To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Author: Quinnell Smith Page 1 of 3

My GTL Experience

The first week in Metz!

When I stepped off the plane and landed in France for the first time, I had no idea of what to expect. Immediately that first day, I was in a shock: I was surrounded by people speaking French, rushing through border control to get my luggage, and arriving at the Lafayette dorms exhausted from traveling. Little did I know, that first day would be the beginning of an important moment in my life, one that I will never forget. Since the beginning of Georgia Tech Lorraine, I had the opportunity to grow as an engineering student, a young woman, and as a traveler.

My dream trip to Paris!

 

Ever since I was younger, I dreamed of doing something exciting with my life, inventing things as an engineer, and traveling the world. Originally being from a small town in Louisiana, I always wanted to get out and see what the world had to offer. My acceptance into Georgia Tech was my first ticket to seeing more of just that. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that Georgia Tech would not just give me one ticket, but two: attending Georgia Tech Lorraine. This semester I was able to accomplish one of my greatest goals of traveling to Europe. While studying abroad in France, I was able to travel to 10 countries and over 20 cities. Through my travels, I was able to gain a better understanding of people from different cultures, develop a better perspective of the world, learn about and experience different traditions, make memories of a lifetime, and learn more about the countries I traveled to. Since starting the program, I became more adaptable and flexible to change as well; I no longer feel I need to know everything or plan every step to feel secure or have a great time while traveling.

Kayaked for the first time in my life. My smile does not show how much my arms were sore from paddling.

London!

I sprinted to catch trains, took tours around cities, slid down a mountain in a metal slide, kayaked in one of the biggest lakes in Switzerland, danced around Spain, and stood in front of the Anne Frank House. Some of my favorite memories from studying abroad were my trip to Switzerland, getting to see the Berlin Wall, climbing up the Eiffel Tower, standing in a crowd of people to see changing of the guards in London, and eating the most delicious fries and waffles in Belgium. The memories I made abroad will be some of the greatest ones of my twenty-somethings.

Coming to GTL, I knew I was going to have some great opportunities to travel, however, I was not expecting to grow as much as an engineer. I would say that this semester has been one of my most challenging ones yet. Throughout my time at GTL, I took courses in Deformable Bodies, Fluid Mechanics, System Dynamics, and Statistics and Probability. I was challenged, I was corrected, and I became a better future engineer because of it. Even though my classes were challenging, they were exciting because most of them were explicitly for my major and all the content from the preliminary courses I had taken were combining together to make more conceptual sense.

Where the Berlin Wall used to stand. One of my historical-rich and heart-touching trips!

There are some things I wish I would have done differently at the beginning of my semester at GTL. First things first, remember why you are at GTL; most people would say they are there for travel and school. However, at the beginning of the semester, the school part does not seem as important because you are in a new exciting place in Europe and are making travel plans to visit other countries, which is great! Something I wish I would have done differently was studying more before my weekend travels, do work on the train rides, and learn my teacher’s testing strategies earlier on. Another piece of advice that is important and rarely discussed

Fall break in Spain and Portugal!

is being flexible with the people you travel with. I can honestly say in the beginning, I was more focused on who I was traveling with than where I wanted to go. Do not be afraid to travel with another trustworthy group or person who may not be your best friend, because trust me, others will carry on with their plans, and you may miss out on a weekend of travels.

The most important part about traveling around Europe are the destinations, and you may even become friends with other people with being more flexible with your travel group! Also when traveling in Europe, I highly recommend getting a Eurail pass if you plan on traveling almost every weekend or want to catch trains often. It really paid off to have one for convenience and was a large cost saving on transportation. Another piece of advice for studying abroad would be to set a hard budget before getting to France; for every trip, you should calculate a projected cost of that trip and extras such as groceries and shopping. Trust me when I say the cost of living in France and traveling will add up quickly if you do not watch your spending. My last piece of advice is the most crucial: have the time of your life! Ask yourself, how many times will you be in Europe in your twenties with no commitments besides to pass a few classes? Remember that this experience is supposed to be fun and challenging, so make sure every day you find the good in the experience and to enjoy yourself.

