To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Author: Julie (Page 4 of 4)

Connecting the New & Old with Innovation


The Roman Baths in Trier, Germany.

Posted by Julie

Saturday morning began my first weekend travels while on board at Georgia Tech-Lorraine with a scheduled trip for my International Affairs class. Let me assure you, however, that despite not choosing the destination myself, I certainly enjoyed the destination: Trier, Germany. This oldest city in Germany hosts many other places – from basilicas to bridges to Roman baths – all a boasting part of the same epithet “the oldest.” It seems that everything in Trier is Europe’s oldest!

Yes, everything we saw was thousands of years old, but we connected with it because we as engineers build and sustain a lifestyle through that which we build, similar to the Romans and their aqueducts and baths. The preservation and history at the first layers of the city amaze me, and the more modern pieces sprung up around the centerpieces of a former culture. If anything, I think that shows that the plan of a Roman city is as useful and applicable to our needs today as they were in 300 AD.

The International Affairs class I am taking focuses on the European Union and its politics, and this visit to Roman ruins and the city built from them were meant to connect the past to the present to promote understanding of what the EU is as what it is remains under debate. By the comparison and contrast of these enormous powers and organizations, we start to draw lines between the two – lines which lend themselves to the definition of the European Union as well.

The European Union has always been this organization blooming on the other side of the ocean, unifying countries I’d only heard of in my history classes and shaping an entire continent. I knew little about it, except that I liked its initiatives, and it had many similar complaints lodged against it as the United States’ government. Now, the lettering in textbooks is morphing into a livelihood and culture.

Through this voyage, we learned a lot about what the EU is as a system of organization and legislation, but were able to see its effects in just our travels to Trier alone. We crossed the borders of three countries within a two hour bus ride without stopping for passport checks or border control. In fact, the border control checkpoints were almost all torn down – and the only one we saw was in the process of destruction! (I think the fact that we had visited three countries in two hours was a bit dizzying for me, as I would have to drive probably about a day or more to leave the United States from my home.) For our traditional German lunch of sauerkraut, bratwurst, and potato dumplings, we were able to pay with the same money we used in our home base of Metz.


Notifications from my friend’s phone company of changes in service country.

The ease of travel and experience was a beautiful benefit to the legislation brought into effect by the European Union, but we discussed the drawbacks as well. These drawbacks were seen in recent days, too, and are under fire due to happenings such as the Paris attacks. It was interesting to know that there is such a dramatic difference between the sides of this Euro coin.

On a serious note, this is also my plug for how beneficial traveling can be in terms of education and understanding of other cultures, lives, and viewpoints. Travel can not only be a wonderfully personal experience of something new, but also something so touching as interacting with someone else who lives and breathes a life and language different than one’s own is absolutely unforgettable.

New Country, New Experiences

Posted by Julie

Needless to say, touching down in France was an exciting experience. Strangely enough, hulking tubes of metal flying through the air around 600 miles per hour are not generally my thing, but an even more pressing emotion was the excitement of arriving in a new place. Everything becomes an adventure when abroad – even traversing the airport.

My day, though typically over several hours before we landed, was far from over, as there was luggage to collect, a bus to find and catch, and a dorm to move into. Thankfully, all of those steps went seamlessly. If anything can be said about the whole process, it’s that after twenty-five years, all the lovely people at Georgia Tech-Lorraine know what they’re doing.

And after twenty-five years, they’re still welcoming and excited to help us. A pizza party was held in our honor upon our arrival, and a welcoming party the next day. My favorite part of the last few days, though, was the donation free-for-all; I think its existence really shows how much thought they have put into the program – and how much they do to make things easier for the students. Uprooted from home, where we have built our lives already, and leaving on a jet plane, it’s hard to take some things with the limiting factors. We could definitely drop one hundred euro easily on prepping our rooms just with the basic necessities – from hand soap to loose-leaf paper – but they have organized a program to ease that pain.

