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Month: April 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Making More Than Just Train Connections

Posted by Julie

Studies have classified three ways of learning: auditory, visual, and hands-on, which are generally reflected in how we experience anything. There are a great many ways experience travel, and really no bad way; you can learn a lot no matter how you experience a locale. As far as I’ve seen, though, traveling can also be divided into common experiential thought processes: shopping, eating, historical sites, museums, art, and activities. Of course, there are some other outlying processes, and most people pursue a mix of the thought processes.

However, there is another way to learn about a city and its culture that I’ve seen as increasingly beneficial: personal connections. This is on the rise, with the increasing popularity of shared economy companies such as AirBnB and Couchsurfing; the latter especially encourages interacting with hosts and experiencing a city with them. This personal touch from someone in the area leads to memories that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, as it adds more knowledge than one could gleam out of all of the blog posts about a space.

Not only do you get recommendations on all of the experiential thought processes and the related points of interests of each, your new friend can impart knowledge or even funny stories, and the personal connection can be invaluable. Most people I know have met fascinating people along the way, whether via rooming or just wandering the city, and are still connected with them through Facebook, or even actively talking to them!

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AJ playing with the kids we met on the train.

Why I do I bring this semi-obvious point up? Well, it’s story time. Quite possibly my favorite part of  Easter weekend was our short train ride between Prague and Berlin, and no, not because we finally sat in a car similar to those of the Hogwarts Express. (EEP.) We did sit in a similar carriage, but the important details were our neighbors: two German sisters, each with their respective kid. After settling in, my friend pulled out a deck of cards, and AJ has a really great fancy-shuffle he can do. (That’s a technical term.)

The kids were immediately spellbound by his magical card manipulation, and from there he taught them how to do his bridge shuffle, played Uno, and learned the word for “red” in German. The family spoke little English, and AJ and I spoke close to no German, so communication was limited, but I had a conversation with the adults. We stumbled through broken English about life in Germany and their policies. It was interesting to see a different normal and to learn about their experiences more than anything. Though a difficult conversation, it was certainly the most rewarding during my trip.

The value doesn’t always rest in conversation, though. The personal connection can be just as powerful. AJ hung with the kids, who knew some English from their studies, but they were more interested in the cards than politics. Ask him (like I did), and he would say it was the best part of the trip too. (“Most definitely the best.”) From what I saw, our car was the most fun, as there was a kid watching the

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Some of the candy I received from the German family.

action from the corridor window. We both knew as the events were unraveling that this would be one of those moments that we would never forget.

So, what is my recommendation in life and in travel? Talk to and interact with people. Perspective is a powerful tool to understanding more of the world, and every other person has it. And often, it leads to places you never imagine.

Bonus: your new friends might graciously donate the rest of their candy to you, too.

 

GTL Athletics: Soccer

With nonstop travel on weekends and back to back classes/homework assignments during the week, it may seem almost impossible to find time for fitness. But students like Rene Kenmoe are helping to make the search a lot easier. Rene serves as the Sports Coordinator for the GTL BDE. Throughout the semester, he has organized a handful of soccer games on the fields outside of the Aloes dorm. And the turnouts are always fantastic. GTL students use these evening games as a means to let loose after class and release some competitive energy. “Playing soccer was a great release for me. It was nice to be outside in cool weather and fresh air. And getting a workout in is always a plus!” says Junior Christana Fagbile.

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Oftentimes, other university students will be out on the field, and end up playing a game or two with GTL students. In fact, one of Rene’s goals as the Sports Coordinator has been to connect GTL and the surrounding French schools through sports. While these matches are typically fun and light-hearted, they do still have their fair share of athletic “pros”/competitors. But not to worry! Even if you’re not the most skilled in the sport (cough, cough, me.), you are still very welcome! Out on the field, it is more about having fun and unwinding while learning the tenets of the game. The matches are not about who scores the most goals, but focus rather on creating a team-like bond with fellow classmates. Surely, in a semester filled with academics and travel, soccer is and will always be a great addition to the mix.

 

 

Medecin(e)s Without Borders

Photo courtesy of music.msu.edu

In all of the preparation we did for studying abroad in France, one of the (huge) tiny details was insurance. Really, it was pretty simple; fill out a form and make a fixed payment. I didn’t really give much thought to insurance at all, except extending it. Why we needed international insurance, I didn’t know, but I am here to reaffirm the statement that the lovely people in the Georgia Tech-Lorraine office in Atlanta know what they’re doing.

