To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

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A Race to Belgium

Monday, September 2, 2019 | Written by Karsten

This past weekend was the weekend I’ve been looking forward to since I first decided to study abroad. I knew that in any given semester at Georgia Tech Lorraine, there would be a Formula 1 race in continental Europe, but because I chose the fall semester, Formula 1 would be just returning from their summer break, and the first race back is always at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps just so happens to also be my favorite racetrack in the world, so I knew I had to go, so my mom and I started to plan it. I wasn’t sure who I’d be going with, whether someone from here, my cousin, who I’m really close to and also enjoys cars, or my dad, who I got my passion for cars and racing from. My dad ended up making the trip across the pond because my mom had a bunch of miles that he could use. This ended up being the best option, as neither I nor my cousin nor anyone here is old enough to rent a car, but my dad is. This cut three hours off of the travel time.

Skipping over some details about the trip over and the practice sessions, we arrived at the track on Saturday to watch F3, F2, and Porsche Supercup qualifyings, as well as the final practice session, qualifying for Formula 1, and the first F3 and F2 races. On any given Formula 1 weekend, all of these take place. Formula 1 cars are the fastest. F2 cars, or Formula 2, are next, followed by F3 and finally Porsche Supercup. Call me a fake fan if you like, but I don’t know much about the F2, F3, or Porsche Supercup drivers or teams, but my dad and I do keep up with Formula 1 pretty religiously. It was still very cool to see the qualifyings of these series as that was the first truly competitive driving of the weekend, since it sets the order of the grid for the races. Formula 1 qualifying happened next, and as had happened so far during the weekend, our favorite team, Ferrari, qualified first and second. The joy that followed was soon transformed into gloom, as during the final event of the day, a massive accident occurred which resulted in broken bones of one driver and the passing of Anthoine Hubert.

As you might be able to expect, the mood of spectators and drivers alike on Sunday was rather dampened. However, all races except the final F2 race (the crash the day before happened in F2) still took place. The Formula 1 race is always the most anticipated event of any race weekend, and therefore happens last. Both Ferrari drivers escaped the first corner accident that so often happens, and they stayed first and second for the first stint of the race. On lap 19, the number of Anthoine Hubert, there was a touching moment where everybody watching the race stood and clapped for the entirety of the lap. Fast forward to the end of the race, Charles Leclerc, a Ferrari driver won his first Formula 1 race, and Sebastian Vettel, the other Ferrari driver brought home fourth. After the race, on the way back to our shuttle, my dad and I noticed that there were lots of people on track, and we managed to find out how to get on the track, so we took pictures on the start-finish line. That was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend.

Even though a tragedy occurred during the weekend, I’m so glad to have been able to go to my first Formula 1 race in nearly fifteen years, and that I was able to experience it with my dad.

Managing Time with Travel (Part One)

Sunday, September 1, 2019 | Written by Karsten

Normally, when at school, I try to think about actually doing school as little as possible. While this isn’t always the smartest idea, I’d much rather hang out than do schoolwork, and therefore I can only really do schoolwork when I’m alone. Now that I’m here in France, I have even more distractions. It seems like all anybody can think about is where they’re going to travel next, and I’m the same way. Luckily, as with any typical semester, the first couple weeks—or first full week, in this case—are usually pretty slow, with the occasional homework assignment needing to be completed. Because of this, I’ve been able to make new friends, take lots of pictures (and stay on top of editing them), get the recommended eight hours of sleep, and yes, travel in both of my first two weekends (I’m currently writing this in Belgium).

