Wednesday, 27 August 2008

An interview with a foreign exchange student (Lionel)

For the last couple of months me and a few people from my department in college have been planning to come up with an exclusive site for our department (Information Technology). As a part of the proceedings I handle the interview section of the site where I get to meet a lot of interesting people.

My first interview was with Lionel, an exchange student to my University from France. Here is the excerpts from the interview.

Lionel a foreign exchange student to SRM from France, talks to Shalini Gowrisankar about his school, Country, his experiences in SRM and India.

After sharing a few moments of pleasantries we set out for the interview session.

Which school are you from? What is your purpose of visit?

I’m from ISEN, France. I’m an exchange student visiting SRM for 10 months. I’m here to learn about Information Technology, in which I’m majoring in. A student from SRM will be going to ISEN as well. I had an option to choose between India, Philippines, Mexico, Germany but I opted India and ISEN had a tie with SRM and that’s how I’m here.

In which part of France is your school located?

ISEN is located in Lille, France. Lille is in the North of Belgium.

What is Lille famous for?

French people love their food. Cooking is very important to us. Lille can be said it famous for its cuisine, beer, beaches.

How do you like SRM and how different is it from your school?

SRM is very good and is very different from ISEN. ISEN is a private school, it is just a school for IT and a few other majors. But, it is not a University whereas here it is vast. It took me sometime to get used to it.

When did you come to India?

I came here on 24th June and my lessons began on the 9th of July.

Do you find any similarities between India and France?

No, not at all. In Paris people are considered to be rude to tourists as the French people love to talk in French and English is not widely spoken. In India I find people to be very friendly. But, it is great to discover new cultures, this helps to gain more knowledge. I especially like to travel in the local trains when one gets to converse with the local people.

Did you visit Pondicherry? It’s one of the French colony situated a few hundred Kms from Chennai.

Yes, I visited Pondicherry three times. Sometimes it is difficult to be in a new place and I feel kind of depressed. During those times I visit Pondicherry where I get to taste some French cuisine, this actually makes me feel better.

Differences in education between Indian and France?

Yes, here in India it is very theoretical and we are expected to write a lot of pages in the tests. In France we are expected to learn the concepts and apply them in problems, so it is kind of difficult to get used to this method of learning.

Do schools/Universities in France teach in English?

Yes, we have exchange student from Philippines so lessons are taught in English. We are told to talk in English but French people love their language. We talk in French whenever possible.

What do you like about India?

Travel. Travelling in the bus, train where I get to meet a lot of people and interact with them. My trekking experiences in the Eastern Ghats were great. I visited Kerala, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram and it was a fun experience.

Places you would like to visit in India?

I would like to visit the whole of North, Goa, Delhi and also Tibet, Nepal, Sri lanka if time permits.

What are the other countries you’ve been to?

I’ve been to USA, Canada, Cuba, Caribbean Islands, Egypt, Morocco and a lot of countries in Europe. Understanding about a country during a short visit is different from what one would understand while staying there for a few months. I would suggest one to stay at a place for at least six months as it’s a great experience.

What are your ambitions in life?

I do not want to have the best job and earn lots of money. But, I jus’ need enough money to meet my needs and have a good home. I would like to have a satisfying job and a happy life.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I like sports. Especially adventure sports like mountain biking, trekking, canoeing, and orienteering. In France we have a combination of all these where we compete with each other. I also play basketball and would like to try out cricket.

Do you have friends/relatives in India?

Yes, we are six students from France who are in Civil, Mechanical and IT. I also have friends who are working in Chennai for a short period of time with whom I go out to visit places. I’ve also got a lot of Indian friends in my class who invite me to visit places and play Cricket.

What is your favourite Indian food?

I like Chicken tandoori, Chicken butter masala, but the food here is spicy.

What places would you suggest for tourists visiting France?

Lille and all the other places as well as each place is different with different people food, culture. I would suggest to see them all and especially Paris as it’s an interesting place.

What is your suggestion to Indian students?

Go Global. I would suggest everyone to visit other countries as this would help them broaden their views and help them think in a global way especially when all the industries are looking for people to manage organisations world over. It is very difficult sometimes but for six months it would be a great experience.
To read more of his experiences in India you can check out his blog


Javed sultan B.E. said...

your blog is amazing & nice to see..


your hobby is useful to all visitors.........!

Cess said...

Visit south of France, it s better than the North ;)

Arv said...

This is a nice read mate.. cheers..

I loved my time in Paris a lot :)

have a nice evening mate.. cheers...

Vasanthan said...

cool dude. i agree with his view on going global. cos personally i find the Indian market operating slightly out of the normal rules of economics. being in other countries will give u the extra edge about business and technology.

Ambani, tata and many ultra sucessful businessmen have employed those skills they developed from abroad.

i didn't mean to say that being in India alone you can't get those experience, i am saying the future of the world is through globalization.

Shalini Gowrisankar said...


Thank you so much! Thx. for dropping by as well, will visit your space soon :)

Shalini Gowrisankar said...


I'm glad it is, thank you so much! :)

Will drop by your space soon :)

Shalini Gowrisankar said...


Sure, I would love to visit the whole of France :)

Shalini Gowrisankar said...


Thank you so much!

It's great to know you had a lovely time in Paris :) you have a great weekend too!

Shalini Gowrisankar said...


Looks like your one person with a rich source of experience :) I strongly agree with your views on gaining knowledge and experience from different places and cultures.

Vasanthan said...

i am not that experienced. just my humble 2 cents. but i am willing to share my experiences and i would to learn more from you.

Lio said...

The south of France is not better than the north. The France is a very small country, but each region has his own culture, and so every part of France has to be visited.

To my mind, the Britain is the best place in France, with lot of history.

I really enjoyed this interview. Bye.