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So Close

As the semester heats up and the money dries out, the recurrence of weekends in Metz increases. This weekend was no exception, and while everyone went to Barcelona I spent perhaps the best-weathered weekend in Metz chilling with my friends  planning fall break. Thursday night we headed downtown to grab more of the local food and see more of our host city for the semester.
Strolling these ancient cobblestone streets, I see the glistening sidewalks and stones darkened by the recent rains. Interestingly enough, France was not as cold as I expected. This far north and still no snow, and I am truly surprised. Back home in Detroit by Thanksgiving it’s snowing already, and you can bet its cold. After some small talk being made, we finally decide to eat at a place we’ve circled three times.

As we sit down and overlook our Italian choices each of us start talking about fall break and the future. Italy is the big buzz with the rest of our classmates. However, my friends and I seem to be the only ones thinking of going north. I guess we’ve accepted winter is here better than our colleagues. After quite an amazing lasagna we head back to ‘Republique’ the bus station and head home. A very calm weekend ensues. Hanging out with friends, homework, hours of FIFA, some pickup soccer, and more.
As Monday hits, and the local GTL lounge gradually fills, there is a noticeable difference in people. Everyone is abuzz, as the weekend seems to be rushing at us. Man United’s game vs. Liverpool interrupts my studying for statics and thermofluids. People flock to my room to watch the rather boring encounter of two great teams. To the soft lines of thermofluids notes I fall asleep that night. “twilililing twilililing…… twilililing.” The song I once loved rudely awakes my 6 hours of sleep. Bright and early I must rise, with more studying to do. “It’s just for today, come on man,” I tell myself. Eating a bowl of cereal I turn on my computer and wake myself up with the laughter of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Finally conscious and able to comprehend, I begin the day’s work; statics, then thermo, and 20161019_165558back to statics. The day goes on. Before I know it, it’s test time, and off to GTL I rush, listening to my newly acquired French songs. “On va le faire, va le faire….”! Translating to ‘we will do it’ in English, a perfect motivator for the day ahead. After the first test it’s all a blur. Tuesday is gone in a flash. All that remains of the day is the evening. A night to remember. Our great leaders of BDE, Jack and Abbie organized an indoor skiing trip for us at super low cost. As people board the bus I can really feel the weekend now, less than 24 hours and fall break is on. Tearing through the hearts of European cities our GTL crew will go, leaving behind no regrets, no sights, no sounds, no experiences unturned.

Being a Resident at the Residence Lafayette (We’re Certainly Not in a Dorm Anymore)

Posted by Harry


Welcome to Residence Lafayette, where the current members of the Fall 2016 Georgia Tech Lorraine all live. It’s definitely been a bit of an adjustment, and some of that has to do with the lifestyle change of living in our own little studio vs. the dorms we have back at GT/Duke/Vanderbilt. Here’s a quick rundown of the similarities and differences:

1) Obtaining and Eating Food

This is probably the biggest adjustment that most of had to make. In our studio rooms, we all get our own kitchens, stocked with supplies of the previous resident. It has a mini-fridge, two hot plates, microwave, and sink for all our cooking needs. There are some local places (Paul, CROUS, La Boite a Pizza) that one can get food at, but I’d say most of us have gotten into the habit and routine of cooking for ourselves with a few visits to CORA.

2) Sleeping

All the rooms here are singles, so hooray! No roommate! The lights go off when you want them to and you can now peacefully wake up at 10am for your 11am class instead of 7am because your roommate had an 8am. Or you’re the one with an 8am and you don’t have to feel guilty about waking up your roommate so early.

3) Going to the Bathroom / Showering

All the rooms also include their own bathroom and shower (fist pump). However, that does mean we have to keep the bathroom tidy ourselves. It’s not a bad trade off!

4) Neighbors

Some of the other residents in Lafayette are other students while some are not. It’s important to understand that they live there too so we must respect the quiet hours. To throw in a side note, they’re very friendly, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

5) Laundry + Sheets

Laundry is pretty much the same here, although the washing machines do have detergent built in so you do not need to bring any. The sheets here are cleaned by management (clutch!) and the exchange is every two weeks.