The classes I’m taking this semester are Thermodynamics, Probability and Statistics, Instrum and Electronics Lab, French 1, and Science, Technology, and the Modern World. The most worrying ones are the three that are mandatory to graduate as a mechanical engineer: Thermodynamics, Probability and Statistics, and Instrum and Electronics Lab. These classes, though fair according to past students, will be very difficult to get an A in if I don’t take them seriously and make time to review the material. Thermodynamics is a flipped classroom, so in class we’re solving problems and outside of class we’re watching lectures. There are eighteen evaluations to be completed throughout the semester, and if they all get completed successfully, we get an A. Probability and Statistics is heavily based on the midterms and the final, but if I’m able to stay on top of the homework and not miss any classes, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Instrum and Electronics Lab is based around lab quizzes and lab reports, so if Jake and I are able to get the labs done in class, we should be set. French 1 will be the most useful class I take while I’m in France, because, well, I don’t know any French yet. Maybe by the end of the semester, I’ll actually understand what’s going on around me. Lastly, as long as I stay up to date on my readings in Science, Technology, and the Modern World, the class should be manageable.

The method of attack that I think is best for managing my time is to get as much work as I can done during the first three nights of the week, and then doing my reading, writing, and eventually studying while I’m on the train. So far, that’s what I’ve done, and it seems to be like the best idea. Hopefully, by managing school this way, I’ll be able to keep my stress levels low and stay ahead on my work (although I already feel a little behind—hopefully I can work to feel caught up this week).

A Trip to Paris

Monday, August 26, 2019 | Written by Karsten Messer

Though this was the first weekend abroad and I hadn’t really explored downtown Metz much, I wanted to go elsewhere. I flew into Paris, as did most people on this study abroad, but I had never been there before. I didn’t think many people would be interested in going out of town in the first weekend, so I expected to go by myself or with one of the only guys I knew coming into Georgia Tech Lorraine, Jake Tjards (a fellow member of Cru). However, when I mentioned in passing that I wanted to go to Paris this weekend, others also seemed interested, so we began planning. Everyone that went had a couple of things that they especially wanted to do, and because there were eight of us, we had a pretty good list of things to do. My two bucket list events were seeing the Eiffel Tower and going to my first European football match. On Thursday night, we bought our tickets for the train and the game, and we booked our Airbnb. 

Day One

Once we got to the train station and got all of our Eurail passes activated, we waited for the track to be listed, which doesn’t happen until twenty minutes before the train arrives. Once it was listed, we went to the tracks and it seemed like it wasn’t there. However, about one minute before it left, we realized that it wasn’t pulled all the way into the station, but it was there, so we bolted to the doors and somehow all made it. We arrived in Paris and began getting to our itinerary – with the first stop being a bakery.

After we had some of the best pastries of our lives, we walked to the Louvre (more on that later) and then into the Sainte-Chapelle—and immediately back out because we’re all on a budget. Next, we walked by the sad sight that is the Cathedral Notre Dame, as we were able to see the severe damage caused by the fire earlier this year. The last thing that we had scheduled was the Pantheon. We made a spur-of-the-moment decision (heavily influenced by me for photography purposes) to go to the Montparnasse Tower to watch the sun set over the cityscape. It was an absolutely incredible sight. Once the sun had gone down, we made the three-mile walk back to our Airbnb, which put us at fifteen miles for the day.

Day Two

On day two, we woke up, went and got more pastries, and went back to the Louvre. Honestly, I was not very excited to go as I am not a museum person at all. However, this was one of the best museums I had been in (at least recently), and I definitely enjoyed it. My favorite part, though cliché, was seeing the Mona Lisa. After, we went and got crepes for lunch and then went to see the Arc de Triomphe. I very much enjoyed walking through the insanely wealthy Champs-Élysées on the way, which was filled with stores I’ll never buy from and half a million-dollar cars. From there, we headed to see the Eiffel Tower up close and then on to the Parc des Princes for the PSG vs Toulouse game. We managed to get tickets in the third row of a first level section for less than fifty euros. After getting my biggest lens confiscated (taken to the bag check), it was a very fun and unforgettable experience. I thought Atlanta United games were loud and hype, but honestly, I’ve never been to a game that compares to the Parisian Ultras at this game. To top off the experience, PSG beat Toulouse 4-0, with all four goals being scored in the side we were sitting on.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m very glad to have gotten to go to one of the biggest cities with a rich history in the world as a way to ease in to travelling around Europe via the train system. It was extremely cool, and I hope to go back and see what I missed before I leave (though we walked thirty miles in two days, we couldn’t have missed too much).

