- Buying Plane Tickets: Believe it or not, buying a plane ticket online can be harder than you think, especially when it is in another language. When booking plane tickets to Naples, I had to try and use my rusty German in order to make sure we got 2 plane tickets to the right location on the right day. I’m still hoping that I did this correctly…I guess I will find out in a few weeks.
- Ordering Water: Tap Water. This might be what I miss most about America. When you are at a European restaurant, if you ask for water they automatically bring you a fancy small glass bottle of water that costs more than a glass of wine. When you are parched from roaming the city all day you just want a tall, cold, refreshing vat of water, but sometimes they don’t always understand the translation of “the free tap water please.”
- Directions: When walking around Metz, France during my first week at GTL, a group of us were trying to find the bus stop to get back to our dorms. Not many locals know English though, so we just ended up walking around the city for about 45 minutes in the rain until a nice man took pity on us and walked us to the bus stop we were trying to get to.
- Reading Menus: French food is delicious. There are crepes, escargot, coq au vin, and of course my favorite – pastries. While pointing at a menu and just hoping for the best can sometimes be a good option, it is always an unfortunate feeling when you look over at your friend’s dish and see some mouthwatering dessert like a stuffed, chocolate and banana crepe with caramel ice-cream and dusted almonds and then glance back at your boring croissant.
- Trains: America is known for not having good public transportation. We drive everywhere and rarely use a bus or train to get from place to place. In France, everyone uses the train, but it is not as easy as it looks. Sometimes you could be waiting on the track for your train that is arriving in 10 minutes and then next thing you know everyone starts dashing halfway across the train station. Let’s just say we learned later on that European trains tend to switch tracks at the very last second, but it would have been nice to have known that a little earlier on.
Month: June 2016 (Page 2 of 2)
Posted by Morgan
When I walked into the GTL building on Friday, I was greeted with an unusual sight: shiny gold and white balloons, large Georgia Tech-Lorraine posters, and of course the warm, friendly smiles that adorned the faces of those staff members dressed in navy blue and old gold.
I, on the other hand, was dressed in a bright, bold, red dress. Clearly I had forgotten the dress code for any Georgia Tech Event–no bulldog red. But it didn’t seem to matter as it was the 25th anniversary of Georgia Tech-Lorraine and everyone was far more interested in the festivities at hand.
While many students were busy shuffling to their next class, those that had a break eagerly rushed to meet our president, Bud Peterson, and listen to his speech. It was exciting to hear our president talk about our study abroad program with an eagerness and appreciation that so many of us could relate to. At first Bud Peterson admitted to being skeptical of the study abroad experience at Georgia Tech Lorraine. How could that much be gained from a short summer on a campus with 250 Georgia Tech Students and only a handful of Georgia Tech Professors? But then he visited. He visited and described how his opinions changed from skepticism to enthusiasm. As Peterson closed his speech, he spoke of the value he saw in studying abroad at GTL both from a cultural and educational perspective.
For the majority of us that are here, being able to have an experience like studying abroad while participating in such an academically rigorous and prestigious school makes us feel like part of something bigger. We are not holed up in our rooms forever studying differential equations or thermodynamics but creating experiences, and hearing Bud Peterson’s speech validated those thoughts.
Tim Jaudon, a rising third year industrial engineering major, said it best:
“I liked the fact that Bud came all the way out here to celebrate other branches of the school. It makes Georgia Tech feel much bigger and more global than just Atlanta.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Georgia Tech-Lorraine and our 25th anniversary was all about. Of course we college students loved the free food and instagram-worthy photos, but it was the message of Georgia Tech’s commitment to integrating into the global community in France that we could so easily relate to after only a few weeks here.
This past week GTL students took our first field trip of the semester. During this field trip we traveled to Verdun in northeastern France to the location of the Battle of Verdun.
For those of us not well versed in major battles that occurred during the First World War, the battle of Verdun was one of the largest battles during WWI. The battle was fought between the French and Germans from February 21 to until December 20, 1916. By the end of this battle the casualties and losses totaled nearly 500,000 on the French side and 400,000 on the German side.