Health insurance is important. Yeah, we drag our feet about it, but it’s for the moments we don’t see coming – those images that whiz by and you have that sudden dread as you see it hurtling toward you.

(For me, the “it” was the ground.)

Metz had just recently opened up into gorgeous blue skies and nearly warm weather – but with all the running we were doing playing soccer, I was still in a t-shirt. We had made friends with students from Supelec and started a great game of football, and everything was going great. Then I collided with a couple friends, and soon after the ground.

Without all the details, it boils down to this: initially, things were a little confusing. My head hurt a lot, but I wasn’t too worried. But there were people who were concerned: Ed, my friend and an RA walked me back to GTL, and he told Karen (the awesome person I wrote about before). Concussions are serious. I got a follow-up call at 1am that morning, and the next day.

I didn’t have all the symptoms, but we decided it was necessary to go to the doctor – just to be safe. And besides, more terror had struck. Turns out I’m allergic to whatever brand of mosquitoes they have here, and my eyelids were pink and swollen.

(You see? The foreshadowing came true. Everything hit me at once.)

Well, we went to the doctor. Yes, we had to wait a couple hours without an appointment, but I got a prescription, and an official diagnosis. (No concussion!)

And it’s not just me who has been sick; many people have come down with something. There’s a lot to do around here, and between school and traveling like it’s a second job, it’s pretty easy to get worn down, but the Georgia Tech-Lorraine staff have done this before. They have the English-speaking contacts and connections to get us to the right places at the right time. And I can file with the insurance to get my money back. (Bonus round!)

Spring 2016 Photo Contest Winners!

Check out some of  amazing photo submissions from this semester’s GTL Photo Contest!

Category: Best Selfie (photo taken of oneself)

Honorable Mention: Yoona Lee (Clare County, Ireland)

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Runner-Up: Sid Gore (Interlaken)

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WINNER: Tom Agger (Innsbruck, Austria)

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Category: Best Group Shot (photo must consist of 3 or more GTL students)

Honorable Mention: Sid Gore (Axamer, Austria)

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Runner-Up: Alyssa Griffin (Paris, France)

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WINNER: Emily Cowart (Athens, Greece)
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Category: Best Food Shot (photos of local food in markets, being prepared, on the table, etc.)

Honorable Mention: Esther Shin (Florence, Italy)Italy_Florence_Shin (1)

Runner-Up: Can Kanbalou (Paris, France)

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WINNER: Elizabeth Jang (Prague, Czech Republic)
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Category: Best Cultural Snapshot (photos that provide a sense of the local culture, people, customs, and traditions)

Honorable Mention: Emily Cowart (Athens, Greece)

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Runner-Up: Yoona Lee  (Barcelona, Spain)

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WINNER: Julie McCallum (Venice, Italy)Italy_Venice_McCallum (1)

Category: Best Landscape (photos of architecture, scenery, landmarks, etc.)

Honorable Mention: Chris Petrus (Venus, Italy)

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Runner-Up: Tom Agger (Innsbruck, Austria)

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WINNER: Kendall Peree (Merzouga, Morocco)

MOR

Advice from Real-Life GTL Students

Posted by Julie

At this point, we are well over halfway through the semester. We’re about two and a half months older, and quite a bit wiser. We aren’t sages yet, but we do have some thoughts about how we would have approached this semester and what we would have done differently. So, for all those planning on coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, or even for those just generally traveling, here’s our thoughts on traveling, Europe, Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and travelling Europe at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

 

Don’t worry so much about things not going as planned. Things end up working out in the end.  – Jessica

Jessica’s advice holds true for j12779022_10208896617761798_4447155126991845723_oust about any experience, but especially for travel: there will always be something that doesn’t go as planned, but honestly? There’s no need to overly stress. We have lots of opportunity to travel, and the rules at Georgia Tech-Lorraine allow for a certain flexibility, so if your train gets stuck in Frau, Austria, generally it’s fixable. Also, I’ve found, personally, that when things don’t go as planned – that’s when the magic happens. Those are the memories you’ll keep. (Like wandering around Naples at 10pm with your friends to find that one pizza restaurant that guy in Rome recommended. Totally worth it, by the way.)

