1) Due to the known unreliability of the mailing lists at Egroups, I replaced CERN summerfinns 1999 and 2000 lists with the individual addresses. If you didn't receive the first episode, "Greetings from INSA", tell me and I'll send it.
2) I started using the bcc field to include the grown list of email addresses. Basically this means that you won't see the addresses in the recipients field, probably not even your own (might depend on the client program). I hope none of you have installed aggressive filtering which redirects all "spamlike" mails to /dev/null...
The first month of studies is now behind, the first project works already returned to the professors. I'm beginning to remember the location of all the departments and other necessary buildings at the campus, but still having hard time trying to memorize the names of all my new friends.
The exchange students spend always time together, but the best way to meet French is to join some of the student clubs which gather people interested in a specific sport, game or other activity. At INSA, there are about 50 to choose from. The best strategy to get information about upcoming events includes three methods: 1) grab all the small leaflets distributed in the restaurant 2) scan the bulletin board next to the dormitory entrance at least daily to notice new announcements before they are hidden by the next ones 3) ask people
The movie club (Ciné-club) is perhaps the most visible one in everyday life. They don't have a fixed timetable, but normally show a film about twice a week in an amphitheater called Rotonde. Unlike the normal cinemas which often show dubbed versions, all the films of Ciné-club are originals with French subtitles. The newest box-office hits aren't part of the program, but in addition to classics and a year or two old films they show some interesting non-Hollywood productions, for instance from Japan and other far east countries.
As a long time user of Linux and other free software, I naturally wanted to contact the local Linux Users Group, GPL. On the weekend of integration for Computer Science students (remember my last mail) I suddenly realised that I was talking to the leader of that club, when the topic of our discussion wandered to Linux from a totally different subject.
Last week the club organised a demonstration on how to install Linux with the usual home-made cdr sales (5 F apiece), that's the only activity this far worth to mention. I think it is essential to have as much cooperation with other clubs as possible, the status in France in general seems to be a lot of interest towards free software but too many small groups distributed across the country. The "Groupe de Pingouins Libres" has its web pages at http://prope.insa-lyon.fr/~gpl/ .
The next one I got to know was the mountaineering club, Club Montagne. As the name implies, its a group of people interested in all sorts of mountain related activities, mostly hiking and climbing in the summer, fall and spring, and tours on skis or snowshoes in the winter. There is also a separate ski club that organises trips to ski centers, but the mountaineering club is more interested in doing the thing in the nature, without ski lifts.
Two weeks ago I joined the club for a trip in the Vercors area south of Grenoble, experiencing a lot of bad weather but nice people. Read more and see the pictures at
About a week ago there was an evening in one of the amphitheaters where all the clubs could present themselves. I was prepared either to chat with some people behind stands or see dozens of slide shows, but instead ended up watching a three hour show of music, dance and other presentations naturally connected to the nature of the respective club. Certainly a good way to get people interested.
I also found some people interested in techno music. Last Friday I was returning to my room after going to see a movie when I heard the beat and saw lights flashing behind the dimmed windows of one of the storage spaces on the bottom floor of the dormitory. The door wasn't locked so I stepped in and found two dj:s practising with some of their friends hanging around. They turned out to represent another student club at INSA called K-son, which often organises the music part at the campus bar K-Fet. The bar is open every night, but Thursday evenings are normally significantly more popular than others and often hosted by a dj. The music there is generally not techno but more popular disco style, though.
The dj:s told that throwing private parties in student residences is difficult, the control to not disturb others after 22 or 23 o'clock seems to be even stricter than in Finland. The rule applies also to weekends. Other than that, the French students go to parties a lot, but more often to commercial clubs in the city center than in Finland, where the parties (and sauna evenings, of course) are most often in premises owned by student unions.
I had already planned to go out on that Friday night, this time something other than the Fish, a club built inside an old ship floating in the Rhone river in the city center. The Fish is one of the most popular places among local students, but I wasn't too excited with their selection of house music the one night I spent there.
It wasn't hard to get four K-son members to join. We went to a place somewhat between a bar and a club called Monde ā l'Envers, "the world inversed" or "upside down". The total area was probably well under 100 square meters, the dance floor being about 5 by 5 meter room with only a narrow opening to the bar space.
The first impression wasn't very promising but soon the dj started spinning great music (to my taste, at least), got the audience in dancing mood and the feeling was very good indeed. I just wondered how many of the regular customers won't gradually lose their hearing in that volume level, I was happy to have brough my most important party gear: the hifi earplugs. There was also the common problem with too much cigarette smoke, I really miss some Finnish parties where smoking inside is not allowed.
Just a small note on this: although the French smoke a lot, other than at the parties it's not a big problem for me. For instance in all the classrooms smoking is prohibited and the rule is also respected, at least in the CS department. In the entrance hall, hallways and other public places people do smoke, but there isn't usually constant floating smoke penetrating everywhere.
Returning to night life, I have the addresses of a few interesting clubs to try out later and there seems to be some possibilities outside the listings in the newspapers, too. The problem is just the same as in Geneva in the summer: the parties are usually on Fridays or even more often on Saturdays, when there are tons of other activities competing over my limited time. But expect to read some more coverage later.
I'm not sure if I mentioned earlier, but I bought a car in Finland before leaving for Geneva in the beginning of the summer. Tomorrow, or actually today (it's 1.00 already), I will head to the highway towards Barcelona, Spain with one Brasilian and two guys from Austria. We have a week to spend not having to worry about studies - the initial travel plan also includes a visit to Valence and possibly Madrid, plus small villages and nature sights between the cities.
I won't probably read my emails during the next nine days, but after that I can tell about my adventures at Spain. Now have to get some sleep, Buenas Noches! Whatever you're doing, have a good time,
Arto Teräs --- See http://www.iki.fi/ajt/ for contact info