"La politesse" reigned at the GTL-dorm equipment-free-for-all

“La politesse” reigned at the
 GTL-dorm equipment-free-for-all

The donation session consisted of a room chocked full of donations from previous students – anything they couldn’t or just didn’t want to bring back home. The tables and floor were covered with everything from fancy bowls to laundry basket and drying racks to fans and hair dryers to old textbooks and school supplies. Nearly everything that any student could dream of having was sitting in this land of plenty, and we had two minutes to select all that we wanted (i.e., all that we could carry). I’ve never been hardcore Black Friday shopping, but I would imagine this invoked a similar sentiment – though everyone was gracious and no one started brawling over items.

Now that the adrenaline has waned, though, it’s time to settle into classes for the semester. I’ve already heard great things about course topics and teachers, and we’re only through our first full day! Here’s to a fulfilling semester for all of our goals, whether academic, experiential, travel-oriented, cultural, or otherwise.

Leaping Out of
 the Comfort Zone

My plane from the windows of Hartsfield-Jackson airport in July 2014.

Posted by Julie

Five hundred and forty-four days. That, my friends, is the equivalent of 11,712 hours, or 4.7 × 107 seconds. (A third of which I’ve probably spent sleeping, as painful as that thought is.) It is also the length of time since I last embarked on a journey that has left my stomach this tightly in knots. I can feel my chest tightening, where the stress epicenter builds just beneath my rib cage a few inches below by collarbone. My arms also somehow seems nonexistent, almost as if the nerves have quit sending their neuropathic messages to my brain – or my brain has stopped listening.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am lucky enough to be able to say that I have been abroad before; in fact, I was just settling into my designated seating area for the next nine hours of my flight into Charles de Gaulle, the international airport in Paris, France just 488 days ago. That happened to mark the start of my first international flight, let alone my first trip outside the United States ever, and I was taking that journey alone. Just for the record, I was definitely not scared out of my wits.

(Except I was.)

Before the parental hugs, removing my shoes for security, the terrific little rolls on the plane, and touching down in a city that was much colder than I ever imagined could be in the middle of July, I had never spent more than a week away from my family, and those weeks were always spent at camp, so the independence was still limited. I was a doe-eyed high school graduate who only knew she wanted to travel the world, and had managed to convince her parents of the benefits of this foreign exchange program. So, I had reasons to be terrified then, but I had to ponder a bit more as to why I’m terrified now.

I have always been a firm believer that sometimes being thrown in the deep end is the best option you’ve got. Life has a funny way of taking you places you never imagined, but that trip put me in a better place than I had been previously. Rewind to January 5th, 2014: my acceptance to the Georgia Institute of Technology arrived. Fast-forward a bit to late April the same year: my college plans were set in stone (or at least printed on the deposit receipt to Tech), and while I was happy that I even had the opportunity to go to college, I was worried about my happiness both on campus and beyond in my career. Was this really what I wanted to do with my life? I was so drenched with worry even a raincoat wouldn’t help, but as I was boarding that plane, steadily the experience took over until my brain was so lost in the present and so entirely detached from the worry that I was able to think clearly – logically even – about my future.

Now, after changing my major and other major life events, I have some more questions to ponder while I live in a foreign country 4,523 miles away from my home (in a place that doesn’t even use miles as a unit of measurement), so let’s just say I’m more stressed out than a cat on a surfboard in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane. But I’m all right with that. Everything is A-OK with me, because my toes are on the edge of the diving board, and I just might even discover something new during my swim.

Care to join me?

Counting down to departure!

IMG950174[1]Why, fancy meeting you here! 

Welcome to the official blog of Georgia Tech-Lorraine. I’ll be your host for spring 2016, Julie, featuring the vibrant town of Metz, France. I am a concert enthusiast and architecture geek, currently studying Industrial Engineering as a proud Yellow Jacket. Using my insider perspective, it’s my hope to depict all different facets of living and traveling abroad with Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

Mere days after the big countdown celebrating the beginning of another calendar year, another countdown is about to climax, and this one commenced circa six months ago. I’m speaking of the countdown to Georgia Tech-Lorraine! Never have I ever been this excited to go back to school – and I am a self-professed nerd.

All the planning and organizing – applying for a passport, and then a visa, and all of the research and shopping and packing – has lead up to these moments. After all the queries fulfilled through random Google searches and all the travel blogs read, it’s time to step over the landing and start the adventure.

Bon voyage!

Posted by Julie

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