 

Interact with the students around you – especially the French ones – more. – Joy

All I remember about our first orientation meeting is my extreme skepticism12768270_1233192183361624_3995472953783433646_o toward one statement made by Ms. Bass: “GTL students become like a community.
You will know everyone, and you will probably be friends with most everyone.” 200 students, and I’m going to be friends with all of them? Riiight. But it’s not so far from the truth. Between classes, activities with the BDE, mutual friends, the Universal GroupMe, or just walking up to someone in the student lounge, there are many ways to meet people. You just have to go for it. All the people here are in the same boat as you, and really, most of them don’t bite. Ask to borrow sewing kits, where to eat downtown, and people to travel with for the weekend, and you’ll generally find a friend.

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Spend a little more time planning out your travels. – David, Pranav, Ije

This was quite a popular remark. People come with grand dreams, but realize there are some realities to study abroad, train travel, and the limits of mortality. It does help to plan out where exactly you’d like to go, and prioritize your dreams, but be aware that if you want to travel with others (which I highly recommend), sometimes there will be curveballs.

 

Don’t just follow other people when choosing where to travel. – Indiana12783787_10206586667692259_9026917480081343070_o

This follows the last one pretty closely. Define your dreams, try to travel with others and make friends, but don’t limit yourself to what others want to do solely because all of your friends are going somewhere else. People have realized throughout the course of the semester that cities aren’t nearly as interesting as adventuring and hiking, or maybe Italy was not everything it’s cracked up to be. Form your own opinions and pursue them.

 

Budget anything and everything. – AJ12573928_10208349260392297_2029775313939866714_n

A basic, but vital necessity. Fall semester, I made a massive spreadsheet, detailing fees, tuition, food, trains, activities, and any other thing for which it is possible to spend money. There was extensive research: I frequented the Georgia Tech-Lorraine page, but researched on train ticket websites, travel blogs, packing lists, and more. There is more to living abroad than one might realize, and it is necessary to consider all possibilities. (Including, dare I say it, nightlife, for those legal and willing.) It’s easy to spend way too much, but if you have a form laid out, you can see what steps you need to take so you aren’t high and dry and begging your parents for money at the end of the semester.

 

Branch out and do new things despite 773593_10206494390895489_5985898670448672616_othe cost. – Sienna

Now, we’ve been responsible; we’ve budgeted for our trips. However, that being said, if something really compels you, and you know you’d regret it later on, DO IT. #majorkey

 

4 Easy to Make Meals While Abroad

Many of us jumped into this whole “study abroad” thing with little to no cooking experience. Rather than waste precious money on a pizza or kebab every night (although, sometimes this is absolute necessary and okay), here are four quick and easy meals to make in your very own kitchen.

10448641. Spaghetti: All you need are two basic ingredients: Noodles and spaghetti sauce (meatballs optional). Boil your noodles in 5-10 minutes on the stove, warm up a pre-prepared spaghetti sauce, and voilà…you have yourself a meal. If you really want to channel your inner chef, try throwing in some seasoning and parmesan cheese. (Suggestions: Panzani spaghetti noodles and tomato pesto, Auchan brand)

sandwich-on-plate2. Sandwiches: After a couple of months your meals may start to feel somewhat repetitive, and that’s where the sandwich comes in. Possible ingredients include tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise, mustard, ham, chicken, etc. There are endless combinations to choose from.  Even bigger plus: buy a bag of zip-locks and sandwiches become the perfect to-go meal.

6855099710_d9c42e48bc_z3. Potatoes/French Fries:  Who doesn’t like potatoes? Head to the freezer section of Simply or Cora and you’ll find potatoes cut in virtually every shape and size. Throw some oil and butter on a pan and warm them on your stove for about 10-15 minutes. Eat as a side dish or even a main meal. Optional: Season with basil, garlic, salt, and/or black pepper. (Suggestion: ‘Pommes Rissolées’, Auchan brand)

4. Cereal: One thing I’ve learned is that cereal can be eaten at any time of the day. Yes, even at midnight when you’re up cramming for anBowl-of-Cereal-007 exam. Buy a large carton of milk to last multiple meals. Keep in mind that most French milk is not pasteurized, and the taste is slightly different from what we’re used to back home. While you won’t find the exact same cereal brands, you’ll find very similar ones, for example, Kellogg’s Frosties.

