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Category: Campus Life (Page 6 of 10)

Shopping at CORA

I’d like to compare the CORA sign to Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg in “The Great Gatsby,” because CORA is always watching.

I’d like to introduce you to CORA. A nickname I call CORA is “The Provider”, since it contains everything you could possibly need to survive a semester (and more!) at Georgia Tech Lorraine. Its American twin would be Super Wal-Mart.

Upon my first visit to CORA, I was a little lost. I had to get my backpack plastic wrapped by security, the signs were all in French, and I had no idea what I needed to get for my dorm room. So I did the only logical thing: walk up and down CORA’s (estimated) 50 aisles to see what I needed. I spent much more time than I should have, but through this process I got everything I needed in the moment, saw things I would need in the future, and made a mental map of this grocery labyrinth.

Some general tips and tricks I have:

1) Bring your own shopping bags and backpacks. No bags are provided so one must carry it all the way back with their own bags. As I mentioned from an earlier blog, travel backpacks are excellent for this.
2) Bring a 1€ coin. This is the deposit needed to get a shopping cart, much like Aldi’s in America. There are these blue rolling shopping baskets, but the cart comes in clutch for both keeping your backpacks and bags in and also for the large amount of groceries one trip has.
3) Eggs and milk are stored refrigerated…so wander about aimlessly in the refrigerated aisle for 10 minutes as someone did…
4) Be open to trying new foods! We’re in France, so there are many things that don’t normally get eaten in the US that are wonderful.

And lastly, be good to CORA, and CORA will be good to you. 🙂

Meet Your Wardens: Angel Sanchez

Posted by James.

One of GTL’s fabulous RA’s, Angel!

And the EE’s have it! It appears that more than half of our RA staff is comprised of electrical engineers. I’m not sure what the qualities of this major have to do with being helpful, speaking foreign languages and wanting to be an RA; however, we won’t ask questions. Our second edition of this issue is Angel Sanchez a 3rd year electrical engineer.
Like Lara, Angel also speaks another language besides English. He doesn’t quite speak six languages, just the one – Spanish. However, Angel is fluent in Spanish because he was born in Cali, Colombia. As the son of two immigrants, I have firsthand experienced that your life isn’t the same as an average American. Angel’s experience is an even greater amplification of this statement. He moved to Georgia at the age of five. When asking Angel about his childhood he responded by saying, “Being from Colombia has really affected my life. I grew shy in part because of the language barrier.” Angel struggled with English up until middle school. At this point in his life, Angel became more outgoing and is continuing to better this aspect of himself. This brings him to GTL.
A common theme I am picking up on from our RA’s is a sense of community. Each has their own aspirations of building a better living, learning, friendship environment here at GTL. Angel is no different. What drew him to being one of our Resident Advisors was the ability to resolve conflict. He states “being an RA gives me the opportunity to resolve conflict and therefore build a better community. This aspect could once again stem from his birth, as Colombia has been dealing with conflict issues for several decades and perhaps Angel wishes to hone his skills to one day help his homeland.

Angel is looking to host social events throughout the semester for both the students and faculty of GTL in an effort to create new friendships and once again, a better community. This sense of “closeness” was one of the many things I looked forward to this semester. Angel understands this the same, being such a small group of students of only 150 or so compared our normal fifteen thousand plus back in Atlanta is a great opportunity to make lifelong friendships. (The friendships that are formed by taking 3am trains together to Amsterdam for instance.) It seems that this sense of community is a core moral of Angel’s, even contributing to his choice of major.
Like Lara once again, Angel originally became interested in Electrical Engineering due to its vast impact in the real world. “I like how electricity is involved in almost everybody’s life.” However, unlike Lara, Angel seems to be driven by this sense of community in terms of his future goals. Angel loves the challenge of such a hard major and strives to create a better world using his knowledge, as he’d be “improving the technology most people use.” He would like to get a job that focuses on semiconductors and/or computers.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some wise words from Angel. In our efforts to understand foreign culture and its people understand the differences and appreciate them. “Being Colombian has also taught me to be more thankful for the things I have. I get reminded every time I go visit Colombia and see the poverty so many people struggling financially!” Be proud of where you come from and the roots that hold you, but also extend olive branches to others and perhaps they will do the same for you.

