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Taking Advantage of All That Metz Offers: Meet Sommy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to Make Metz Home: The Adjustment Period

Written by Noa Margalit

My first day in Metz was super exciting. It still hadn’t occurred to me that I was actually here, and to be completely honest the next couple of days after that I learned a lot about myself. The adjustment was rather difficult. It feels strange that I’ve only been here for two weeks, because it feels like a lifetime.

On the first day of class, I stayed up pretty late cause of my jetlag, set my alarm wrong, and it never went off. I woke up very late and thoroughly confused, and after a few minutes realized that I had missed the bulk of orientation. Luckily, I made it in time for the tours and other important information, even if I tripped on the stairs in front of a ton of people and felt like a hot mess. The glow of being in a new place was kind of going away, and I barely ate anything the first day. I didn’t really enjoy CROUS, the dining hall here, since they served some couscous and weird meats which I did not try. It was fine for the price (3.25 euro) but I quickly learned during the week that there are other cheap food options that I actually will eat.

I think that the hardest adjustment was that I felt like I was spending a lot of money on things I didn’t really want to buy but needed and wasn’t eating like I am used to. I didn’t really think about it when I was back home, but I had to buy pots,pans, and cleaning supplies and it added up pretty fast. I budgeted myself out pretty well for this trip but I did not anticipate spending so much within the first week. Food wise, the first trip to Cora I bought some food I like, but didn’t really think about cooking anything and of COURSE my refrigerator froze all of my food cause the settings were off and so I ate soggy lettuce for that week. I was really adamant about eating everything that I bought because I didn’t want to be wasteful.

On the second day, I felt like I needed to get away from the area we live in and took a bus downtown which made me feel so much better. Downtown Metz is absolutely beautiful and seeing all of the quaint shops and things to do made me remember why I came here in the first place. I also ate a hamburger at this place called Burger Kebab which was really good – and the meal was only 5 euros! You will learn quickly through my blogs that I love hamburgers and fries, and they will probably be my only source of food (I’ve had it three times already). I also started meeting the girls that live on my floor, and they are all so welcoming and fun to adventure with. The bus system here is super easy to figure out and the train station is absolutely beautiful. It was actually voted the most beautiful in France! Here is a picture of it:

While the first week was definitely an adjustment, I learned that while I am definitely a social person, I also really need my time to myself. Taking a day to myself and not really talking to anyone was helpful, since I’ve never really lived in a dorm and needed some alone time. I also definitely shifted my sleeping patterns while here and have been going to bed rather late to stay in touch with people back home. Really thankful my classes start later in the day.

Class wise, I am taking an Electrical Engineering course, a Probability class, a Mobile Applications class, and a French class. I love my French class because it is improving my French so much, and we get to visit downtown Metz once every other week to learn more about the city and the associations within the city. It has been an excellent way to get to know the area so far. I also am one of the only people in my group of friends to speak some French, so I definitely have been forced out of my comfort zone trying to communicate with other people (like buying them sim cards, getting train reservations, and other daily interactions).

The last thing I did was join an Ultimate Frisbee team here! It’s a team of mostly adults and they play indoors (which was rough) but they were so nice and it was fun to do something completely unaffiliated with anyone I know. Playing was really exciting, and it was funny to see them practice the same drills and try to understand everything they were saying in French. I’ll probably continue to do that while I’m here!

Well, I have to say that the first week was definitely an adjustment, but I feel so much better now. I finally figured out which groceries to buy (got some tortillas woop!) and found more of a daily routine. My friends and I even found an adorable and hip coffee shop downtown to do homework at!

While I’m glad this adjustment period is mostly over, it was definitely the best way to learn about myself and figure out how to make this place feel more like home.

Learning to Cook in Lafayette

Friendos with cinnamon apples, a chocolate mug cake, and vanilla ice cream!

I am always very excited about my mug cakes.

One aspect of Georgia Tech-Lorraine that has been both fun and difficult is cooking my own meals. On the one hand, it’s fun to try to learn new recipes and make and eat new things; on the other hand, the lack of an oven as well as the difficulty of buying a reasonable number of ingredients somewhat limits what one can reasonably make. The thing about cooking is, it’s pretty difficult to make anything substantial just for yourself without resigning to eat only that thing for the rest of the week. Especially because, given the busy travelling schedule of GTL students, we’re usually only in our dorm for three or four nights out of the week anyway, so we have to make sure we eat all our leftovers so they don’t go bad while we’re traveling over the weekend.

Sarah made amazing fajitas, which we had with many yummy toppings!

