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Category: Metz (Page 3 of 4)

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Advice from Real-Life GTL Students

Posted by Julie

At this point, we are well over halfway through the semester. We’re about two and a half months older, and quite a bit wiser. We aren’t sages yet, but we do have some thoughts about how we would have approached this semester and what we would have done differently. So, for all those planning on coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, or even for those just generally traveling, here’s our thoughts on traveling, Europe, Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and travelling Europe at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

 

Don’t worry so much about things not going as planned. Things end up working out in the end.  – Jessica

Jessica’s advice holds true for j12779022_10208896617761798_4447155126991845723_oust about any experience, but especially for travel: there will always be something that doesn’t go as planned, but honestly? There’s no need to overly stress. We have lots of opportunity to travel, and the rules at Georgia Tech-Lorraine allow for a certain flexibility, so if your train gets stuck in Frau, Austria, generally it’s fixable. Also, I’ve found, personally, that when things don’t go as planned – that’s when the magic happens. Those are the memories you’ll keep. (Like wandering around Naples at 10pm with your friends to find that one pizza restaurant that guy in Rome recommended. Totally worth it, by the way.)

 

Interact with the students around you – especially the French ones – more. – Joy

All I remember about our first orientation meeting is my extreme skepticism12768270_1233192183361624_3995472953783433646_o toward one statement made by Ms. Bass: “GTL students become like a community.
You will know everyone, and you will probably be friends with most everyone.” 200 students, and I’m going to be friends with all of them? Riiight. But it’s not so far from the truth. Between classes, activities with the BDE, mutual friends, the Universal GroupMe, or just walking up to someone in the student lounge, there are many ways to meet people. You just have to go for it. All the people here are in the same boat as you, and really, most of them don’t bite. Ask to borrow sewing kits, where to eat downtown, and people to travel with for the weekend, and you’ll generally find a friend.

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Spend a little more time planning out your travels. – David, Pranav, Ije

This was quite a popular remark. People come with grand dreams, but realize there are some realities to study abroad, train travel, and the limits of mortality. It does help to plan out where exactly you’d like to go, and prioritize your dreams, but be aware that if you want to travel with others (which I highly recommend), sometimes there will be curveballs.

 

Don’t just follow other people when choosing where to travel. – Indiana12783787_10206586667692259_9026917480081343070_o

This follows the last one pretty closely. Define your dreams, try to travel with others and make friends, but don’t limit yourself to what others want to do solely because all of your friends are going somewhere else. People have realized throughout the course of the semester that cities aren’t nearly as interesting as adventuring and hiking, or maybe Italy was not everything it’s cracked up to be. Form your own opinions and pursue them.

 

Budget anything and everything. – AJ12573928_10208349260392297_2029775313939866714_n

A basic, but vital necessity. Fall semester, I made a massive spreadsheet, detailing fees, tuition, food, trains, activities, and any other thing for which it is possible to spend money. There was extensive research: I frequented the Georgia Tech-Lorraine page, but researched on train ticket websites, travel blogs, packing lists, and more. There is more to living abroad than one might realize, and it is necessary to consider all possibilities. (Including, dare I say it, nightlife, for those legal and willing.) It’s easy to spend way too much, but if you have a form laid out, you can see what steps you need to take so you aren’t high and dry and begging your parents for money at the end of the semester.

 

Branch out and do new things despite 773593_10206494390895489_5985898670448672616_othe cost. – Sienna

Now, we’ve been responsible; we’ve budgeted for our trips. However, that being said, if something really compels you, and you know you’d regret it later on, DO IT. #majorkey

 

Politeness at PAUL

Logo_Paul

PAUL logo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Students at Georgia Tech-Lorraine generally have a few choices for lunch: make your own (but pasta gets a bit old after the first 15 times), go to CROUS (the student cafeteria for French schools which is actually amazing), or stop by Paul (or Boîte de Pizza, a new addition this semester).

I am of the personal opinion that Georgia Tech-Lorraine students represent a large chunk of our local Paul’s revenue. A mix between a boulangerie, patisserie, sandwich stop, and resto (the French abbreviation for restaurant), Paul is right on the path for many students – particularly those who live in the Lafayette dorms.

So, if you’re on your way to class, stop by for a croissant or “le Parisian,” but to avoid appearing as tactless tourists, it’s nicer to try to speak the native language. And so, I’m going to give you a quick rundown on how to order at Paul without offending anyone. Copy any of these into Google Translate to get a feel for pronunciation.

 

INTRODUCTORY FORMALITIES

You may hear the employee say «En suite,” which means “Next.”

«Bonjour» or «Bonsoir»: Depending on what time of day it is. “Bonjour” is more for mornings and early afternoons, but “Bon soir” is for late afternoon and on. They will say it first, and to be cordial, you say it back.

 

ORDERING

« Je prends…»/« Je voudrais…»/ « J’aimerais…» = “I’ll take…”/ “I would like…”/ “I would love…”

All are acceptable to begin your order, but many (especially in fast food) skip this formality as well.

Then [insert food item here].

Check out their delicious menu here to get a heads up on what you can add to end that sentence.

If all else fails, and you don’t know what something is in French, you can ask « Comment on dit en anglais?» or “How do you say this in English?”

« Et aussi… » = “And also…”

If you want multiple items.

« Ça c’est tout?» = “Is that all?”

