To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Author: Lina Zikas (Page 3 of 3)

Dorm Room Cooking Hacks

I live in Aloes, which is great in its proximity to Cora and GTL, as well as its reasonable price. The only drawback is the fact that you have to use the communal kitchens for cooking. They are often a bit too crowded, and let’s face it, I am a bit too lazy to carry all my pots, pans and cooking supplies down to the kitchen. So, as a resourceful young student, I have learned to make a few hot meals using a microwave, toaster oven, and tea kettle.
Ok, so Aloes rooms don’t come with toaster ovens and kettles, but you can buy both at Cora for under 30 euros. Definitely worth it!
Having a toaster oven effectively means that you have an oven. My favorite thing to make in my toaster oven is loaded potatoes. It’s quick, easy, and really good.
Loaded Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • New potatoes (that are small enough to cook in the toaster oven)
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese (I find that Cora’s 3 cheese blend is nice)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned corn
  • Chives
  • Optional: Add some crumbled up cold cuts! I had some leftover chicken that I sprinkled on top
Recipe
  1. Stab the potatoes with a fork and brush with olive oil
  2. Wrap in foil, and let bake in the toaster oven for 45 minutes, or until soft
  3. Take out the potatoes and cut a slit down the middle. Place cheese, tomato sauce, corn and meat inside.
  4. Put the loaded potatoes back in the toaster oven and bake for another 5 minutes
  5. Enjoy!


    Reheating one of my baked potatoes I made earlier this week.

Having a kettle is a great way to boil water without a pan and stove. I like to make hard boiled eggs, pasta and rice. If you are making pasta or rice, use a thermal bag (sold at Cora), to make sure that the pasta and rice on the heating element don’t burn up.

I drink tea every time I get back from school. I love my kettle. Her name is Roberta.

 
The other food that turns out really well in the toaster oven is quesadillas! Below is my favorite recipe, although you can make all kinds of variations of quesadillas.
Quesadillas
Ingredients:
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Mexican cheese blend
  • Onions
  • Green Peppers
  • Tomato
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Chorizo (pre cooked, sold at Cora)
  • Rice
Recipe
  1. Preheat toaster oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice onions, green peppers, and the tomato.
  3. Place a tortilla out flat, and on half of it, put a layer of cheese, peppers, onions and tomato. Sprinkle chorizo inside.
  4. Fold tortilla in half and place it in the toaster oven for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  5. Enjoy with rice (as pictured below), cooked in a tea kettle!

For especially lazy days, Cora microwavable meals come in clutch.

 
Doesn’t that sound appetizing? I know right? My mouth is just watering writing this blog. Ok, ok, this recipe is absolutely mouth watering. I love popcorn, especially the caramel variety. It’s really impossible to find it in France though. This recipe is the perfect cure for homesickness.

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

 

Recipe
  1. Pop ½ cup uncooked popcorn and place in a large brown paper bag (sold at Cora).
  2. To make the caramel, throw the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and kosher salt in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. After one minute, take it out and stir it and then microwave it again for 1 minute or until boiling. Be careful not to burn it!
  3. Add baking soda and vanilla to caramel and mix it up.
  4. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir it up in the brown bag.
  5. Roll down the top of the brown paper bag and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, keeping the bag closed, and shake it vigorously. The microwave for another minute, and shake it up again.
  6. Pour some salt in the bag to taste and shake it up.
  7. Enjoy!

Paris: The City of Rivets

Ah, the city of love. It is a place chock-full of art, architecture, and history. I mean, if you tried to read the entire history of Paris, you would be reading a book and not this blog post. Instead, I will let you in on some eclectic historical trivia that I encountered on my way through the city.
Upon arrival in Paris, after checking into our cozy bed and breakfast, my companions and I metro-ed over to the Champs-Élysees, which is a beautiful street populated with high-end fashion stores, restaurants and car makers. It is also the street on which the Arc De Triomphe is located. It was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon, then emperor of France. He wanted a monument to represent the glory of France’s grand army. The Arc has been very symbolic throughout France’s history. Every time Paris is taken over, either by the Germans such as in 1940, or taken back by the French, such as in 1945, victory marches are led beneath the Arc. This occurred in World War I as well. Standing beneath it was truly awe-inspiring.

