A student from GEM, Philippe Gradt, has been at Newcastle University since September, in Newcastle upon Tyne, a city he describes as one with rainy weather yes, but with its charm of always being “very friendly, very living, and very moving.”
When describing why he picked Newcastle, he lists several reasons. It is an English-speaking university, and has had good feedback from his peers, a definite selling point towards this university choice. The city is within a nice region of Britain with a large student population, creating a good atmosphere for incoming students new to the university. The school itself is one that is launching itself forward in the business world, working at making itself competitive amongst other business schools, a fact that drew Philippe’s attention.
When discussing his original expectations of Newcastle, Philippe says, “Newcastle is far more North than I realized- far from London- and not the typical English experience.” However, he also adds, “although it took a lot of initial efforts to comprehend the English, hard accent, the city more patriotic and inviting than I had expected.” This fact is culminated in the city’s fascination and openness with football; it is no surprise that its football stadium is in the city center. “The whole city lives for the team,” Philippe mentions, noting how football is the definite icebreaker when meeting Newcastle locals, as this topic unites all citizens in the city it seems. “Every Saturday and Sunday is an adventure,” he concludes.
Speaking of football, Philippe fortunately lives right next to the football stadium, with the city center right at his doorstep- literally. Since the campus is right next to the stadium, he does not have to worry about commuting to class, and avoids paying residence fees, which can be a bit pricy. He lives in a flat beside the campus, with three other international students, which has been a great experience thus far. The city itself is pretty big with everything right in the center- restaurants, shopping, bars, pubs, cafes, all the places students look for in a new city. The people are “very friendly, very living, very moving all the time,” which translates into the culture of the university itself.
What Philippe really enjoys at Newcastle University is its conferences, which are done in a friendly environment, with staff on hand to introduce one to the speakers/researchers at these events. These are what truly make Philippe’s academic experience at Newcastle. From the development of family businesses in the northern region of Britain, to venture capital, to the evolution of leadership in church institutions, the presented topics offer a diverse range of research and career interests, engaging students from several disciplines and those simply curious to learn about something new. These conferences bring forth a positive environment between students and professionals and, because there are limited slots (usually a maximum of 50 participants), the atmosphere is an informal and open one for discussion amongst all participants and presenters. Philippe adds, “these conferences are key to network and allows one to take initiative in securing an introduction with the researcher or presenter.” By this, he refers to the Newcastle staff on hand who organize these events, for they will introduce participants to the speaker, presenter, and/or manager from the conference if asked. The conferences have certainly impressed Philippe the most out of his entire university experience and demonstrate, in his opinion, how the university isn’t complacent and really moving forward towards increasing the engagement and active participation of its students in securing future career and professional development opportunities.
However, besides networking and attending these conferences, Philippe also mentions plans to travel after the exchange, as Newcastle is particularly close to Scotland. He says, “time really flies, especially after you have to plan quickly,” addressing that, although his school ends in June, he needs to take advantage of being in the UK and visit places such as Edinburgh, only a one and a half hour train ride away, and Wales. Nevertheless, Philippe also confirms that, in the future, while he would probably not go back to Newcastle for a long visit, it would be nice to see the city again as a good stop between travels within the UK, as it is in a really ideal location.
Regarding advice to potentially interested students in Newcastle, Philippe has a few things to say. Students have to choose their modules wisely, with alternative options for each of them, as timetables are not revealed until classes start in September, which can result in conflicts. He stresses that students planning on Newcastle have to be prepared for time clashes, and have to realize that their original preferences for their classes may not be the ones that they actually take. Also, the first week will be a challenge certainly; yet, the staff is very involved with the international and exchange students coming to Newcastle, and will be an immediate resource to contact upon arriving in Newcastle. Speaking of which, Philippe highlights how many international students there are in Newcastle, providing a good mix towards an interesting learning environment, with students from Asia, America, all over Europe, and more.
Hence, Philippe’s Newcastle experience is one that is truly “very friendly,” as the locals are very welcoming, “very living,” as the city is united by its fascination towards football, meeting new people, and enhancing the student life experience and, indeed, “very moving,” as the university itself is working towards being a top-tier business school, one that puts its focus on the professional learning development of its students and being ahead of the curve.
From No Snow to Chartreuse! : Mark Silberbauer, a student from the University of Cape Town talks about studying in Grenoble
Why did Mark select GEM for his exchange? He lists several reasons. He says he was looking for a life experience out of his comfort zone, one that would incorporate a foreign language and culture. He adds, “my decision was completely based on having a new, cool experience that was not an English one.”
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