Thanks for tuning into my study abroad journey!

During this program, I have made memories of a lifetime, grown as a person and student, and have been challenged beyond measures I never thought I would be. Coming to GTL, I would have never expected to be able to travel to as many countries as I did, or grow as much as I have. Studying abroad is truly a life-changing experience; from being abroad I have learned how to budget better, be stronger emotionally, be quicker to react to certain situations, make the most out of every moment, and have the time of my life. Thank you for keeping up with my study abroad adventures this semester. With this being my last blog post of the semester, I must best wishes and au revoir!

‘Tis the Season for Christmas in Metz

The iconic ferris wheel near the Cathedral.

We have reached that time in the semester of the season that keeps on giving, and Metz surely knows how to give to its locals the Christmas spirit. Everywhere you walk in Metz in places like coffee shops, grocery stores, and the city itself is decked out in decorations and Christmas cheer is spreading. I have heard from faculty and even some friends of mine that have been to France before that some of the best Christmas markets and festivities from around the world are located in France, one of those happens to be in Metz! I experienced first hand some of the Christmas festivities that Metz has to offer.

The decorations around the Christmas Markets were darling!

I went to the Christmas markets in downtown Metz near the Metz Cathedral. The night air was chilly in the alleyways as other GTL students and I walked along the streets of Metz to the Christmas markets with glee. Once we reached the markets, I was immediately hit with a mixture of wonderful scents filling the air such as apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Walking through the markets I could see couples walking around arm in arm comforting each other for warmth, kids running around getting on amusement rides, and people ice skating holding onto rails to keep themselves from falling on the slippery ice. I felt as if I was in one of those cliché Hallmark Christmas movies! As I continued walking through the market, I decided to try some of the traditional Christmas pastries and drinks. I was able to try a hollow cone-like pastry covered in sugar, and one of the many traditional drinks served warm and ladled from big pots containing the drinks. After all the GTL students and myself got our food and drinks, we ended up trying some of each other’s pastries and enjoying the festivities.

Metz Cathedral in the Night

In the Christmas markets, there are many pastry and food vendors selling a whole variety of food like crepes, beignets, the sugary cone I mentioned, dried fruit, roasted chestnuts, fondue, fish and chips, and cheesy potatoes. Also in the market were little vendors sprinkled throughout selling Santa Claus hats, kids toys, scarves, and handmade gifts for family and friends. This was my first time experiencing a traditional Christmas market, and I really enjoyed it! Some of the other activities that are available in Metz during the Christmas time is the Saint Nicholas Parade, the trail of lanterns, a large Ferris wheel ride which is one of the largest Ferris wheels in Europe, the gourmet market, and the traditions market on Place Saint-Louis.

Being a person that absolutely loves Christmas, I start counting down before Thanksgiving, watch at least one Christmas movie each day during the weekends, and love spreading Christmas cheer – so I thoroughly enjoyed the festivities. Being able to experience the Christmas markets were like a small dream come true because I feel like I finally made it to a Hallmark movie. While GTL is challenging at times with school, travels, and feeling a little homesick during the holiday times, the small community we have formed among ourselves and things such as the Christmas markets help you to feel a bit more at home. As my time at GTL is comes to a close, I hope to experience a Christmas market in another French city – or even when I return back to the United States.

Fall Break: A Week of Travel Adventures

Running to catch trains, being gross from long travels, eating some of the best food I have ever eaten in my entire life, seeing architecture my eyes only ever dreamed of, and experiencing moments of a lifetime is what my fall break consisted of. In comparison to Georgia Tech’s fall break, it is actually a break, a week to just relax without having to worry about school. I really appreciate how during fall break, I was not required to do a lot of schoolwork and had time to get it done beforehand so I could enjoy my travels fully. And so for fall break some GTL students and I decided to take a mini-tour of Portugal and Spain.

