To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Category: Metz (Page 2 of 3)

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.

20160826_215643

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.

The Euro Cup Mania

Posted by Morgan

Note: this was written before the finals of the Euro Cup.

MK-EuroCup1

Football, the people’s favorite sport– the sport that causes fans to rally together chanting sometimes obscene statements–the sport that convinces men and women to cover their faces in paint, their bodies in colorful sports clothing, and their hands in foam fingers–the sport that brings people together with little in common except for their love of football. I am not talking about American football though. I am talking about European football, about soccer, the world’s favorite sport.

In America, soccer is not the most popular sport. While we do have the best women’s national team in the world, our men’s team is seriously lacking in talent- at least in comparison to most European teams- and consumerist America simply prefers watching a sport where commercials play every 5 minutes instead of an intense atmosphere of nonstop 45 minute halves. As result, when tournaments such as the World Cup, the Euro Cup, or even the CONCACAF Cup air on TV, most of America just changes the channel. The same cannot be said for Europe.

GTL students were fortunate enough to experience this part of European culture this summer as this year was the Euro Cup, a popular soccer tournament that is held every 4 years and is being hosted in France this year. While back in America, citizens are eagerly anticipating the Olympics, Europeans couldn’t care less about the Olympics. Their eyes are all on soccer.

This past week was a monumental game for France; the semifinals against Germany which determined whether or not France would move on in pursuit of the coveted Euro Cup trophy. Like any soccer fan, I dragged my friends with me to downtown Metz to watch the game on television. They obliged and made the journey with me into town. Nothing prepared them for what they were about to witness though. The squares were piled with people, pushing their way through crowds to get the best view of the TVs which lined the streets outside of bars and cafes. People’s faces were painted with the French flag; children were dressed in crazy red wigs in support of France; and just about every man had one oversized beer in his hand. It was a crazy atmosphere.

The game itself was enjoyable. While my eyes were glued to the television at every point in time, I somehow managed to miss both French goals in those rare moments I would turn to speak to a friend. Of course, we all knew what had happened as the crowds went wild, screaming, jumping, pushing, singing.

I was somewhat disappointed during the game though. I guess I forgot to mention that I was rooting for the enemy–Germany. The fact that Schweinsteiger and Mueller, two fantastic German players, were not able to help score against the MK-EuroCup2French made me very annoyed. Not to mention that Germany had possession of the ball the majority of the game! I had to hide this annoyance as best as possible from the French though for fear of being attacked by some of those crazy fans.

The final result: France won. While I myself was upset with the outcome, the rest of the country was ecstatic. Metz went crazy. People started setting off fireworks, dancing in circles, singing songs, breathing fire, shaking police vehicles that lined the streets. It was quite the sight.

As one friend of mine put it, “This would never happen in America.”

And that’s the truth. Even when a particular team wins the Super Bowl, crowds do not rush the streets setting off fireworks or shaking police vehicles. People would be arrested. But in France, in Europe, they do. It is a national sport, a national emblem for a country, and we were able to experience this joyous moment with the French people. It’s an experience I will never forget. Sure traveling to Italy and England is awesome, but this was an unmatched experience — not related to a travel destination — that I will most likely not have again.

While the night was late and long, I was glad to be able to see such a sight. The next day of class might have been rough, but when I entered my Industrial Engineering class the following morning, I noticed the heavy eyes of my IE professor.

“So, what did you guys think of the game?,” asked my professor.

Well, clearly I wasn’t the only one who thought a little less sleep was worth it to see France win.

Where to Eat Near Georgia Tech-Lorraine

Unlike at the Georgia campus, dinner is not included in any of the meal plans for the GTL student. This means that every evening each GTL student needs to fend for themselves. No need to worry though as there are several options for dinner. There is the obvious option to cook dinner in the dorms, but for those times when you’re too busy to cook here are your options:

Paul

Image source: Paul.fr

Image source: Paul.fr

Paul is located about halfway between Lafayette and the GTL building. Paul has several options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Throughout the day they have fresh baked bread, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Each day they have a slightly different selection, making sure that you don’t get bored eating the same thing every day.