The Arc de Triumph is the perfect monument to show military prowess.

 
Would any Paris post be complete without the Eiffel Tower? The tower was initially built for the World’s Fair in 1889. The main architects for the project, Maurice Koechlin and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, had previously worked on the Statue of

Pictured above: A small blonde blogger and about 2.5 million rivets

Liberty project together. It took 2.5 million rivets to hold the structure together. If you gave everyone in Atlanta 4 rivets, you still would not have enough rivets to build the Eiffel tower. The tower was meant to be temporary, and was scheduled to be torn down in 1909.  However, it was saved because officials argued that it could

be used as a telegraph tower. In World War I, it was instrumental in intercepting enemy communications.


 My favorite part of the trip was my visit to the Musee D’Orsay, home to the most impressive collection of impressionist art in the world. The museum contains paintings and sculptures all the way from the classical era to post-impressionism. Walking around the arrays of priceless paintings was simply amazing. My favorite area however, was the Hall of Impressionists. Containing famous Monet, Degas, Renoir and Pissarro paintings, this hall showed lots of

Here is my favorite Degas painting in the Musee D’Orsay.

priceless masterpieces. I especially love Degas because he usually paints and sculpts ballerinas as his subjects. As a ballet dancer, the way he captures the motion and fluidity of this style of dance really speaks to me.


Next, we visited the Notre Dame cathedral. This was an amazing experience for me. The cathedral began construction in the 1163, where local serfs and artists were employed to make the monument. It took 182 years to complete, and it is considered the epitome of French gothic architecture. It is also cited for being the first building to utilize flying buttresses in its design. Going inside and looking up into the vast space made me really emotional. All of the stones had been laid by hand, all of the sculptures carefully carved, every mosaic artfully decorated, by people whose memories would live on in the historic building. I, more than 500 years later, was seeing their work.

The most iconic example of Gothic Architecture.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was our meal at L’Encrier. The restaurant served classic French food in three courses, and my group was the only non-Parisian group inside. We couldn’t understand the menu (none of us spoke French well enough), so we each ordered something at random. I ordered a pork dish, which came with the best zucchini I have ever had in my life. Watching us try our best with the French, and listening in to our appreciative “mmmmms” the wait staff brought us an extra dessert and wished us well on our trip. It felt like a truly authentic Parisian experience, which juxtaposed well with our otherwise touristy trip. All in all, it was an enriching weekend.

From Procrastination to Proactivity: How I Ended up at a Handball Game

This past week, sitting in the student common area of the lounge, surfing the internet and procrastinating, I came across an advertisement for the handball world cup, which, don’t you know it, was going on in Metz. I shouted over to my friend if he wanted to go see the game, and in no time at all, I had impulse bought four tickets to the Spain-Angola game taking place later that night.
I have never played handball in my life. I didn’t know the rules, or even the object of the game, but I know that the sport is very popular in the European Union. After a quick Google search, I learned the basics: The object of the game is the throw the ball – surprisingly, about the size of your hand – into the opposing team’s net. You can take a maximum of three steps with the ball unless you dribble, and may only possess the ball for 3 seconds before throwing it.
That night, I set out on the Mettis bus to the stadium in downtown. After entering and finding our seats, the spectacle began. The game was fast-paced, high-scoring, and – best of all – exciting. Right in the first five minutes, Angola’s goalie (Ha! Try saying that 5 times fast), was injured and had to be replaced. About 15 minutes later, the replacement goalie had been given a red card, and the injured man was forced to return. Although he could barely walk, he still managed to block many shots by jumping in front of them.

Angola, sadly, lost terribly, scoring only 20 points to Spain’s impressive 42. Even though the game was definitely a total blow-out, it was still an amazingly immersive experience to be part of the crowd at such a traditional, celebrated European sporting event. This is what immersion is all about.