At the beach in Porto, Portugal

The first stop on my fall break was Porto, Portugal. I arrived in the city around 8 AM and did the one thing I knew how to do best: search for food like the hungry college student I am. I was able to find a café that was open around that time of the morning and was able to eat a nice, hearty breakfast and get my daily intake of coffee. Porto was a lot different from I expected it to be. I thought I would be overwhelmed by the amount of Portuguese being spoken, however, something very unique to Porto was that since it is so close to France and Spain, there are many languages spoken there even though Portuguese is the national language. Some of the things I enjoyed doing in Porto were seeing the beach and watching my friends surf for the first time in cold waters, visit the bookstore with the red staircase that inspired the Harry Potter books, and eat traditional pernil con queijo sandwich from Casa Guedes. Porto was a lot windier than I expected, but so beautiful at the same time with the yellow and pink tones cascading through the hills on houses with red rooftops.

 

 

The morning we arrived in Lisbon was the day I got the workout of the century, as we woke up late to catch our bus to Lisbon, and all the public transportation was not running at the time. We only had 30 minutes until our bus would leave, and too many hills to climb in Porto to reach the very top of our destination. With a “we can do this” and fitness instructor enthusiasm we made it to the bus station just in time! Once we arrived in Lisbon, the city was full of food and beautiful sites to see. I believe the highlight of my time in Lisbon was getting to try the local fish and traditional custard tart pastries. A sight I could not miss while in Lisbon was the one from Castelo de Saint Jorge, as I was able to see a panoramic view of the entire city of Lisbon from one of its highest points and learn more history about the city as well.

Lisbon, Portugal

7AM flight to Madrid, Spain from Lisbon, Portugal

The next stop on my fall break trip was Spain! The country is absolutely gorgeous and a place I dreamed of going to since I was younger. I have always had a deep admiration and appreciation of Hispanic culture. Spain was a dream: I was able to visit Valencia, Madrid, and Barcelona for a few days. On Halloween night, Valencia came to life with parties for college students and satisfied my paella dreams, as I ate two different styles of paella while I was in Valencia. By the time I reached Madrid, I was exhausted from traveling to so many places, and I was only halfway through fall break! In Madrid, since we arrived later in the day and it was raining, I did what most locals do during this type of gloomy day: I went to Primark! For those who may not know what Primark is, it is the store of your fashion dreams as everything has very low prices for pretty good quality. After shopping, I had some amazing tacos at Takos and the best churros and chocolate in the city. Lastly, I made it to Barcelona with the group I was traveling with. I would have to say that Barcelona was the highlight of my trip, as we spent the most time here, and I did not feel rushed to eat and see everything in one day. While in Barcelona, I was able to meet new people at the hostel we were staying at, take a walking tour in the city, see Gaudi’s architecture casually decorating the streets of Barcelona, and of course see the infamous Sagrada Familia!

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Overall, my fall break consisted of a lot of traveling, satisfying my hunger, seeing historical landmarks, and making new memories with fellow GTL students. From traveling to different cities in Spain and Portugal, I was able to see  how different each one was from the people, slight variations in culture, and food. I have gained a new perspective and appreciation of those countries from traveling there. When planning fall break, I would recommend making plans early to save money on travel, and to visit fewer places because traveling can be exhausting, and it minimizes all the things you can see and experience of each city.

Never Settle: Meet Michelle George

Michelle George is taking advantage of all Georgia Tech has to offer! As a graduate student at Georgia Tech Lorraine pursuing her Masters in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in systems and controls, also completed her Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. Originally from Massachusetts, when Michelle went to Georgia Tech for her undergraduate degree, it was her first time ever being in the south – and therefore the state of Georgia.