The solution to this problem that my friends and I have been utilizing lately is to have little mini dinner parties in our dorm rooms! One person will offer to cook for one night of the week and will have a couple of people over to eat whatever they make. This way, everyone gets fed, everyone gets to try a variety of meals, and everyone gets to try their hand at making something new! Sometimes people will contribute different things—one person will make the main course, but others will bring side dishes, little appetizers, desserts, or the ubiquitous and always yummy baguette. All this combined with good conversation or a card or board game makes for a night full of fun and deliciousness!

One of my favorite things to contribute to dinners are microwave mug desserts. Upon arriving at GTL, I knew that the lack of an oven meant I would be utilizing the microwave a lot, so I bought a cookbook that has a bunch of recipes just for mugs in microwaves! There’s one recipe for a melty chocolate mug cake that I’ve made several times—it only takes five minutes and it tastes amazing served with vanilla ice cream.

Itzel had already taken a bite when I asked for a photo to prove to my mom that I’ve actually been cooking.

Unfortunately, we can’t use this system every night. We’re still GTL students, so many evenings, we don’t have enough time to spend cooking big meals because we’re working on homework or labs. On these nights, the leftovers problem becomes a convenience instead. I’ll often eat leftovers of a big meal or pasta on busy nights like this, or I’ll make a sandwich out of a baguette. One of my favorites to make is a light sandwich with tomatoes, brie, pesto, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Sometimes, after a long day at Georgia Tech Lorraine, I won’t feel like cooking at all, so I’ll walk down the street past Paul to the little sandwich shop by the car wash. They make incredible sandwiches right in front of you, and on a fall day a warm sandwich straight from the oven is often just what I need. On the whole, GTL is a great place to get out of your comfort zone and try cooking new things, but after all, this is France—you can find amazing food easily if you look!

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!

Dinner with a French Family (of Students)

Every semester at Georgia Tech Lorraine, the French Family Dinner is organized! Local families in Metz host GTL students in their homes for the evening, giving students a chance to experience French food and culture, to meet a French family and even to speak a little bit of French. Two friends and I took part in the French family dinner together last Tuesday. When we met our family at GTL, we discovered that they weren’t a family at all, but instead a group of friends, students our age who were also studying engineering in Metz!

We had a wonderful time eating, laughing, and playing games with our French family of students! 🙂

Clara and Alexandre drove us to a lovely apartment near the center of Metz, complete with colorful decorations on the walls, a long line of sweet Polaroid pictures on the mantle, and a little dry erase board to write fun notes on. Once there, we met their two other friends, Elodie and Alexia. As they prepared dinner, we talked to them about their time in Metz and what they were studying. Right now, they’re studying for big entrance exams for engineering schools that they’ll take in the spring.

For dinner, we had raclette, which is melted cheese over potatoes and charcuterie meats. You put a piece of cheese (the raclette) in a little tray and then on a special heater so it melts, then you scrape the cheese from the tray onto your food. We also had snails, or escargot, which was on my list of things I needed to try while in France! Apparently, there are special sticks you can use to get the snail out of its shell, but we improvised with forks. The taste was good, as it was cooked in garlic and butter, but the squishy texture was too much for me to handle and I was satisfied with just trying one.

 After dinner we decided to play a game. If you’ve played the game Heads Up on a phone, this was a bit similar to that. We each wrote down something on a piece of paper (writing it in English and in French for everyone’s ease), such as an object or an animal, then taped what we wrote on someone else’s head so that we all had a word on our foreheads that everyone could see except for the person who had it. Then, we had to ask yes or no questions to try to figure out what word was on our forehead.

As someone taking French 1001, I was by far the least bilingual person in the room—one of my two friends there is in the highest French class available at GTL, and the other is too advanced for even that. The French students spoke great English in my opinion, but they frequently apologized for their bad English and sometimes switched between English and French to clarify things to my friends. It was not only fun but educational for me to play this word game because it helped me to learn by listening to them, and I also learned to say some fun new French sentences, such as: “Am I bigger than a table?”

Playing the game and hanging out with the French students was tons of fun, and I’m so glad that we got to have dinner with them through this GTL event! I feel like I got a glimpse into student lives in Metz, and luckily, I made new friends at the same time!

Interconnectedness and Exploration: An Interview with Patrick Weathers

Last week I had an excellent conversation with Patrick Weathers about being a graduate student here at GTL! This is his first semester in graduate school towards getting his Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering; he’ll be graduating next year in 2019, likely in the fall as he’s planning to do an internship during the summer semester. I first met Patrick at the student cafeteria, CROUS, where we bonded over our shared major and our shared tendency to resemble lobsters if we don’t apply enough sunscreen. I also learned then that he had gotten his undergraduate degree in materials science and that he had been working with semiconductors for a few years before deciding to return to school.

Patrick is scaling new heights academically and literally!

