Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AU in the World - 3rd place !

Yay! AU Abroad chose my AU Dancing in Le Havre photo for the AU Abroad photo contest !

Friday, December 11, 2009

Small take revenge on me

Last night the Americans/Canadians made too much noise too late at night one time too many, and I told them a bit more forcefully than usual to please be quiet because some people have final presentations (plural !!!) verrrry early in the morning.

These remarks obviously went ignored, so I obviously called the night watchmen this time. Before they showed up, people pounded on my door and ran away.
When the watchmen arrived and I opened the door, I was greeted not only by the two men, but also by a lonely beer bottle, empty, in the center of my doorway. One of them men picked it up and told me the people had left me a present.

Of course, the ten minutes the watchmen took to arrive at the building was enough time for the girls to calm down for their 30 minute break between outbursts, like they usually do. In this case, the watchmen couldn't do much, but after I shut my door I did hear them talking to one of the noise-makers, who, all of a sudden, didn't understand a word of French.

In the morning, I found another present !

The C.R.O.U.S. (government housing agency) told me to speak to Nathalie Tevenin in the Château about the matter since the Ango students are all ESC (RBS) students. She was shocked to hear of the constant parties until 3 and 4 am on weekdays as well as weekends.
She was even more surprised when I told her that the sound of the lounge party on the ground floor could be heard in my room, when apparently parties there are not even allowed. She and another woman said that the building manager lives on the first floor, and they weren't sure why that person hadn't noticed the parties when I can hear them up on the 3rd floor.

In any case, they took the matter very seriously, and in the past when serious complaints are brought against the same student(s) two times, the students in question are usually thrown out of the building and out of their classes, no matter what the date.

Marketing final presentation

For our Marketing course, Katie and I and a few other group members put together a presentation on Abercrombie & Fitch. The professeur said we did very well!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Aww ! Prof Gaziot says goodbye to us !

I received an email from my Project Management professor !
It's funny, I thought that he didn't really like the class since he told us how terrible our work was every time and there was constant chatter during his lectures. He was indeed one of my better professors here at RBS. He manages a company that sells airplanes, I believe, and managed to take time to teach us every week. Yay for Prof Gaziot !

a picture of him I found on his linkedin page

Dearest Students,

Next monday will be our last and final session together, and it will be a very busy one because of the study case recommandations which will have to be presented by you.

Just before it, let me tell you, how it has been a pleasure for me to work with you, during those last months, especially in this fantastic "international dynamic" made of all various, different and very interesting cultures...

Really, it has been a piece of luck for all of us!!!

So, even if every monday was not an easy day to start the week (-), (this is very true for some specific people...but no names in that mail...), I really hope and trust, it has been also an interesting time for you too...

However, I would like to take this opportunity, to wish you all the best for your future life (professional and personnal as well).

I must emphasize that I am very confident about your success and I will be happy to get some news about it and of course about you, by mail.

At least and to be honest, I will be also very proud to have, as well, a bit participated to this wonderfull project which is: YOUR SUCCESS!!!

Also to complete this mail, I want to wish a very good trip back to any International Student, I am sure you will have a lot of things to tell your respective families after this stay at Rouen Business School and about some real "funny Frenchies behaviors"...!!!


Warm regards and
Very sincerly yours

Big Bang Project

To wrap up our Project Management class, Prof Gaziot assigned group presentations (6 people/group). Our case study (handed out as a packet) consisted of restructuring a company on its way Each group selected a project manager (me !) who divided up the work. We had one week to finish the powerpoint, the Gantt, WBS's for everything, and the 10-pg. min business plan.
We met right away and quickly organized the work into 5 sections:
Management restructuring
Administration re-organization/internal communications
New marketing tactics/new company image
Financial department organization
Customer service department/client communication
There was some disagreement within my group on what the business plan should include, so I emailed the professor asking for clarification. He said...If you have listen my course, you must find everything...I took that to mean that the business plan should include everything noted here! As it turned out, I was right.
My group worked well together, and the Chinese students Aaron and Loïc made great Gantt charts for the project timelines and milestones, and also a new website homepage ! Sadly, though, the Indian girl seemed to have copied and pasted most of her financial part from wikipedia, but at least that was just for the powerpoint and not the written part, and since class was ending she skipped most of it during the presentation.

Here is our big Gantt chart for the entire project. Click on it to enlarge.

