detail them here.

  • We had 27 undergraduates participate in the first four week session in International Strategy and International Marketing (from May 12-June 10)
  • 4 undergraduates participated in a new Fashion Merchandising program (1 of whom came for the last two weeks of International Marketing and the first two weeks of Fashion)
  • 2 MBA graduate students participated in a four week session in Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship
  • This year, the MBA Marketing Director, Jenni came with us as a trip facilitator for the first two weeks (and came to the last night graduation banquet).
  • This year, all students made their own airline travel arrangements. In the past, all of my students traveled together on a group airline ticket, which posed many problems, primarily regarding people who dropped out of the program before the trip who then had an airline ticket issued in their name, people who wanted to leave from Chicago vs. those that wanted to leave from St. Louis, and people who wanted to stay in Europe after the program for independent travel. We provided a list of “preferred” flights for the students and arranged for their transportation from Lyon, France to Grenoble via bus.
  • We all stayed in the same hotel: The Residhome Caserne de Bonne in Grenoble, France, a previous military barracks. Check it out; it’s fantastic!

I hope you enjoy the Student Voices 2012 blog entries: they are written by the students with very little editing by me.

Bon Voyage!

Dr. Suzanne Altobello Nasco

The 2011 College of Business Study Abroad Trip….8 days til takeoff

7 05 2011

We leave in 8 days for our 2011 College of Business Study Abroad trip! This year, we will leave the Saturday after final exams (instead of the Tuesday after graduation). It will be the first time in 9 years that I will not be attending Southern Illinois University’s Spring Commencement excercises. I will miss congratulating our graduates.

Last night, I attended the College of Business Department of Marketing’s graduation banquet and 5 students from previous study abroad trips were there. We talked…for HOURS! The relationships that I form with these students is truly priceless and I’m excited to begin new relationships with the students that are going this year.

We have 18 undergraduates and 6 MBA students attending the program at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business this year. In this blog, you will hear the voices of all of the undergraduates. I’m sure I can convince the grad students to contribute too. I can be persuasive like that!

I’m excited to see our wonderful friends in Grenoble, to go to the restaurants (La Frise) and bars we always visit (bonjour, D’Enfer Pub!), to drink the wine (I prefer a lovely Côtes du Rhône)….but most of all, I am excited to share the beautiful city of Grenoble, the joy of international travel, and the transformative experience of living in another culture with my students.

Here’s to a wonderful trip! Please check back often. You can also follow me on Twitter (@snasco) for more current updates. (The students will be creating Twitter accounts as part of their Mobile Marketing/Social Media course when we get there, too!)

Student Voices: DAN

1 08 2010

La Ville de Grenoble

A month in France, who wouldn’t want to do experience it?! And to stay in Grenoble, a sprawling city, with historic culture and buildings, surrounded by the French Alps, was surreal. We stayed in a four star hotel while we were there called Caserne de Bonne, which used to be a 19th Century French military barracks, with an amazing view of the Vercors and Belledonne Mountains. The hotel itself was situated right along one of the main roads of town, Boulevard Gambetta, that offered an easy route to many places that we ventured to as well as helped to find your bearings at night.

Once arriving in town it took only a few days to get a good feel of direction and you quickly recognize landmarks such as the fountain, Quick Burger (The Quality Burger Restaurant-think McDonald’s and a little taste of home, if you need it), and La Bastille to the north on the hill. The walk to the school took roughly 15 minutes, though there were bikes you could rent for I believe only twenty euro for the month that I, along with a few others, thought about doing until realizing that everyone didn’t mind the walk and it really wasn’t bad. That and right along the walk, as well as around the school for lunch, there were some great quick little places to eat. Some even became our groups’ favorites like Bat-Man (yes batman!) for kebab sandwiches, Blue Box for the French’s version of tacos, and a little quesadilla joint that was a little different then we have here in the U.S. but also very good.

