To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Category: Lina (Page 2 of 3)

Meet RA Noah Pilz: Master of Eloquence and Pillar of Responsibility

 
After interviewing Noah for GTL, I knew I needed a second interview for the RA section of the blog. He has a way with words that it simply indescribable, and I wish I could write them in his tone of voice. Honestly, if this blog interview was a job interview, I would hire him in a heartbeat. Here are his answers to come of the questions I asked him.

 

 
What made you decide to go to GTL?
There are three main reasons. The biggest one is that I had never been out of the US before – and nothing had really driven me to. When I heard Tech had a program like GTL, I was intrigued. The second reason was talking to people that had done it before. It wasn’t a vague, “I knew people that loved it,” and I knew I didn’t have to worry about the program. The third reason is that classes were in English.

Why did you decide to be an RA?
I always enjoy getting to be a person that people can go to with questions. I am a people person. It really comes down to the fact that I can be in Europe, get my housing payed for, and be a source of info and way to help people getting acclimated. The only problem was I had never been a RA before. However, as I worked on the application I realized it was really something I wanted to do; I loved being a camp counselor over the summer. Although college students aren’t 10-year-olds, it’s still nice to be in a position where I can be a resource for people.

What is your favorite part about being an RA?
That’s a tough one. I can tell you my least favorite. Midnight duty rounds, especially with 8 am classes can be a bit nightmarish. But it is definitely worth it. My favorite part is being able to have people place their trust in me. I value that. I can use that to help others.

Are you more of a Type A or Type B person?
I’m not super organized in my room, but I do like structure and knowing the order of things in a way I can follow. I am definitely not good and sticking to a daily schedule though. Maybe I’m a Type C?

What is your favorite GTL memory so far?
My mom had planned to come visit over spring break, but she couldn’t because of an emergency. After spring break, we found out she could come for the weekend. My mom had never been out of the country before either, but when she was in high school, she hosted a foreign exchange student from Sweden named Tina. They kept in touch, and when my mom came, she was thinking about reaching out to her after 30 years. We decided to visit her.  
 
We flew to Copenhagen, and Tina drove us to Sweden. We stayed in her beautiful, rural farm house. She had 3 amazingly obedient golden retrievers that competed in dog shows. We spent a day playing with them.  Tina then took us to ride Icelandic horses. We rode through the forest. It looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. It was an amazing experience especially traveling with my mom for the first time. We learned about Sweden, went into the city and tried classic Swedish pastries and awesome Swedish fish gummies. It all really came together, and it didn’t really have an initial structure. It was a spur of the moment.

Amsterdam, a Severed Ear, and a Whole Lot of Garbage

This weekend, we made the journey to Amsterdam. Although the weather was bleak, we bundled up, and woke up in the morning ready to make the most of the day. Before I begin my usual account of historical events, I would like to give a small shout-out to the Amsterdam public transportation system. With frequent buses and trams and a ticket that allows you to swipe on any mode of transportation, my companions and I never had any trouble finding our way around the canal city.

The most tourist-y picture, smack in the middle of the museum quarter.


Now, to the history part! Ever since I was a child, I have always been drawn to Vincent Van Gogh, the famous Dutch painter with his bold brush strokes and distinct style. When I was about 7 years old, my family took me to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. When I visited this weekend, I messaged my parents: “This museum was honestly life changing.” To which my mother replied: “It changed your life in elementary school too! You went from a perfectionist to ‘Oh, just get it done!’ It was after you saw the bold brush strokes.” So I guess I owe my adult personality to this painter.


Everything about Van Gogh is inspiring to me. He struggled with mental illness, didn’t begin painting until 27, and had the courage to challenge the social and societal norms of his time. The museum itself is in a modern glass building, where well-displayed galleries take you through his whole painting career from his earliest painting to his last days. His impressionistic style was quite revolutionary, and he is considered today the most famous painter in the world. The museum was thorough and excellent, displaying everything from Vincent’s letters to his brother, with whom he had a very close relationship, to his painting technique. (He didn’t typically mix colors on the palate, but rather mix the wet paint as it was applied to the canvas.)