Information Technology: 4 week class

Information Technology
My "advanced" information technology course just started last week. It's 3 hours long every Tuesday (8:30 am) and Wednesday (4pm).
The class isn't normally available to exchange students since there's not enough room in the computer labs, so French students have priority. But, somehow, they managed to save one small spot for me in class ! Yay !
Class #1 got off to a rough start because there were 35+ students in the class and only 18 computers, but the prof had half of the students go to the computer lab next door after he lectured for an hour. We're currently working on Microsoft Access. Thankfully I'd already been introduced to this program in my AU IT class with Prof. Melander :) Class #2 was the same, the poor professor flip flopped between the two rooms lecturing and answering questions, but all in all, we covered the entire lecture and I successfully printed out an Access chart for a bouquet shop.
Tomorrow we have a test over what we learned...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Versailles: shown to me by a true Parisian

This weekend I went to Grandchamp - where my fabulous French friend Julie lives !
She met me at a train station near Paris, and together we ventured over to the Palace of Versailles.
The entry was free for students under 26, and since my RBS student card doesn't have my d.o.b. on it, the woman asked me what year I was born. Then of course since I had to think about the numbers in French in my head, the woman suspected I was calculating...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Danone, World Domination

This Tuesday marked the second group presentation I had to give at RBS.
Katie G and I teamed up in our français des affaires course to work on the Stratégie marketing of Dannon (in French, Danone).
Indeed, we learned a lot. Danone has its origins in Spain, where in 1919 Issac Carasso started bringing yogurt samples from the Institut Pasteur in Paris. He found out that this yogurt substance helped fight intestinal infections in children due to heat and lack of hygiene.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Delightfully placed in the lobby of buildings G and B are the fabulous Miofino coffee machines! For just 50 cents you can purchase an entire cup of coffee, hot chocolate, latte, café au lait, café aux noisettes, café au caramel, soup, mint tea, and so much more!
This is definitely something AU should invest in. The lines for Miofino coffee machines at RBS are always long, but the wait is always short; it only takes a total of 12 seconds to get your coffee as soon as you step up to the machine (including payment). Great maintenance means there's never a shortage of coffee!
What's great about Miofino's coffee is that it doesn't taste cheap (in my opinion!). It has the same taste (if not better!) than the coffee or caramel latte I buy in Pura Vida or Starbucks.
Another fantastic perk is that some machines in public places take credit cards - perfect for students who don't have cash handy. Does this mean that there could be the possibility of sticking an EagleBuck swiper on a Miofino machine?! According to the website, "Consumers can also use their mobile phone to pay in trains stations in Switzerland and Austria."
How cool is that?
Moreover, AU students might also like this company because of their dedication to the environment. Here are some clips from the Selecta website:

To reduce the 50 million miles per annum travelled by our merchandisers across the Group, by at least 10% over the next two years, therefore leading to a reduction in our carbon footprint.

To reduce the carbon emissions and waste we produce by developing minimum environmental standards across different areas of our business including recycling and waste, transport and machine development.

All new models must have, as a minimum, a 20% reduction in energy consumption versus the previous model. In addition, new machines must have a minimum of 10% recycled materials. We also aim to purchase over 90% of our machines from production companies with ISO14001 accreditation.

We have invested over 1.5m euros in developing an automated route planning system which creates more efficient routes for our merchandisers to follow. This will lead to a reduction in the total miles travelled between sites whilst optimising machine visits, leading to greater consumer satisfaction.

We will also be running a field test with our Public Vending machines, using LED lights which should reduce energy usage by 15% versus the current models already in the field.Please bring Miofino to AU campus!


aux noisettes

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Essentials of Project Management

The Essentials of Project Management is
always a class I look forward to.
It is held Monday mornings from 9-noon and is taught entirely in English by a French CEO (I have to double check his position, but he works for an airplane company). His English is pretty good (he has a huge vocabulary). He also expresses his disapproval of our in-class activity presentations with colorful English and French! Our activity groups have to present what we each worked on. We all usually do not meet his standards of performance. We usually accomplish no more than to making scheeeet.
Overall, this is one of my best courses. The lectures are good.
The professor makes powerpoints outlining his lesson and gives numerous examples. If you don't understand an example (which has been the case for me several times now), he tries another one and another one until you get it. Most of the examples have to do with organizing a project to build a plane (engine, landing gear, interior comfort, etc)!
As with all classes in France, no matter the year/level it seems, the students talk constantly. The professors cannot control the students, and most make a very weak effort to do so. My project management professor, on the other hand, is indeed a little more intimidating than the average, and manages to provoke about 5 minutes of silence at a time instead of the usual 1 minute.