One of our first stops was Fort Douaumont, one of the largest forts that surround the city. The majority of the fort is located underground and as we walked further into the fort the living conditions of the solders could be seen immediately. It happened to be pouring down rain the day that we visited and the rain water had sunk into the fort covering the walls and floor and lowering the temperatures.
As the tour through the fort continued the guide mentioned that this was the place where the soldiers rested for a short time before they were expected to go back out to the front lines. At each new discovery it became apparent how dedicated the soldiers were to their cause and how much they sacrificed for that cause.
After leaving the fort we drove to the Douaumont Ossuary. Throughout the ride the countryside could be seen and it still bore the results of the war. Everywhere we looked there were huge divots in the ground where shells had hit during the war. Even after a century the changes and effects of the war could still be seen on the land.
The Douaumont Ossuary is the site of the final resting place of many of the unidentified soldiers from the war. We were told about the rooms where 130,000 unidentified soldiers from both the German and French side that were located right below our feet. This Ossuary was built by Charles Ginisty, the Bishop of Verdun, from donations that he gathered to create a cemetery for the bones of the fallen, and a place for families of MIA soldiers to come mourn their loss.
At the end of this day all the GTL students walked away with a different understanding of what the war meant. Viewing the living conditions of the soldiers, the battlefields, and the cemeteries makes WWI more tangible to us. It is far different to read about the numbers and events of WWI in a textbook compared to seeing firsthand the life of a foot solider.
One of my fellow students put the feeling that we were all feeling, but didn’t know quite how to express, into words:
“There is nothing quite like climbing out of the damp darkness, stepping into the sun that is just breaking through the clouds that have been hanging over it since morning, and scaling steep steps up the side of the fort. Standing atop the highest point in the countryside with the wind in your hair ….and realizing you’re standing on the bones of thousands of men that never made it out.”
The first weekend of the semester I had nothing planned going into the week. That wasn’t really what I had in mind for the start of the semester, but I wasn’t going to let anything hold me back from going somewhere new and having a weekend to remember!
I had to think that I wasn’t the only GTL student in this situation, so I turned to the GTL Facebook group and found other students that still didn’t have anything planned for the weekend. After a few of us had gotten together, the plans started to form. Since most of us still didn’t have a Eurail pass, we wanted to go somewhere on our list of countries that had cheap train tickets available for the weekend. One of my groupmates found roundtrip tickets to Luxembourg for 17€ and we were off for a day trip.
After a quick train ride we were in Luxembourg. Our first stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral, a quick walk from the train station.
The cathedral was filled with beautiful stained glass windows and detailed architectural sculptures. We walked around the cathedral admiring the artistry in the architecture, the murals on the walls, and the stories told in the stained glass.
After spending some time there we decided to head to the palace. Unfortunately, the palace wouldn’t start tours of the inside until vacation season starts in Europe in mid-summer. While we were there we stumbled upon a festival of sorts happening. It happened to be the day that Luxembourg celebrated Europe Day. We got a chance to walk around from booth to booth, each representing a different country in Europe. Each booth had material on tourist attractions in their country as well as some traditional foods and drinks. Even though this part of the day was unplanned it was a great opportunity to learn more about the other countries in Europe and where we wanted to go further in the summer.
The rest of the day we walked from attraction to attraction around Luxembourg. We went to the Casemates du Bock, were we saw the catacombs and the wall that once protected Luxembourg.
Casemates du Bock
We walked from the top of the Casemates du Bock down cobblestone ramps and winding stairs to the bottom of the valley to see the small creek that flowed through one of the small fields of flowers there.
Afterwards we headed across the valley to what remains of Fort Thüngen. Here we got the best view of Luxembourg and we spent a lot of time just enjoying the view, company, and good weather.
This was a great way to finish our first day of traveling at GTL. We returned to Metz and were excited to continue our summer traveling to new places and meeting new people.
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