Joseph Schott has come from the USA, via Japan, to do an MBA at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business. We will be following him ‘From Admission to Graduation’ as he blogs on life and learning in the Capital of the Alps.
Hello, my name is Joseph Schott. I’ll be starting at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business as an MBA student in September. I’m originally from the United States, but I spent the last four years in Japan with the JET Programme. While I was there, I taught English as a foreign language, did some translation and interpretation, and led a small non-profit that performs some support functions for the JET Programme.
While the cities in Japan are beautiful and convenient, the whole country is also full of mountains. It is a great place to be if you like hiking or rock climbing. It was hard to leave! I originally studied social sciences in the US, but working in Japan with people from around the world made me want to get more involved in international business. So after considering the great location of GGSB, (and drooling over pictures of French cheese) I put my interests together and applied at Grenoble.
I’ve been asked to write about my hopes and fears, as well as what I’m doing to prepare for my new life in Grenoble. I’ll start with the juicy bit and go right into my fears. It goes without saying that moving to a new country is a very complicated process, and a lot of the time I’m just glancing at my calendar, hoping that nothing goes wrong. However, my biggest worry about coming to Grenoble is the language. I only just started studying French a few weeks ago, and I’m an absolute beginner.
I’ve been told that Grenoble has a very large and vibrant international community, and from what I’ve seen on this blog, the range of people you can meet is one of the city’s highlights. At the same time, I’m not under any illusion that I’ll be having an easy time without speaking any French! In Japan, I was usually the one helping other people navigate bureaucracy and solve communication problems, but in Grenoble I’ll be back to being a beginner. On the other hand, I’m excited to pick up a third language to use in business and for making new friends. And for that I’m going to need to speak a lot more French!
I’ve found lots of French language resources and language tapes, and I’ve been carrying my beloved Anki around with me everywhere. If you’ve never heard of Anki or other similar tools (they are usually called spaced repetition systems or SRS), I’d definitely recommend checking one out. The idea is that you can store huge amounts of small facts as virtual flashcards, and the program will take care of scheduling which cards you review. So for example, you might eventually have 3,000 vocabulary words, and Anki will bring up about 100 each day. It can make sure that difficult phrases and words are brought back frequently, and things that you’ve already memorized are brought up sparingly. It works from my mobile, and I use it while I’m on the train, waiting in a line, or when a conversation is waning. Best of all it’s open source.
I’ve also been brushing up on my math and finance, and reading some books to get ready to go back to school. I’m currently reading a book on job hunting and just finished an interesting book on Google’s business model and path to success. I’ve also subscribed to a few rss feeds from business blogs. I’ve seen some interesting articles on www.voxeu.org, www.deadlysins.info/wordpress, blogs.hbr.org, as well as many others. Reading these keeps me excited for the intensive studying that will start in September. I also watch many of the presentations from the TED Conference, which are very short, but center on global issues and very inspiring.
However, wrapping up my life in Japan and saying farewell to everyone I’ve met has been the most difficult part of my preparation for Grenoble. Changing location so often, especially between countries, gives you a chance to meet lots of interesting people, and with social networking services like facebook, mixi, and so on, it is easier than ever to stay connected. At the same time though, these applications can make it easy to give yourself the illusion of being connected and ignore the real value of the relationships you’ve made. Before moving my focus to Grenoble, one of my biggest tasks has been to properly say goodbye to all of the amazing people I met in Japan.
As I finish these preparations and the start of classes draws closer and closer, I find myself feeling more and more excited each day. I can’t wait to meet the other members of my class and get started on my new life. I’m also looking forward to checking out the climbing gym near the school, relaxing at one of the cafés around the city, and trying out the hiking in the three surrounding mountain ranges.
I first got involved in climbing in Japan, where it is just starting to really become popular. Actually, people there use some French terms as loan words too, such as gaston (ガストン). I did mostly bouldering, so I’m excited to learn more about top-roping and outside routes, which I’ve heard are more popular in France. The nearby mountains look they’ll be great for hiking, and maybe I can even spot a Dahu!