Arrival, Orientation, and Excitement!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | Written by Karsten

Overview

Forty-eight hours have passed since I arrived in France, which means that seventy-two hours ago, I was asleep in my bed at home. Since Sunday morning, I have packed, flown solo for the first time, forgotten every bit of French I thought I knew, eaten six croissants and five pain au chocolat in a very short time frame, slept for a total of fifteen hours, and have frequented the Cora hypermarket more times than I care to admit.

Travel

Travelling without family or friends for the first time is definitely stressful, especially when going overseas. Even though I have traveled several times in my life, I second guessed myself and my flying experience. Thankfully, I flew out of Augusta Regional Airport, which only has six gates, and is therefore never crowded and would take a talented individual to get lost in. Once I connected in Charlotte, however, it was a different story. I needed to go from Terminal E to Terminal B, so I traveled all the way across the Charlotte Douglas International Airport only to find that the flight had been delayed and moved minutes before boarding should have started. Terminal D, all the way back by E, was my new destination. Once we boarded, the flight was uneventful and we landed on schedule. This was where I met up with other students going to Georgia Tech-Lorraine for the first time. There were ten people from GTL on my flight, so we went through customs and found our bags as a group. We somehow managed to find our meeting location for the shuttle without anyone speaking a word of French.

Arrival at Lafayette

The shuttle to Lafayette, where we are housed, took roughly three hours. When I stepped off of the shuttle, I was met with gorgeous weather. A dramatic drop in humidity and the shift from Atlanta’s ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit to Metz’s seventy-five was a welcome surprise. Long sleeves and hoodies are quite comfortable to wear outside. That night (Monday August 19, 2019), there was a pizza party encouraging us to meet new people. Everyone I talked to seemed excited to be here, despite the exhaustion from jet lag and general travel fatigue.

Orientation

Tuesday morning, everyone went to the building neighboring Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and had coffee, juice, croissants, and pain au chocolat, which I had more than my fair share of. We then went into the auditorium and heard multiple presentations, covering the topics of safety, school, research projects, and more. It was a miracle that no one fell asleep. After, some faculty took us on tours, though it seemed unnecessary, besides which class rooms were where. After all of the introductions and orientation, we had one minute to collect what we wanted from a donation pile that previous students had left. This was the most nerve-racking thing that has happened so far, as we were supposed to grab stuff that we didn’t have but that we needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what exactly I needed until after this event took place.

Thoughts

I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to study abroad and to get to see so many of the places and events that I could have only dreamed of seeing before, but I’m also sad that I won’t see my family and friends from Georgia Tech and from home for so long. However, thanks to modern conveniences such as FaceTime, calls, and texts, I’m only really a call (and spotty service) away. I’m looking forward to being immersed in French culture and being able to call France home for a semester, as well as making friends with people whom I probably would not have otherwise met.

One Last, Wholesome Blog

I am home!!! It feels so good to be home, and after about a week being back, I’ve had time to reflect, see my family, and eat every one of my favorite meals in a dangerously short amount of time.

It’s really difficult to summarize the experience I had abroad. I tried to do it through blogs, stories, phone calls, or simple conversations with friends, but I don’t think it’s possible to fully describe my semester. The strange emotions, the stresses, the calm, the people, the foods, or the quick cultural adjustments with visiting a different country almost every weekend. I’ve never felt more confident, but simultaneously more insecure in my entire life. I’ve never been more unplanned yet planned, more happy yet sad, or felt more like an imposter while also feeling like I one hundred percent belonged. This entire experience was one big juxtaposition but that is what I loved most about it.

If I had to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve always lived my life trying very hard not to regret anything because I genuinely believe there is no point. I think sometimes about the people I would’ve met, or the things I would’ve done had I made one simple decision differently. But I also make sure never to dwell on it, because every single moment made my experience (while sometimes challenging) really incredible.