Even though her time at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and being abroad while pursuing her Masters has been fun, she hopes to live in the northeast when she begins working full-time in automation controls. With this being Michelle’s first semester at GTL, it was nice to hear her comparison of going to Georgia Tech in Atlanta and in Metz, France, since she has been exposed to both as an undergraduate and graduate student. She says, “At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the community is huge in comparison to that of GTL. Here there are much fewer students, and even fewer graduate students so I have been able to get tight with a lot of them. It’s also a really different atmosphere than the campus in Atlanta because it’s more personable, and I get to know all the administrators and teachers more personally. It’s really nice.” She emphasized how much more comfortable she is going to office hours to speak with professors. We both shared how before at the campus in Atlanta, how we would usually not go to office hours, while at GTL it feels much more comfortable to do so. We both agreed that since GTL really has a strong community aspect, class feels less impersonal and we feel more connected with our peers as students.

While at GTL, Michelle has had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places, knocking Cologne, Colmar, Brussels, Zurich, and London off of her travel bucket list! Since traveling around France and Europe, she says that it has helped build more confidence in herself and she has become more comfortable with traveling to different places. Before traveling around France, she would be worried about doing something wrong, not knowing the language, or unintentionally disrespecting others cultures. As she has traveled more, she has overcome those fears and now believes that as long as you try your best and get out of your comfort zone, that’s what truly matters. Michelle has become much more confident than when she first came here – even taking a couple solo trips – and remains determined to travel as much as possible.

Michelle enjoying all that London has to offer!

Something really cool that I learned about Michelle is her interest and appreciation of theatre and the arts. When Michelle is in Atlanta, she usually would volunteer her time at theatres in Atlanta. Since Europe is such a rich place to experience and learn about the arts, Michelle has really tried to take advantage of seeing what it has to offer in Europe and in Metz! When she was in Brussels, she went saw the Belgium National Orchestra. “It was incredible,” she sais. “They had this one soloist that’s insanely good, and he played my favorite piece I never heard before live, and it blew my mind!” It was nice to hear that even though she is studying engineering, which isn’t strongly associated with the arts, she tries to enjoy the theatre and arts when she can.

Michelle George is a fun, hard working young woman that truly goes for it, and doesn’t try to take the easy way out of things. She is passionate about what she likes and what she wants, and will not let anyone stop her. When she isn’t practicing her French, watching operas, traveling, or studying, she is working on staying true to what she wants for her future and not settling.

The Unspoken Challenges of Studying Abroad

The glamorous side of studying abroad that most people see.

Let’s get real for a minute. Studying abroad is amazing, and the glamorous pictures shared with family and friends and on social media may make it seem like a breeze. However, there is a side of studying abroad that many people do not talk about much, and others don’t know about. The cramming in the days before the test after a weekend of travel, grinding out homeworks quickly or even not turning it in on time, and stress of planning trips and staying focused in school all at the same time. The balance is what makes studying abroad challenging at times.

I’m definitely a coffee drinker so sometimes the caffeine helps with the long study days!

Since being at Georgia Tech Lorraine, I have had my fair share of highs and lows when it comes to my school work. However, I was able to quickly learn from my mistakes, and understand what I was personally capable of being able to handle when it came to traveling and school. The purpose of studying abroad is to enjoy being abroad and make the most out of those opportunities – and to be successful in your studies. One of the biggest challenges about studying abroad is being equally committed to both throughout the semester. By being organized, keeping a schedule, working hard, and remembering to do the best I can throughout my studies I have been able to decently handle this challenge, and would like to share some things I did to do so.

A good example of what a typical Thursday night before travels looks like for me: Netflix, dinner, and homework!

When I did have some low points in semester, I realized it was because I was straying away from what works best for me when it came to studying, and was not focusing on understanding the material. During the beginning of the semester I had the mentality that as long as I finished my homeworks each week, I would be perfectly fine. However, after the first round of tests I saw where I could improve: focusing on understanding the material throughout the week, and then letting my homeworks be a way to practice. Something I would highly recommended to save you stress while cramming for a test is to understand the material as much as you can while it is being taught.