….and if all else fails, La Boite à Pizza is right around the corner 🙂

 

Politeness at PAUL

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PAUL logo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Students at Georgia Tech-Lorraine generally have a few choices for lunch: make your own (but pasta gets a bit old after the first 15 times), go to CROUS (the student cafeteria for French schools which is actually amazing), or stop by Paul (or Boîte de Pizza, a new addition this semester).

I am of the personal opinion that Georgia Tech-Lorraine students represent a large chunk of our local Paul’s revenue. A mix between a boulangerie, patisserie, sandwich stop, and resto (the French abbreviation for restaurant), Paul is right on the path for many students – particularly those who live in the Lafayette dorms.

So, if you’re on your way to class, stop by for a croissant or “le Parisian,” but to avoid appearing as tactless tourists, it’s nicer to try to speak the native language. And so, I’m going to give you a quick rundown on how to order at Paul without offending anyone. Copy any of these into Google Translate to get a feel for pronunciation.

 

INTRODUCTORY FORMALITIES

You may hear the employee say «En suite,” which means “Next.”

«Bonjour» or «Bonsoir»: Depending on what time of day it is. “Bonjour” is more for mornings and early afternoons, but “Bon soir” is for late afternoon and on. They will say it first, and to be cordial, you say it back.

 

ORDERING

« Je prends…»/« Je voudrais…»/ « J’aimerais…» = “I’ll take…”/ “I would like…”/ “I would love…”

All are acceptable to begin your order, but many (especially in fast food) skip this formality as well.

Then [insert food item here].

Check out their delicious menu here to get a heads up on what you can add to end that sentence.

If all else fails, and you don’t know what something is in French, you can ask « Comment on dit en anglais?» or “How do you say this in English?”

« Et aussi… » = “And also…”

If you want multiple items.

« Ça c’est tout?» = “Is that all?”

Asked by the server. Easiest reply, if you are finished? “Oui.”

 

PAYING

« Comment on paye?» = “How are you paying?”

Asked by the server. Generally cash or card – but it’s best if your card has a chip in it!

« Par la carte» or « Par la carte bleue» = “By credit card”

« Avec l’argent » = “With cash”

 

TEARFUL GOODBYES

The server says «Merci» and «Bon journée» or «Au revoir».

You repeat for politeness.

 

Other good words to know are basic numbers (as I would be impressed if you wanted to order 96 pains au chocolat). Check out this article for basic food words like chicken, allergy, and vegetarian to make your life easier.

RA Profile: Meet Adrienne Dooley!

Name: Adrienne Dooley10154526_637210376332590_830590590_n

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Redding, CT

What residence hall are you an RA in? Lafayette

Why did you choose to be an Resident Assistant?

My PLs freshmen year were amazing and really helped everyone on our hall get to know each other and transition to college life. I applied to be an RA so I could have the opportunity to provide support in Metz like I received in Atlanta. I also wanted to work on further developing leadership skills.

Were you a Resident Assistant before hand, or is this your first time?

This is my first time as an RA.

What are the benefits of being an RA? Are they worth it?

One of the greatest benefits of being an RA so far has been the opportunity to meet most of the undergrads at GTL through normal duty rounds and events the RAs have hosted as well as provide support. The position has also allowed me to develop leadership and supportive skills. I enjoy being an RA and definitely believe it is worth it.

Describe what a typical day is like when on duty.

Duty starts at 8 pm Monday – Thursday, although one of the RAs will always have the phone in case of emergencies. I usually start by walking around each floor of each building in Lafayette where GT undergrads live. The rounds provide an opportunity to talk with residents about any concerns with the dorm as well as to trade travel tips. Between 8-12 I’m available in Lafayette if needed, and I’m usually doing homework or planning for the weekend. I also do a second walk-through of Lafayette later at night.

Does being an RA affect your travel plans? Can you travel on the weekend?

I can definitely travel on the weekends! Traveling just involves a little more planning when looking at the semester as a whole so I can plan longer trips for weeks when I don’t have duty on Thursday night.  

What has been your favorite travel destination at GTL so far?

