On the bright side, here's the view from campus. Campus life here is really amazing, and a lot different than I had expected. I definitely undermined the size of Grenoble and the size of the Université Grenoble Alpes. Grenoble itself has a population of about 155, 000 and campus is home to 45, 000 students. A benefit to me really, because that means I have 44, 999 friends to choose from. Metaphorically speaking, at least I think?
There's also a downside to 45, 000 students attending a publicly funded University in France, and that is French administration. Now this is something you really have to experience for yourself (although I hope you never do) to truly understand, and my fellow international students can attest to this. I was warned a thousand and one times by past exchange students (and even some of my French friends) not to expect much from the French admin. Now don't get me wrong, they are some of the nicest and (try to be) the most helpful people I've ever come across, their mind set is just more "lax" than that of the North American system, which has proven to be a hard adjustment. I will end this rant off with the fact that I spent 3 and a half hours in a small office Friday morning, sifting through a list of courses offered, manually making my schedule by hand. Needless to say I will never again take the Canadian system for granted.
It's probably a good time to introduce my North American friends and to wrap up this post. When I say "us" I'm simply referring to my band of north american friends who have kept me grounded and sane the past few weeks..and our group appears to be growing by the day. You will never fail to find groups of English speakers around Grenoble, especially on and around campus (the international population is seriously huge here, although I still manage to feel foreign).
One thing I was warned about, that I really wanted to overcome, is the fact of making french friends. Which probably seems simple, seeing as I'm living in France..(duh) but actually they don't have much interest in becoming friends.
This was explained to me in two different reasonings: the first being that the students in my classes have been taking every class together since they began uni in their first year (completely different than in Canada, here there are given a timetable and have limited to no options of courses they wish to take). Therefore, by third year, they already have their established friend groups, with whom they have every class, every day with; and frankly aren't looking to be friends with any international students.
The second reasoning is simply the fact that there are so many English speakers here, cet-à-dire que when they are to hear English they aren't quick to turn an ear and chat you up. Unless, of course it's that weird guy at the tram stop who thinks its a good pick up line to say "Ah yes I hear you speaking English, maybe I can practice my English with you some time" in the thickest accent possible. Basically, however special you may feel as an international here, you really aren't. My mom still thinks I'm special.