My favorite thing about Van Gogh’s art is that his paintings aren’t meant only to depict a subject, but to depict what the subject is feeling. He preferred painting and living in the country, because he thought country living to be more honorable and honest than that in the city. He attributes the city to what drove him to madness. Indeed, in his last paintings while he was living in a mental asylum, he used much more red than in his previous work because he was trying to reflect the emotions of the patients there.


Van Gogh was truly mad, and many know the story of how he cut off his ear. He was living in a small house with his friend and fellow painter Gauguin, but after a few weeks, Gauguin began to find Van Gogh utterly intolerable, and attempted to leave. Van Gogh, angry at his friend, chased him into the street with a razor, and then being unable to catch him, cut off his ear in a fit of madness. He then presented it to his mistress, who was understandably horrified at the whole affair. Van Gogh knew he needed help, and a few years later actually admitted himself to the asylum, comforted by his brother’s shipments of painting supplies and letters. However, the tortured artist could not live with himself and shot himself in the chest. He will go down in history as one of the greatest artists of all time.


After the amazing visit to the Van Gogh museum, I embarked on a canal cruise. Amsterdam, by necessity, has become a city expert at controlling water flow, water levels and flooding. Using a system of locks, seawalls and sluices, they have kept their marshy city below sea level flood free. Drifting along the man-made canals, I could see that the facades of all of the houses were very skinny. This is because the taxes on the properties were determined by the width of the facades of the houses, so the skinnier the facade, the less taxes you owed the state.


Another very interesting fact about the city is that the term ‘flea market’ originates there. This is because in the very poor sector, floods happened so often that they sunk garbage into the water to prevent their houses and streets from flooding, and therefore made a sort of city out of garbage, riddled with fleas. In this area, most of the square is covered with stalls, and is a busy market during the day. Therefore, we get the term flea market.

Notice the skinny facades? Cheapskates!

Amsterdam has so many amazing museums, and I would love the chance to go back and see more.

All in all, a beautiful visit.

Berlin, a Wild Pig and lots of Currywurst

Berlin: the capital of Germany, known as the most international city in Europe, and the headquarters of one of the most evil regimes in history. The city is beautiful, modern and shiny (as a result of the old buildings being bombed so much), but dig a bit deeper and you find a scarred and difficult past.

My favorite activity in Berlin was the 3 hour walking tour we took. Beginning at the Brandenburg gate and ending in the square where the book burnings took place, I don’t think I have ever learned more about a place in that span of time.
The Brandenburg Gate, topped with the statue of Victory carried by her triumphant horses in her carriage holds a German joke. After Napoleon took the initial statue back to his personal collection in France, the Germans built the new statue to look straight at the French embassy that sits in the square, constantly watching. Funny right? Speaking of embassies, Berlin holds one of the few North Korean embassies in the world. Our tour guide joked that his hand had been to North Korea.

See the gaze of victory? Totally pointed at the French embassy!

World War II, as you can imagine was not a good time for Berlin. Especially at the end. Citizens were not permitted to leave as Allied forces took the city, and many were caught in the crossfire. Our tour guide took us to the site of Hitler’s suicide bunker, which was below what is now residential apartments and a sad playground. In his final days, Hitler behaved very madly, obsessing over his dog and eating an entire cake for every meal. The bunker was blown up and filled in, and now is marked with nothing but a tiny plaque stating what happened. The city didn’t want to make anything bigger for fear of it looking like a memorial.

The Holocaust memorial, on the other hand, is a very powerful place. The large stones, situated in rows on uneven ground, and tilted slightly from one another give a sense of the anonymity of the Jews that were murdered in Europe. The museum below, tracing stories, quotes and the lives of the jews killed in mass shootings and concentration camps was exceedingly powerful. Another amazing museum was the Topography of Terror, with powerful photos of the atrocities committed.