Grenoble also offered many things to do for sightseeing and daytime adventure along with many historical sites. The school is actually located right next to The World Trade Center of Grenoble, so a very easy place to see, and will almost definitely pass at some point due to being also directly next to the train station. If you are into flea markets, or at least want see the French version of one, you can head to the St. Bruno church before 1300 or 1 p.m. everyday, where they have some really great finds, such as a really cool (if I do say so myself) white jacket that I bought or necessities like converter plugs or hair dryers for the girls. Probably the most impressive and historical place in the city is Fort de la Bastille, located just north of the city center and overlooking it from atop a mountain. There are two ways to get to the fort: take the telepheriques, “the bubbles”, as they are commonly referred, or take the long windy hike which passes by the Musee Dauphinois and also leads to a strenuous staircase for the more daring of the hikers. I highly recommend taking a day trip to the fort as many of us did our first Saturday there. We all brought a picnic of fruit, bread, meats, and wine and ate at the top of the fort, overlooking the entire city. I can’t even begin to tell breathtaking the view was with mountains surrounding us all around and the clear sky above. Oh and I almost forgot the French Circus we went to with trapeze artists, circus horses, elephants and all! But I would love to forget the French Circus hot dog I got there; I should have stuck with the fries!

For those into nightlife, we found many local pubs – with the help of Mr. Nasco and Dr. Nowlin – who took on a “Bar Discovery Tour”, or what I like to call a “Mandatory Bar Crawl” (lol). The D’Enfer was, the rugby bar, was one of our favorites, along with Sun Valley, Bukkara, and La Couche Tard. There were also a few afterhour nightclubs that on a more free night some were inclined to go, especially Vertigo, where you may be at least a little surprised to see how the French people dance together, if your not familiar to the French customs or dance etiquette to put it sparingly. If the pubs are not what you are looking for there are also Original Version movie theaters that you can catch the newest flicks that are in cinemas in the U.S., as well as some local bands that play in various places around the city like the reggae band that I saw advertised everywhere I went.

Grenoble was such a great place to spend a month in France. The great city structures and old architecture of the buildings were simply incredible. The view of the French Alps that surrounded the city was amazing. The people that gave Grenoble much of its culture along with the mix of Italian, French, and Mediterranean ethnic influences were very pleasant and immersing with them expanded my French skills a great deal. I would definitely recommend studying abroad at the Grenoble School of Business to anyone.

Student Voices: STEVEN

1 08 2010

I would have liked to talk about our trip to Nice, because that was the most fun I had over the trip, but J Buckets (Jonathan) already covered that.  Annecy was also very awesome, but L Train (Lindsay) beat me to that, so I have decided to just give a brief overview of my thoughts, opinions, and exploits of the general France nightlife

Upon arriving in good ol’ Grenoble, as I like to call it, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I didn’t really know what to think, how to act, where to be, or how to get there.  What I did know, is that this was an opportunity that I was not going to let pass me by with out fully experiencing it.  The first thing many of us did was picked up some of the bare necessities from the grocery store, ya know, beer, wine, maybe a bottle of booze, whatever floats your boat.  As I walked to the back of the grocery store I laid my eyes on a beautiful site, a case of beer, but not just any case of beer, Kanterbrau beer.  From the instant I saw it I knew it was love at first site, and we would have a beautiful 4 week relationship.  Okay, sorry, to get back on topic. 

After finishing off about 10 to 12 of those pretty little 8 oz green bottled Kanterbrau’s, I and whatever soldiers wanted to take the on the night, would make our way out on the town.  Through out the weeks many KB’s were drank and many bars were infiltrated by the SIU crew.  I enjoyed most of the bars, including the rugby bar, sun valley, but the one I visited most often I can’t seem to remember the name of it…but it’s a bar, what do you do in bars? Drink heavily, what does drinking heavily do the memory? Deteriorates it, so stop sweatin’ me.  Maybe one of my classmates remembers I’m sure Jonathan does, that may have been where he met his “Lady Friend.” 

Obviously one of aspect of “night life” is communicating with other bar patrons, or what you might call “sptting some game.”  This proved to be very, very difficult due to the language barrier.  It’s hard enough not sounding like a drunken idiot when talking to an attractive girl at pinch penny pub in our native English language, let alone attempting to talk to a pretty French girl in a bar you don’t know, and in a language you’ve never learned.  But do you think that stopped me from trying?  Nope, sure didn’t.  Every once in a while you could find some people who spoke good to decent English and you could make it work, but often, in my case, it would go something like this:  Bonjour, Parlez vous anglais? No. Au revior.  That being said every night I did go out, I enjoyed it.  Got to experience chartreuse, underwear in a gumball machine, the beverage known as desperato, and interesting outdoor bathroom/porter potty/drains things.