 

Crous

CROUS dining hall

CROUS dining hall

While dinner isn’t included in the meal plan, lunch at Crous is included. That being said for 3€ dinner at Crous can be purchased. Dinner at Crous typically includes a choice of two entrees, one seafood option and one non-seafood meat options. Some of the options included so far this semester were chicken fingers, ham and grilled cheese, pork and macaroni, among others. They have a variety of cold sides each night including oranges, apples, watermelon, a variety of cheeses, yogurt, and mousse. One or two hot sides are available each night as well such as scalloped potatoes, green beans, and pasta.

 

La Boite à Pizza

Image source: laboiteapizza.com

Image source: laboiteapizza.com

La Boite à Pizza is the local pizza place that is located next to Paul, and is within walking distance from GTL. Let me tell you La Boite à Pizza is not your typical pizza place. They have a selection of gourmet and traditional pizzas made with fresh ingredients. They even have deals every Monday and Thursday for any medium pizza for 6€50!

These are the options available within walking distance of GTL, but there are always the restaurants in Metz if you get tired of these.

 

5 Times I Really Wish I Knew the Language

  1. Buying Plane Tickets: Believe it or not, buying a plane ticket online can be harder than you think, especially when it is in another language. When booking plane tickets to Naples, I had to try and use my rusty German in order to make sure we got 2 plane tickets to the right location on the right day. I’m still hoping that I did this correctly…I guess I will find out in a few weeks.
  2. Ordering Water: Tap Water. This might be what I miss most aMK2_1bout America. When you are at a European restaurant, if you ask for water they automatically bring you a fancy small glass bottle of water that costs more than a glass of wine. When you are parched from roaming the city all day you just want a tall, cold, refreshing vat of water, but sometimes they don’t always understand the translation of “the free tap water please.”
  3. Directions: When walking around Metz, France during my first week at GTL, a group of us were trying to find the bus stop to get back to our dorms. Not many locals know English though, so we just ended up walking around the city for about 45 minutes in the rain until a nice man took pity on us and walked us to the bus stop we were trying to get to.
  4. Reading Menus: French food is delicious. There are crepes, escargot, coq au vin, and of course my favorite – pastries. While pointing at a menu and just hoping for the best can sometimes be a good option, it is always an MK2_2unfortunate feeling when you look over at your friend’s dish and see some mouthwatering dessert like a stuffed, chocolate and banana crepe with caramel ice-cream and dusted almonds and then glance back at your boring croissant.
  5. Trains: America is known for not having good public transportation. We drive everywhere and rarely use a bus or train to get from place to place. In France, everyone uses the train, but it is not as easy as it looks. Sometimes you could be waiting on the track for your train that is arriving in 10 minutes and then next thing you know everyone starts dashing halfway across the train station. Let’s just say we learned later on that European trains tend to switch tracks at the very last second, but it would have been nice to have known that a little earlier on.

France: Take Two

May 16th — My suitcase was packed, my fuzzy socks placed in an accessible part of my carry on, my ticket was printed and my passport was neatly stowed in my wallet. I was all set to fly out to France and spend the next three months studying abroad in Metz.

As a typical paranoid traveler, I arrived at the airport three hours early dressed in my over-sized Georgia Tech sweatshirt so that the other students on my flight would easily find me. I passed the time Googling what Metz, my new home, looked like until I met up with a few other students.

We conversed for a while, discussing our majors, MK3_1what classes we were going to take, where we wanted to travel, even the absurd amount of luggage we girls managed to pack. When they finally called our zone, we shot up from our seats and quickly rushed to the front of the line. As I handed them my passport and ticket, a smile shot across my face.

It was finally here. I was finally departing to France, about to embark on a…

“When are you leaving France miss?” the customs lady interrupted as her eyes scanned up and down my passport.

My smile suddenly dropped. “August 5th” I replied.

“Oh no. Please step aside ma’am,” she said.

