Marcelo, a Brazilian student at Polytech Grenoble – Interview

Marcelo is from Brazil. He arrived in France on August 25th, all the way from Sao Luis, a town located in Maranhao. Current student in the IESE department, he explains how he managed to be a student of Polytech Grenoble for a whole year, and how he lives it.

Fond of learning, and passionate about electronics, his teacher in Brazil happens to be the coordinator of the “Bravitech” agreement, which facilitates student exchange between Brazil and France. He thus told Marcelo about it, and this is how a long fight started, to get chosen as an exchange student. One of his struggles was to learn how to speak French. He explains that « It was difficult because [he] had to do a French level test, but did not know anything about French! So [he] started studying in February” for these tests which were in March. That is a month and a half to study. And in only a month, Marcelo managed to master this language and to pass his French exam hands down. Then there was a rather tough selection: three available positions, for only five students. “It was hard,” Marcelo explains, “as the selection is done mainly on the language and our specific fields (electronics, controls etc)”.

Today, Marcelo speaks French as if it were his mother tongue, thanks to his friends from Grenoble, and all the activities he has so far done in this amazing town. For Marcelo, « the experience of talking with people and the French is better than studying alone.”

You might wonder, why France of all countries if he did not speak a word of French before his first French exam? Well, in Brazil, not everyone has the opportunity to travel, let alone travel abroad. For Marcelo, this was an opportunity to learn a new language, to discover a new culture, as well as a chance to improve his resume. Nowadays, not all students are lucky enough to travel and study abroad. So when the opportunity arose, he took it with no hesitation.

However, Marcelo had never been to France. Everything was new, as it was an experience that was extremely different from what he had already experienced. He had never left his country, never been abroad. So to prepare his trip, he sought a lot of information, asked friends who already were in France how it was. He said « I asked my friends from Brazil (amongst which three were from the same city as me) who have already returned to Brazil, and also the other Brazilians who were already in France. They all helped me a lot ». As he was always looking for what he needed to improve his stay in France, he met a lot of Brazilians through Facebook, Whatsapp, and made a lot of new friends.

Out of all his Friends, he knows a lot of Brazilians, but many foreign students too! He is integrated thanks to the “TDs” and “TPs”. Indeed, one can exchange with the pupils and ask for help, or help them etc. This helps to get to know everyone a little more, and considering “the students are very nice here”, it is therefore easy to feel integrated and to make a lot of new friends.

The reason he chose electronics is because since his childhood, he enjoyed everything related to this subject. « I think it’s a question of vocation” he explains. There are a lot of things to do, such as the production of systems, embedded systems, production of a prototype, and projects for companies, on any topics related to energy, electricity. As for Marcelo, he works mostly with embedded systems and the wireless network. What he enjoys the most in it is « how electronic devices, in the development of new systems, can solve everyday problems.” He studied this field in Brazil, and he here « saw the opportunity to develop [his] knowledge and skills on the subject”. Indeed, he explained how « and some subjects are different, some subjects are similar”. Compared to Brazil, the teachers’ teaching is almost the same. But the teaching system is completely different. Indeed, in France there are “TD” and “TP”. In Brazil, they also have “TPs”, but differently. Here at Polytech Grenoble in the IESE depatment, for example, we have a theoretical week on one topic, then a week of practice on the same topic. In Brazil, they study a particular subject in a whole for an entire semester, and the following semester they practice on the same subject in said “TPs”.

Marcelo has so far spent three months in Grenoble and thinks it’s a wonderful town, which is well developed and organized. But even though he fell in love with Grenoble, he wants to work in Brazil, and export to his country the experience he gained in France. He actually plans on finishing is Master’s degree to then work in his hometown. When asked why he did not want to work in France, he answered “the most important thing, is family”. To him, it’s not healthy to be away from his family for too long. Moreover, he is the first member of his family to ever leave the country. It was thus a difficult change for his family, especially since his parents are old, but they are still very proud of him and believe their son to be very lucky to have this opportunity. « I miss them”, is what Marcelo said as he was talking about his family.