Working Towards a More Energy Efficient Tomorrow: Graduate Student Matt Jordan

Posted by Harry.

Photo courtesy of Matt Jordan.

Name: Matt Jordan

Major/Field of Study: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Year in Graduate School: Starting 4th year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Richmond in Virginia

Interests/Hobbies: Playing the trumpet and tour cycling

One piece of advice for graduate students: “It’s not just about being in the right place. It’s about being there at the right time too.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant. It gets even better with chocolate.

Meet Matt Jordan, a man from the southern part of the USA. After obtaining his Master’s Degree at Alabama, he chose Georgia Tech Lorraine as his next destination in his studies. During his time here, he has had his hand in many different research topics around the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Currently, his focus is on making solar energy more energy efficient by maximizing the amount of electricity generated for the least amount of cost.

Matt had some really nice options on the table when picking a school after his Master’s. Alongside GTL, he also had an offer from Stanford (wow!). GTL was the enticing option for him because of the opportunity to work with people across the globe and live in Europe. It’s definitely worked out, as he has gotten to work on a variety of projects and integrated himself into the graduate student “family” here. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to take his research skills to the next level at a US national lab.

Outside of class, you can call Matt a renaissance man. He can play the trumpet, cycle for kilometers on end, and is a passionate skier too. His one recommendation to undergrads who like skiing is to go to the Alps. I’m not much of a skier so I probably won’t take that advice, but I will pass it on to those who do!

If you’re ever looking for some advice from an established graduate student in the ECE field or just looking for someone chill to hang out with, don’t be afraid to drop by the PhD students’ office and say hi to Matt!

Meet Your “Warden,” featuring Lara

Posted by James

Lara OrlandicPerhaps the most qualified RA I’ve ever met! On first impression that’s a good way to describe Lara Orlandic. Very energetic and always one to crack a quick smile, Lara became an RA mainly to help others. Lara attributes her language skills to her parents, much like mine. However, since her parents are from the Balkans, or Southeastern Europe, Lara has come away with quite a few languages from birth. Her father from Montenegro and mother from northern Croatia combine to give Lara a total of 4 languages up front: Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin, and Bosnian. Lara then went on to learn English obviously, and studied French for 9 years, becoming fluent. In total, Lara can help speak 6 languages and help you traverse plenty of European soil. To add to all this Lara has traveled throughout Europe extensively and knows the ins and outs. And so, this is in fact why she became an RA, to help people.

“It can be difficult to adjust to different cultures,” according to Lara. She wants to help people assimilate to the culture in France and Europe. Lara was keen on expressing that “the cultures are not the same, and it is important for people to see the differences and understand them. Don’t assume the American way is the only way to do things.” Lara advises “the best way to know a culture is to speak to the people that live there.” She encourages anyone to come talk to her about France, French words, etc; she is always happy to help.
Listening to Lara describe her childhood it was quite clear to see why she enjoys traveling and being so international. In the span of a few years Lara moved several times. Born in Boston, within in year Lara moved to a suburb of Chicago where she lived until third grade. She later moved Champagne, Illinois, and her high school was on the University of Illinois campus. This is where she begin formulating her career options and true interests in life. Being on the U of I campus gave Lara a lot of exposure to many forms of engineering, labs, etc. Often talks were given at her school to encourage entry into engineering fields. Eventually she decided on electrical engineering. According to Lara, electrical engineering has applications everywhere. “I can go anywhere and do anything. Everything we use has some kind of micro controller, chip, or plugs in a wall.”
As I’ve learned, to most people from Illinois, Tech is a rather attractive option when it comes to school. Often the out of state tuition matches Illinois In-State Tuitions for many schools. Lara applied to mostly Big-Ten schools but somehow Tech came out to be the cheapest. Lara was accepted in the Grand Challenges Living Learning Community Leadership program her freshman year. The program focuses on examining problems, researching solutions, and applying knowledge and skills in the real world. During her second semester freshman year she also began doing Research with Dr. Omer Inan in physiological sensing processes. The lab focused on approving low cost improvements for heart failures. Lara still does research with Dr. Inan and ultimately, “wants to do something that benefits humanity in some way.”
As you can tell, Georgia Tech Lorraine is in good hands with RA Lara Orlandic. Stay tuned and read along next week as I get to know the rest of our Resident Advisors.

