To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Month: May 2017

The Final Countdown

I can’t believe that this semester is finally coming to end. What has been by far the most memorable part of my time at college is now pretty much over. The language and culture change has been hard on me, and I definitely miss the USA, but this has still been an amazing experience that I’m sure I will never forget. Last year I made an impulse decision to apply for this program, despite never really putting much thought into the prospect of traveling across the Atlantic before. Luckily for me the decision turned out be a good one, and I hope to return to Europe soon if another opportunity ever arises.

Me, eating pizza.

Despite this being finals week, I made the questionable decision to take 3 days to visit some people in Germany I had met online. That sounds even crazier when I write it out, but it really was quite amazing. Being a little bit of a nerd, I play a few online games, and by random chance in a game of DotA (a video game, the title of which is Defense of the Ancients), I met a German girl named Sara, who invited me to play with her group of friends as apparently I seemed like a “nice, normal person.” Over the next 2 months I got to know this group pretty well and spent a considerable amount of time talking over a voice chat channel and playing video games with them. As they knew my time in Europe was coming to an end soon, they invited me to come visit them in Northern Germany for a weekend, which, given my spread-out finals schedule, actually worked out. The weekend was so much fun and now I have 6 new German friends that have asked me to come visit again if I ever find myself in Europe. The one thing that I felt was missing from this semester was making close friends with some people that live here and in my very last weekend I got to do just that. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to wrap up my European experience.

A picture I took of the Eiffel Tower on my first trip.

Looking back over everything now, there were a lot of awkward moments, but also many incredible ones. Some frustration, but more delight. Despite the negatives, there is no doubt that overall this was an incredibly positive experience. The same can be said about being a blogger on this trip.

Although I sometimes dreaded writing articles every week, I am so glad I took the opportunity to write for GTL and to hopefully share some of my positive experiences with others. I really do feel like much more of a global citizen now, and that is one of the most important things I hoped to get out of this semester. Also, holy cow, the food was so good. You can’t discount the way that incredible food can improve an experience, and even my own cooking was something that I came to be very proud of by the end.

As someone who as only ever left the United States a few times, and never beyond the North American continent, I now value travel so much more than I did, and understand now how important it is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations every now and then. I have most certainly grown, both as an individual and as a member of the world’s population (but unfortunately not in height) and I am excited for what the future holds for me and everyone who has been a student here over the past 4 months.

Final Blog Post *sobs*

Well GTL, this is it. This is my last post. Amidst the impending chaos of final exams and the packing and cleaning of dorm rooms, I think it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that this is the last week we have as a group in Metz. Reflecting on my semester, it seems like only a week ago that a very jet-lagged and food-poisoned girl walked into orientation and met her professors for the first time. Now as an engineer, it is my job to provide you with the hard data results of travels.

Weekends Traveled: 15

Countries Visited: 9

Cities Visited: 20

Museums Visited: 18

Classes Taken: 4

Travel Mishaps: 8

Now, before you go making graphs, fellow engineers, I would like to share that a GTL experience cannot possibly be measured with just numbers. Not in the above statistics: The amazing lifelong friendships, the feeling of being alone in a place with a language and culture far different from your own, identifying with a city where you don’t even speak the language, and learning more about the history of the world than you have in your whole life prior to coming. This feeling of novelty, of being out of my comfort zone, and this feeling of wonder when I learn new things about the world I didn’t know before will be hard to hold onto when I go back to the US.

Now that I am done uncontrollably sobbing about going home, here is a detailed account of some of my favorite memories every weekend. Planning a trip to one of these places? Check out my favorite things!

In Heidelberg, the first city I visited, my favorite memory was standing in the Heidelberg Castle grounds, looking at the city below. I will never forget the look on my friend’s face as he looked out over the valley. It was his first time in Europe.

In Paris, I loved the Hall of Impressionists in the Musee D’Orsay. I remember the light feeling I had looking at the Degas paintings, inspired to dance and do ballet again. This is when I truly made a new friend, my fellow blogger Sam.

In Salzburg, I loved talking to the Australian guy in our hostel. He came with our group to get dinner and we learned so much about his culture, and he about ours.

In Prague, I loved going to the communist museum. Reading about the communist occupation of the Czech Republic from the perspective of someone who lived through it was truly eye-opening. It proved to me that we can’t be complacent in the world, because terrible things were happening in our parent’s lifetimes.  

In Garmisch Partenkirchen, I skied with an infinite view of the top of the world. It reminded me how small I was, and how lucky I was to experience such beautiful nature. I also got to know a really great group of people, and experience their wacky skiing mishaps with them. It really brought us together.

In Venice I loved going to the Doge’s palace. I learned about the immense wealth and power the city state had, and how much that sea-based land could be worth.

In Rome, I loved the Roman forum, standing in the footsteps of the greatest ancient civilization and realizing that our world has come a long way since Roman times. The ruins reminded me that nothing is forever.

In Florence, I learned that art is captivating, and the more life-like the painting or sculpture the more talented the artist. I also became friends with two amazing people here. (What up Bryston and Peugh!)

In Cinque Terre, I loved hiking to each of the villages. Each were unique in their own right. I felt strong and happy.

In Amsterdam, I thought the Van Gogh museum was beautiful. It reminded me that things don’t have to be exact to be beautiful, and don’t have to be completely real to make you feel.

In Berlin, I loved going on the walking tour. It showed me that my love of history doesn’t just belong to me. Looking at all of the people in my group made me realize I love this earth, and we can learn a lot from our history, good and bad.

In Krakow, I visited Auschwitz. I walked the path of the millions that were slaughtered. It reminded me that hate cannot be allowed to win, and acceptance is the only course of action.

In Munich, I loved the Deutsches Museum. It reminded me why I became an engineer, and gave me back that childlike sense of wonder for science that I had forgotten in school.

In Interlacken, I learned to push myself. I didn’t give up, and rode 28 miles on rough hilly terrain. Even though I needed to rest I pushed through and I am very proud of myself.

In Stuttgart, I visited my exchange student and attended Wasen, the big festival. I made great friends and I really felt a part of traditional German culture.

My experiences are unlike anyone else’s. They are uniquely mine, and I am infinitely lucky to have been able to experience them. So if you can, come make memories. Travel. Be outside your comfort zone. Because you will grow so much. Thank you all, and to all good night.

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