My own SWOT internal analysis: Forces et Faiblesses de Rouen Business School

I would like to mention some minor problems about the entire abroad experience. Overall, obviously, it's fantastic (!), but there are a few things that could be improved and that future students might like to be aware of.


General perks about being a student in France:
As an étudiant in France you get a lot of good discounts to almost everything that requires a fee:
*theater tickets
*movie theater tickets
*free campus clinic!
*unlimited bus rides for 20 euros/month
*lots of student soirées, oddly enough, usually on Thursday nights
*free Rouen Business School messenger bag, with the new logo!
*free printing in the RBS computer labs!
*great 50-cent coffee/espresso/tea/soup/cappuccino machines all over! AU really should invest in these!
...and much more!

You can also sign up for the carte 12-25, a very handy 40-euro train card that gives you up to 50% discount on train tickets!
Ex: 20 euros round-trip to Paris instead of 40, and 6.50 euros one-way to Le Havre

RBS has quite a few student organizations, for example:
Ethika (students who try to develop their ideas about the world and its problems)
Bureau des Arts (their aim is to arouse everyone's artistic passion; includes drawing workshops at the Ecole des Beaux Arts)
Groove (play with other musicians)
Osmoz (your connection to the big national humanitarian associations and events)
...and many more!


Getting ready to go abroad:
The Kogod advisors were always very friendly, courteous, and willing to help with all of my abroad course questions. Thank you for all your help Jesse and Wick and Jonathan!
When I had a problem on the CampusFrance website (English version; I couldn't find certain important payment pages), I had to basically pull teeth at AU Abroad to get help (AU Abroad in general. This is not about Tina Murray. She answered my all my questions promptly and accurately. Thanks!). The instant response, instead of nicely saying, we'll see what we can do, sorry you're having a problem, was that they had no idea how to help me, it was not their place to help me, and they didn't know what my problem was. Luckily, after a little pleading for help, it only took them 3 minutes to check the page and email me a response (reminding me that they didn't know what my problem was), and the problem was solved!

Walking at night:
It is a 15 minute walk from the nearest bus stop (La Varenne). There's usually one or two people walking back from the stop at any given time, but at night it seems a little sketchy, especially since there's a mini-forest across the street the entire length of the walk. There is indeed a bus stop a little closer (the T1 going downtown), but that requires a quick walk
through the dark (no lamps in the area at all) mini-forest and between a bunch of dark, big closed buildings. This makes it difficult to go out at night to events in the city unless you're with other people.
Fortunately, the bus does run until 11pm, so it is possible to go out for a few hours in the evening and not have to take a cab back, and the 15 minute walk (up until the pathway to Ango) is lit. There's also a bright light that automatically turns on once you open the front door.

Entering the residence at night:
The light posts lining the pathway between a few trees and giant storage bins/construction dumps/small electrical buildings are all out. There is light coming from the porch light in the entry of the building next to Ango, but it doesn't spread as far as this pathway. I have yet to hear of any problems, but I always feel a little uncomfortable walking up to my residence.
Even more so after the time Katie and I were coming to my place and this guy who obviously didn't live in Ango tried to follow us in when we put the electronic key in the first door. He was standing at the side of the building and saw us approach Ango. He was throwing rocks at someone's window, and they either weren't answering or weren't home. He tried to catch the door and say Merci !, but Katie grabbed it and was like, we don't know you. Good for Katie!

The stairwell is also creepy. Once you enter the building, you have to open another door to go upstairs. There is apparently a basement, and even when you turn on the stairwell light, the stairs going down are unlit. The stairs also have a small landing between each floor, so you can't see the second half of the stairs going to the basement. It's perfect for someone to hide in the darkness. Not to worry too much, though, because this has never happened to me!

It gets dark here by 5:15. The laundry room is one building over, and most of the time early evening is the most convenient time to do laundry. However, the door is open to anyone (no swiping your card or plastic key), and there is no security or doorman whatsoever. There are usually a few sketchy looking, big guys hanging out in the entrance (the laundry room is just off the lobby) smoking.
Once this big middle aged guy came into the laundry room and started making friendly talk with me (I kept my sentences brief to show that I was uninterested in talking), but he wouldn't give up. He went on to tell me that the pile of dirty children's clothes (no idea where they came from!) sitting in the corner were free to take because they were things people left on purpose. Since he seemed to know all about it I asked if he knew because he worked at the school, and he said nooooope. So I'm not even sure what he was doing there because it definitely wasn't laundry or maintenance work!

