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Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Category: Metz (Page 4 of 4)

Brussels in the Heart of Georgia Tech-Lorraine

Posted by Julie

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the recent events: a terror attack carried out by ISIL agents struck Brussels in its airport and a metro station near the hub of the European Union. All across our screen, new channels flash images of smoking airport terminals, people running haphazardly in the streets, and first responders caring for victims wrapped in shiny security blankets. As of tonight, 31 dead and 271 wounded.

And even before that, but much more quietly, innocent civilians on a beach in the Ivory Coast on the 14th of March. 22 dead and 33 wounded.

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Image courtesy of USA Today.

Tuesday morning would have been just like any other for Georgia Tech-Lorraine students shaking off the sleep with coffee and class, but just after 8am, our classmate posted in our GroupMe. We all watched closely – whether via Reddit threads or CNN feeds or elsewhere for details. Many of us have visited Brussels, and some of us were even in Brussels this weekend, in the very spots where the horrifying events took place. Many have friends and family living, working, visiting. All of us had settled back into our routines at our “home base,” but watching the events unfold was still heartbreaking.

Terror attacks both move and paralyze humanity. They prey on the fear of the unknown, causing chaos and suffering as the world stops to watch. However, every single one of them has hit the core of humanity – from Paris to Syria to Thailand to Egypt to Nigeria, and now the Ivory Coast and Brussels. The thing is, though, they are a worldwide endeavor of radical organizations – even in the United States, such as in San Bernardino or Chattanooga. It’s a reality, and a grotesque one assuredly. It shouldn’t exist, but it does, and it can happen anywhere. The best thing to do is to love above all – and to prepare and be vigilant.

Unpredictability is a hard enemy to fight, but to all parents: everyone at Georgia Tech-Lorraine is doing everything in their power to keep your child safe while studying abroad. Even things that I cannot describe for our own safety! Parents, if you’re curious, ask your student. From the moment we are waiting at the airport to leave, people in both Atlanta and France are prepared, watching, ready to help if anything goes wrong – I specifically remember Mme. Bass saying that they stay up to make sure that students arrive safely – to touching back down in the United States.

Due to constant vigilance, there is constant improvement. More safety measures have been put into place even since last November; there are meetings about our safety – even one already drawn together to discuss the attacks in Brussels – and how to best respond and protect. Weekly updates, as well as emergency ones, inform us on the state of affairs and important events and advise how best to avoid problem areas.

Information is one of the greatest powers garnered by travel and wielded by Georgia Tech-Lorraine to promote the well-being and security of staff and students. Some channels remain voluntary, such as notifying Georgia Tech-Lorraine staff as to where one travels during the weekends for emergency purposes (though I highly recommend it, as I was told it was a great help to confirm the security of all students after the Paris attacks). However, most aspects are integrated into life at Georgia Tech-Lorraine to maintain the success and safety of the program.

Scroll back through the previous posts of this blog, and you’ll find it celebrates the absolute opportunities attainable at Georgia Tech-Lorraine – and in some cases, no other place. You see so much good going on here, and there is so much done to protect it. This experience has changed my life beyond my words to describe, and I am a big fan of words – which is part of why I love writing. And by extension, I love the words said by others people (a.k.a. quotes). I could throw the cliché ones at you (FDR’s “The only thing to fear is fear itself,” anyone?), but here’s by far my favorite quote about fear:

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

There is an undeniable amount of uncertainty to any facet of life. At any given moment, another person’s path may come careening into ours, intentionally or unintentionally, crashing and smashing the plans we had so neatly laid out. We get in our cars, risking accidents; we climb the mountain, risking injury. Never before has this proved a reason to cower and hide, and it shouldn’t be now. Fear is the tool of these attacks, and we cannot let it manipulate us into not living on our own terms. There is too much good in the world to stop seeking it, though not without reason and sense.

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Image courtesy of PBS.org.

And so, we here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine mourn the people we lost in Brussels and Cote d’Ivoire. Remembering their lives in peace rather than anger, we look to tomorrow and pursue a better world.

Redefining Normal

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A letter from the desk of Robert Schuman, the creator of the European Coal and Steel Commission (ECSC), which was the predecessor of the European Union.

Posted by Julie

“Normal” is such as powerful word: it can cause a multitude of emotions, exclude and include, and rationalize and alienate. Often the idea of a regularity inspires more humor nowadays; people aren’t afraid to stray from the status quo, and so many believe “normal” doesn’t even exist.

I’m seeing a lot of this light-hearted approach to normalcy nowadays, especially here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. Walking around the student lounge, you can hear things like “Oh, this is just a normal week,” or “Yeah, it’s just a normal trip,” – but when placed in context, these ordinary statements about the dull humdrumness are absolutely comical.

It’s fun to remind people that hey – it’s a normal week, but in the center of Europe on a program that allows us to travel every weekend at significantly reduced prices due to student discounts and to places we’ve only dreamed of since we were kids. Typical, right?