Asked by the server. Easiest reply, if you are finished? “Oui.”

 

PAYING

« Comment on paye?» = “How are you paying?”

Asked by the server. Generally cash or card – but it’s best if your card has a chip in it!

« Par la carte» or « Par la carte bleue» = “By credit card”

« Avec l’argent » = “With cash”

 

TEARFUL GOODBYES

The server says «Merci» and «Bon journée» or «Au revoir».

You repeat for politeness.

 

Other good words to know are basic numbers (as I would be impressed if you wanted to order 96 pains au chocolat). Check out this article for basic food words like chicken, allergy, and vegetarian to make your life easier.

How Well Do You Know Metz?

How well do you know Metz? Read some interesting facts about the city below and see!   

  • Metz is a city in northeast France. It is on the Moselle River. It is the capital city of the region of Lorraine.
  • Where-is-Metz-on-map-of-FranceIt is a cultural, commercial, and transportation center of Lorraine, an industrial city producing metals, machinery, tobacco, clothing, and food products, and the home of one of France’s largest military bases.
  • Metz is one of eight cities targeted by the French government for special planning and development.
  • Metz was a major cultural center of the Carolingian Renaissance (8th century) and was later (10th century) a prosperous commercial city with an important Jewish community.
  • Metz became a free imperial city in the 12th cent. and was then one of the richest and most populous cities of the empire.
  • Paul Verlaine, a famous French poet associated with the Symbolist movement, was born in Metz in 1844.
  • PaulVerlaine_NewBioImageDuring the German annexation of E Lorraine (1871–1918), Metz, largely French-speaking, was a center of pro-French sentiment. During World War II the city suffered greatly under German occupation.
  • There are many Gallo-Roman ruins in Metz, including an aqueduct, thermal baths, and part of an amphitheater. Much has also been preserved from the medieval period.
  • The celebrated Cathedral of St. Étienne, built from c.1221 to 1516, has one of Europe’s largest collections of stained glass.metz-cath_1631917i
  • The Place Sainte-Croix is a square in Metz surrounded by medieval houses (13th–15th cent.).
  • Metz has several other churches, including St. Pierre-de-la-Citadelle Basilica, mansions from the Middle Ages, and many beautiful promenades.
  • Metz is also the site of the futuristic Pompidou-Metz museum (2010), the first regional branch of Paris’ Beaubourg (Pompidou Center).Centre_Pompidou_Metz_2_900x600_Hufton_Crow

Interesting, right? Stay tuned for more facts coming soon (and make sure to visit these sites while you’re here!).

-Ije

Source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Metz.aspx

The Final Stretch!

Oh em gee! It’s April already! Meaning, we have all but 5 weeks left here at GTL. It’s been a crazy and busy time for us all, as midterms, papers, and final presentations are starting to pile up in our classes. On top of that, we are all trying to squeeze in our last batch of “must see” destinations for the remaining weekends. For many of us, this time of the semester has become a mixture of wanting to be home with family and friends yet at the same time wishing your time abroad could be extended. So, how does one deal with this whirlwind of a final month stretch? Some may go on a sky-diving trip to get one last rush of adrenaline in. Others may stay at GTL and hit the books, in order to solidify that A in Statics. Surely, each and every one of us will decide what is best for ourselves on our own. Whatever you do choose to do, make sure the remaining weeks of your semester count.

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Leaving Our Mark on the Community

Posted by Julie

That last week has been the best Metz I’ve ever seen – a balmy 60° underneath blue skies and gold-tinted sunbeams. Personally, I think it was the universe getting excited about our volunteering event at Fort Queuleu.

Students have asked for an opportunity to volunteer, and while there are too many hoops to jump through for volunteering genres such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters, we found this early on and have been working to make it happen for a while.

You may remember that one of the first blog posts I wrote was about my International Affairs trip, which included Fort Queuleu, a former internment camp just a 20 minute walk from Georgia Tech-Lorraine. The tour was particularly impactful – from the storytelling of our guide to the creative, connecting visuals. I was amazed that so much history was hidden in the hills so near us, so I was incredibly excited about this opportunity.

We joined a group of maybe ten other dedicated volunteers who convene twice a month to clean up and preserve the history of the region. Many spoke little English, so it was a great way for the group to brush up on their French, or even learn a little for some. We still had conversations and laughs with the others, despite the language barriers.

While some cut back bushes and undergrowth, we were assigned to work with a few people on the refurbishment of the entry gate. For my group, the morning crew, we brushed off the moss and rust with metal brushes and painted on a first coat of protective glaze, after which the afternoon group painted on several more.

With the weather as perfect as it was, and the people so nice, I don’t think I have enjoyed a BDE event more. Of course, there are several lined up soon – so that title may be tested!

My favorite part? As I was walking out of the park area in which Fort Queuleu is situated, another French woman was leaving as well. She started up a conversation, and I explained why our students were there. She was very happy and impressed that we wanted to help the community as much as we did. I found that this was also her first time volunteering, as she had recently found out that her mother was a part of the underground movement to overthrow Nazi rule during occupation during World War II – which is when Fort Queuleu was used as an internment camp for French resistance.

It was so nice to be a part of something bigger than me; something that has such a personal connection to the people that live here. It’s nice to say that I didn’t just visit Metz, but I lived in and contributed to the community.

 

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