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Month: February 2019

Meet Paul: Diving Into His Passion For Computer Engineering

My favorite class this semester so far has been my Mobile Applications and Services class. It is a really well-rounded class that is making me think about every element of a business and creating an application. I’m working on a team with another undergrad and a grad student (Boris, who I wrote about two weeks ago) but I also get to meet the other grad students in my class. This week I spoke to Paul, who is from Marseilles, in the south of France. It’s the second largest city in terms of number of inhabitants in France (and I’ll be visiting at the end of this semester)!

Paul, similarly to Boris, is doing a double degree with his French school ENSEA in Electrical and Computer Engineering. After completing this semester, he will be doing a 6 month internship, then in the January he will head to Atlanta, where he plans to graduate in May 2020. When I asked if he’s ever been to the States, he laughed and said no and asked me how it was. I’ve never been to Atlanta so I wasn’t sure but I told him he can definitely come visit me in Colorado!

The reason Paul decided to come to Georgia Tech-Lorraine was because he thought it was a good opportunity to get more experiences regarding his specialty, computer engineering and systems. This semester he is taking mobile applications and services, network securities, wireless networks and computer vision. While he doesn’t know specifically what he wants to do, he knows he wants to be a software engineer at some point. Regarding specific interests, he mentioned cloud engineering is of interest to him, but has worked in the past at an imaging company. At the imaging company, there were some similar topics to what he has learned in class, his favorite classes being computer vision and network securities. He likes the idea of working somewhere that is creating things that help people who are sick or have some sort of disease. Imaging is “fun” because he says “with a single scanner data you can reconstruct a whole patient’s body.” It’s definitely “100% creepy,” but really interests him, and he thinks it’s really important work.

He mentioned he is going to do an internship at a company called SAP, a software company, but is not sure what specific work he will be doing. They are the number one company in France, Oracle’s competitor, and do software services for different companies.

While he doesn’t go home a lot, he said he watches a lot of mini series and films in his free time. It was really great to get to know Paul better, and I’m looking forward to being in class with him. I really enjoy taking a class with graduate students because they bring a completely new perspective to the table. Especially the graduates students from France. In the next few weeks I will update everyone on more of my adventures as well as some more graduate students I meet!

See you soon!

Noa

Taking Advantage of All That Metz Offers: Meet Sommy!

The past couple weeks I had the pleasure of meeting two more graduate students! The first student I met I had actually seen before in my French class during our field trips to downtown Metz, and it was nice to get to know him. His name is Sommy, and he is doing a master’s in Mechanical Engineering while also doing a bachelors in applied languages and intercultural studies on the side. He is wrapping that up this final semester with a French capstone course with Dr. Ippolito (also my French teacher!) as well as 3 graduate classes.

Sommy completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and decided to do the combined bachelor’s and master’s (BS/MS) program. He’s studied French for a long time. For the first few years of his undergrad he didn’t take any French, but come his third year he decided to start Duolingo, and thought it would be a lot easier to hold himself accountable by registering for courses. That’s how he got started doing a French minor, and then did the LBAT program in Paris through Georgia Tech. He not only said that the summer study abroad was “absolutely wonderful” but that it also made it a “pretty easy decision” to go to GTL to continue his immersion in the French culture and language.

When I asked Sommy about his future after GTL, he said he is looking for jobs, and industry-wise he’s interested in renewable energy and maybe some aviation/aerospace as well. He’s keeping his options open in regards to where and what he wants to work – even considering both the US and France as potential places to work. He shared that as a graduate student he is required to be a part of seminar course where companies from all over come in and introduce themselves and talk about their projects/services. This allows for corporate relations and recruitment with students, and he said “the fact that we have that as a resource is really cool.”

He also mentioned that his interests align with staying in France after graduation in regards to allowing him to enjoy his hobbies, like soccer, during the week. In Europe, he can come back from work and watch the soccer game in the evening while in the States that would be during the work day. Sommy is an avid soccer player, and was really involved in the soccer community early on in his undergraduate at Georgia Tech.  There is “lots of appeal to social and recreational life in France as well that I have an inclination for,” and the 26 local soccer teams in Metz give Sommy a lot of options to play soccer, even in a relatively “small” town.

While being here Sommy has actually joined one of the soccer teams in Metz, spending the first week emailing 15 teams and trying out with 2. The one he ended up picking is an 8 minute bike ride away, allowing him to practice 4-5 times a week with games on the weekend. They needed a defender, which is his position, and recently it was his first time playing in such cold weather, since Atlanta weather never gets quite this bad. He laughed and said he felt like “bambi on ice,” with the snow in his eyes, it was a “beautiful and fun experience.”