I think the hardest thing about this time was the unknown, but when I think about it, that is always the most difficult thing for me to deal with in life itself. If anything, this experience taught me to be more open to the unknown and try to let things go because I genuinely am not in control of everything. Things happen, and how I adjust to them and grow as an individual is way more important than the little blip that they may cause. That being said, I am still not sure about a lot of things, and that is completely okay. I wasn’t expecting this trip to be some religious awakening, but I did want to learn some things about myself, and I feel like I most definitely did.

The number one thing I learned about myself, is that I don’t need to be stressed. I am quite a stress ball and always have been but I learned pretty quickly that I can still do a lot without feeling stressed. I also learned and would recommend this to anyone travelling with lots of people: it is most important to do what you want to do, because otherwise there is no point in going abroad in the first place.

Quick side note – this blog is definitely a lot more wholesome than my other blogs, but I kind of grew tired about summarizing my trips near the end here. I did go to Spain and Nice during my last two weeks before finals (which went well for those who were concerned, considering it appeared as if I never was in school). I basically just ate a lot and laid in the sun for hours on end.

Anyway, the last most important part of my time abroad was that I gained really good relationships with people back home. I know you must be thinking, “wow you weirdo, shouldn’t you have made friends abroad?” And I definitely did make some friends who I hope to see again in the future. But I think that most importantly I learned who in my life is there for me and how important it is to stay in touch with those you love. I probably called someone back home every single day and while I was worried before I left that I would lose those connections, most of them grew way stronger. I am so incredibly thankful for all these people that stayed in touch, whether it be a single photo sent or the fact that they just read my blog. It is so easy to be kind, and it is also so very necessary. I appreciate people’s kindness more than anything, and I believe that moments of kindness were what made my time abroad the most memorable.

To sum it all up, I genuinely am really happy that I went to GTL. A year ago when I started considering going abroad, it really seemed impossible. The price tag alone made me laugh, the idea of leaving this comfortable life was downright stupid, yet for some reason I knew that I could and should do it.

I’m happy. I’m exhausted. It doesn’t even feel real. But I am thankful and feel blessed.

Thank you for reading.

Love,

Noa

To Dublin We Go!

Hello all-

I’d like to first ease all of your concerns and mention that the past few weeks I have spent as far away as possible from German saunas and instead spent some time in Ireland and London.

At the beginning of the month, I visited Ireland, where my friend Elle (the one from CU with whom I spent time with in Portugal) is studying abroad. I wasn’t really feeling like staying at a hostel, and they were weirdly expensive so I found a quaint Airbnb at this grandpa’s house. Initially, when I told my mom I was staying with an old Irish man in some random neighborhood she was not super impressed with my decision making, but he had excellent reviews which made me a little less worried. Most decisions I’ve made are definitely motivated by cheap prices, but a most have also been well researched. I’ve already made it obvious in past blogs which situations were not… which usually resulted in some sort of hike, an unnecessary amount of money spent, and sometimes nudity.

Luckily when I arrived to this kind old man’s house in Dublin none of the above occurred. I took a bus about an hour from the airport and after a delayed flight it was a nice surprise when Gearoid met me at the bus stop even while it was pouring rain. He walked me home and told me he felt bad about the weather being so crummy so he prepared me dinner! It was so sweet. I immediately told Elle that I would have to just see her the next morning since I was too busy watching BBC news with my old Irish friend and chatting about our lives over eggs, tomatoes and hot tea.

It wasn’t too bad that I couldn’t see Elle that night because I had arrived so late, and she was able to spend that evening with her brother, who was also in town. The week before I was supposed to come, Elle and I texted a lot to try to decide where to visit other than Dublin, but we weren’t really coming to a concrete decision so I texted her that we should finalize the plans since I land around 5pm and she replied, “you’re coming next weekend right?” After some back and forth we realized that Elle had accidentally planned for her brother and I to come on the same weekend. I wasn’t even phased by this sudden mix up, having experienced way stranger situations this semester. And it all worked out since Elle was still able to see me on the next day of my trip and I even got to meet her brother and his girlfriend during the evening.