Dorm Essentials

Posted by Harry.

After spending about a week in the dorms, I’m lucky to have some extremely useful things laying around. HEADS UP: Some of the stuff I got was from the beginning of the semester “fire sale,” which was a giveaway of items that have been left by from previous semesters’ students to help us out. Other stuff I bought in the US and brought over.

A Universal Adaptor. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

1. Universal Converter/Adapter (Bought in US)

This little piece of hardware is the Swiss Army Knife of electrical converters. It has a voltage capacitance of 100V – 240V, converts any type of plug into any other type of plug, and has two USB ports on the side to boot to help charge those smaller devices you have.

2. Trash Can (Picked up at fire sale)

When I first arrived in my room, it did not come with a trash can. Luckily, picking this up allowed me to compact all my trash in one area with a fitted bag. Easy to clean and just really handy overall!

3. Laundry Basket (picked up from fire sale)

The laundry room is quite a walk from anywhere in the dorm, especially if you have some stairs to climb. Makes the trip much easier and helps contain the bad smell of dirty clothes. Many of these are available at the fire sale!

harry w2 p1 p3

4. Power Strip (picked up from fire sale)

There are a limited number of outlets in the room but this little guy transforms one outlet into five. Which, if you calculate it out, is 500% more than you originally had. Snag one from the fire sale as there are plenty of these to go around as well.

 

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

5. Traveling Backpack (Bought from US)

A must-have for weekend trips! It will store everything you need that weekend and some. For other purposes, it also serves as a great shopping bag for when you make those runs at Cora.

 

My Pet Velociraptor

Posted by Harry

My new “pet!”

On my second day at Georgia Tech Lorraine, I adopted a pet velociraptor. As you can judge by the picture, it’s not really a velociraptor. Rather, it’s a play on words with the French word for bicycle “vélo.” When people back home ask me how I get around Metz and campus I just reply: “I just hop on my velociraptor and it takes me around.”

To be honest, I highly recommend getting yourself one of these (as both advice for current GTL students and future GTL students!). There are so many perks, including:

1) It makes getting from place to place much faster. A long, long time ago, humankind made simple machines to make life easier. The wheel is one of them.
2) Although somewhat aesthetically unpleasing, the basket is definitely very practical. It can hold your backpack, groceries from Cora, or a couple of baguettes from Paul.
3) Seven, that’s right, SEVEN gears to make the hills of France much easier to conquer.
4) Probably the most important, but you don’t have to do leg day if you’re biking because this way, every day is leg day. (I told all my friends here to get bikes because we all know that friends don’t let friends skip leg day).

On a more serious note, there is quite a hefty deposit to rent one of these but the monthly fee is extremely cheap. If you can cover the deposit, it will definitely pay it’s dividends.

Hope to catch you around on your pet “vélo-ciraptor”!

One Down, Sixteen To Go

Posted by James

It’s been quite an eventful first week here in Metz. Seven days and nights and I’ve already had a number of firsts. First time in Luxembourg, first European soccer game, first time using a train all by myself, first European festival, etc. However, before any of these could happen I had to travel over 4000 miles, board two planes, and go through two countries before even stepping foot in France.

Metz Cathedral

The centerpiece of Metz: its towering cathedral, nicknamed “The Lantern of God,” because it is the most luminous cathedral of France.