Sommy mentioned something that I’ve been thinking about, saying that his main intention is to be more of a resident of the city, rather than book up every weekend to travel. When studying abroad before, he traveled so much that he doesn’t want to make the same mistake and not take in the city he is living in. This definitely was important for me to hear, since I’ve been booking every weekend to travel. It reminded me of the importance of taking a step back and appreciating where you are! I’m glad I met Sommy, and I wish him the best with all of his plans!

“Nutella is 58% Sugar, And My Body Can Tell”

I wasn’t initially expecting this, but last weekend was the best I’ve had since being abroad. I went to Paris, which is somewhere I’ve actually been twice before, and I think this is part of what made it such a good experience. I also think I am starting to get a little bit homesick. I don’t specifically “miss” home but I think I miss things that are familiar to me. For example, I bought a toaster at the store and that was the best thing that happened to me just because I could finally start eating more meals that I was familiar with. BUT, I also decided to buy nutella, and let’s just say it’s now hidden in the depths of my drawers since it is so bad for me. So going to Paris was important for the following reasons: First, I was staying with a family friend who was the best host and made me feel so welcome. Second of all, I had already been there so I wasn’t stressed that I had to see everything in 3 days and walk 12 miles like I did in Amsterdam. And third, I got some nice alone time – and more importantly I got to drink boba tea while I was there.

I took the train on Thursday evening, which was super easy since I only had to pay 10 euros to reserve a seat and it took an hour and a half. Our friend Lydia picked me up at the train station, and we went to her son’s house where we picked him up and went to eat shawarma and falafel. I think people reading this probably think that’s all I eat in addition to burgers, and at this point you are not wrong. During the week I don’t really have the chance to eat any meat or anything truly filling so these are good options for me. It was actually really delicious, and there are a lot of good falafel places in Paris, so of course we got some the next day too. That next day we also went to the Grand Palais because Lydia had tickets to a Miro and Michael Jackson exhibit. They were two different exhibits, and while we rushed through the Michael Jackson one (it was pretty weird and not our style), the Miro one was really up my alley. His art really developed and changed as he grew older and has a large range of styles.

After our falafel lunch, I spend my time exploring Paris alone. I went back to Notre Dame since that was my favorite spot from the last time I was here, and then found the boba place!!! It was probably the yummiest thai tea I’ve ever had. I went back home that night where I had a nice dinner with Lydia, and then I worked on my probability homework.

The next day I spent most of my time walking along Rue de Passy, which is right by Lydia’s apartment and close to the Eiffel Tower! There are a lot of nice shops, and afterwards I headed over to the Louvre – which I had free admission to as a student in France! I really love all the different sculptures and focused most of my time seeing the different Greek Gods before quickly seeing the Mona Lisa (there were so many people, and it wasn’t as special as I was hoping). Afterwards I had lunch at this cool American diner where I ate… you guessed it! A burger! For dinner that night I went back to Lydia’s house where she had her son’s family over and her husband.

I spent the rainy Sunday morning going to a Giacometti Art Exhibit with Lydia and her husband Ed, and really enjoyed that as well. His sculptures are really different and not like anything I’ve ever seen, almost creepy!

After our museum excursion, I spend most of the day working on homework, had some soup, and was honestly really sad to go! I got on the train home and after reflecting on this weekend, I think having that familiarity of people I know and a place I know better made it a lot more special than other weekends. I will definitely be back to Paris, and I am glad I did something more relaxed to remind myself of the normal pace of life.

The Cat Wasn’t Dead: A Weekend in Amsterdam

Hello!

It’s been a bit since I went, but I thought I would share about my experiences in Amsterdam! It was my second weekend trip and for a while before I actually came to Metz, I knew I wanted that to be my first “big” trip. By then I had my Eurail pass activated so 3 other friends and I decided to plan out the trains, reserve a hostel, and go! A few things I learned about the last minute planning are that the good hostels go kind of fast if you need enough beds for multiple people but otherwise everything is pretty easy to plan.

We decided to leave Friday morning and chose trains that didn’t have any required reservations which basically means we don’t have to pay any extra for the trains alongside our Eurail. Our first train to Luxembourg went fairly smoothly except for we accidentally got off one stop before, frantically asked a lot of people if this was the right stop and then hopped right back on the train before it continued. As a pro tip, if you are going on a train with its final destination being a larger destination, and you are the only people that are getting off, you are PROBABLY not there yet!