It’s definitely a bit of a change then what we’re used to, a little bit more independent I’d say. Either way, it’s a nice little change of pace from what we’re used to and another experience that makes this study abroad program unique.

Tips for Traveling Europe

Posted by James

For the last month I’ve been traveling all over Europe, as evidenced by my many blog posts on soccer games. As each week has progressed I’ve learned more skills when it comes to planning the perfect weekend. The public transportation systems here are amazing and something that should be taken full advantage of if you wish to lessen your burdens when traveling. For any future travelers I recommend two great apps, Transit and DB Bahn.


Photo Courtesy of

Transit, pictured above, is for local transportation. This app uses GPS to find all buses, trams, subways, ubers, etc., that run near you. It works offline only using Wi-Fi to update the already consistent time schedules. I’ve used this many times when dropping into a new country for a few days. It’s great to locate the local shuttle or train to get you to downtown.


Photo courtesy of

The second app, pictured to the left, DB-Bahn is for your international travel. If buying a Eurail pass, this makes going from one country as easy as walking into a train station and sitting on the correct train. The app is a database of all the timetables for every train in Europe. So when you enter your departure and arrival locations it does some magic and finds you the perfect path. The app can also work offline if you save the trip in your favorites. It gives you real-time scheduling updates as you reach stations along your main path. Other apps such as the Eurail planner simply can’t compare. I began with Eurail planner early in the semester and quickly switched to this magnificently German-engineered marvel. So take my advice and you’ll be breezing across Europe in no time.
Apart from using these great travel apps, another piece of advice I would offer is the Eurail pass. My advice may seem biased considering the circumstances for my own Eurail; writing this and other blogs is in fact paying for a scholarship and in turn my Eurail pass. However, prior to receiving my scholarship I was planning to buy the pass. Owning this pass is, in short, amazing. Anytime you wish to travel, you merely need to find a train station. It’s that simple.

There are usually no reservations or tickets needed to be purchased. While special, more crowded trains may require them, the process of obtaining the reservation is very simple. A quick trip downtown to the Metz-Ville Gare (train station) and talking to a few people is all it takes. Using both the DB Bahn app and the Eurail is an unstoppable combination.

The beauty of the DB app guarantees an accurate route and reliable route. Pairing this with a travel ticket (Eurail!) that is virtually accepted everywhere in Europe allows you to breeze your way from point A to B. In my personal opinion, it is more convenient than flying. No boarding passes or special security is required. Changing plans can also cause problems for a tightly packed weekend schedule, but not with the Eurail or DB app. Just a month and some into the semester and I’ve already used the DB app to plan a different return trip the day of! In short, if you have either of these travel apps or a Eurail you will be ready to plan your heart away, especially with all three!


A High Place

This past weekend, I traveled to Switzerland. Specifically, Interlaken. When I’m talking about how “high” this place is, I’m not just talking about the tall Swiss Alp mountains that you can climb or that you can take a cable car to Jungfrau (which is often called “The Top of Europe”), I’m talking about EVERYTHING: high altitude, high prices for food/watches/anything, high quality of chocolate, etc.

Let’s first talk about the views. They’re absolutely stunning. 99.9999% of our lives, the clouds are above us. The other 0.0001% is when we’re in Switzerland and we’re on top of a mountain.

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The picture on the left is when my crew and I climbed the Schlithorn, which was roughly 3000m (10000 ft) above sea level. When we were hiking up to the top of the mountain, we were basically trapped in a cloud and couldn’t see past 20 feet in front of us. Luckily when we got to the top, some of it cleared up and we got a great view of the other beautiful peaks the Alps has to offer.

The picture on the right is on top of Schynige-Platte, which is mountain range right over Interlaken and you can get a great view of the two lakes and the town in between (haha get it? Interlaken literally means between two lakes!)

Other things that were pretty high were the cost of food. I’ll definitely be writing a blog on some survival tips later on in the future, and it will include kebabs. Kebabs are basically your best friends when backpacking around Europe, but the cost of a kebab in Switzerland is about double the price of kebabs you’ll find elsewhere. Finally, the quality of chocolate here is superb. Find a picture below.
Couldn’t find it? Oh, I’m sorry! I ate the whole bar that I bought before being able to take a picture of it. If that doesn’t tell you how good it is, I don’t know.