That morning Elle and I met up in Dundrum where she lives and took the light rail to downtown where we had some yummy chai tea latte’s and caught up on everything. The whole day we both felt so incredibly lucky to get to see each other twice this semester.We walked all around Dublin, sat at some nice parks and even had burritos for lunch. Sidebar – I find it strange how many Mexican restaurants there are in Ireland? But I also am not questioning it. Afterwards I got boba, (obviously I’ve decided that I am doing a world tasting tour) and then we went to a small pub where Elle ordered us a Guinness. Thankfully her brother and his girlfriend as well as Elle’s friend showed up and actually drank the Guinness since she really bought it for me for the “true Ireland experience,” and we didn’t really drink it. We all had a very fun dinner together and then they drove me home, which made for a perfect first day!

The next morning I woke up early and took a bus to downtown, where I was going to be picked up by a tour bus to go visit the Cliffs of Moher and Galway. This was my last day in Dublin, and I spent it alone since Elle and her family went on a camping trip. It’s been my dream since high school to visit the Cliffs. I honestly had a wonderful experience even while being alone. Bussing through the Irish countryside was surreal and it felt like somewhere I would love to end up one day. When we got to the Cliffs, it was breathtaking, and I cried happy tears pretty much the entire two hours. After everyone finished hiking all around, we bussed to an interesting town for lunch, stopped at another mini cliff, and then made it to Galway. It was a very special, lively town, and while I only spent an hour there it is definitely a goal of mine to come back.  I didn’t expect to like the tour bus experience but I actually would recommend it since I learned so much about the history of Ireland and liked not having to worry about any of the details of the trip. I would love to visit Ireland again and try to do a road trip all around the country – although driving on the other side of the road absolutely terrifies me, so if anyone wants to come with, let me know.

Ireland was something straight out of a movie. The people were incredibly friendly, the places I visited were unique and colorful, and I felt really really happy. The only other place that made me feel this content was probably London.

Stay tuned!

Love,

Noa

A Reflection on the French SLS Program

As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently taking a class, French 3011, which allows me to be a part of the French Sciences and Sustainability program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. This has been such an incredible experience for me that I thought it would be best to devote an entire blog post to it! Initially when coming to GTL, I wasn’t anticipating taking any French classes since I haven’t taken French since junior year of high school. I was a little bit nervous at first, even just coming to France, that my French might not be at the same level that it used to be. However, after talking to Professor Ippolito, he mentioned that my level of French will probably be just fine for the class, and I felt much more confident coming in to the program.

The primary focus of French 3011 is to learn about France today, and understand the environmental, political, and societal circumstances in France today, as well as in Metz. Our class consists of in class presentations, two essays, and a final project of our choice about topics that we’ve focused on. While it is taught in French, I definitely do feel that it is at a good level for me, and if anything my French has improved exponentially being immersed and in this class. Another important aspect of this class, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is that we are able to go downtown to visit and volunteer with different associations in Metz about once a week. The nice part of this, is that other students from other classes, such as FREN 3813 or FREN 3500 (also taught by Ippolito) also can come downtown and be given the opportunity to volunteer as well. It really has made me feel more welcome at GTL, because I have been able to get to know a lot more students on our downtown visits. It also has improved my confidence in French, and visiting downtown, because I understand a lot more about the history of Metz itself.

Our downtown visits usually begin with us meeting at Place St. Jacques, and then Professor Ippolito shows us around giving us information about different histories about the architecture or how Metz came to be. Afterwards we head over to one of the associations he has selected for that day. The associations we have visited include:

  • Metz a Velo, an organization that helps people in Metz familiarize themselves with biking and fixes their bikes as well.
  • Couleurs Gaies, who provide a safe, educational space for LGBTQIA people.
  • Carrefour, who provide living and support for students as well as refugees
  • the Institut Européen d’Ecologie, who educate and promote the importance of ecology and the environment in Metz as well as hold a yearly film festival for this purpose
  • BLIIIDA, a space for upcoming startups, designers, and inventors

The fact that we are given the opportunity to get to know Metz beyond just visiting downtown or being a student at GTL is extremely rewarding and has given me a sense of community and confidence during my time abroad. I would recommend this program to anyone coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and I truly think that it sets the program apart from many study abroad programs because of the fact that you can fully immerse yourselves with local people.