Saturday, August 20th

My alarm clock sounds: beep, beep, beep… As I look over to snooze, I read 6:00 A.M. and instantly jump out of bed both scared and excited. It hits me that today I’m going to France. All summer I’ve been bragging to my friends in Michigan about this, but at this moment it’s not pride I feel – it’s fear. I NEED TO PACK! This week I had to concentrate all my efforts on a physics final and wrapping up things at my internship. My plane leaves in 8 hours, and I have to take everything I need to live for four months to Europe. I feel my heart pounding, and I start sweating as I run downstairs and grab my suitcase. So begins the most frantic packing of my life. 3 hours later I sit down on my bed with a sigh, “I’m ready.” All I can recall about checking in and boarding the plane is a feeling of numbness. As I took off my shoes, and took out my computer for security I kept looking at my family, my mom and dad, and my brother, all just standing there smiling. As I collected my things and took one final look, time froze. I would not see them for over 4 months. I turned and slowly made my way to my gate.

Sunday, August 21st

As I stumble through Frankfurt International Airport and find my gate, the first onset of jetlag starts to set in. In a few hours I land in Luxembourg and await another GTL member’s flight. An hour later we are downtown in the middle of a summer festival. As we walk around and the sounds of French and German from outside conversations interrupt ours, I start to grasp the essence of GTL’s message. Immersion in a separate country does far more than allow you to experience culture. Five days later I finally understand!

Friday, August 26th

“Hey Clyde, what time are we going downtown?”

“The Last bus leaves at 9:40, I think?”

It’s been an odd first week filled with orientations and runs to CORA, the huge supermarket in Metz. A few friends and I are looking to blow off some steam, and experience some true French culture. As we’re waiting for the final bus, we receive a friendly surprise. A GTL grad student comes and sits down on the stop’s bench. Within minutes we’re deep in conversation as the bus arrives. His name is Peter, and he’s a nuclear engineer who has been living in Metz for the last 8 years. This is his last semester in France and he is heading downtown to meet some friends who also work at GTL.

We tag along and spend all evening with him. The night begins with the Mirabelle festival, an amazing display of local pride in Metz’s rare prune. A beautiful exhibit is held in the center of the city, next to the famous Metz Cathedral. A jazz band hovering above the ground provide the baseline to a group of acrobats and a singer who are tangling over the crowd by way of a crane.

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The amazing performance in downtown Metz!

Throughout the night we talked to Peter and his friends about many things. Peter was able to describe a lot of distinct differences between the French and outsiders, not just Americans. For instance, a local cultural conflict between French of North African descent not assimilating into French culture. However, the largest takeaway from the night was a truly unique experience. The next morning we all agreed that had we not met Peter, or his friends Jeremy and Jacques, we never would have done anything similar. We experienced local music, food, conversation, etc. All while learning more about Metz and France.

First Impressions

Posted by Harry

Left: Photo Courtesy of Patrick Morand; Right: Photo Courtesy of The Wine Guild of Charlottesville

I wish I had some wild story to tell about my journey to Metz and Georgia Tech Lorraine, but I don’t. Rather, I just took the shuttle (free!) that was provided by GTL from the Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport. Usually, I’m a person that sleeps on long bus rides like the 4-hour trip it takes between the two locations, but I didn’t. The reason why? I was blown away by the stunning views of the French countryside. It really was something else. Something about the hills that stretched on for miles (or kilometers, I should say) and the quaint little villages that we passed by just took my breath away. Even if the majority of the scenery was farmlands and fields, my eyes were locked outside nearly the entire time. The pictures you see above are some stock photos off of Google Images that I found, since the ones I took really don’t do it any justice.

Upon my arrival in the outskirts of Metz where GTL was, there was something specific that really stood out to me: the silence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a ghost town-ish area we are in, but it was just very peaceful and it’s something I’ve really grown to enjoy. The walk from my dorm to school is no longer filled with the loud sounds of construction or the conversations of thousands of students, but just a relative quietness.

Even on my first day, the GTL experience has far exceeded my expectations.

Finals Week

Posted by Morgan

MK-Finals

Finals week: the dreaded experience of taking tests students spent way too long studying for; zombie like students roam the halls; witnesses have reported seeing students collapse after testing.