Visit Switzerland y’all!! You definitely will not regret it!

The “Real” Behind Artificial Intelligence: Graduate Student Shane Griffith

Posted by Harry

harry-w9-p3-p1Name: Shane Griffith

Major/Field of Study: Computer Science

Year in Grad School: 8th year

Undergraduate Institution: Iowa State

Interests/Hobbies: Weightlifting

One piece of advice for students: “Find something you’re passionate about, and stick with it.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant

Are you a fan of the movie The Matrix or iRobot? Have you ever thought about how artificial intelligence could possibly take over the world? Go no further because we have a current graduate resident at Georgia Tech Lorraine that studies up on that next-level science fiction stuff! His name is Shane Griffith.
Out of all the graduate students I’ve interviewed so far, Shane has by far been in school the longest. After graduating with a BS in Computer Engineering from Iowa State in 2008, he went to grad school there for three and a half years before enrolling in the Georgia Tech/GTL dual degree program. He was in Atlanta for two years, and has been at GTL ever since 2013. The research he does, which is looking at algorithms to help integrate robotics and artificial intelligence, is beyond your typical run-of-the-mill computer science. In fact, Shane makes it an interdisciplinary study by looking at these AI problems using not only CS, but psychology and biology as well. Looking at these problems using knowledge from different fields has brought success to Shane, as he recently had a paper that was published and orally presented at a conference.
Outside of class, you can find Shane lifting at Fitness Park in Metz or just doing more research because as his advice says, we should all look for something we’re passionate about and stick with it. Best of luck to you Shane as you wrap up your graduate studies and move us towards an artificially intelligent future!

A Chill Weekend in Metz

Posted by Harry

This past weekend, I didn’t travel at all. I guess some contributing factors were some of my friend’ s parents were in town so they were gone, but also the gloomy fact that I had 3 exams the following week. Here’s a breakdown of what happened:

Thursday, September 29th

Spent the afternoon volunteering at Fort Queuleu! It was nice to meet some locals and put in some work for a local historical landmark. The fort was used by Germans as a detention center for members of the French Resistance during World War II. We just cleaned up some of local overgrowth in the area. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity, it’s available every Sunday at 9am and every Thursday at 2pm.

Harry and a friend volunteering at Metz’s Fort Queuleu.

Friday, September 30th

Made the most of the empty GTL building and pretty much studied all day. This day put the “study” in study abroad. Spent some of the night shopping at CORA and had the time to make myself a nice dinner, and then a movie night.

Saturday, October 1st

Whoa! It’s October! Where did all the time go? I went on a bike ride all around town, making whatever random turns and twists the road took me. Riding around, you could really see fall settling in. The leaves were beginning to turn colors and the air was turning a bit chilly. At night, I went to the FC Metz vs. AS Monaco soccer game. My first soccer game in Europe, and it was really enjoyable! The stands were packed…but not for long. FC Metz lost 7-0, welp…

Photo courtesy of

Sunday 10/2

Another pretty relaxing day. Got some more studying and cooking done.

As we can all see, a weekend in Metz is much needed some time to catch up on sleep, work, or general relaxation purposes. It makes for a nice break between all the heavy travel weekends we’ve been doing.

Finally Some Exploring


In a weekend that initially seemed doomed came the best and most exhilarating experiences. Sunday morning of last week I woke up in the Lafayette residence dorm and began booking my plans for the next weekend.
Sunday, September 25th
“There, we’re all set for the weekend: 4 beds, 3 nights, in Marseille!” As I finished booking my housing for the weekend. As the school week began I started tracking down my travel buddies, Clyde, Luke, Cannon. However, after each conversation I had no one willing to join me for a trip to Marseille. Luke was the only one willing to join me. At this point I hadn’t known him that long – sure, we played soccer together on Tuesdays, but traveling together is a whole other story.
Friday, October, 7th
As I woke up in my hostel and reached for my phone, I felt different. Arriving last night, I noticed a distinct change in weather and air quality. The air felt salty, there was always a slight breeze, and everything seemed more natural. The hostel was no different. And as i checked for any messages regarding Luke’s arrival, I felt truly rested for the first time in a long time.


