Mark Silberbauer: student experience

South Africa


"Coming from a place like South Africa I had never felt snow in my hand in my life!"

One of the reasons I chose GEM was because I was looking for a life experience out of my comfort zone, one that would incorporate a foreign language and culture. The city of Grenoble had also been an appealing factor, as its location- at the foot of the Alps- provided opportunities to try skiing and snowboarding. The costs of living in Grenoble were also a predominant factor in choosing Grenoble over an expensive city like Paris.

After my friend from Colorado lent me all his snow equipment, I set off immediately to try snowboarding.  Coming from a warmer place like South Africa, I had only ever felt snow in my hand four to five times in my life!

Because there are such a variety of students in my class, there are a lot of opportunities for an open class environment and discussion, amidst a non-biased perspective. The main difference between GEM and Capetown are the amount of group projects here, in contrast to the endless amounts of stressful, individual projects back in South Africa.  The group projects, being the norm, are central towards improving one’s team skills and managing deadlines.

For me the exchange has been a huge lifestyle experience, combining Grenoble student life, academic life, and snowboarding of course.

My main piece of advice for students is to snowboard and ski as much as possible, and to join the Meet & Talk group on the student portal.  This online database features students offering to help others with one language, in exchange for help in another language. I currently have around three lunches a week of these language exchanges between French and English, serving the interests of both parties.

Bonne chance