Day trips with friends means being able to study more during the weekend.

Some other things that helped me stay on track with my studies was sticking to my old study methods; I tried changing them and regretted it. Personally what works for me is writing on whiteboards my notes and problems, but I know that doesn’t help everyone. Always make sure to do things that work for you! That is key. When other people may go back to the dorms to study, eat, and nap, you may need to be in a more structured environment to study or vice versa, and know that’s perfectly okay. Some other things I recommend doing is eating healthy and decent meals, keeping a checklist or weekly plan of all the things you need to get done, and getting all homeworks and important studying completed before leaving for weekend travels.

I believe balancing school and travel while being abroad is important to have a conversation about. The challenge is a real one, and I feel often isn’t discussed among our peers either out of embarrassment or self regret. It is also important to stay in close contact with family and friends while studying abroad, not only so can discuss your travels, but also to maintain your support system. Regardless of the distance, the people you are closest to will always be there to encourage you and may even help pinpoint ways to help you do better. I know it can be easy to get sucked into the whirlwind while studying abroad, however, I realized that’s where I find my greatest comfort and motivation at times. Also, remember that others studying abroad are going through similar things; you are not alone. While you are studying and grinding out those homeworks, don’t forget to check up on your fellow classmates as well because at the end of the day that’s all we have while abroad –  each other.

A Very French Lunch

At the very last minute, I was able to join the group from GTL going to the Very French Lunch. I was excited to join as I wanted to try some top-notch, classic French dishes. The purpose of the lunch was to give students at a waitress and culinary school the opportunity to get evaluated for their class. As our herd of GTL students walked into the university banquet area, we were greeted by the waitressing students and their directors. Walking past them, you could see the excitement and nerves as this would be a big moment for them: getting their waitressing certification.

Once everyone sat down at the tables, bread, still water, and sparkling water was served. At my table, we all looked around as if the water and bread was untouchable; we weren’t sure if we could eat start eating or not. Being the hungry college students that we are, we decided the latter and began eating; the bread was gone within a span of 5 minutes. One of the waitressing students was going back and forth through the kitchen so much, that they began to run out of bread and told us to slow down on the bread eating as we wouldn’t have enough for our meals.

The first dish with the perfect egg.

The first dish that came out was a perfect egg with a pea purée, mashed potatoes, bread, and a small slice of bacon. The dish looked lovely; however, not being a fan of unscrambled or unfried eggs, I gave my egg away to another student. Next on the list for the course was the main (entrée in France means the appetizer!): grilled chicken with risotto, vegetables, and a corn fritter. I think this was my favorite part of the meal as the chicken was cooked to perfection, and the risotto was very savory.

After our entrée, many of us were feeling very satisfied with the food, and then suddenly we were given a warning that the next dish we should not touch with our fingers. We all exchanged curious looks as we were all given varieties of cheeses with strong odors.

Being carried by the students sauntered in the last dish, dessert! Beautifully drizzled with a fruit sauce on top was a sweet, crunchy nougat glacé. The very French lunch was very good and very French. After lunch, the GTL students and I went back to our classes with grinning faces and full stomachs.

Nougat glacé

Before coming abroad, I always took a great interest in others cultures. However, since being abroad, I have gained a new level of respect for people’s cultures and lifestyles. In France, waitressing is not seen as a lower level occupation like often times in the United States, and I think that is awesome. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what someone chooses to do with their career, as long as they are happy and enjoying life. In conclusion, it was really nice to share with the French waitressing students a monumental moment in their career goals , seeing the relief on their faces at the end of the lunch, and getting to eat a very yummy lunch!