Meet Sanhita: Grad Student Extraordinaire

I completely have not accepted that I will be back in the States in about a week. With all of my most recent travelling and gearing up for finals, time has flown by even faster than before. I’ve spent the last few days in Barcelona, which has been absolutely magical, but before I left I got the chance to talk to one more graduate student! Her name is Sanhita and she is completing her master’s degree at GTL in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Originally from India, Sanhita completed her undergraduate there and then decided to apply at Georgia Tech Lorraine because it is a “great school with a very high ranking and an opportunity to do two semesters in France and two in the United States, which is unheard of.” After this semester, like the other graduate students, Sanhita is doing a six month internship starting pretty immediately after this spring term ends. She hasn’t decided if she wants to work elsewhere or continue to research with the company she is planning on working with this summer. The company is an oil fields company where she will be working mostly in controls based engineering. Things like how the oil is drilled, the pressure, etc. It is definitely something that she is interested in working in the future and is also something that aligns with her past work which is why she thinks she will be a good fit for the company. When I asked about which classes she is taking, she listed autonomous robotics, network securities, non linear controls. (She let me know that “this is a really hard semester, by the way.”) Her favorite this semester has been network securities, which has been interesting for her and different than the rest. Since this semester has been rather hectic, Sanhita has had less time to travel, but mentioned that last semester she visited Switzerland and Germany which was really fun. I had a really nice time talking to Sanhita. She hasn’t been to the States before, so she’s looking forward to going to Atlanta, and I wish her all the best!

 

Meet Robert: Applying Mechanical Engineering to Medical Devices

As the semester is nearing its end, I was very thankful that I met another grad student, Robert, before I leave Metz. Robert is from Kentucky, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and is now living in Metz where he is getting his graduate degree, also in Mechanical Engineering. Unlike some of the other grad students I’ve met, particularly the ones from France, Robert is not going back to Atlanta to study, but is rather doing a year at Georgia Tech-Lorraine (this is his second semester), and then going to a partner French school in Paris to finish off his degree as a dual masters student next semester. While he doesn’t speak much French, he is working on it and is excited to be spending his time in France. Initially he didn’t know much about Georgia Tech-Lorraine since he isn’t a Georgia Tech student, but after applying to go to Georgia Tech  as a master’s student, he learned about the feasibility and affordability of Georgia Tech Lorraine.

He felt it was “too good to be true” and didn’t want to let up such a great opportunity. I asked what his favorite class is at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and similarly to some other student’s I’ve talked to, it’s acoustics. He wasn’t anticipating it being very “applicable,” but it ended up having a lot to do with his interests in the biomedical field. Robert mentioned that he does see himself using the knowledge he is learning in this class, among others, in the future, especially because he hopes to work on medical device design. When I asked if he wants to stay in France or the States he said that staying in France would be a “cool experience,” but it really depends on what the job offers are later on. In the past, he has worked in this field at Ethicon Endo surgery in Cincinnati, where he worked on endoscopic device design. He mentions that “ever since then I’ve known that’s what I want to do and it was really enjoyable.”

For fun, Robert’s best experience has actually been at the music room at ALOES. He met some French students, formed a band with them where he plays the drums, and actually performed at a gala for a graduation. He’s also traveled quite a bit, and for spring break he visited Italy, where he went to Cinque Terre and said it was the most “beautiful scenery possible” with sensory overload. Since this is his second semester here, he’s traveled a little bit less, but this way is able to spend some weekends in Metz as well as save some money since travelling every weekend is pretty intense.

I had a wonderful time getting to know Robert and I wish him all the best with his plans for the future! I hope to meet a few more graduate students before I leave Metz, and am thankful for all of those I have met during my time here.

Shed Those Layers… It’s Warm Outside!

