Interview of Lucas, an Italian student

Hi Lucas ! So you come from Italy, can you tell us from where exactly ?

Hi ! Yes, of course ! My hometown is called Case Rosse, it’s situated just next to Rome.

For how long have you been in France ?

I’m in France since September, so it’s been 4 months if we take out December considering I took a one-month break at Christmas.
I’m here in order to pursue my studies abroad. I’m a PhD student in philosophy and I can get (at most) half of my lessons outside of Italy. So I can take this full year to travel in France and I will see for the first semester of next year.

Why France among all ?

I came in France 2 years ago for a week on my holydays, and I noticed that being in a French country suited me much more than an English one. English is for me a very useful language even here in France, but I am much more motivated to learn French.

However French doesn’t seem as easy as English to me.

You’re right, French isn’t that simple but as an Italian I still manage to understand quiet well and to express myself more or less properly, simply because Italian is very close to French and in addition, since I’m studying Latin, it’s even easier. But of course, it doesn’t work everytime, for example, to stop is “fermarsi” while it is “arrêter” and not “fermer” in French. Still, French is far from being a barrier to me.

How do you feel in France now that you live here ?

I must admit that life seems more comfortable from my point of view in France rather than in Italy. For example, just take the transport system. Either you take your car or public transports, it’s a mess in Rome. You have access to only 2 underground lines in a city bigger than Paris. Also, weather is more pleasant here.
But more importantly, current Italian political life and job market aren’t at their best. So, for the moment, I feel better in France.

Olivier Troussard, a League of Legends captain

Today we meet Olivier Troussard, a student in TIS5 at Polytech Grenoble. He is the captain of the two school’s League of Legends (LoL) first team (out of two).

Who are you?

My first year at Polytech was at Lille in PeiP C after one year of PACES. I participated in a tournament between a couple Polytech schools but I was playing just for fun at the time, so we lost quickly. Then I arrived at Grenoble the next year, in TIS, and I continued playing without taking part in any tournament. It’s only since last year that we put together the first LoL team and participated to our first tournament together. That year I played to Counter Strike, and a member of the team played to LoL (and ranked second!) at a LAN with the INP and the Imag. This year, we continued playing with other Polytech students and participated to a some tournaments. As I am currently following a sandwich course, I travel very often between Paris, where I have my desktop computer, and Grenoble, where I go to the Meltdown bar to play and train. It is not easy but it is worth it, I enjoy playing a lot, even if I do not plan to make it a professional career.

How did the LoL team start?

Last year, a student tournament already took place, to which we participated with the majority of the members of our current team. For this year’s edition, the organisers (the Student Gaming Network association, based in Lyon) improved the overall organisation and offered more interesting prizes (unlike last year, they are supported by Riot France, the makers of the game). So I asked if they wanted to do it again, and they were ok: we have 11 players, enough to create 2 teams of 5 players with 1 substitute player in the first team. We play LoL because we like it (of course), we have enough players with a high enough level and it is the videogame with the biggest tournaments in France.

Is there a difference of level between the teams? Do they practice the same way?

Yes, they are pretty different one from another. The first team is rather high level, the second one is more for fun, they don’t seek to be the absolute best. I am the captain of the first one. Our team do practice a lot at home, even more when a competition is coming soon: 2 to 3 practices a week, during which we do 3 games of approximately 1 hour each, so 6 to 9 hours a week.

What level are your players and do you help each other? (see Figure 1)

In the first team, we have one Master, one Diamond 3-4 (me), two Diamond 5 and two Platinum 2-5. In the second team they are Gold and Silver. Our Master and I play since 2012, our Diamonds since 2013-2014 and the others started later, hence their lower level. Last year, since we only had one team, Guillaume, Théo and I (Diamond players) gave some advice to two other Silver players so that the level would be sort of uniform. This year we don’t have many interactions between the two teams, even though the second one watches most of our games.

Icons for League of Legends' 6 tiers

« Leagues are groups of players of similar skill level, and there are many leagues in each tier. [Players have to] win ranked games to be promoted to a league of the next tiers. All leagues (except those in the Master or Challenger tier) are broken down into five divisions: 1 is the highest and 5 the lowest. [It] shows the progress toward a league in the next tier. »

Source: Riot Games

How do you prepare for a tournament and do you have predefined roles?