Internet in Ango:
For a month now the internet has been slower than a snail. I can't open the page (too long to respond) and I'm always kicked off skype. The connection isn't even strong enough to call home with skype credit. What's annoying is that despite the number of times students or directors from RBS contact the internet provider, they take their time "fixing" it.
And they charge 20 euros a month, which amounts to $30 for me for almost non-existent internet. For example, it takes me 5 hours (no exaggeration) to do a Kogod post with 5 pictures. Which is why there are none in this one!

Transfer of credits:
There are courses at RBS worth 6 credits and courses worth 5 credits. Both of these translate to 3 credits at AU, as far as I've understood it (because the French credits are divided in half, and rounded up if needed). I feel that it would be more appropriate and accurate to make 6 French credits worth 4 AU credits. There's obviously a difference between 5 and 6 French credits or else RBS wouldn't have made the courses worth different amounts!

Signing up for RBS courses:
It was difficult to choose courses since no complete list of courses offered here was ever provided. I was not aware of any language course offered either, and began Arabic and Italian three weeks into the semester. There are also certain courses, such as the advanced information technology, that are in taught French. These courses are somewhat closed to foreign students, and information on them is not readily available to us. I specifically asked about this course, and, fortunately, RBS kept one spot in the class open for me. I will be the only foreigner! It starts next week.
The good thing about RBS courses is that I was allowed into the advanced information technology course. Also, people like Anissa R'Mili and Michel Motte are very friendly and helpful and do their best to accommodate students and answer our questions. Ex: Anissa scrambled to explain to all 150+ foreign students (in an email and in person) information the visa page neglected to include in their instructions. She also gave us detailed maps and instructions about the OFII doctor's appointment and how to get there. Thank you!

Making friends:
There are a TON of students here, both French and foreign, so despite the lack of French people I've met, I've gotten to know lots of Chinese, German, Italian, Colombian, Canadian, and Californian :) students!
After talking to other exchange students, I have come to the conclusion that the French students at RBS are nice to the foreign students, but tend to keep very much to themselves, making it difficult to actually become friends with them. I made a point to talk to a number of French girls in my classes, but they seem to be talking to me because I talk to them, not because they truly want to get to know me. I am hoping that this will change for me, though, when I begin the all-French info tech course next week!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Le Havre: when it rains, it hails

One fine Saturday morning, Katie and I ventured over to the coast to Le Havre.
What should have been a 50-minute train ride turned into almost 2 hours thanks to slight flooding on the tracks between Rouen and Le Havre. But fortunately we made it, just before noon. It then seems we should have gotten return tickets before leaving Rouen, because there were only trains at 2pm and 8pm. Everything else had been eliminated. We chose the 2pm return, leaving us with 2 hours to walk to and visit the Musée Malraux.
We weren't outside the train station 30 seconds before it started sprinkling. 30 seconds after that, a total downpour, that instantly turned to hail! We braved the wind, rain, and cold anyway and tried walking further in the direction of the museum. We didn't get a block away from the station before we were soaked to our knees and being bombarded by ice. Just across the river was a Docks mall, so we hurried to shelter.
Once inside, we decided the museum was too far away to walk to, so we walked around the mall and got pains aux raisins.
Docks was pretty cool; there were a dozen or so semi-expensive stores and a movie theater, and boats out the back. The whole building seemed to have been two brick warehouses or buildings side-by-side that were connected by a leaky tent-like roof.
Come 2pm, after walking back to the station in the hail, we discovered our train was delayed 40 minutes. We verified this information three times with a SNCF worker. We got coffee and worked on français des affaires atelier. At 2:45, the only train to Rouen listed was at 4:45. Another worker told us that she had no idea where the 2pm train was, and that she didn't know anything. But, we could take a bus part way home, then transfer to a train. Katie and I proceeded asked a real sales person, since taking a bus in traffic would be ridiculous. She apologized for the stupide comment by the helper and told us to take a 5pm train that was sure to leave.
Back to the mall we went for another hour and a half, and, fortunately, were able to visit a Creatures of the Deep expo for 3 euros! It was pretty cool - there were even real weirdo jellyfish preserved in glass cases that you could walk around to see! All in all, it was a very interesting day at Le Havre, and, after seeing the hillsides around the train station once the clouds moved out, I will return some other (non-rainy) day to discover Le Havre that awaits beyond the train station.