One of my favorite travel destinations was Bern, Switzerland. On the second day we were there we took a funicular up the Gurten, a close-by mountain. Walking around the top (which was a mini sledding and ski slope) provided us with amazing views of the city of Bern as well as the Jura mountain range and the Alps. The prevalence of ornate fountains and chocolate stores throughout the city also helped make Bern one of my favorite cities to visit.

Thanks for the interview Adrienne!

The Great Collaboration

Posted by Julie

A few weeks ago, something big happened: I met new people! This, of course, isn’t newsworthy in and of itself. In fact, that statement has become so regular here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine that the fantastic feeling of shaking hands with a new person happens probably about daily. It’s more whom I met, and why I met them.

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A small subset of both the GTL BDE and the Supélec BDE.

There was a meeting – top secret (not really) – between some members of the Bureaus des Etudiants of three major universities here in Metz. (A Bureau des Etudiants, generally referred to as the BDE, functions similarly to the Residence Hall Association back home in Atlanta.)  Students from Georgia Tech-Lorraine, Supélec, and ENIM gathered to plan a job fair called Mission: First Job for their students.

The meeting was entirely in French, which was a struggle for a few of us Atlantans – but it was a good test of my French skills for sure! Details were discussed and plans laid out, then we were sent to fulfill our respective duties.

The meeting itself was productive and interesting, but my favorite part of the night was the little soiree afterwards. The Supélec BDE invited us to snack with them after, presenting us with a host of delicious foods, as well as interesting conversation. I got to learn what life was like in our neighbors’ houses, and even for students that bridge the gap between our schools, as one member is a student both at Supélec and Georgia Tech-Lorraine as a dual-degree program participant.

Topics like daily student life in our respective countries were broached, as well as perspectives on our home countries. It inspired some very interesting conversation, and there were many common experiences, such as schooling tracks, and some very different ones, such as the elections for BDE officials.

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The Supélec BDE Président and the GTL BDE Président.

What most excited me about this meeting? It was the start of a great relationship with our fellow students. We’re already working together on one project, and several more were pitched throughout the course of the night – the dreams of connecting our students for maximum experience possible. This is why I wanted to join the BDE: I wanted to connect our cultures as much as possible for more of a first-hand experience with people our age in another country. And so, I am frightfully excited about our future plans.

Stay tuned!

How Well Do You Know Metz?

How well do you know Metz? Read some interesting facts about the city below and see!   

  • Metz is a city in northeast France. It is on the Moselle River. It is the capital city of the region of Lorraine.
  • Where-is-Metz-on-map-of-FranceIt is a cultural, commercial, and transportation center of Lorraine, an industrial city producing metals, machinery, tobacco, clothing, and food products, and the home of one of France’s largest military bases.
  • Metz is one of eight cities targeted by the French government for special planning and development.
  • Metz was a major cultural center of the Carolingian Renaissance (8th century) and was later (10th century) a prosperous commercial city with an important Jewish community.
  • Metz became a free imperial city in the 12th cent. and was then one of the richest and most populous cities of the empire.
  • Paul Verlaine, a famous French poet associated with the Symbolist movement, was born in Metz in 1844.
  • PaulVerlaine_NewBioImageDuring the German annexation of E Lorraine (1871–1918), Metz, largely French-speaking, was a center of pro-French sentiment. During World War II the city suffered greatly under German occupation.
  • There are many Gallo-Roman ruins in Metz, including an aqueduct, thermal baths, and part of an amphitheater. Much has also been preserved from the medieval period.
  • The celebrated Cathedral of St. Étienne, built from c.1221 to 1516, has one of Europe’s largest collections of stained glass.metz-cath_1631917i
  • The Place Sainte-Croix is a square in Metz surrounded by medieval houses (13th–15th cent.).
  • Metz has several other churches, including St. Pierre-de-la-Citadelle Basilica, mansions from the Middle Ages, and many beautiful promenades.
  • Metz is also the site of the futuristic Pompidou-Metz museum (2010), the first regional branch of Paris’ Beaubourg (Pompidou Center).Centre_Pompidou_Metz_2_900x600_Hufton_Crow

Interesting, right? Stay tuned for more facts coming soon (and make sure to visit these sites while you’re here!).

-Ije

Source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Metz.aspx

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