Now, Georgia Tech is not an ordinary school; in fact, it prides itself in being different, innovative, and unique. Classes are difficult – more than your ordinary class. The campus is incredibly diverse, the research sector is booming like no other, and Buzz is the most high-energy mascot the world has ever seen. Maybe we’re used to this ordinary out-of-the-ordinary so much so that we have entirely redefined our normal.

Or maybe our definition has changed because we’re living it: we’re right in the middle. We see all of the work it takes to travel on even a small trip, and all of the confusion when you don’t know that French word; it’s not new anymore, and we’re adjusting.  This has become our status quo, so it’s harder to see how different this really is.

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Just hanging out in Colmar, France.

It’s harder to see how absolutely amazing it is that I went to Paris last weekend and was in Germany before that. This opportunity is extraordinary – and I’m trying to keep that in mind as I’m walking around Metz, France, seeing buildings that are nearly two thousand years old and speaking French everywhere I go. This, right here and now, is anything but normal.

GTL Reflections

It is officially Week 3 at GTL and things are in full swing. As I write, there are students sitting quietly in the communal lounge, carefully poring through their textbooks and making notes for class. Others are more frantic, working to complete their Def Bods and Statics assignments on time. Some head back to Lafayette to sneak in a short nap before evening class begins. Another group is finished for the day and is heading to downtown Metz for a night of shopping and festivities.

I can already sense that we are different from the wide-eyed students who arrived in Metz, France on the 11th. In a few short weeks, we have become tourists, experienced travellers, and even food critics. Moreover, we are cautious, yet curious about our new surroundings. Students have already ventured off to Paris, Barcelona, and Budapest – at this rate, we are well on our way to exploring all corners of Europe.

Hundreds of photographs have been captured and shared on our Facebook pages for friends and family to enjoy. Friend requests have been sent and accepted, planting the seed to foster new bonds. Travel interest groups have formed and plans to explore Europe are in full effect. In this fast-paced, whirlwind between school and travel it is imperative to pause and take it all in.

So far, we have made multiple trips to CORA and Simply. Some students are cooking and preparing meals for the first time, relying on a balance between trial and error and experimentation. For many, the language barrier is palpable and challenging. That said, with each passing day, there is an increasing level of comfort with the French language, and that is certainly promising. Navigating and exploring Metz has been quite the experience, but with each week this once unfamiliar city is beginning to feel more like home.

We’ll continue to plan every minute detail of our trips and book the cheapest hostels we can find. We’ll depart for the train station early Friday morning to begin our exciting weekend adventures. Upon our return, the problem set we left on our desk will be there, ready to greet us. Of course, we’ll question whether it will be possible to complete the assignment before the start of class the next morning…or if we can continue to balance a Tech course load and world travel for the next 12 weeks. But we got to Georgia Tech, and we can do that.

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Au Revoir for now!

-Ije

 

No Plans for the Evening?
 Let Me Give You a Hand(ball)

Photo courtesy of fr.wikipedia.org.

Posted by Julie

As I’m sure many of you are aware, just as we’re settling into our new homes for the next few months in Metz, our entire home country is gearing up for the grand culmination of one of the most popular sporting events across America: the Super Bowl. Now, don’t cry; you can stream that in your dorm at 2AM.

Now, you’re in Europe – where sports are different. Football doesn’t mean kicking around the pigskin; here the widely used connotation (okay, everywhere else but the United States, so denotation?) of the term is the same as the word soccer in our culture. However, you’re now more specifically in Metz, France, where the women’s handball team is known to serve up victory since its establishment in 1967.

And now, the team is gearing up for the quarter finals – and possibly even the championship! No matter who plays in the Championship, though, it will be held in Metz, so we can go watch some intense sporting close to home. The quarter finals are next Wednesday, February 3rd at 6pm.

Before you write this off, check out the sheer intensity of the sport in this video of . Know also that we are in the presence of the masters of greatness, as Metz HB, the 2013 European Women’s EHF Cup runner-up, possesses basically all of the records:

  • 19 French Championships (all time record)
  • 6 French Cup Championships (all time record)
  • 8 French League Cup Championships (all time record)[1]

No big deal, really. (Just kidding, I’m a bit star-struck, and I don’t even follow handball.)

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Photo courtesy of france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr.

The best part of all? The arena is less than 20 minutes away by car, and easily accessible via bus. Score – which is what the team will be doing during the match! Check out this website for the Metz bus system for instructions on which bus. For your information, the departure address is that of the GTL space, while the arrival address is the arena.

Check out not only the current team roster, but also when they’re hitting the field at the Euro Handball site. You can buy your tickets here. For 9€ (which includes the student discount), the high-level competition and energy is more than worth the trip. Who needs the college football playoff championship?

Okay, I still do, but this will certainly help me cope with the loss of the football season and prepare for the Summer Olympics in Rio.

A word of warning: the ticket website is in French, but Google Chrome can translate pretty accurately.

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Photo courtesy of metz.fr.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metz_Handball

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