During three years of Civil Engineering in London, during a degree already strongly focussed on the study of water and the environment, I decided to take advantage of my (limited!) knowledge of the French language and take an ERASMUS year. There were two schools available in the exchange: the Ecole Nationale de Ponts et Chaussées' ('ENPC') in Paris, and the 'Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l'Energie, l'Eau et l'Environnement' (or ENSE3') in Grenoble. The choice between the two was easy for me; either another capital city - which always tend to be very similar to each other - and one I had visited a lot already, offering lectures in structural dynamics that didn't really appeal to me; or a small but beautiful city, with great opportunities for snowboarding or hiking in the nearby mountains, and classes that seemed a lot more relevant to my interests.
Obviously, I chose ENSE 3, the hydraulics branch of the 'Institut National Polytechnique' (INP) in Grenoble. I was attracted by the idea of a real 'university campus', with 50,000 students from 5 different establishments creating a great student atmosphere. This would be a real benefit for me, having spent three years in a college of just 10,000 people, all coming from a similar academic background - I studied at a college of sciences and technology in England. Therefore, not only the possibility of a much greater mix of students and their subjects, but also the chance to meet other European ERASMUS students, and indeed, people from all over the world, really helped me when I was making my choice.
I'm really happy that I came to Grenoble; thanks to the French university system I have already finished my exams for the year and am now well into an interesting final-year research placement. I've been snowboarding and hiking, and obviously sampled the local nightlife! I have really enjoyed the activities put on by the Bureau International (the welcome group for INP) and IntEGre ( student 'integration' council). Thanks to them, I've climbed up to La Bastille for a barbecue at dusk, gone canoeing in the Ardeche Valley, and visited Munich for Oktoberfest. I'm going to Italy in March to visit Milan and I'm sure there'll be plenty of other events organised very soon.
I would strongly recommend to anyone to come to Grenoble to study, the city is lovely, the people are kind, and there's loads of things to do. I'll be sad when it's time to leave!!