From Luxembourg we had to get on a train to Brussels, and we thought we were fine and could sleep until midway through the ride the train operator says some words in French, all my friends look at me to see if I understood, and a man came over to tell us in French that the weather is bad and the train is stopping at some random stop where we will need to transfer. Honestly, this didn’t really stress me out because I feel like there are so many options for trains and flights, and it was only Friday, so worst case we could always hop on a train back home. We walked towards the exit and met another guy who laughed and told us “Welcome to Belgium. The trains here are always like this.” We talked to him for a while, which made it more of a funny experience, and then got on another train.

Oh, you think we’d get there by now? No, this is where the fun starts! After waiting at the train station, we missed our first train because of the signs not actually showing Amsterdam, another train being stopped early, and finally 11 hours later instead of 7 we made it. By the way, the best part of the train stations is that you need to pay to use the restrooms. No wonder they need free healthcare… everyone holds their pee and doesn’t get to drink water for free… seems like a problem.

Finally we arrived in Amsterdam, and I thought the only thing we need is to get to the hostel and lay down for a second to feel better. Everyone reading this is probably thinking, “Noa, you had such a long and stressful first trek. Whatever larger force is out there that controls people’s fate will give you a good place to rest.” Well that’s what I hoped too, but we arrived to the hostel where I think, “this will be okay,” until I look at the beds and see a large lump, which did not move and turned out to be a cat. For about 5 minutes my friends and I looked at the cat, looked at each other, made some noise, and concluded that the cat was most definitely dead.

At that point, I’m laughing but horrified, trying to find other places to stay, and eventually we go down to reception to ask if someone can remove the deceased cat from our room. “Oh yeah,” they told us, “that’s the hostel cat, she’s really old so she might be dead but maybe not.” Long story short, the cat wasn’t dead, just very old and stiff, probably deaf, and really unkempt. And it kept coming back into the room in the middle of the night until I declared to the staff that I was allergic so that they would keep the cat away. I am not even allergic, I love cats, but I learned I’m not a huge fan of hostel cats.

Morning in Amsterdam

OK, so that was honestly the only couple hiccups in the trip. After we dropped off and locked up our backpacks, we headed to get dinner at a wok place which was really yummy and went back to bed. The next morning, all of my friends wanted to go see the Van Gogh Museum and had tickets, so I decided I wanted to walk more around downtown. This was hard for me at first, because I knew I didn’t really want to go to the museum but I struggled worrying that I’d be missing out. This was a huge learning experience for me because walking around Amsterdam in the morning alone was the best decision I could’ve made. I was saving most of my “museum” budget for Monet-related exhibits since he is my favorite painter, and I hope to visit his house, so I was happy with my decision. Instead I had a yummy croissant and jasmine tea and walked all around the tulip market and through some stores. For lunch I met back up with my friends at a pancake house, got a burger (because this is me we are talking about), and then we went to another outdoor market.

Tulips!

All the markets were really nice and I am glad they are open year round, but it was definitely really cold! For dinner we went to a fun place called FoodHallen, which was basically a lot of different food stands indoors. I ate a chicken shawarma with french fries that tasted nothing like it does in Israel, but it was still really yummy!

After that we had tickets to go to the Anne Frank House, which was really important to me. We spent a lot of time there, really learning about the history and each individual that spent time in that home and those who helped the Frank family. It was very difficult to see but absolutely something that everyone needs to be educated about. I think the part that stuck with me the most was how it initially felt rather big, but that then you realize they spent two years in there living in absolute fear, and it feels a lot smaller. If you are going to visit this museum, which I think everyone should, I would suggest going on an off time if there is one because even in the evening there were a lot of people and it made you have to through a little bit more rushed. Afterwards, we headed back to our hostel and went to bed.

It was a really quick trip, and the train ride home went a lot smoother with no delays. Despite all of the issues that occurred, I’m actually really happy they happened because I learned a lot about myself. I now know what I am more comfortable with and am completely fine with straying from the group to make sure I am experiencing my travels the way I want to. I would definitely go back when it’s a little bit warmer so I can experience more things without having to plan around what keeps me warm!

Finding His Niche at Georgia Tech-Lorraine: Meet Boris!