The Tale of Two Countries: Waffles, Fries, Bikes, and History

 

Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp

This past weekend, I visited not one, but two countries near France! The first stop of my weekend trip began in Antwerp, Belgium! In Antwerp, I was able to eat some of the most amazing waffles I ever had in my entire life, munch on crispy Belgian fries, go shopping, and embrace the different architectural styles of each city. Something that fascinated me about Antwerp was it had the bustle a big city while still maintaining an old town vibe. Even though there were many tourists visiting all the restaurants, museums, and shopping, it seemed as if the locals were enjoying big tourist spots just as much as well. Another thing I really appreciated about Belgium is their craft for making the best waffles in the world, as I not only had one waffle, but two during my stay!

Architecture in Antwerp

 

After checking Antwerp of the list of places to visit, next on the list was Amsterdam, Netherlands. Walking out of the Amsterdam Central Station the next day, I was immediately hit with The Fault in Our Stars vibes and was surrounded by tourists

Me in front of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

early in the morning. The first item on the list of places to see that day was Bloemenmarkt, the famous flower market in Amsterdam. Walking to see the market made me more aware of my safety and the safety of the massive amount of bicyclists in Amsterdam! Bikes where everywhere: cruising down the street, chained all along the canal, and on the sidewalks. As I made it to the street of the market, I saw tulip buds for purchase everywhere, cute cafés on the other side, and a Christmas shop. While the flower market was beautiful and the scents from the flowers wafted through the air, the Christmas shop stole my attention with the “66 days until Christmas sign”! After buying an Amsterdam themed Christmas ornament, my stomach was growling and I knew it was time for lunch. At lunch, I ate a savory chicken curry sandwich from Toastable, a very cute and non-touristy café. After lunch, I saw The Anne Frank House, where Anne Frank lived when she was in hiding with her family during World War II.

 

Amsterdam

Amsterdam had great sights to see, things to do, and museums to visit, however, I was slowly running out of time to do many of the great things the city has to offer. As a compromise, I decided to learn more about the history of Amsterdam and see sights at the same time! That day, I took a free classical tour of Amsterdam that covered many gems of the city, social classes during different times, changes in the industry, and architecture of the city. During the tour, it was interesting to learn more about the history, such as squatting and the Dutch East Indian Company. After my tour, my time in Amsterdam came to a close as the train back to Antwerp would be leaving soon. Once I made it back to Antwerp, I did the one thing I knew I had to do: eat another Belgian waffle! 

Delicious Belgian Waffle

The next morning began a bit frantically at the train station once I looked to see which platform my first connection train would be on and it saw “afgeschaft” under the train time. Do you know what that means in Dutch? It means abolished! My first train of the day was canceled, however, thankfully there was a train leaving in 10 minutes that went to the same connection station. Besides that little mishap, making it back to Metz was a breeze. I truly did enjoy my trip to Amsterdam and Antwerp because it was relaxing, fun, and involved quick thinking when it came to changes in travel plans. I also greatly appreciated the amount of knowledge I was able to gain from learning more about the history of Amsterdam. Amsterdam and Antwerp truly were great places to eat delicious food and have some good times.

Madeleyne Vaca Is Constantly Rising

Madeleyne at the fruit picking excursion at the farm with GTL

When I first met Madeleyne Vaca, it was when I was shouting in a room full of GTL students for her to come meet her host for the French family dinner. I sat down to interview Madeleyne the next day, and then I learned that she is not a fan of the nickname Maddie, was born in Columbia, and moved to the United States with her family to Georgia when she was younger. Before coming to GTL, she completed her undergraduate studies at Georgia Tech in Atlanta; at Tech she doubled majored in electrical engineering and computer science and minored in Mandarin. Currently, Madeleyne is completing her Masters at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in electrical engineering.

Before coming to GTL, she studied abroad in China and interned with Microsoft four times before completing her undergraduate degree. Currently, she has a job lined up with Microsoft as a Software Developer and will become a Firmware Developer next year. Next year, she is excited to start her new job role because she will be able to use all of her degrees and knowledge of electrical engineering and computer science. Since being at GTL, Madeleyne travels every weekend to different places and has made an impressive list of countries she has visited including Amsterdam, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Switzerland. While traveling, she also tries to step out of her comfort zone and be adventurous by doing extreme sports.