He misses his town too, mostly because of the cold here in Grenoble. Indeed, temperaturs never go below 22.2°C in his hometown! The food is also very different: he misses Brazilian food, which is very spicy, and very typical. A funny fact: in France, Couscous is served for lunch. In Brazil? They eat Couscous for breakfast! As he was born near beaches, he has never seen snow, so he enrolled in a Ski course, in order to enjoy snow during his stay in France. Today, Marcelo plans on visiting Paris, Bordeaux, Orléans, Nice and Marseille with his Brazilians friends during Christmas holiday, and keeps enjoying the wonders of Grenoble every day.

FEDERP Congress 26/28 of October 2018

The “Féderation des élèves du réseau polytech” (FEDERP) is a student association that has the role of federating and forming all student associations in the Polytech network but also of informing the network about any news concerning engineering students and finally of nationally representing the Polytech network. On the weekend of the 26th of October the FEDERP, presided by Catherine Arnaud-Banse of Polytech Grenoble, held its annual congress.

Logo de la FEDERP

During the congress, student representatives from each of the 14 Polytech schools were invited to attend conferences and attend training at Polytech Grenoble. The turnout was of 170 student representatives.

The weekend kicked off with students arriving throughout the evening of Friday 26th of October and gathering at the VnB, to socialize. The VnB is a beer and wine bar which is a local favorite for Polytech student afterworks due to preferential prices and thanks to it being close to Polytech Grenoble. The evening was a calm beginning to the weekend but it was what could be expected with participants having classes during the day and some having to travel up to 10 hours to get to Grenoble.

The congress was opened by three conferences of 20 minutes, beginning with Ms.Delpeche, headmistress of Polytech Grenoble, followed by a couple a external speakers. After there was a conference done by the Alumni. These conferences were all very formal and were simply the signal of the start of the congress. Most students focus was on the coming afternoon and the Sunday morning for the training.

23 training courses were available, covering various subjects : Organising events, insurances, internal and external communication etc… Students were free to assist the training courses they wished, however some courses were overcrowded while some lacked presence. The training courses were done by the FEDERP, the BNEI (Bureau national des élèves ingénieur) and some external speakers. The quality of the courses were high and the speakers were always available for any questions that the students had about their roles and provided clear answers.

From friday night to Sunday morning all accommodations were catered for by the FEDERP, that being 2 nights in a hotel and 4 meals for a total cost of 35€, which is an affordable price for students. However, with plane and train prices so high and with blablacar prices always rising, the weekend could cost a lot more for students coming from far due to travelling costs. The meals were simple but very sufficient.

Overall the Congress can be considered as a success, the turnout of 170 people is very high considering the travelling necessary to get to Grenoble. The training courses offered were of good quality and the FEDERP offered good accommodations and food. Everything went to plan and I asked over 20 people how their congress went and all had only positive answers for me.

Not only does this event prepares students correctly for their mandate in their respective associations but it also allows students to form a network all over France which socially and professionally is a huge for future careers.

Rupert Andrews

The Inter Department Tournament

The Inter Department Tournament (TIF in French) will take place on Saturday the 24th of November at the Halle Chartreuse on the Grenoble campus from 10am to 6pm. It is the most important sporting event of the year for the student of Polytech Grenoble that takes place every year and in which all the departments will face each other in 6 different sports including :

  • Handball
  • Volleyball
  • Ulitimate
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • And a mystery event

All the Polytech students are welcome to participate in this event no matter your level, even if you just want to support your team. This is a great opportunity to show to the other departments who is the best and try to win the cup in a fun and pleasant atmosphere.

A meal will also be provided for 2€ to all the players and supporters.
This year the BDSM will hold a block climbing event all day for the students that are interested in practicing or discovering this sport.

We are waiting to see you more motivated than ever !

Movie review of november : A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born is about two musicians, Jackson Maine (played by Bradley Cooper) and Ally (played by a real musician, Lady Gaga). They meet each other in a bar just after one of Jackson’s concert. He is well established while she just sings in some bar but he will give her a chance on stage after hearing her. From there will start a big ascension for her, upstaging Jackson.