We watch our opponents games, as a team but also each player individually in games where they don’t play with their team: every champion they usually play, their stats… All of the information is summarized in a big Excel sheet. We also think of which champions we will choose in consequence. There is a lot of upsteam work. We change our substitute player regularly so that everyone can play and not only the ones with the highest level. When a player is the substitute, he has an analist or coach role.

Do you have any sponsors and what can you win?

No, and this is not something we are looking for, we are not a pro or semi-pro team where results are expected. There are approximately 600 french teams and even if we are theorically the 12th team on a national level (based on our players individual levels) sponsors are only interested in the teams in the top 3 I would say. We can win for example Riot points (the game’s currency to buy champions, skins, etc.), a book with some artworks of the game or even a Monster fridge, filled with the brand’s cans.

How was your past tournaments and do you have any others planned?

At the beginning of the year we lost in quarter-final. We have played our second tournament with 128 teams so 8 games for each team: we have won against, INP, Phelma and University Paris Créteil amongst others. We ranked 24th in France! It will probably be our last tournament this year, since most of our players are in fourth year and that many of them will go abroad for their internship, which will make the organisation way more complicated, but we’ll see. We are informed of the upcoming events through the official Student Gaming Network Discord server (https://discordapp.com/invite/sgnw). Next time we will have a tournament or a game streamed live it will be shared on the BDJ’s Facebook page and on the school’s Discord.

Faiz, Fatin and Sabrina: The Malaysian students of Polytech Grenoble – Interview

The moment I learned there were Malaysians students in Polytech Grenoble I was immediately intrigued. I had always been aware of France’s assets in terms of education and how attractive it is to foreign students. The diversity of the students that populate Grenoble is undeniably significant, although the foreign students you usually encounter tend to come from East Asia, Northern America or simply from Europe.

I met Fatin and Sabrina on the first day of the intensive English course where their story was brought to my attention during a dedicated “Mingle time”. After they quickly explained their background and where they came from, I remained curious about certain details. For instance, the reason they had chosen France as their country of studies and their incredible proficiency in French (that made me wonder if French was taught in Malaysia???) still eluded me.

For this reason, I am pleased to get to know more about their story and to share it with you. I thus bring to you Fatin, Sabrina, and their friend Faiz as well –who kindly answered my questions!

Did you know? Malaysia is a country located in South East Asia. Its capital is Kuala Lumpur and its official language is Malay and English is a recognized language, which is why some schools teach their students in English.

To begin with, please take note that France’s and Malaysia’s educational systems are very different. As Fatin explained during our first English class when asked by our teacher, students in Malaysia are offered the opportunity to study abroad by the government. Their choosing France can seem a bit off in a world where English-speaking countries are besieged with an ever growing number of foreign students and that is what is what my first question dealt with.

Me: Why did you decide to study in France and not in another country?

Sabrina: The main reason we chose to study in France is the standard of education which is generally high and the reputation of the academic institutions. France offers a wide range of interesting courses, some of which are not available elsewhere.

Sabrina went on to praise France’s gastronomy and its landscapes, adding that “for passionate foodies, France is the place where you discover great taste and great execution. Not to forget that France is the perfect place for a vacation. It is a very beautiful country; every part of it is breathtaking and unique”.

I then turned to Faiz who shared his own experience of having the opportunity to study abroad right after high school.

Faiz: After getting my SPM results, I got a scholarship offered by the Malaysian government to pursue my studies overseas. Honestly, I randomly chose France as it was the first European country that came to my mind at the time. France’s educational standards are somewhat better than in my home country, especially in engineering. I also wanted to learn a new language, which is why I chose France rather than an Anglo-Saxon country.

Me: By the way, when did you arrive in France?

Fatin: We arrived in 2015, around three years ago. Roughly forty Malaysian students came to France under the program.

Fatin got closer from her friends during the one-year course that took place in Tours. She added that there is a Malaysian students’ association in France that organizes various events for Malaysians to meet and get to know each other. The association, called MASAF, gives tips about the life in France and acts as an intermediate platform for the cohesion of Malaysian students.

Me: Would you say that many Malaysians have the opportunity to study abroad?

Sabrina: To come and study here in France, we had to compete with everyone else to get the national scholarship. It was a challenging process: the outcome greatly depends on your interview performance and your exam results.