First Impressions & New Lessons

Welcome to Metz! Beginning with a whirlwind of orientations, jetlag, a nasty case of food poisoning, and a few emergency trips to the colossus of a grocery store known a Cora, getting settled in Metz has been difficult to say the least. However, we simply cannot let sleep deprivation or projectile vomiting get in the way of finding our place in this beautiful city. We start in the Metz-Technopole area where we go to school, eat, sleep, and shop for groceries. Then, we venture downtown to visit the shops and restaurants and experience the local atmosphere.
In addition to its appealing centralized location, situated perfectly for easy travel to many destinations, Metz can also boast a rich 3000 year old history. That’s right! You heard me. 3000 years. 3000. Years. According to the official Metz tourism website, it all started in the 5th-3rd centuries B.C. Celts settled the region and named it Divodurum. Then, in 451, Attila the Hun burned it to the ground. Cool, right? (Or hot, I suppose.)
In the fourth century, the region was renamed Mettis. Sound familiar? In the 6th century, it became the capital of Austria and was renamed Metz: the name we all know and love today. Then, like pretty much the rest of Europe, it came under Roman occupation in the 10th century. Next came the crazy German-French turf war that the Lorraine region was subjected to until after World War II. France begins with Metz in 1552, but oh no, what’s this, Germany takes it over in 1871, but France – never to be outdone – takes it back in 1918. Germany, angrily and with

Bus map of Metz.

Nazis, takes it back for the brief period of 1940 to 1944, whereupon the Treaty of Versaille is written and everyone has decided that yep, Metz is French.

I had been itching to visit the main city of Metz since my arrival here. On a cold and cloudy Wednesday, an icy drizzle trickling down from the sky, I decided it was high time I acquired a cell phone plan that wouldn’t require me to sell my left arm to pay for the roaming charges. After weighing many options, I decided that Free Mobile was the right plan for me. After asking Elise (my wonderful French roommate) how to use the bus system I set out armed with my coat, hat, scarf and gloves to find the free mobile kiosk in the Metz city center. Asking my similarly food-poisoned friend to accompany me, we walked to the bus stop, bought our tickets and made our way into the city.

This is what the view from my dorm looked like the first night of staying at the Aloes dormitory. Pretty, right?

 

Here is a picture of me holding my handwritten directions in front of the Metz train station. Totally looks like a cathedral, right?

My confused, telephone-less, non French-speaking self accidentally exited the bus at a stop near the train station. Walking up to it, I thought it was a cathedral, with its soaring towers, tall arched windows and seemingly endless length. Despite the freezing rain, I simply had to get a picture.

On a sheet of paper, I had written down directions on how to get to the Free Mobile store from the station. What my internet search had neglected to tell me, however, was that the street signs are placed near the second story of the buildings. After a few minutes of cold and aimless wandering, I discovered this fact and began a victory dance that drew some strange glances. Nevertheless, I made my way, sans Google Maps, to the store.  

Here is what the main shopping street of Metz looks like. I love the classic architecture of the second story and up of the buildings juxtaposed with the modern storefronts.

After purchasing my SIM card, I wandered over to a nearby cafe to get some lunch. After clumsily ordering in broken French, (I said “Je voudrais le poulet,” which I think means I would like the chicken, and then I subsequently forgot that the word for sandwich is just…sandwich…) I had purchased a beautiful victory sandwich to enjoy before the cold journey home. Long story short, non-french speaking people, if you want to eat food other than chicken or sandwiches, it is a good idea to come prepared with the Google Translate app, at the very least.

Note from the editor: With Google Translate, and with other apps as well, you can download an entire language offline!

