Eight things Grenoble taught me

Grenoble4AText:  David Redeker,

freelance science journalist and communications adviser in the Netherlands
Photo’s: Anna Shatalova, science journalist of POISK Russia, Diana Hornung, freelance science writer in Switzerland & Raili Leino, science journalist at Talentum Media in Finland

The Eusja was invited for a 3-day press trip to the GIANT-campus in Grenoble (France). It was an overwhelming trip. Here are some experiences of Dutch science journalist David Redeker.

1. Grenoble is as flat as my home town Zoetermeer.
The difference between Zoetermeer (the Netherlands) and Grenoble is that the first one is surrounded by green, billiard sheet like meadows and the latter by beautiful mountains.

Grenoble62. The GIANT-campus is not so giant in square meters.
But it is one of the most dense campuses I have ever seen. And it is practically in the city. That makes it one of the nicest campuses in the world. The campus encompasses some European institutes (ILL, EMBL and ESRF), a lot of French institutes (Miniatec, CNRS and CEA to name a few), research schools (amongst others the nice GEM, Grenoble Ecole de Management) and university facilities.

Grenoble43. The only moving clean room in the world is in… Grenoble.
It is a ski-cabin like room of 2 by 5 meters that travels 200 meters from one big clean room facility to another. It is made by a famous French ski-cabin manufacturer and works with an airlock of inflating cushions. Salient detail: the only time in the year it does not function is when there is too much snow on the track.

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4. French MBA-students watch Youtube clips starring their professor.
Valérie Sabatier, professor of strategy at the Grenoble Ecole de Management made some movies to explain her research papers. In one video she compares cooking with business models: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u31cia5aaUs . And in another one she explains the transformation of the biopharma industry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T52rN6AgvQ .Grenoble8

5. French write their last name in capitals.
That is not because they are yelling. It is because many last names can also be first names. At first I did not like it, but now I am used to it. Back home I realized that I am now writing Dutch names in capitals too.

6. European Science writers have a lot in common.
We always want to know more about a subject. We like playing with words and we love to make puns. We like telling stories. We are interested in weird subjects and we are skeptic at first and not always too polite when asking questions (my sincere apologies for that dear French professors, directors and presidents).

Grenoble97. European Science writers differ very much.
At the dinner table I realized that free speech is not a common good in every country. And when walking from one building to another I learned that the payments differ a lot. For example: a writer of a four page article in a big Spanish magazine earns three times less than a writer of a four page article in the Dutch version of that magazine.


8. The French can be very punctual.

The Dutch and the Belgians have a saying that states that French are loose and sloppy (‘met de Franse slag’). It is from the period when we had French rulers (1795 to 1813). They drove horses and used their whips elegant and loose. Probably we were jealous at that time. And now I am still jealous. Because every part of the program was on time. Being an organizer myself, I know that it is a great accomplishment. My compliments go out to everyone in the program and especially to Mary PARRINELLO (notice the capitals). Mary, merci beaucoup!




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