This definition is a universal definition for most colleges, and a definition that I am sure Georgia Tech students know all too well.  So I am sure you’re wondering, how does it change for the study abroad experience?

Well, the experience here is still just as stressful and exhausting, but somehow I seem to see many more smiles at the GTL lounge this week than I did at the CULC, the major study spot in Atlanta, during finals week. Maybe it is because everyone is still on the travel high. Maybe it is because everyone is excited that it is almost time to go home. Or maybe it is just because of the small, tight knit community here at GTL.

As I wander through the lounge, content with the fact that I only have my French final to prepare for, I see laughing faces and group discussions. I wave to my friends and stop to say hi to some people. It’s a small and tight knit atmosphere, an atmosphere not easily found on the Atlanta campus.

Those who are not studying for their finals are either taking a break playing ping pong or working on group projects. Due to time crunches, final projects are a common replacement for final exams here at GTL which I can safely say is not necessarily better, just a trade off. Other students munch on their PAULS lunches, provided by the GTL staff to help us get through this tiring week.

Nonetheless, everyone is busy studying here. Many people actually refrained from traveling this past weekend to continue studying for their difficult exams, so it’s pretty clear that finals week is not all that different at GTL. Just maybe a smaller group of people still suffering through the miserable test week with some good friends. 

 

Undergraduate Research Student: Sarah Selim

Posted by Morgan

MK-Selim2Studying abroad is hard for engineering students: the classes, the rigor, the balance with travel. At times it may seem that a Georgia Tech engineering student will never gain that exciting abroad experience. This is not the case for Sarah Selim though. A rising 3rd year in mechanical engineering, she always knew she wanted the study abroad experience, but she also knew that she wanted the undergraduate research experience as well. Fortunately, she found the answer in GTL.

For myself, I did not even know that undergraduate research existed at GTL. I figured that my only option was to come to Metz, take a couple classes, and spend my weekends traveling. The same was true for Sarah. But Sarah knew that she wanted to find a work abroad program for the summer and that the paperwork hassles that come along with working abroad are not exactly appealing, so she did a little digging into the research opportunities at GTL. While Sarah was aware that the research opportunities at GTL are usually only available for graduate students, she had the drive to convince them otherwise.

At first, she wasn’t sure if any professor would let her come work at GTL, but after multiple emails to different professors and GTL administration, she finally found a professor that was eager and willing to let her participate in undergraduate research. What a typical tech student- ambitious and motivated!

While her weekends do not fall on the same days as most GTL students (she only gets two day weekends and one three day weekend a month), she finds solace in the type of work she gets to take part in each day. Her project involves robotics research called non-destructive testing which uses a robot that moves along metal surfaces to detect if the surfaces have any defects. Most of her day to day work consists of cad modeling for the project, and because she works with three other graduate students, she is able to get feedback when needed.

So far, Sarah is loving her undergraduate research experience. She has hands on work in her chosen field which provides her with great experience for future endeavors. Sarah also mentioned the balance she receives as a result of working at GTL. She is able to work inside of her comfort zone, being surrounded by Georgia Tech students and faculty, but still be pushed a bit outside of her comfort zone while working in a foreign country, France. After talking with Sarah, it’s safe to say that I am a little jealous. While I’m taking tests on the different forms of “to have” in French, she gets to play with robots all day in the lab.

You might be wondering what kind of travel experience one can get while working abroad. Does one even get to travel? While Sarah’s busy schedule is definitely difficult to coordinate with her friends who are taking classes, she still manages to take short weekend trips and make the most of her time.

Her favorite place so far was Barcelona, mostly due to the fact that Gaudi’s stunning MK-Selim1architecture fills the city. While I find Gaudi’s work to be overt and eccentric, Sarah loved his style; “he created floors that weren’t even flat and he just kind of went for it!”. I might not understand Gaudi, but I understand why Sarah loves him so much. He took risks, was ambitious, and broke the mold, just as Sarah took a chance in searching out her undergraduate research at GTL. Well, clearly it paid off – for both Gaudi and Sarah.

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