GTL Staff Spotlight: Mme. Leslie

Sometimes you encounter a person that radiates the most pleasant of auras. Leaving her office after this interview, I simply couldn’t stop smiling to myself.
Leslie Lourador, HR coordinator and Executive Assistant to the Director at GT Lorraine, is an integral part of the GTL staff. For the past two years, she has acted as an assistant to the director of the whole school, as well as managing the contracts, holidays, payroll, and concerns of all of the faculty and staff of this institution, in addition to requesting financial aid from the regional office to hire PhD and postdoctoral students and to finance research projects. She was born in Metz, and has lived in the region for most of her life, and she went to university at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the international environment. The environment is very dynamic with all the young people running around; every day is different. I also enjoy the small staff. We definitely are close because we have a human-sized team. Oh, and I love my view. From my window I can see the lake, and the Technopole. It is very beautiful.
Do you have any advice for students?
Travel as much as you can before you enter the professional world. That’s what I would do if I were your age. Also, don’t be afraid of change and making bold decisions. If in a few years you decide you want to do something else, don’t be afraid to give it a try. It’s not the end of the world.
What are your hobbies and interests?

I started yoga six months ago. This is really good because it helps with stress and tension. I also love to travel. Recently I have been to LA, and New York, which I enjoyed very much. I also love reading contemporary fiction in French and English.

GTL is lucky to have such a wonderful woman working so hard on its staff! Thank you, Leslie!

Taking Advice from Professors

A List of Advice from my Professors, and what all of it means:
This semester at GTL, I am taking four classes with three wonderful professors and two rockin’ TAs. At the beginning of class, usually somewhere between the professor’s introduction of him or herself and the reading of the syllabus, each of my professors have offered a bit of advice to traveling students. Here is a list of some of the sage wisdom of my professors, and how it might help us students balance the chaotic blend of study and travel.
1. It’s a study abroad program, not a travel abroad program.
I am pretty sure every single one of my professors and TA’s reminded us of this fact. Yes, we are here to travel and enjoy our stay, explore Europe and become global citizens. However, most of us chose this program because the engineering classes are comparable to the ones at Georgia Tech. That means that yep, you guessed it, they are going to be a lot of work. Probably more than we are imagining. In the wise words of Professor Patoor, my Deformable Bodies professor, “Leave a little time for studies too, eh!”

 

Students get ready for class

2. Planning trips takes time.
In addition to taking Georgia Tech caliber classes, finding our way around a brand new continent, completing our homework, eating and (hopefully) practicing good hygiene, GTL students must learn to become excellent logistics coordinators. Planning a week or so in advance, we have to find hostels or Airbnb’s, plan our train route, find time to see all of the tourist attractions everyone our group is interested in, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. This is no small feat. According to my wise differential equations professor, Dr. Li, it took past students up to 10 hours per week to adequately plan each weekend trip. Keep that in mind, folks!
3. Do your work in advance!
There is nothing worse than not being able to enjoy a weekend of travel due to unfinished homework. It is a good idea to plan ahead, and get as much work done as possible before the weekend rolls around and the delightful chaos of traveling ensues. Especially when homework is published to sites like Coursera, says my Circuits TA Brandon Carroll, it is a good idea to work ahead when you have more time, rather than procrastinating and having school cut into your travel time due to your lack of prep. Sorry procrastinators! Time to buckle down and get some work done.

ECE 3710 TA Brandon Carroll poses in front of the circuit diagrams he has been teaching.

 
4. Don’t let the checklist mentality get to you
A lot of students, myself included, seem to be stuck in a checklist mentality, meaning we have a long list of places we want to visit and will travel to every place just to say we have been there. My history professor, Dr. Stoneman, advises to pick a place, and really spend time there and get to know the culture and locale. This experience can be more valuable, because it’s much more immersive than the fly-by-tourism that we could thrust ourselves into. This is not to say don’t go to all of the places you want to. Just remember, it’s okay to slow down, or revisit your favorite place. You will come back! And remember, in the words of Dr. Stoneman, “Metz is in Europe too!”

GTL is such a wonderful program, because you can really tell that the staff cares about both your studies and your experiences. And as a brand-spanking-new, fully autonomous, pretty much kid, I must say that the syllabus week advice I received from my professors is very valuable to me and my fellow students.

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