Sabrina then explained that it is still possible to study abroad without financial aid from the government, but not everyone can afford to pay the tuition fees since the European currency is higher than the Malaysian ringgit.

You may have picked up that the Malaysian system does not quite work the French one. Faiz mentioned something about the SPM (the Malaysian Certificate of Education) that Fatin then explained more thoroughly.

Me: What are the main differences between France’s and Malaysia’s educational systems?

Fatin: The main difference between the two is that we graduate high school with the SPM which is an equivalent of O-levels (Editor’s note: O-levels are now UK’s GCE and are of a slightly higher level than the French brevet). This explains why we had to do a one-year course when we came to France: to make sure we had the level required by French baccalauréat.

She went on to explain how the Malaysian system works:

Fatin: In Malaysia, after graduating from high school, students can choose to pursue their studies by doing a one-year foundation course or a two-year diploma before continuing with a bachelor’s degree. Other than that, the difference between Malaysia and France is that most of the syllabus in Malaysia is taught in English, which is our second official language, while not a great deal of subjects are taught in Malay, our official language.

If you have ever conversed Faiz, Sabrina or Fatin, it must have come to your mind that they master the French language perfectly. To study in a foreign country is difficult enough with all the cultural differences and the adaptation to a new lifestyle; hence I came to wonder how they came to learn French. Did they have to hit the ground running and learn it on the spot or was French taught in their schools?

Me: How did you learn French exactly? Did you learn it in Malaysia or right here in France?

Sabrina: French isn’t a language widely spoken in Malaysia. Actually, we did not speak French at all before coming to France. Thankfully, we had a year of intensive French classes in Blois or in Tours before entering tertiary education. We keep practicing French in school with friends and teachers and in public. After all, the best way to learn a language is in a country where it’s spoken.

After the one-year course, many Malaysians elected to pursue with a technical degree in an IUT. Sabrina herself chose this path before applying to enter in PRI in Polytech Grenoble, along with Faiz. As for Fatin, she studies in IESE. They are all first year students.

After learning about their background I asked Faiz about his plans for the future. As it turns out, they are all required to serve a 6-year bond in Malaysia, as agreed in the scholarship contract. Apart from that, Faiz does not know in which country he would like to work in the future, but considering his impressive path, there is no doubt that he will find it soon enough.

Matthieu Olivier, president of the theater club

Matthieu, a student in GGC at Polytech Grenoble, is the president of the school’s theater club. He explains us who he is, the origin of the club, and their plans.

Who is Matthieu?

Matthieu did seven years of theater before his two prepa years, during which he stopped because he lacked of time. He missed it a lot, and of course joined the theater club right after arriving at Polytech Grenoble last year when he heard that it existed.
As Matthieu was the most active member last year and that he loves theater, managing a group and organizing events, he gladly took the previous president’s role this year as she couldn’t do it again. He truly cares about each member of the club: he helps them strenghen their qualities and fill their gaps but also designs for each one of them a role that fits them best.

The origin of the club.

The club was created last year for the first time in Polytech Grenoble by Helia. She studied two years at Polytech Tours for her PeiP before coming to Grenoble and was a member of Tour’s theater club. She wanted to keep on practicing and performing when she arrived here but there was no existing club, so she decided to change that.
And that’s how the club was born! Matthieu felt pretty lucky to join the school the same year.

The club’s daily life.

The club’s goal is to put on not one but two plays this year (just like last year): one before Christmas and the second one before Easter so that everyone, even the 5A, will be able to come and see or participate. Before starting to write anything, they got to know each other and did some exercices for several weeks. Theater requires multiple skills: speech, acting, improvisation, confort with the audience… Which they all improved together through exercices. Matthieu was the one directing these exercices: he repeated the same ones he did with his previous groups (with Polytech and before), but also searched online for new exercices and invented or tweaked a couple other ones.

The Christmas play.

They started working on the Christmas play since the last holidays. At first, they searched together for a theme that would be interesting but also fun to work with: this year they chose Christmas. Once the theme was settled, they started doing some improvisation exercices on it. These exercices brung them a lot of ideas that they then used to put on the play. Here is a glimpse of the plot: a villain will try to bring chaos to Christmas, but the Christmas elves will try to stop him.

Future plans.

The team from L’Hexagone, a theater in Grenoble, contacted Matthieu to give the group a couple lessons once in a while, and maybe even collaborate during one of their plays!

Photo du club de théâtre