A Tale of Two Countries

Since departing Amsterdam my posts have been erratic, mainly comprised of videos that fail to tell the full story of my onward journey. I’ll fill you in here.

After Amsterdam I went to England to spend New Years with my camp friends. Lots of them! Catherine and Luke hosted me in their unending gracious hospitableness, but I actually spent New Years Eve with Mat Gormann’s family. An absolute highlight was seeing the whole Bayne-Pérez Verdia family. It had probably been five years since I had seen Carlos.

Every one of these people, expect for one, has been a staff member, camper, or both at Camp Shohola

Every one of these people, expect for one, has been a staff member, camper, or both at Camp Shohola

Of course Emma Moran made an appearance (not at Gormann’s, but at Catherine and Luke’s), and I’m now wondering if I’ve ever been to the UK and not seen Emma? Maybe not my first trip, but I think she’s made an appearance in all of my others (I haven’t even seen Catherine in all of my UK visits, in fact).

It was a great visit to England. In addition to seeing so many friends I also saw Brighton as well as a number of quaint English villages scattered around the southern part of the England. It was really a lovely way to spend New Years.

The main reason for me being in Europe was a course I was taking at Grenoble Ecole de Management in Grenoble, France. Where is Grenoble, you ask? I had to look on a map too. It’s in Southeast France, near the Alps. It even hosted the Winter Olympics in ’68. Grenoble is a bit of a high tech magnet city for France, so the school has an innovation focus, and so it was the focus of our course.

Really, it was a seminar. We had various lecturers come in and give us workshops on topics in technology, innovation, and French culture and business. That was about half of our time. The other half of our time was spent on educational visits. We went to the Schneider Electric factory, ARaymond factory, CEA (French national research institute), the Courchavel ski resort, and the Chartreuse liqueur cellar. We were 28 students in total from UNC, Duke, and GW, and I enjoyed getting to know a few of my classmates better as well as the students from the other schools. All of the lectures, visits, and interactions brewed up a lot of new ideas inside me as well (something I hoped would happen with this course and this trip), and I have a lot of new blog posts in the works. It will certainly take some time to write them all though. I’ll give credit to Martin, the program coordinator. He didn’t frame Grenoble as the be-all-end-all for all things tech. He was often the first to point out the inefficiencies in what we were observing. He gave us these experiences to stimulate thought and methods of improvement, not to teach us best practices.

Dan and I were having a 'who can look more European competition.' Amela declared me the winner.

Dan and I were having a ‘who can look more European competition.’ Amela declared me the winner.

Courchevel is allegedly part of the largest ski area in the world. It sure was big, but I was most astounded by being surrounded by the snow capped Alps in all direction. They’d gotten buckets of snow by the time we got there, although some rain had hardened the powder. I would have liked more time there, but I’m surely glad that we went, and I hope to return some day.

Look closely and you will see the world's most WTF airport

Look closely and you will see the world’s most WTF airport

Grenoble is a nice city. Most everything is accessible by tram, which is a pretty efficient system. It’s a young university city with a lot of bars and restaurants. It’s surroundings are beautiful, and there are some nice cultural offerings as well.

After Grenoble I spent the weekend in Lyon. I knew very little about Lyon prior to deciding to visit. I left very impressed with the city (of two million people!). Two rivers run through the city, which lends the city some spectacular views and esplanades. There’s also a number of museums, historic sites, and modern attractions as well. I went to a history museum (which also had a puppetry museum inside), took a tour of a neighborhood, and also went to what they called an interdisciplinary museum. The building itself was this abstract monstrosity at the confluence of the two rivers. I quite liked the building, but the exhibitions were mediocre.

I’m now in Paris and will be until Saturday. I’ll post about my time here in due time. In the meantime I will try to put up a photo a day on Instagram.

One of the highlights of the trip

One of the highlights of the trip

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