Then, the tour shifted to the Cold War, and the very famous WALL. The wall went up to prevent the East Berliners, specifically academics, and skilled workers from leaving to the more prosperous and decidedly less Communist West Berlin. We walked past Checkpoint Charlie, the American controlled way from East to West, where Cold War tensions arose over one American man’s desire to get to the East Berlin opera. We saw the last remaining Nazi building, in grand but severe stone, that served first as the Nazi air force headquarters, then as the Soviet government building, and is used today as the tax department of Germany.

Although the sign is a replica, the frame is original.

We also learned that the Berlin Wall came down entirely due to a TV announcer’s error. After delivering an exceedingly boring and dry report of the East German state of affairs, he was slipped a memo that said travel restrictions would be lifted for those over the age of 65 that could pay a hefty fine and give 12 months advance notice. Because he was flustered, he read only the first part. When the reporters asked him when “travel restrictions will be lifted,” he panicked and responded with the only date he saw on the paper: the very same day as the press conference. As a result, thousands swarmed the wall, overtook the guards, and were reunited with their western brothers once again.

Another really interesting thing about Berlin: the Nazi’s planned it to be the capital of the world. It was designed to hold 8 million people. Today however, it houses only 4 million. The sewers must be periodically flushed with water because their is not as much flow as anticipated. Lots of wild animals live in sewers and other such unused spaces. In fact, about 6 weeks ago a wild pig attacked two people at a bus stop in the city.

Berlin still remains a thoroughly international and political city.

My absolute favorite thing about Berlin is the currywurst. Currywurst is a delicious snack consisting of a sausage in a curry ketchup, covered in curry powder and paprika. It is absolutely delectable. Total currywurst tasted: 4.

Meet Your RA: Elaine

Elaine sat in her chair, blonde braid slung casually over one shoulder, working on some circuits homework when I approached her. Even though I had disturbed her studious work, she was very enthusiastic to talk to me. It was easy to tell right away that she would be an amazing RA; she was personable, welcoming and friendly. Elaine, a second year Materials Science Engineering (MSE) major, is a really very wonderful person. Here is her story.


Why did you come to GTL?
“I absolutely love travelling. In highschool, I lived in Germany for a year, and I really wanted to come back and have the opportunity to explore on my own. Plus, the in-state tuition is an awesome added bonus.”


Why did you become an RA?
“Being an RA is an awesome way to interact with people because they have to talk to you! But all joking aside, it is a really great way to meet people and establish a connection. I love talking to my residents because everyone is so friendly. I have definitely made a lot of new friends since coming here.”


What is your favorite memory of GTL so far?
“I absolutely loved Venice. What a cultural experience! We were there during Carnivale, and we bought the elaborate masks. There was a costume contest being held, and seeing all of the amazing Carnival costumes was a great experience. Buying a mask and really immersing myself in Venetian culture was truly amazing.”


How would you describe your personality?
“I am more of a free spirit than ‘Type A.’ I love talking to people and making connections, and I am an expert at going with the flow.”



At this point, Elaine had to rush off to an RA staff meeting. But it was really great to get to know her a little better.

Traversing Italian Time and Space

Italy was an awesome historical overload of knowledge. This past week, I dove straight into the Roman empire in an action-packed week of late nights, early mornings, and an impossibly long list of monuments, museums and ruins.
My journey started in Venice, and Carnival was going on, and watching the beautifully costumed and masked Venetians walking the streets was a dream. Venice used to be an independent city-state famous for it’s rich trade network and impressive navy. After touring the beautiful cathedral of St. Mark and the opulent Doge’s palace, we were ready to continue our journey into the heart of the Roman empire.
Rome was absolutely jam-packed with history. You couldn’t even walk two blocks without finding an obelisk, pillar, campanile, fountain, or other monument. After taking our traditional touristy pictures in front of the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps and the Campidoglio, we went to bed early to queue up the next day for the Vatican Museum. The Vatican was overwhelming, with every inch of free space filled with priceless art and artifacts. We learned the history of the many popes that lived in Vatican city and viewed Raphael’s famous paintings and Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We then climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, so rich and opulent that my brain ceased to process it and I needed to go to sleep.

 

View from St. Peters Basilica.