When I asked Patrick why he chose Georgia Tech-Lorraine, he talked about how he had done lots of lab work during his undergraduate experience, so a big part of his choice was the partnerships that GTL has with French research organizations. “I had worked in Grenoble one summer previously, and when I worked there I saw the strength of partnerships within France, especially within their research. Part of the benefits from that are not only diversified expertise and resources in terms of equipment, but also how the problem-solving approach when you unify a lot of different organizations becomes richer and more powerful. GTL stood out to me as an example not just of the research that Georgia Tech is capable of, but as a bridge to a previous life of mine working in France.”

One of Patrick’s favorite aspects of Georgia Tech Lorraine far is the degree of involvement that one can achieve both in terms of academics and in terms of exploring applications of those academics. The closeness of all GTL’s resources, the proximity of facilities like the Institut Lafayette, the small classes, and the availability of the professors all contribute to the ease with which he can deeply dive into the topics he’s passionate about. “Between academics, applications, and the world that is immediately around us outside of GTL – all of it is kind of laid out in front of us, meaning that the limitation is really only your own commitments, your own time management, and your own prioritization in terms of what you want to get done while you’re here.”

In a similar vein, he’s most excited about taking the things he learns from his classes and not only connecting the concepts between courses (for instance, comparing numerical analysis methods between his machine learning and image processing classes), but also about applying these things in the lab. “Going into the lab and microfabricating LEDs, microfabricating solar cells…those kinds of resources are as available, if not to some degree more available, here than they are on Tech’s campus. The exciting part, to kind of connect this back with the first question, is that there’s the connection and the resources of the expertise within professors and coursework, but then there’s also the ability to go and try to see it work out in real life in the lab.”

Patrick appears perfectly poised to get the most out of his semester here at GTL and to take full advantage of the amazing resources available, and I can’t wait to hear about the awesome things he learns and creates during his time here!

GTL Visit to the Orchestra Rehearsal

On a Wednesday afternoon, a group of GTL students and myself walked over to the Orchestre National de Lorraine to watch the orchestra rehearse for an upcoming performance they would have the following weekend. Before entering the orchestra, one of the organizers of our visit discussed with us what we would be listening to, what to expect, and the rules of listening in on the orchestra. Walking into the building, we were greeted with curious looks and warm smiles, as a group of about thirty twenty-something year old students walked into the rehearsal room.

Orchestre Nationale de Lorraine

As the we sat in the rehearsal room waiting for it to start, I observed the musicians warming up and tuning their instruments, the choir streaming into the rehearsal room and practicing their vocals, but I was suddenly shocked with what I saw next. Before the orchestra began rehearsing their pieces, in walked a little boy who looked about ten years old with his mother. You may think that this is not shocking at all as you would likely assume that the child would be waiting on his mother to finish rehearsal. Well, you would be slightly mistaken because as the organist began to play, this child began to sing! Yes, he sung one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard a child sing. It was truly beautiful to see such a young person with so much talent, dedication, potential, poise – not to mention the respect from the older musicians and singers as they admired him doing his solo.

Once the boy finished his solo, the true beautiful chaos started. As rehearsal began, the conductor lifted his hands with his baton, and the musicians abruptly sat upright in their chairs with their instruments waiting to be played. Beginning his conducting, the conductor cued for the small, delicate hum of sounds from the flute as the musician began her flute solo of the first piece the orchestra was playing. Throughout the performance the music escalated in intensity and backed off delicately. As I sat on the bench listening in, I closed my eyes and tried to picture what I would see based on the sounds I was hearing. I could see nature, a town, peace and happiness, and then a final rush of excitement. During rehearsal, the orchestra played Requiem by Fauré and Prelude by Debussy. The rehearsal came to a close with the choir rehearsing with the orchestra one of the songs for the performance. Their range of vocals reverberated through the room, smoothly going along with the music the orchestra was playing. While I was never really into classical music or played an instrument before, it was really nice to experience a professional orchestra rehearsal and see the musicians living their passion.

Orchestra rehearsal

After the orchestra rehearsal, I asked another GTL student what she thought of the rehearsal performance. She said, “Playing classical music for so long, it was a really great and unique experience to see professionals rehearse. I especially enjoyed Wednesday’s rehearsal because one of the pieces they were practicing was Requiem by Fauré who is my favorite composer.” For the GTL students who are very interested in classical music and play instruments, they thoroughly enjoyed the experience as it was a behind the scenes look to something they are passionate about. Overall, it was really nice to see GTL students’ faces light up as the orchestra played, some even following along with sheet music on their phones, and the orchestra to see students interested in their profession.

Johnny Appleseed Came to Visit!

Once 5:30 PM hit, we were all rushing out of the GTL building doors to make it on the bus in time. Cramming into the bus, many of the GTL students and myself were ready to go vegetable and fruit picking for the first time. With the city bus rolling down the street along the dirt roads to the fields, we pulled up to this small building, grabbed our baskets, and started picking the fruits and vegetables of our choice.

