La vie à Grenoble: What could go wrong?

By: John Chmilar

Grenoble, France, as seen from La Bastille

We have all heard about the student who went abroad for a semester and came back and tells stories about how it “totally changed their life”. It happens because of all the problems you face!

The first thing I realized upon arriving in France is that my French is nowhere near as good as I thought it was. I was used to French words being pronounced as if they were English words (or pronounced with an English accent) and so I could actually not understand much at all. First problem: I actually can’t speak the local language that well.

Another thing I realized rather quickly: everything is more expensive in France, except wine. I learnt to budget quickly, especially considering I had grand plans to go visit London and Geneva and other places that attract tourists. I allowed myself to spend 30 euros on groceries a week, with an additional 20 set aside for going to bars and restaurants.

Can you imagine eating dinner at 8:00PM at night or later? Never in my life would I imagine not eating dinner before 7:00PM and yet here I am doing so in France. Grocery shopping on a Sunday? Not a thing! Everything closes before noon on Sunday, and some places aren’t open Saturday either.

The culture is very different than North American culture, but that’s to be expected. The only question that remains is how do you get over it and adapt?

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