The next day we hit the Capitoline Museum in the morning. The museum boasted many original sculptures, including fragments of the statue of Nero that once stood 100 ft tall in bronze. Let me pause for a second to talk about Nero, because this guy was something. He declared himself divine at an early age, and considered himself to be perfect in every way. He commissioned this enormous statue, along with many other monuments in the Roman forum, destroying other monuments to Roman gods to make room. It is also rumored that he started the great fire of Rome to make room for his ideas in architecture, playing his fiddle and dancing while thousands of citizens perished in the flames. Sounds pretty metal!

 

What’s left over of Nero’s Face.

The ruins of the Roman forum were amazing. Walking around the ruins of old temples to gods and goddesses, seeing previous senate and meeting houses, and seeing the remnants of the once magnificent residences on Palatine Hill were all so fascinating. Once the heart of Rome and the intersection of the three main Italian roads during the reign of the Roman empire (hence the saying, all roads lead to Rome), one can imagine the grandeur of the heart of all Roman civilization.

The Roman forum!

The next day we visited the Colosseum, which, as you can imagine was absolutely spectacular. Learning about the intense theatrics, with imported exotic animals, stage sets that emerged through the floor with complex pulley machinery, and the

Michelangelo’s David.

intense training schedules of gladiators, we walked around it with wide eyes. Not only was the Colosseum a source of entertainment for the senate and emperor, but the masses as well. The violent place brought a whole civilization together.

Florence was absolutely fantastic for a crazy history buff like me. I got to see so many Michelangelo works (including the David!!!!) and see the famous Dome. But what I found especially fascinating was the Medici family. They started out as bankers, lending money to many city-state rulers and important dignitaries. As they amassed wealth, many city-state royalty borrowed more than they could pay pack. Threatening these families with a hired mercenary army, they were able to gain power. Like, ‘Hey Prince, we are going to attack if you don’t pay back your debts, with our impressive mercenary army. We might consider letting it slide this time if you marry your heir off to our daughter…” and thus they became one of the most powerful families in Italy. They were like the OG mob bosses. Sounds super Game of Thrones-y! Needless to say, they weren’t very well liked and built private walkways above the city and above to Ponte Vecchio bridge to avoid being assassinated in the streets.
Our journey concluded in Cinque Terre, the region of, well, five cities, who – against all odds – managed to farm the rocky coastal soil on mountain and cliff faces. Each city with it’s unique personality, was an absolutely lovely ending to a perfect and jam packed week.
 

View of Manarola, one of the 5 cities of the Cinque Terre.

Top Five Test Week Tips

This week has been a true test of the character and constitution of GTL’s students. As the week before spring break, this week is optimal time for tests, right before the long mental relaxation period know as Spring Break. Before we can go on our week-long travels, however, we must be put through the grueling week known as… test week.
I had three tests this week, and although I mostly felt like screaming at walls and curling up in a small ball on the floor, there are some things that are really helpful to do in preparation that can alleviate anxiety and help you prepare for the tests.
1. Make a crib sheet – even if you don’t get one on the test
A really helpful study tool that I have found is compiling all of the relevant formulas and concepts on one or two sheets of paper, neatly organized. This allows you to understand what you need to study. It allows you to know what you don’t know, so to speak. Crib sheets, or review sheets in general help take your chaotic notes and ideas and put them into one place. From there, you can use it to do practice problems you are stuck on, memorize formulas, and practice concepts.

My review sheet for Def Bods.


2. Make a study plan that involves sleep
It really helps me to set a goal for myself daily, whether it be doing a certain number of problems, reading a certain part of a textbook, or re-doing some in-class examples. If you set a daily goal, and make sure you meet the goal, you can feel prepared without cramming or staying up all night. I will be the first one to say, I am not very good at following this plan. However, at GTL, it is easier to focus. I usually stay at GTL until I am finished studying. Therefore, I can reserve the GTL student lounge for studying, and my dorm for relaxing and sleeping. This is much better for my sleep schedule, and general mental health.