Bradley Cooper is a well-known actor for his leading roles in Very Bad Trip in 2009, Happiness Therapy in 2012 or more recently in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper in 2014. Again, he does a very good job, so does Lady Gaga for her first leading role in a fiction movie. Besides acting, Bradley Cooper, being the director and co-writer, signs his first movie. The story is based on a novel by William Wellman and the 1976’s A Star Is Born. Last but not least, cinematography has been made by the great Matthew Libatique who also filmed Black Swan in 2010 and Requiem For A Dream in 2000.

We can easily divide it in two parts (be aware of spoilers in this paragraph): the meeting, the romance, the Jackson’s fame and Ally’s discovery to the public with duet songs on one hand; and on the another hand, the decline of Jackson in his illness, the beginning of Ally’s songwriting and singing carrier in a completely different style (not necessarily understood by Jackson by the way) and the decline of Jackson’s fame.

The first part was really good: beautiful to see and experience with catchy and impressive songs, but I kind of disliked the second one. I’ve found it a little too much predictable and chatty and noted a decrease in the music scenes’ quality. It was very linear without much surprise and the urge to explain everything happening on screen bored me sometimes. However, don’t let it dissuade you from watching it if you want to see a light romance and listen to rock or pop music with the quality of a cinema’s equipment.

You can see it this week at La Nef or Pathé Echirolles.

Pasta Alla Zucca – Recipe

PASTA ALLA ZUCCA

Zucca means pumpkin in Italian, and it is one of the best – if not the best – vegetable in November. So here is an easy, yet delicious Italian recipe that you can cook at home. It only requires half an hour, and no worries, you don’t need any oven nor microwave to prepare it, only a big saucepan.

Ingredients for 2:

  • About 300-400g of pumpkin (any type of pumpkin will do)
  • 160g of pasta (if you want to respect the Italian tradition, choose penne pasta, or a mix of Neapolitan pasta)
  •  2 tbsp of olive oil
  •  1 garlic clove
  • Chili pepper (fresh or dry, to taste)
  • Parsley
  • 30g of parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Optional : broth (vegetable or chicken)

Instructions

  • Remove the skin from the pumpkin, and dice it.
  • In the saucepan, start heating the oil. Add the garlic and the chili pepper; they develop their taste better when added in early.
  • Add the pumpkin to the saucepan, and cover it. Normally, you shouldn’t need to add any water, since the pumpkin naturally gives off water when cooking.
  • When the pumpkin is almost cooked (meaning it is getting quite soft, this will depend on how big the pumpkin bits are), add some boiling water or broth, and then add the pasta.
  •  Cook the pasta for as long as recommended on the pasta’s package. Do not overcook them: you want them “al dente”!
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain the excess water. Add the parmesan and parsley.

Your dish is ready to serve!

A festival celebrating mountains

During the last 9 and 10 November, the 5th edition of the « Rencontres Montagnes & Sciences » event took place at the Palais des Sports in Grenoble. This annual event, which attracts hundreds of visitors each year, provides an opportunity to discover how and why mountains are studied by scientists.

About ten films were screened during the two days and each of them dealt with a different subject ; astronomy, volcanoes or melting ice for example, each of them being linked to mountains and the usefulness they bring to scientists for their research. In addition to the screening of documentaries, some experiments were carried out on stage. Mathieu Barthelemy, a researcher at the Institut de planétologie et d’astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG), thus created an aurora borealis in front of the amazed spectators while explaining how he managed to do it and more generally how the northern lights were formed.

This event was part of another one – « Rencontres Ciné Montagnes » – which took place from November 6 to 10 during which visitors had the opportunity to discover a wide variety of areas related to the mountain. The whole event gathered nearly 20,000 people and different fields such as music, art and science were promoted through movies. As it was the 20th anniversary of the event, exclusive workshops were held this year. For instance, it was possible to suggest a script idea to directors Christophe Raylat and Pierre Petit in order to obtain recommendations from them. In addition, a paid workshop was set up for the first time to learn more about photography and cinematography techniques.

In short, this event allows people to discover the mountain and everything it is linked with for a very low price. And if you missed it, don’t make the same mistake next year!