And that’s where it began– the longest and most stressful 48 hours of my life. You see, where a typical expiration date signifies when your passport will become invalid, the same rule does not apply for France. My passport was set to expire in October of 2016 but French law requires that it must have an expiration date of at least 3 months after your return flight in order to enter the country. I was one month short.

As I was taken aside my smile turned to a horrified look of panic and the shaking began to set in. What was I going to do? How was I going to get to France? Where was I going to get a new passport? How was I going to tell my parents I missed one of the most important details when planning my trip.

Fortunately enough, the woman at the gate explained to me that I would still be able to fly out tomorrow night; I would just have to go the United States Customs House in Philadelphia to get a passport the next morning.

So 6am came and my mom and I were up, out of bed, on our way to Philadelphia, ready to be the first in line. The process, while stressful and filled with anxiety, was easier than expected. I was at the airport by 3pm and this time when I handed over my passport I was not met with a look of pity but a look of boredom as I was waved through to the plane.

I had made it onto the plane. Now I just had to make it to Metz. I would no longer be met by Georgia Tech students holding a sign saying “Shuttle B” or a huge hug of excitement from my friends on the bus. I was alone.

Fortunately, another student, Frank, had also missed his flight and was flying in around the same time as me. Together, we were able to navigate the French public transportation system.

It was a process though–a long and tiring process. We had to drag all of our luggage through the airport in order to make it to the train station, and finding where to buy the tickets was a struggle. When we finally purchased our tickets there was an evacuation of the area due to suspicious abandoned luggage. MK3_2Police, heavily armed security, and dogs entered the area. This was just what I needed to calm my nerves. Now I didn’t even know if we would make it on our train. How were we going to make it to Metz?

Thankfully, the threat was lifted and we were allowed to go back down to the train station about 20 minutes before our departure time. Then we had to find our train to Lorraine. Then we had to find our seat on the train (which believe it or not is harder than it looks when the tickets are all in French). Then we had to take a bus to Metz. Then we had to take a taxi to GTL. Finally we had made it. Somehow, we managed to do this all on a few hours of sleep and a few phrases of French. Thank goodness Frank was there with me to calm my nerves over being in a foreign country alone and commiserate over our unfortunate luck. Who knows where I’d be without him?

When I entered the GTL building, exhausted and hungry, I was met with laughs and hugs from a few friends. While they had all had a good night’s rest, filling breakfast, and an information session to describe what to expect at Georgia Tech Lorraine, I was tired, sore, in need of a shower, and just thankful to be in the correct country.

Later that night my friend Mirna and I began planning our trip to Prague. We were set to fly out in two days, and we had nothing planned except the flights.

“Ugh! How are we going to get to the airport?!” she asked.

“Don’t worry,” I muttered, “I’ve got that covered.”

Farewell, France!

This morning, I completed my last exam of this semester and it feels absolutely surreal. On my way back to La Fayette, a place I have called home for four months, I immediately begin reminiscing on the amazing experiences and memories I’ve made here. I also think back to my first blog post, and it is interesting to revisit my pre-trip expectations and anticipations. Returning to Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, I discover four lines that encapsulate my time abroad quite beautifully:

“You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

who soar to high heights.”

I’ve certainly seen great sights and flown high heights! More importantly, I can confidently declare that studying abroad has been a life-changing experience for me. Living in an unfamiliar environment challenged me to step outside my comfort zone, which fostered personal growth and a new level of maturity. Along the way, I managed to build new relationships and friendships that will extend far beyond this four month period. Travelling to different countries introduced to me to new customs and people from all walks of life. I sampled a myriad of cuisines, and less successfully, new languages. I lounged on a beach in Barcelona and travelled 2,000 ft up into the Swiss Alps. I visited 9 countries in total, and experienced parts of the world that have always been on my bucket list. Travel granted me access and insight into various cultures and gifted me with a stronger appreciation for the world’s diversity. I value diversity and the qualities that make us unique; that said, venturing to new cities also taught me that people are very much alike despite seemingly insurmountable cultural barriers.