 

3. Ask for help!
It’s a different atmosphere at GTL . The awesome thing about hanging out in the GTL lounge is that you are surrounded by people studying hard for tests, just like you. Although it can be a bit scary going up to someone you don’t know to ask for help on a problem, it actually benefits people to help explain a tricky problem or concept to you. Pull over one of the whiteboards, give it a go, and everyone wins!

Students relaxing after the final round of tests.


4. Don’t burn out
If you are feeling like you are reading the same sentence in the textbook over and over and over and over again, don’t worry. Take a break. Get up, walk around, play some ping pong, and then come back. You will retain the information better on a well-rested mind.

 

5. Don’t compare yourself to others
Everyone studies differently, and no two people learn the same. Don’t beat yourself up about not doing every single textbook problem, or not making that perfect review sheet. If someone says a concept is easy and you think it’s hard, do not despair. Just keep moving at your own pace, and don’t compare yourself. GTL can get like a small bubble sometimes, but comparing yourself to others will only damage your drive and motivation. The best person to beat is your past self.
So good luck test takers! Remember, relax and you got this!

Skiing Through History

When you think about it, skiing is actually really ridiculous. Someone was like, you know what would be really fun? Sliding down a bumpy mountain on two thin sticks attached to your shoes. And then people were like, yeah sounds great, and the rest is history.
This weekend, we began our journey to the ski-town of Garmisch Partenkirchen, close to the Zugspitze. The Zugspitze, close to the Austrian border, is the tallest mountain in Germany, measuring in at 2,962 meters in elevation. The town itself was quaint, with the traditional painted cabins lining the cobblestone streets.

The view from the Zugspitzbahn Station.


To get to the top of the Zugspitz, one takes the Zugspitzbahn, which is a scenic one hour train ride that takes you over 1.5 vertical kilometers to the top of the mountain. After climbing for about 40 minutes, the train goes through about 500 meters of tunnel straight through a mountain. Finally, we arrived at the top of the mountain, and took in the breathtaking views right outside of the station.
The ski resort itself is situated in a sort of bowl, with the barren snowy peaks surrounding the ski area on all sides. A cable car is available to take you up to the tallest peak. The ski trails themselves spanned all sides of the bowl, with two chair lifts and two surface lifts to take you up the sides of the bowl. Armed with a GoPro, rental skis and boots, my friends and I made our first run.

The view from the top of Germany.

 
The snow was light and fluffy, and although back in the town the weather was cloudy, up at the summit was above the clouds and completely sunny. We had to shell some layers to prevent overheating. The air was clear, and although we were a bit dizzy from the elevation, the amazing white capped mountains as far as the eye could see was the most breathtaking part of it all. We stopped for many photos for sure.
After our second day of skiing, I found myself in a small pub for dinner, with exposed beams, classic German clocks and carvings decorating the walls. I ordered some classic Wiener Schnitzel, which I found delicious (although my companion compared it to a giant chicken nugget). Because of the busy tourist system, there was no room at any restaurants, and the only reason I got a seat at that one was because the hostess was impressed with my attempts at speaking German. Even in a country where pretty much everyone speaks English, speaking the native language can really take you a long way.

The view from the bottom of my favorite trail.


The next day, before our return, we found ourselves in the Olympic Ski Stadium of the 1936 Winter Olympics that had taken place in Garmisch Partenkirchen. In addition to an Olympic ski slope, the stadium also had an Olympic ski jump. Outside the stadium, we saw many skiers and ski jumpers warming up, stretching, and practicing their technique. We watched a few children practice their ski jump approaches on small square platforms on wheels. They would crouch, head down and hands back on the platform down the street, and then leap up, arms outstretched. Then their coaches would correct them and they would start again.

The 1936 Olympic Stadium.


Ski jumping has always been really fascinating to me, mostly because it looks mortally terrifying. And if you think watching the Winter Olympics on TV is nerve wracking, watching someone ski jump in person nearly made me faint. I watched, heart in my throat, as the skier slid down the track and then leaped into the air, landing gracefully. I was in awe.
I love to ski, and was so happy I was able to do it in such a beautiful and quaint place over the weekend.

