Monday, November 9, 2009

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!

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