I left the United states as a nervous yet eager, wide-eyed engineering student ready to explore new horizons. I leave France much in the same way, but now instilled with a new sense of confidence. I am returning home an experienced traveler and global citizen. I cannot believe how quickly four months passed. My time in Metz has exceeded all my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed writing for the GTL blog and am so grateful for the opportunity to share and keep track of my memories. I am glad that prospective GTL students can use my blog as a resource for advice and a glimpse of the excitement that waits.

While I am eager to return home to reunite with family and friends, there are a many parts of this experience I will miss. I will miss the spontaneity that comes with each weekend. I will miss the different foods I indulged in, from döner kebabs to French cheese and baguettes. I will not soon forget the pieces of history I learned about each country. I will miss my professors, some of which were the best I’ve had as an undergraduate student. I will miss the bond that 138 built in our short time here.

I look forward to finishing my remaining semesters at Georgia Tech on a strong and positive note. I cannot wait to see how the life lessons I’ve acquired while abroad will apply to life back home.

Au revoir France!

Ije

 

Paintballs and Châteaux

Posted by Julie

The season of BDE events is upon us, and week after week there are events lined up. One of the largest events occurred just the other day north of Metz in Veckring.

Now, I’ve never played paintball. It’s never been on my radar – the balloon painting from that scene in The Princess Diaries is more my style. However, at the beginning of the semester we were given a list suggested events from previous BDE’s, and when we polled the student body, paintball was a very popular choice. After much debate and many more phone calls, we had organized what was quite possibly the BDE’s largest financial commitment of the semester. Students paid just 25€ for three hours of playing time on a field that was cooler than any of us had imagined.

Paintball Veckring is situated nearby Ouvrage Hackenberg and the Maginot Line up in the northeastern part of France, and its “map,” or playing field, consists of an assembly of an abandoned château and old military buildings. Yes, that means we were playing paintball in dilapidated buildings. And we were the only people there, as the event took place on a Friday, and most people still have school or work and such. You can imagine the intensity – it feels like you’re creeping around on a mission.

20160401_114628

The group assembled to discuss what style game we would play next in a room of a military building.

Adjusting to the unique map took some time, but everyone had a great time. We were slipping around in the mud from the previous day’s rainfall, climbing in windows, creeping through basements, and at the end of all of it, covered in splotches of paint. And there were so many paintballs that we had leftovers even after it was time to wrap up that people took turns shooting at randomly specified targets.

20160401_145950

One last picture with the dog in front parading his new water bottle around.

The cherry on top was the adorable, water bottle-chewing dog of an employee they had wandering on site, which wandered between our group as we removed our muddy shoes in preparation for the bus back to Metz.

GTL Athletics: Soccer

With nonstop travel on weekends and back to back classes/homework assignments during the week, it may seem almost impossible to find time for fitness. But students like Rene Kenmoe are helping to make the search a lot easier. Rene serves as the Sports Coordinator for the GTL BDE. Throughout the semester, he has organized a handful of soccer games on the fields outside of the Aloes dorm. And the turnouts are always fantastic. GTL students use these evening games as a means to let loose after class and release some competitive energy. “Playing soccer was a great release for me. It was nice to be outside in cool weather and fresh air. And getting a workout in is always a plus!” says Junior Christana Fagbile.

IMG_4222                   IMG_4223

Oftentimes, other university students will be out on the field, and end up playing a game or two with GTL students. In fact, one of Rene’s goals as the Sports Coordinator has been to connect GTL and the surrounding French schools through sports. While these matches are typically fun and light-hearted, they do still have their fair share of athletic “pros”/competitors. But not to worry! Even if you’re not the most skilled in the sport (cough, cough, me.), you are still very welcome! Out on the field, it is more about having fun and unwinding while learning the tenets of the game. The matches are not about who scores the most goals, but focus rather on creating a team-like bond with fellow classmates. Surely, in a semester filled with academics and travel, soccer is and will always be a great addition to the mix.

 

 

Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén