Blog - please all send any contributions and they will be added to this page
What a welcome! We all arrived in the front hall and were given our badges and shown where to go. After we went to the meeting room, we were sat down and in front of each of us, were a selection of goodies in bags and also in the form of a jar of bonbons. So wonderful to be given such treats! We also had biscuits and useful information in the drawstring bags.
It was mentioned at this initial meeting that it is customary at meetings to do the Tour de Table. This process includes a delegate standing up or sitting down, as they wish, and introducing themselves to the rest of the table. For instance, your name, your job position, your university / college / institution and your country. We got used to this process and anyone who was initially shy at the beginning certainly wasnt at the end due to us all practising this procedure on a daily basis!
Annie-Claude and Anne-Marie introduced themselves to us all. Also Isabelle who was doing a placement at the International Office, was wonderful at meeting us on a daily basis to show us all where to go. She was always there to make sure we didnt get lost! A big THANK YOU to Isabelle, who made me feel at home by giving me a supply of Gluten Free food and snacks to take back to my hotel.
At lunchtime, we had a welcome break and were taken to the University Cafeteria to meet other colleagues. The food was very interesting but we were to sample exciting treats later in the week.....
We had a full day of events and this involved going around to different locations on different schools. We discovered the essentials of French culture and especially the difference between a Coconut and a Peach. The French are Coconuts - they are hard on the outside but once you get in they are soft. The Americans are Peaches. All fluff and soft on the outside but hard as nails on the inside! An interesting observation. Also the analogy of the Iceberg as described by Elena our session host for the morning. She described French culture as an Iceberg. The top half which appears on the top of the water is only just the tip of the iceberg, where the French culture is concerned. But when you look at the hidden part of the iceberg under the water, this part of the culture takes many years to try to discover.
At lunch time we were very grouchy about the numerous bites we had all had during the night as it was humid and most of us had opened the windows in our rooms. As a result the mosquitos had been feasting! The hotel kindly provided us with electrical mosquito repellants which worked a treat once they started to work...no more bites!
The Training sessions continued with lectures by members of staff from the schools. One session with Steve Murdoch was excellent. He was from Canada and had such intonation that his talk just caught our attention straight away. It is all about the tone of voice and how a presentation is delivered that captures the audience. If the session is delivered in a monotone voice, the audience quickly switches off especially in very humid classrooms!
International recruitment and internationalization (and discussion), by Christine LANCON, IESEG was excellent. It was explained to us that many of the guest speakers who would be joining us on our excusions and meals out, were from the IGN which was a school for engineers. This was a difficult concept to grasp for most of us as in France, to train to be an engineer and to go to the School of Engineers, is not to do something mechanical. It is a very prestigious qualification and you are expected to go and work as a manager for a company such as Citroen or Renault. For training to be an Engineer, read train to be a manager. This is the simpliest explanation for this education route.
At lunchtime we went out to another wonderful venue to taste more of Lille's culinary delights. In the afternoon we were given the option of going on a tour round the Lille University campus or doing our own thing.
In the evening some of us met up in town to have a bit of social networking and enjoy chilling in the Lille square listening to the cool water cascading down the fountains. The fountains became the location spot for all of us, if we were to meet up and go anywhere. It was a central focus for all of us and we all knew where it was!
Grant Douglas gave us a stimulating and interactive workshop, to experience first hand what it was like to come into an institution from another country. Adapting to a more diverse student population, was an eye opener about how other cultures need to be informed before they arrive to a new city where the climate is dramatically different from their own. Grant gave examples of Indian students being informed that Lille was cold and to bring some thicker layers of clothing with them for their stay. However, when the students arrived they only brought thin clothing as their expectations of cold was about 23 degrees. They were not used to very cold temperatures unless they came from the Northern part of India. I think this information did the Indians a bit of a disservice as I am sure they would know more about climate than this!
We were put into groups of 4 and 5 so that we could brainstorm about diverse situations and then we had to describe what the group had discussed. These kind of workshops are really useful as they encourage quieter members of groups to become more animated and to contribute to the sessions.
At the end of the day, there were trips out to see the Piscine museum and also to the Musee de Beaux Arts. I am waiting for my colleagues to contribute here as I didn't go on these excusions, so I will add their viewpoints when I hear more....
In the evening we all met up by the Fountain!!! One of our guest speakers, Jean Phillippe took us all to a very elegant restaurant for our Farewell dinner called the Brasserie de la paix. The interior of the restaurant was similar to a coffee bar with two seater sofas facing each other with tables in between. We were in the upstairs part of the restaurant and it became apparent that there were more of us than could be accommodated. So some of the 2 seater sofas had to accommodate 3 per sofa which was interesting!!
We had a wonderful time and it was nearly midnight by the time we got back to the hotel. Many of the discussions we had had during the week, were discussed at length with all the delegates and we found out more about the activities of the guest speakers.
Today was sad, as we had a meeting at 10am to discuss the week with our hosts. We did the usual Tour de Table as we had done every day during every session of the Erasmus week. We were very casual now in the way we did this as it was a custom which we had become used to. Very enchanting custom too.
I got up and said a few words to our hosts, Anne-Marie and Annie-Claude and thanked them on behalf of us all for being so kind and helpful every step of the way. Annice presented them both with gifts which we had all contributed towards and there was something for Isabelle too, but she was unwell. I heard later that she was delighted with her gifts and said 'Merci' to everyone.
Everyone exchanged email addresses and contact details and then slowly we all left.....
In the afternoon, I went up to see the IT centre and spent time there as I was not returning to the UK until early Saturday morning. I wanted to practice my French conversation with staff, who worked in similar IT environments. Severin the graphic designer and IT designer, was very kind and spoke slow French so that I could communicate too. I went to discuss the general IT department with his manager and was shown how she manages her team and meets with them on a weekly basis for team building talks about current projects and timescales. It was a very productive few hours.