He got in around 10am, and we started for the mountains. My plan for the day was to hike in one of Marseille’s national parks, go swimming and the likes. After a short delay we found the correct buses and made our way toward Mont Puget. As the climb progressed, we started talking and getting to know each other. Within 20 minutes we were laughing and having a great time, the awkward tension I feared from it just being the two of us was nonexistent.

An hour or so later, we noticed that our paths we taking us around the mountain 20161007_162007and not up to the top. We both agreed the view would be legendary from the top, so we decided to shear face the side of the rocks. My legs burned from the ascent and scratches of thorny bushes as we grabbed edges and corners of massive boulders and made our way upwards. Both the pace and path were almost always set by Luke, getting lucky at every turn and decision. Luke raced up the hill, and as I finally caught up to him I was able to look up for one of the first times and really see the city of Marseille, the Olympic de Marseille (soccer stadium), the city center, the shore line, island in between the bay, and more. The view was truly breathtaking and won’t be one I forget anytime soon.

As we descended and made our way towards the shore, we both understood that the water would be cold, but the view and experience would be well worth it. By 4:30 pm we had made our way down to the cove and noticed we were the only ones about to swim. A good group of people were already in towels shivering and telling us it was too cold to swim, but that was to no avail for Luke as he cannon-balled in and convinced me to follow.


The locals were right; as I jumped in, a cold shiver ran through my spine, and salt water rushed up my nose and mouth. Gasping for air, I rose to the surface and tried to remember what warmth felt like. I looked over my shoulder to see Luke climbing a small island boulder. As per usual I followed – and so began our cliff diving experience. After a few jumps I couldn’t take the heat, or lack thereof. Luke kept on, jump after jump, varying his style and approach. Finally we took off for home, shivering and planning tomorrow’s excursions.

The rest of the weekend consisted of traveling all along the bay, catching local experiences, food, activities, Bochy ball, wind surfing, paddle boarding, and so on. And by mid Sunday as we boarded the metro for the train, we both agreed, someday we’ll come back, and maybe someday we’ll live in Marseille.

GTL Represent!

Posted by Harry

Recently, the Jeux de Metz Technopôle (Metz Technopôle Games) happened. With over 150 participants from local high schools, colleges, and companies, you can say it was pretty hopping. Among all the competition, 4 GTL students emerged victorious and claimed the overall first prize. Congrats to Team Petit Fromage (a.k.a. Little Cheese): Jordan Peasant, Chris Molthrop, Jon Gillespie, and Edwin Bodge!

For the competition, it included of multiple volleyball matches, a rowing machine race, and jump rope. The theme was glow in the dark, and all competitors were given a white T-shirt and got splattered with glow-in-the-dark paint.

Jonathon stated this: “We all enjoyed the games very much. It will be one of my best memories for the year. ”

Congrats again guys!

One Week Off


I slowly come to, as I squint, protecting my rested eyes from the mid-morning sunlight just peeking through my curtains. As I roll over I check my phone for the time, it’s somehow 10am. Considering that I came home only six and half hours ago, I would expect to feel more tired. Knowing it’s a “class-less” Friday morning, I force myself to go back to sleep. As the day finally gets going around 2pm, I start to feel a sadness come over me, and so begins my weekend off, free from the “burdens” traveling.
There are no ridiculously early trains this weekend, no hostels to find, no trying to sound polite in a new language or practicing an old, familiar one. Everything about this weekend is familiar. I sit in my same room, looking at my same computer, catching up on new, and then later homework. Soon I began to realize I’ve become addicted to the phenomenon of travel. Every hour or so, my mind begins to fade. Over and over again I go back to thinking of what could’ve been. What if I traveled this weekend? Where might I have gone? What might I have done? On and on the thought train goes. Eventually I come to the conclusion that I made my choice and must live with-it. And as little comfort as that provides it is correct. Sometimes you have to be an adult.
I’ve been having so much fun this first month and half in I forgot this is indeed a real semester, full of tests, homework, etc. The GTL weekends make it all more bearable than an average semester. The new sights, sounds, friendships all cloud over you so quickly you’re lucky if you remember the ride. Time passes much slower here than on a train or in a foreign country. The weather certainly doesn’t help, the day began with downpours and finishes the same. As I look out the window and barely make out the sun, the day seems to drag on.