I genuinely believe that some places are completely different based on the weather, and Metz is most definitely one of those places. Part of the reason I think I was really adamant about traveling every weekend is because when it’s cold and rainy in Metz, there isn’t much reason to go outside and explore. No one really is out, and walking through the downtown doesn’t feel the same as when the sun is shining. Luckily, it’s starting to warm up here, which is not only making me like Metz a lot more, but also is making me realize that my days here are very quickly coming to an end. It’s unbelievable that I have a month left here and I am hoping to enjoy every last second before I have to go home.

This last week, Danny visited me and we spent every day doing things in downtown Metz, and we traveled a bit on the weekend as well. The first day he got here, I went early in the morning to grab some groceries at Cora, and usually while I’m pretty disappointed by the food there, I learned a huge lesson. It’s a little late to learn this, but if I go really early in the morning, that is when Cora has the fresh food out. I always would go in between classes or in the afternoon, and that is when all the good stuff is gone. I found fresh bread, and they finally had arugula, so I now I know what to do if I don’t want to trek to a different grocery store downtown. Afterwards I ran to class and then I took Danny to Burger Kebab for a true Metz experience. The next morning we visited Fox Coffee Shop so he could see what all the hype was about, and then I had to go with my French class downtown.

My French class visited a really interesting association in Metz called Bliida which is a center for different start ups and people with small businesses to have a place to work. It’s an old bus depot where each startup can rent out a bus parking spot and build their offices and work there. I loved to see all of the different graphic designers and opportunities that Bliida gives these companies. While they are currently closed to the public, they are planning on making it a tech/art center for all of Metz to enjoy and visit.

The rest of the week in Metz, Danny and I spent time exploring around downtown. We finally watched a movie, Dumbo, at the Klub Cinema and even took a bus to the outskirts of Metz, where we went bowling at a really cool arena. It was so fun, and even more perfect because of the nice weather.

On Friday, I scheduled us Flixbus tickets to visit Strasbourg which I am so glad I was able to go to! It was a lovely city, and we visited the Notre Dame there (which was fun after we had learned about it when visiting Metz’s cathedral). We ate a really yummy breakfast and then randomly decided to go into the Zoology museum. I wasn’t anticipating liking it that much, but it we ended up spending quite some time there! Of course I would rather see the animals alive, but it was incredible to see all these exotic creatures and where they came from. I kind of forgot how interesting all of that is to me. We only ended up doing a day trip but it was the perfect amount of time to spend in Strasbourg. I think I liked it a lot more than Metz just because it was a lot bigger of a city and we had more to do.

The next morning, we took a different bus to Saarbrucken to spend the day there. The reason we decided to go there is because whenever I used to train through Saarbrucken, I always saw this really cool looking indoor water park and thought it would be fun to go. Danny was all in, and when we first arrived we had to kill some time before the place opened so we walked downtown and got breakfast. Everyone was really nice and it was delicious so we were in a great mood when we got to the water park, called Calypso. Initially it was a little stressful because everything was in German and the woman we bought tickets from was not very friendly. The place was huge and I was a little worried on maneuvering it but once we saw the slides and pool area we were pretty excited. We had decided to also get sauna access and so when headed to see the sauna we realized there was a restaurant you had to walk through so we first went back to grab our towels since we didn’t want to walk into the restaurant area with just our swimsuits on. Little did we realize that that wasn’t a problem at all. In fact the saunas one rule was that you couldn’t wear clothes at all. I almost had an aneurysm. We realized this rule almost instantly and I think the only fair way to describe this situation is as such:

Imagine walking into a room where everyone speaks very minimal English and the first thing you see is sweaty, fat, old German men who are naked and tell you that you must also be nude as it is the rule. A literal nightmare no?

I only cried twice and Danny handled it all a lot better than me! Turns out (after Googling and inquiring with my French friends) that this is a German thing and I probably should’ve done a little bit of research before, but that’s just how my life goes! Regardless, the slides in the not-nude area were really fun, and the sauna experience was well…an experience.

Our last day together in Metz, we spent doing homework at the Fox and trying to forget what we saw in Saarbrucken. It was yet another beautiful day and I was so thankful that we were able to spend a week together!

While saying goodbye is quite possibly one of the most difficult things, I know it means that I am even closer to being back home, which at this point is very bittersweet.

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