Madeleyne went canyoning in Slovenia, and this is her jumping off a 10m waterfall!

Since I began interviewing graduate students, it has been interesting to hear their different stories and favorite part about GTL. I was interested in hearing from Madeleyne was her comparison of all the places she has lived considering how vastly different they all are in culture. Being from Columbia, she often misses being closer to her extended family, and the warmth and community focus of the culture. When I asked Madeleyne what her favorite part about Georgia Tech Lorraine has been so far, she said, “The way French people greet each other reminds me a little bit of home. They have the double kiss [on the cheek], and in Columbia, we have the single kiss [on the cheek]. I always stop halfway and then remember it’s two here! It’s nice being somewhere that reminds me a little bit of home.” She also says that it is exciting to travel and see how people in France know many languages and understand other cultures well. Madeleyne also says that it is nice meeting people who speak different languages, as she is trilingual herself!

Taking a picture near the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium

Madeleyne is one of the coolest people I have ever met – and not only because has she been successful with getting a full-time offer with Microsoft. She also listens to Ariana Grande on repeat, has traveled to many places, played handball throughout her college, and yet she is still pushing towards the goal of achieving her Masters. It goes to show how regardless of how physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging life is at times, that she will continue to push through adversity and rise above the challenge. As she rises to the goal of getting her Masters, traveling the world, and salsa dancing and jamming to Ariana Grande along the way, Madeleyne continues to go with the flow of life and keep a positive attitude through it all.

Driven By Passion & Appreciation – Meet Yacoub

Everyone has a story to tell, and the students at GTL surely do have great ones to share. I met Yacoub the first week at GTL, and the first two things I learned about him were that he is getting his Master’s in mechanical engineering and that he is from Morocco! After that first week, I was able to get to know Yacoub’s story more and more over time. He studied aerospace engineering in his undergraduate career at the Université Internationale de Rabat. Driven by his passion for research, appreciation for his parents, and goal to work in the aerospace industry, Yacoub has worked hard since his undergraduate years to be successful at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. 

During the interview, it was interesting to find out about Yacoub is that he is an only child, and is very close with his parents. When I asked him about his life goal, we discussed how we would like to become an aeronautical engineer, and that he would like to work hard and give back to his parents and make them proud. It was also interesting to learn that for him to come to Georgia Tech-Lorraine and be considered for admission, he had to stay in the top of his class at his undergraduate university. During his undergraduate career for four years, he worked hard to be where he is today. With his dedication and hard work for the past couple of years, he can proudly say that he has made it to where he has always wanted to be. I am grateful to listen to graduate student stories like Yacoub’s because being an undergraduate it is inspiring to hear how hard-working, motivated, and all the different journeys they have taken to get to where they are today. It also reminds me that even though it may get tough during the undergraduate years, it will only make you stronger.

When I asked him about what he sees for himself in the next 5 years, he said that he plans on finishing his Master’s at Georgia Tech, doing research, and working full-time in Europe doing work in the aerospace industry. His dream is to someday be an aeronautical engineer at Airbus. During his time at GTL, he also hopes to get more involved in research and get some internship experience with a company in the aerospace industry. In his spare time, he enjoys sightseeing and trying different spicy foods from new restaurants in the city. Since being in Metz, he has interacted with French students in the city playing an escape game at a university-wide event in Metz.

Since I have started interviewing graduate students, it has also been interesting to hear what their favorite part about GTL is. I asked Yacoub what his favorite part about GTL is, and he said, “The friends that I have made all come from different countries, different cultures, and have different ways of thinking which is very exciting because you get to discover a new culture everyday. The opportunity to travel is great as well; since we are in the center of Europe it is very easy to catch a bus or take a train ride somewhere.”  He says that his thoughts and perceptions about different nationalities and cultures have changed from the time spent meeting and getting to know people and has positively affected the way he now thinks about other nations and cultures. Even though homework and projects have been a lot to handle at times from Yacoub’s perspective, he says that he plans on traveling a lot more in the near future while at GT-Lorraine. Currently, he has already visited Trier, Germany, and is looking forward to traveling to the Chocolate Festival in Paris and Switzerland.