The other student I met this past week was actually a graduate student in my Mobile Applications and Services (CS 4261) class. While our class only started out with 3 students, we had three more graduate students join (all which I’ll interview eventually!) and 3 more undergraduates. The student I spoke to was Boris, who is a French student that attended EPF, an engineering school near Paris. At his other school his studies focused in the IT field, specifically in information systems and management for companies.That being said, for graduate school he is more focused on the computer part of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) because he has less background on the electrical part, and he feels like that fits with the graduate program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

He described his studies at Georgia Tech-Lorraine as a dual-degree master in ECE which he explained saying, “some people do just one semester at GTL but for me it’s 2 semesters at GTL, then an internship to graduate from my engineering school, and then I go to Atlanta next spring.” His internship program sounded intriguing to me, and while he doesn’t know what the internship will be yet, he was able to go to a graduate seminar to see what the internship possibilities are. Boris even applied to a company and is interviewing next week.

When I asked about his future and what his interests are, he said he is focused more on development and problem solving than research. He likes cryptography, and is also really interested in the network security class with Dr. Paul Voss. “I am more focused on having a job-related view about these fields. I don’t want to work in robotics, so it’s helpful to have classes that are more related to what I want to work in.” He said it’s kind of a “blur” regarding where he wants to work and while he doesn’t want to do research he wants to work somewhere he can do a project, work on something from end to end, and wants to experiment with new technologies to help companies improve their processes. (I couldn’t help thinking that this was similar to what I had talked about with Elizabeth!)

The story of how Boris ended up going to Georgia Tech is a little different from most. While he is from Paris, he chose to go to Georgia Tech when his previous school offered it since he had actually been living in Atlanta for his previous internship. He saw the campus and thought it was amazing, and even his roommate back in Atlanta was a student at Tech. He mentioned that the main difference between his last school and GT is the quality of the assignments and faculty. “People have a really deep knowledge in their fields, so you can ask good questions and improve as a student.”

Since Boris is from France, he doesn’t stay in Metz over the weekend because he spends that time visiting family in Paris. When he is in Metz however, he spends his time at events hosted in the ALOES dorm and rock climbing with other graduate students.

I’m really glad I have the opportunity to meet all the graduate students, especially since I am taking classes with some of them – and their stories are really interesting!

Meet Elizabeth – Grad Student Extraordinaire!

This past week school has definitely started to pick up a little bit. While I am still spending time getting to know Metz and traveling around, I’m still my good old stressed-out self and making sure I’m understanding all my school materials before I leave on a weekend trip. I visited both Amsterdam and Paris, which I’ll share about another time, but for this week I got to interview two different graduate students about their experiences at Georgia Tech Lorraine!

The first student I met is Elizabeth, who is an Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) graduate student with a concentration on telecom. She did ECE as an undergraduate student at University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) with an English minor, before coming to Georgia Tech in Atlanta for graduate school.

Part of the reason she actually chose Georgia Tech was because of the fact they have Georgia Tech-Lorraine as an option. She is doing her graduate degree at the Atlanta campus, and because most graduate schools don’t have study abroad opportunities and she wasn’t able to study abroad in her undergrad, Georgia Tech was the perfect fit.

When I asked why she wanted to go to grad school, she shared that it’s mostly because she needs more time to figure out what exactly she wants to do, and get more specialized in ECE. There are so many things that she wants to have more specific knowledge in, since undergrad is more surface-level and graduate school is more focused.

The graduate classes sound pretty similar in their structure to undergraduate courses, but most graduate students take around 3 classes and have a strong focus. Elizabeth is in her second semester and is taking the start-up lab course, 1 online class (wireless networks), and a network security class with Dr. Voss. So far she likes network security a lot since it covers interesting topics such as encryption and all things that she feels that she has seen before, but didn’t fully understand at the time.

The startup class is also really interesting for her and she said that, “It’s cool because we have a startup project and pitch it to people in France to see what they think.” It really gives the hands on experience and ties in her post grad school interests.

Regarding her interests after graduate school, she shared that she is interested more in telecom which is a change for her because she has always done software related studies. When I asked more about that she said, “I like to find out what exactly is going underneath the surface, and telecom looks into that.”  After having worked at big companies and very small companies, she prefers the small companies because she doesn’t like the bureaucracy of big companies, and with a small startup she feels you get to take more initiative and see a project from start to end.

Lastly, when I asked her about how life was just living in Metz, her excitement was what I’ve been feeling during my first couple weeks as well: “I never would have actually considered living abroad until I came here and now I’m like, wait, this is fun!”

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