As I finish statics after what seems an eternity, I glance at my watch. It’s only 5pm. Barely three hours of my day is used. Next comes my Aerospace homework, then Differential Equations and so on. A much more productive weekend is in play as I begin to knock things out. But still I feel guilty. I know that sometimes we must be grownups and do work, yet it still feels like a bed rail. To fly across the Atlantic and be in a study abroad program, then not travel is disappointing. Unfortunately this is what we do, students study and so while my weekend was not as glamourous as others it sets me up for an easy coming week. One in which I can plan an even better weekend and get right back on track.
However, I sit here writing this, on a Saturday night. You never know what the future brings, and with one more day of the weekend left, anything is still possible.

Getting a Haircut in France: A Guide

Recently, I got my first haircut here. It was a good experience. I’d just like to share it and some helpful information too.


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Luckily for us, there’s two places conveniently located in CORA (another reason why CORA is probably my favorite place in Metz) so you can knock out two birds with one stone. There’s Saint James, which I went to on GTL Deputy Dean of Students Karen Pierce’s recommendation; and Diagonal, which is like a Great Clips, also according to Karen. Haircut places are called “coiffeurs.”

What To Do:

So I walked in, and the nice ladies in the front directed me to this comfortable seat as I waited my turn. By the way, they don’t speak English at Saint James (or Diagonal) so I was pretty much winging it all on basic French and non-verbal communication. When my turn came up, they shampooed it before-hand. After reading up on it, I think it’s a necessary thing in France to do because of hygienic reasons. Following the shampoo, I got into the barber’s seat and I told the barber two things: 1) “dégradé” (fade) and pointed to the sides and back of my head and 2) “mi-longs” (medium) and pointed to the top of my head. She looked a little confused. Luckily, she pulled out a book with a bunch of different hairstyles and I was able to point out a fade on one the pictures and we were good to go from there. My hair up top got cut a little shorter than I wanted it to, but it’ll grow back. It was a solid, refreshing haircut which was much needed at the top. I said my “Merci beaucoup” after leaving, didn’t get an after shampoo and just biked back to the dorm and shampooed there.

My hair isn’t too hard to do so I only had two requests but if you’re looking for something fancy, you can always show a picture or here’s a list of basic French haircut vocab if you need it! (from

Basic hairdressing services in French: Prestations de base proposees
Haircut: une coupe de cheveux
Shampoo: le shampooing
Colouring and highlights: les couleurs et mèches
Set or styling: la mise en pli
Perm: la permanente
Haircare and treatments: les soins et traitements
A blow-dry or straightening: le brushing
Top salon: un coiffeur haut de gamme
Local salon: coiffeur de quartier
Basic French hair terms
Your hair: vos cheveux (always masculine, plural)
Fine: fins
Thick: épais
Oily: gras
Dry: secs
Mixed: mixtes
Normal: normaux
Curly: bouclés
Frizzy: frisés
Smooth: lisses
Damaged: abîmés
Dyed: colorés
Permed: permanentés
Dandruff: pellicules
Cowlick: un épi
A lock of hair: une mèche
French terms for getting a haircut
Short or long: la coupe courte ou longue
Layered: en dégradé
Blunt cut: au carré
Clean cut/well-defined: bien dégagée
Asymmetrical: asymétrique
Square tapered: style carré effilé
Layered on top: dégradé sur le dessus
Short, layered look: une coupe courte tout en dégradé
Short ‘windblown’ layered look: dégradé déstructuré
‘Just out of bed’ look: indiscipliné
Highlights or streaks: les mèches
Hair weaving or foiling: balayage
Bangs: une frange
Hair part: une raie
Hair ends: les pointes

If you want to see more haircut vocab, check out (where the above is from) and

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