 

Top 5 Things to Do for a GTL Student

Let’s face it. We all need a break sometimes. Between school, traveling, and the general panic of grades, a girl needs to unwind, relax, and take some me-time. I’ve talked to many students, and the following is a general consensus of the best non-school related things to do in the great city of Metz.



1. Take a walk around Lake Symphonie.
Georgia Tech Lorraine is situated on a beautiful man-made lake, with some awesome paths in the surrounding area. You can feed the ducks and swans that commune there, enjoy some beautiful fresh air, and take in the beautiful scenery. If school is getting you down, there is no better way to clear your head than fresh air and lush foliage.

2. Go to the Gym
When I get especially frustrated, it really helps me to work out all of my internal aggression at the gym. Just a short bus ride away is the gym l’Orange bleue, open from 9am-9pm. Upon arrival, everyone greets you with a warm “Salut!” and even though I speak basically no French, I felt very welcome and happy to work out there. In addition to lots of workout equipment, the gym also offers lots of classes included in the price. If you talk to Katia Ménard-Pons, you can get an initial free pass, and then for 90 euros you get three months of gym visits.

This is what a free gym pass looks like!


3. Visit Mam Resto

Do you eat halal meat and are tired of eating fish in restaurants? Do you want something delicious and filling? Are you a fan of Turkish food? Well Mam Resto is definitely the place to go. Located close to both Cora and Aloes, Mam Resto has the friendliest staff, who were willing to work with our minimal french, and they were very happy to make us our pizza kebab, which was like all of the ingredients of pizza, and halal meat, wrapped in a tortilla. It was honestly the best kebab food I have ever eaten. It is an amazing way to forget you woes, and lose yourself in the tasty flavors of a delicious kebab.


This is a Google StreetView of Mam Resto.

 

4. Walk around downtown
Taking a quick bus to downtown Metz is always great. You can see the beautiful cathedral, walk around the amazing shops, visit some nice cafes and look at all of the local architecture.  I love stopping at a street bakery, buying a pastry, and taking a walk through the busy streets.

What your Crous card will look like.

5. Go to Crous
I love food. And as a college student, telling me that I can have lots of food for a low price is like telling me that the test will have a 20 point curve. And for both lunch and dinner, for only 3.25 euros, you can get a full hot meal at the Crous cafeteria. With options for vegetarians, baguette, salad and a dessert included, you can’t go wrong with this amazing cafeteria. Had a rough class? Go on over to Crous and have a good sized meal. Just load money onto your card, and you are all ready to go!

Prague: From Defenestration and Communism to Capitalism and Tourism

Prague and its people have been through a lot throughout the ages. From the 30 Years’ War to World War I, then from Nazi occupation to Soviet occupation, the Czech people have seen it all.
Pulling up to Prague after 18 hours of train rides, sleeping in train stations, and avoiding the cold, the city seemed to glow with an aura of warmth. The city itself sports amazing architecture in basically every building, beautiful stone facades adorning the upper levels of convenience stores and the like. Despite the slight drizzle, our arrival felt like something out of a fairy tale.

Almost every corner of the old city looks like this, so historical and beautiful.

The fairy tale feeling continued the next day, after having some sorely needed shut-eye, as we ventured across the bridge to the castle. The streets were lined with cobblestones and winding between rows of low-lintelled shops and pubs. The castle grounds contained very interesting museums and sights, including the amazingly spired and flying-butressed St. Vitas cathedral. We walked along the Golden Way, which showed examples of what life was like for those who worked on the castle staff that weren’t members of the nobility such as seamstresses, or guards. Inside the castle however, we were able to see the high-ceiling rooms, as well as read up on the history of the place.

In the armory exhibit, we saw some cool combination axe-pistols used by noblemen.