We walked out to the fields, and were instantly surrounded with the smell of nature and flowers. It was really cool to see the beauty of nature, and to see the produce in grocery stores actually growing out of the ground. The first stop many of us made and one of my favorites was going to the strawberry fields! Strawberries were nestled in the green leaves decorated by the small white flowers; this made the strawberry bushes seem even more beautiful. I really enjoyed picking the strawberries and raspberries because those are some of my favorite fruits, but it was also interesting to see how tall and wide the plants actually grow to produce such small fruit. For example, the raspberry trees were taller than me with only a couple handfuls of fruit on their branches.

The next stop in the fields were the apple trees! Did someone call Johnny Appleseed to come visit? Rows and rows of apple trees lined about one fifth of the fields. There were a variety of apples that could be picked from the trees: green, red, pink lady, Gala apples, and even more. Walking through the apple trees, I could truly appreciate the amount of work that goes into picking produce. It was even more satisfying to pick produce that was not genetically engineered in the process of their growth. Pear trees also filled the fields right next to the apple trees, standing just as tall and green.

Picking fruits and vegetables reminded me of home, and the peaceful silence of being in a rural area. Many of the GTL students enjoyed this afternoon activity as well because most of us have never been picking before – and it provided us with a much-needed break from classwork and studying too. It was nice that the Georgia Tech Leonardo Program (the new name for Madame Serafin’s cultural program featured before!) organized the entire event and that transportation was provided to and from campus. Students were able to bond more as a GTL class from this experience. While picking fruits and vegetables, I was also able to meet more students that I would see around, but had never met before.

As we left the fields to buy our items that we picked, we exited with a friendly greeting from the facility’s geese, goats, and chickens. That afternoon consisted of good laughs, smiles, small screams from seeing a bug on a leaf, and interesting conversations. This was an experience that I never would have decided to do on my own, however, this was something I will definitely remember from my time at my GTL study program.

A Very French Lunch, Round II.

(Please read this title in a French accent for full comedic effect.)

The Very French Lunch was absolutely amazing. I am sure you guys can tell by now, I am a little bit of a snob about authentic cultural experiences: I am always looking to get in the daily life of people, I don’t enjoy sightseeing very much, and I love just walking around places. So, at first glance, I was not too excited about the French lunch. For me, it was just a bunch of GTL students eating a fancy lunch together. However, I was able to invite my mom, my best friend, and my best friend’s mom, so it seemed like a great opportunity.

Of course, I woke up late and SPRINTED over to GTL where I was just able to catch the group of students leaving. I found my mom and my best friend’s mom, Susan, in the back of the group talking to Dr. Birchfield, one of the coolest GT Faculty members that I have ever met. We had a great conversation on the walk over.

The event was hosted at a hospitality school, so it was an opportunity for French students to practice serving a fancy meal. The students were really cool and very proper, always serving from the left, the perfect tone when saying “Je vous en prie” (you’re welcome), and making the perfect level of eye-contact: not too much, but not too little.

Additionally, it was a free class on etiquette. I had a general understanding of etiquette rules, but Madame Serafin, one of the French professors at GTL, was there to guide us through each step. Madame Serafin is a super blunt, quick-witted, and dry person, all the while being incredibly warm and loving. She made jokes about American students not knowing the rules and explained each dish as it was served.

The food was so so so so so amazing. Oh my goodness. It was a full 5 course meal, which was a nice change of pace from the spaghetti and meat sauce that has become my go-to meal. The main course was chicken served with three sauces, and each of them was more delicious than the last. The entire meal was great.

As far as cultural differences between fancy dining in France and in the States, I am sad to report that I didn’t find any. That being said, I am a 20-year-old college student that doesn’t have the most experience with fancy dining, so I am not the best person to pick up on these differences. I will say, it was a more authentic cultural experience than I expected. (This is beside the point that not everything you do in a foreign country needs to be “an authentic cultural experiences.” In the end, I am here for 5 months and if everything I do is an authentic cultural experience, I would not be able to live my daily life.) However, I was able to interact with the servers and ask them about their program, had some delicious French food at a traditional French table setting, and had a wonderful espresso after the meal. (One difference is that French people call it expresso, with an x, which is a big pet-peeve of mine in the States.)

For the word of the week, I want to give you all a phrase that goes with the post and is probably not very well known. I am sure that you don’t know this, but before a meal, French people say, “Bon appetit.” Doesn’t that sound so weird and unfamiliar?

Hopefully that sarcasm was received via blog post. (Conveying sarcasm is hard via writing.) However, I would like to give you a phrase that is not so well-known, so this week’s actually phrase of the week is: “Je suis rassasié.” This is an extremely formal way to say that I am full or satisfied. Look up how it is pronounced in French, because for me it is one of those words that sounds exactly like what it means.

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