Now I would like to talk about my disappointing nightlife experience in the almighty Paris.  I went in thinking it was going to be awesome, and it was okay I guess, but not quite awesome.  One of the nights there me and a couple guys got all dressed up and went to the Eiffel Tower, had a great high class dinner, then attempted to hip up a night club.  I’m not much of a nightclub kind of guy to begin with, but I was in Paris so I was willing to give it a shot.  We first walked around for what seemed to be forever, hopping on and off of the subway.  Finally we found the place we were looking for and get in line, the line is moving rather quickly so I’m starting to get a little excited.  We get to the first large bouncer station and move on.  However, things didn’t go so smoothly at the second bouncer station, the guy takes a good look at us and opens up the rope, unfortunately it wasn’t the rope to get in the club, it was the rope to get out of line because they weren’t going to let us in.  Why you ask? Because we didn’t have enough girls in our group.  I understand that pretty girls are good for business, but nonetheless I took it as a personal slap in the face from Paris, like it was trying to say, “Steve you’re not good enough for this night club.”  That being said, I will never return to that nightclub again, especially when I am rich and famous, because I do hold grudges…take that Paris.  All kidding aside, I did really enjoy Paris, just wish I had more time to give Paris a chance to redeem itself, as 2 days just wasn’t enough.  I guess after living in Carbondale for 4 years, I have grown accustomed to the slow life, so I was a little excited to return to Grenoble for the last week.  So all in all the nightlife was pretty awesome.  Overall I had an amazing trip, I don’t think I could have asked for a better time with a better group of people.

Student Voices: JOHNNA

1 08 2010

When we arrived in Grenoble, France it seemed like we had so much time.   Immediately after arrival, we began exploring and venturing off to discover as much as possible.  Unfortunately, there never seemed to be enough time to see everything.  Although our schedule always seemed to be overflowing with places to visit and wonderful cultural experiences to try, there was still all the rest of France.

            I was eager to experience discover other parts of the country and to experience as much diversity and culture of France as possible.  Fortunately, we were granted one free weekend to travel wherever we wanted.  I was lucky enough to have a very hospitable friend, Anthony, who also attends SIUC as a student, but resides permanently in Antibes, France.  He hosted me for the weekend and I ended up having the best two days in France I could have ever hoped for.

            After a group trip to Annecy, I departed a little early on a train headed south for seven hours.  Although the trip seemed to go on forever, I was able to pass through numerous cities and the most beautiful countryside.  It ended up being a wonderful way to see more of the country.  I arrived around 10:00pm at the train station in Antibes and was overjoyed to find my friend waiting for me, I hadn’t been able to reach him by phone to tell him my arrival time. (Only one more time Facebook has made my life ohhh so much easier). 

            On my first night in Antibes, I met many of Anthony’s close friends who were incredibly kind to me and luckily were also very forgiving of my terrible french.  They were extremely hospitable and even fed me cake and introduced me to many other French delicacies.  That same night we drove to Cannes where I met more of his friends who made me feel welcome.

            The following morning, after taking two of the friends I’d met the previous night to the Nice airport where they were flying out of to Paris for a wedding, Anthony and his friend, Flo, took me on the most fabulous drive.  We spent the entire day driving along the coast and through other gorgeous cities all the way to Monaco.  It was stunning.  From the backseat of their convertible, I rotated in circles capturing everything with my camera. 

            We made a stop in the French Rivera on the way to our destination where we walked down what seemed like hundreds of stairs to a beautiful, isolated beach known as Eden Plage Mala.  We rested shortly at an outdoor restaurant surrounded by gorgeous cliffs and ocean, which made for a marvelous view everywhere you looked.  Continuing our trip, we arrived at our destination in extravagant Monaco where we wandered around sightseeing and eating ice cream.  I couldn’t believe I was so very, very lucky.

            After we got back that night, a group of their friends came over to Anthony’s and cooked a meal consisting of French specialties so that I could experience “true” French cuisine.  Unfortunately, their generosity was wasted on me, whose favorite foods are often listed on the children’s menu.  After making sure I tried almost everything from the duck liver to escargot, I finally appreciated the French’s consistent abundance of bread and cheese.

            After dinner, we continued our night in a city a short distance from Antibes where they showed me an incredible night out which didn’t end until the early hours of the morning.  I was only allowed a short nap before Anthony took me to the train station to head back to Grenoble.  The long ride back was a mixture of short naps and the torture of catching up on all the homework and projects I’d put off working on over the weekend.  Although I only managed a couple hours of sleep that night, it was beyond worth it for such an unforgettable experience.