One of my favorite parts of the castle was a small, unassuming room off the main throne room area. It was my favorite because it is home to one of the most famous defenestrations in history. (Defenestration is a word which means the act of throwing someone out a window.) In the castle there was to be a meeting between some important Catholic regents and some Protestant representatives. During the meeting, an agreement was not reached, and the regents promised that they would talk to their superiors to come to a solution. However, the Protestants, knowing that the Catholic leaders would not take kindly to their demands, decided to defenestrate Count Jaroslav Borzita of Martinice, and Count Vilem Slavata of Chlum, through a window with a 70 foot drop beneath it. Although they survived the fall, this incident is attributed to being a cause of the 30 Years’ War.

You can see the Prague castle right there in the distance.

 

In the old city, close to the famous astronomical clock, we stumbled across one of my favorite museums I have ever visited: the Communism Museum. The entrance way was adorned with posters of a cuddly teddy bear holding an AK-47 and the slogan “Dream, Reality, Nightmare.” During the post-WWI period, combined with the economic turmoil of the market crash and Great Depression, the Czech people voted their communist party into office. At the time it seemed like the only option. Soon every seat in the government was occupied by communist party members, and those opposed were falsely accused of crimes they didn’t commit and were imprisoned. In WWII, the Czech region was taken over by Nazis, and later liberated by the Soviet Union. That’s when things started to get really bad for the Czech people.
The Soviet Union, in liberating the Czech republic, was able to gain much support for establishing Soviet communism in the region. They had a non-uniformed police that would make sure that no one spoke out against the party. People were not allowed to leave the country, and those who knew that people were defecting to other countries were imprisoned for not speaking out. Political enemies were tortured and burned alive, their ashes used to melt the ice on busy roads. The new communist system did not allow for imports and exports, and therefore basic essentials like food, soap and other goods were nearly impossible to find in stores. Media was controlled exclusively by the Soviets.

Here is the St. Vitas Cathedral.

It wasn’t until the late 60s, that groups of undergraduate students began to speak out against the party. Using techniques such as self-immolation, doing the work that strikers refused to do in Soviet-organized strikes, and having marches, they were able to spread their message of freedom. The government responded with violence, with secret police infiltrating and beating the protesters. It wasn’t until 1991 that they became truly free of communism and began their capitalist lifestyle.

The museum was cool because it showed a Prague citizen’s perspective on such violent events that were happening in his lifetime. Prague only became free six years before I was born. It was amazing to read about and honor the people that fought to make their own home country a better place for their children, and for tourists like me that can visit now but couldn’t thirty years ago.

Meet Romain: Grad Student and All-Around Chill Dude

After exchanging a few jokes about volunteering his friend for the interview in his place, Romain and I sat together at a table in the student commons of the GTL building. Romain Amuat is studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to having a talent for making everyone he interacts with laugh, he is also incredibly driven and intelligent. His interview is as follows.

Why did you choose to go to GTL?
“I have always wanted to study in the U.S. Georgia Tech-Lorraine is the best university that I could attend out of the ones offered from my school. In the French system, many students choose the double diploma program, where you get a degree from both France and the United States. This can be very helpful when looking for jobs. With the program, I spend 6 months in Metz, here at GTL, then I spend 6 months in an internship for real experience, and then I spend 6 months in Atlanta, following my dream of studying in the United States.”

What can you tell me about your research?
“In this 6 months I am working on a project making a robot to automate the detection of failures in a material. The robot can detect problems and send the data back to the engineers, who can fix the problem faster. I also get to work with an American undergraduate student named Bharath, which is good to help me practice English.

What do you like to do outside of research?
“I love to play guitar. My favorite type of music to play is rock and alt-rock. My favorite band is the Rolling Stones. They are really fun to play as well. I also play rugby, which is like the French/European version of American football.

What advice would you give to American students studying in Metz?
Really look for those student discounts. No really, they are everywhere; they are at the cinema, they are at fast food restaurants. All you have to do is show your ID, and you can sometimes get more than 40% off the price of working people. It’s great to be a student. It almost makes me want to be a student forever. Also, it’s good to learn a little French. The French will love it if you try to speak in their language, even if it is wrong, and they will help you much better.

Tune in next week as Sam talks about Porte Ouverte, the awesome event happening this weekend for French high school students.

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