How to Enjoy A Travel-Free Weekend in Metz

Centre Pompidou-Metz

This weekend, I decided to stay in Metz and take a break from traveling. While traveling at GTL is great and thus far has been the highlight of my experience, I realized I needed to hit pause and take a break to refocus on school and finances. While studying abroad at GTL, I would highly recommend taking a couple of weekends to relax in Metz, and explore the city even more. While doing so, I was more productive with my schoolwork and has new experiences.

While taking my first break from traveling in a month, I decided to explore more that Metz has to offer. This weekend I went to the Centre Pompidou and saw the amazing, vibrant artwork that decorated the museum. To my surprise, the museum was a lot more than seeing artwork on walls; it was an interactive experience as well. Throughout the museum, they had interactive exhibits such as walking in a dark room with blinking lights, a room called “Little Cafe” where you could write and draw on the walls of the exhibit in chalk, and a purple hued room playing piano tunes.

Little Cafe in the Museum (an interactive chalk artwork display)

As I entered the purple room exhibit, all of my senses were intrigued as my eyes were seeing dimly lit purple lights and walls, my feet walking on a plush purple-hued carpet, and my ears hearing erratic, yet strangely calming piano sounds. As I sat in the room, I was overcome with a sense of peace. After I experienced a bit of what the room had to offer, I made my way to my favorite part of my visit. At the entrance of the Centre Pompidou, there was a giant metallic ball in which I walked in and was surrounded by a layout of the constellations. I enjoyed the museum as I was able to not only see artwork, but also interact with it and be a part of creating it.

My favorite part about visiting the Pompidou Centre was that I was able to standing inside of this giant metallic globe and see a portrayal of the constellations.

After visiting the Centre Pompidou, I walked to the nearby mall, the Muse, and went shopping until my hunger and account balance put me to an end. So much for me looking out for my finances this weekend! The mall was stunning and filled with high-end brands and department stores alike. My favorite part of my shopping experience was going to Primark; I was in shopping heaven as I was able to catch their fall sale of the year. After shopping and making my bank account just a little more depressing to look at, I ate lunch at a local Chinese restaurant near the mall. The best part about staying in Metz for the weekend was experiencing different things, and being able to go back to my room and study and complete my homework for the week without the guilt of attempting to do homework in a new country or city.

As my weekend in Metz came to a close, I decided to go on a hunt for the chicest and most comfortable café to get some more studying done. While staying in Metz for the weekend is fun, it can get boring stay in the dorms doing work or watching Netflix. The best decision I made was to get out and about and change the scenery in which I would study for the day. When entering Fox Café, I was greeted with the vintage chic, coffeehouse vibes I dearly love. The café was great, and the food and desserts were tasty as I decided to get lunch there! I would highly recommend checking out this little café if you ever need a change of scenery because they have wifi, is close to the train station, and the best part, for my non-French speaking peers like myself, is they speak English!  

Lunch and studying at Fox Cafe

Overall, I had a satisfying weekend staying in Metz, and catching up on some things and work. The benefits of traveling are incomparable, however, make sure to recognize when you may feel stressed or need a break from travels to regroup. It is difficult at times to keep a balance of studies and trying to reap all the opportunities of being abroad at the same time; always make sure to maintain a good mental health and grades through it all. While staying in Metz this weekend, I was able to visit a museum, go shopping, finish my homework for the week, study in advance for a quiz, do laundry without competing for a washer and dryer, and find my new favorite study spot. You never know what you can discover if you just take a minute to press pause.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén