To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Category: 2016-Fall (Page 6 of 7)

The Student Lounge

Posted by Harry

Panorama of the student lounge.

One of my favorite places to be is the student lounge. If I had to find the “heart” of Georgia Tech Lorraine, it’d be here. This is where all the students (both undergrad and graduate) come to do a variety of things. GTL has always been known to be a “community,” and this is a huge contributing factor. From morning until night, this place is always bustling with people.
Located conveniently on the first floor (in France, this is actually the 0th floor, known as rez-de-chaussée) right past the front door, it’s easily accessible to all. Here, you can meet all the wonderful cohorts that are on this adventure together. Whether it’s talking about what happened the past weekend or what you’re going to do the next weekend, no one is a stranger here. Sharing and hearing experiences of others has been very fulfilling and rewarding and gives me a place to add to my bucket list!
There’s also quite the academic side to this room as well. There’s a plethora of desks and chairs on wheels to (1) make a custom desk set-up (2) move to a custom location of choice (3) super tables for group work sessions (4) any other fun things you wish to do with desks and and chairs on wheels. Computers with various software are also made to accommodate our academic needs.
Finally, my personal favorite aspect is the ping pong table and pool table. It’s a wonderful way to let some competitive energy out and take a nice break from the hard work that we put in during the day.
Come one, come all! There’s a place at the student lounge for everyone!

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. 🙂

Dreams Can Come True!

Posted by James

May 28th, 2011. The day of the famed Champions League Final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC. I remember talking to my friends at school, “Rooney is going to score 2 goals, Messi will get one back but it will be too late in the end. I got Manchester United (United) winning it all!”

“Really?” My friend Mark wasn’t convinced. He thought Barcelona (Barca) would prevail and sadly they did winning 3-1. Long before this UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) final I was a huge fan of Manchester United. It is often considered one of, if not the biggest clubs in the world. Many people who side with United are considered “band-wagon” fans, just picking the winning team for a change. Not me! I fell in love with United because of Wayne Rooney, the prolific goal scoring machine and arguably England’s best player for the last decade.

As a kid, we didn’t have access to the fancy “European” sports channels, so I grew familiar with his work by the likes of YouTube and other internet sources. I remember watching him play, always so intelligent, decisive, powerful: the complete Striker. Rooney was my idol, I would always try to emulate his playing style whenever I played soccer. His style was my ideal way of playing so naturally I gravitated to him. And that sad day in late May as I cheered for United’s equalizer and then cried as moments later as Messi and Barca stole the cup marked an important moment for me.

Following this day, the US began investing massive amounts of money into the English Premier League. So for the next 5.5 years I would began seeing more of my favorite team and favorite player. Waking up early mornings and annoying my parents as I cheered for goals year after year. Yet despite the increased coverage I always felt like something was missing. To cement yourself as a real United fan one must make the famed pilgrimage to Old Trafford -their mighty home stadium. So when I decided I would be studying abroad this semester, this was one of my first concerns and largest trip budgets.
And this last weekend, my dream of seeing the Red Devils live at home finally came true. As the week progressed I remember feeling more and more nervous that something might go wrong, I’d miss the bus, or plane, the tickets might not arrive, something felt off. And then it hit, it just felt too good to be true. Something I’ve dreamt of for years was finally coming true.


A shot of the field of Old Trafford, “The Theatre of Dreams.”

Friday, September 9th
“Chirp, Chirp, Chirp, CHIRP, CHIRP!” My alarm sounds. I snooze knowing its 4 am. A couple minutes later I drag my corpse-like body out of my bed and begin getting ready. Today my dream is coming true!! Yet right now all I can think about is sleep. After only a few hours of sleep, I begrudgingly pack my bag and run through my checklist. As I come out of the bathroom I look at my watch. 5:10?? The bus! I grab my passport and tickets and burst out the door of Lafayette. As I board the 1st, then 2nd bus, then the train to Paris something begins to change in me. With each step of my journey completed the dream starts to become reality. Finally, I make it to the airport and walk on to my plane all smiles.


Football fans entering the stadium under huge advertisements for the football players.

As I exit my cab and walk into the best hostel I’ve ever seen, I suddenly tense up: now the moment of truth. Did my tickets arrive? I walk up to the receptionist and begin checking-in. I “casually” mention that I bought tickets to the Manchester Derby and that they should have arrived. She notices my conflicting emotions of joy and anxiety. Finally she returns from the stockroom with an envelope in her hand, and my heart legitimately skips a beat. I began thanking her, probably too much, as I open up my package, once again all smiles.

Saturday, September 10th: The Manchester Derby
I wake casually around 10, shaking the night before. Late into the day, the true ability of football was witnessed as I became good “mates” with someone from my

James in front of “The United Trinity” statue in front of Old Trafford.

hostel. His name was Sam, and he had flown 31 hours all the way from Sydney, Australia for this game. We both grab some traditional English breakfast and start making our way down to the game. The first timers and foreigners become interspersed among the locals in the massive crowds as we approach the stadium. As we near, we hear the singing and chants of the local United fans, all “preparing” for the game.

As Sam and I round the corner we see it! Old Trafford, instantly we both become children jumping up and down and shoving each other with excitement. “Oh my god, will you look at this Sam!” My heart is racing, blood pumping we begin a fast sprint to the stadium. As we find our separate gates and wish each other a good match, time stops. I scan my ticket and walk through the gate.

The security guard says, “Welcome to Old Trafford, and thank you.” As I move through the gate I almost yell, “No THANK YOU SIR!” And what happens next no words can truly describe, seeing that stadium gradually fill with fans, then eventually the players can’t be put into words, certainly not by mine. And while we did not win the match, much like back in 2011, it was a life changing moment. I can still hear the iconic roar and chants of fans throughout the game. One moment that will always stay with is linked below, click to experience a little of the Red Devils at Old Trafford.

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.

Buzz: The World’s Best Travel Buddy

Posted by Harry

Hi there! I was recently introduced to the Georgia Tech mascot, Buzz, for the first time (I’m a Dukie, so don’t point fingers). As a personal motto that I just came up with, I’d like to say “there’s no better way to get to know someone than to travel with them.” Following my own advice, I decided to take Buzz out on some of my weekend adventures!*

Stop 1: Nancy, France

Photo courtesy of Jack Livingston.

Here we have Buzz with 5 Duke students (the irony is very real) and one of Buzz’s family members who has been idolized enough in this area to have a trimmed hedge in their honor. Buzz told me this was his brother-in-law’s-second-cousin’s-fifth-removed-uncle’s-father. I believe him.

Stop 2: Strasbourg, France

When we took Buzz to Strasbourg the next day, we almost lost him. The cathedral in the center of town immediately caught his eye and he flew to the top! Luckily for us, we found some stairs as well so we could join him up there. Check him out below!


A before and after shot of Buzz before he flew up to the top of the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Honestly, this weekend with Buzz was amazing. He’s definitely the best travel companion I’ve had up to date (no offense to anyone that I’ve traveled with!). He’s always got a smile on his face, never complains, and open to any and every idea. Thanks for a great weekend, Buzz.

*If you’d like to take Buzz out on travels and have a couple pictures taken, sneak a peek inside Katia Menard-Pons’s office, first door on the left of the administrations hall, to show him around!

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!

One 48-hour Day

Posted by James

I never know how to start these things when I go on a great trip or weekend excursion. How do you begin? What really signifies the beginning of those moments? Travelling somewhere is half the battle, and therefore half the story.

Thursday, 9/1
“Yeah, we’ll be heading downtown in probably 35 minutes, maybe grab some food before the train. You’re welcome to join us since you’re not going out this weekend.”
“Great. I’ll hang out with you guys before the train.”
It’s 5pm on Thursday in Metz. Class has just finished and our first true study abroad weekend is calling our names. Since we’re taking an overnight to Amsterdam with a few stops along the way, we head downtown to say goodbye to Metz for the weekend. We head directly to a nice corner of town we have been discovering over the past few days, and we are quite ready for the weekend to start.

Friday, 9/2 (7 hours later)
“Uhhh, when is this train gonna get here? I can’t deal with this guy anymore!”
“It’ll be here at three, calm down.”
I’ve been sitting on this bench for what feels like two days. My legs are pounding, I haven’t felt circulation in them for a while. It’s 1:30 am somewhere in Germany. After three train switches and one very close call we’ve made it to our last train, for Amsterdam Central. A bum keeps circling us scrounging for paper in trashcans to light the cigarettes slowly killing him. Every so often he asks my friend for a light. Each time coughing up half his will to live.
“Caugh, chhhhk, sigh!” The train eventually comes to our savior whisking us deep into the night.
This is our train to get sleep on. 7 hours and many short naps later we’re in Amsterdam, or The Old New York, as I’ll think about it from now on. Its 9:40am on the first Friday of September for this city. We step out of our train met with a barrage of dynamic and energetic movement. From every angle the city begins to pour its aura into us. We start to wake up and by the time we leave the train station, were pumped.

We still have a few hours till check-in, so we begin roaming. 20160902_112234With people everywhere, the New York taxi is replaced with the original fast travel-bicycle. The city is home to hundreds, if not thousands of bicyclists. Walking only a few blocks it is clear to see and feel, that the lights and tempo of this city run on the bikes’ hearts. Huge crowds of people are everywhere, no matter where we turn we are met with accents from all groups, English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, American, etc. You can almost instantly tell the tourists from the locals. The locals are always in a hurry and used to the constant crowds and seem quite annoyed by it all.

The average tourist, we are taken aback. The city is so beautiful!
A mixture of ancient architecture and culture with the most modern thinking and progressiveness. Walking the city, you see its influence on teens and adults alike. Sitting on the edges of canals is often a giveaway. Here the stereotypical circle can be seen, and they all seem to be at peace, enjoying the moment and the feeling of the city.
20160903_005420After taking a quick tour, we meet our friend’s friend Bo in the outskirts of the city. He takes us to Local Park to play Frisbee and relax. The day seems to fade away as we go deeper into the city. Along the way he reveals the ways of his culture and people to us slowly. “This is so foreign to me, this military before drinking…” We’ll go on to try and defend our American laws, but by the end Bo has us convinced: that not all systems are flawless, and it is good to experiment.

Saturday, 9/3
I hear the clamor of people in the streets below us. Opening my eyes I see that were in the hostel. The rest of last night starts to make it back to me, the park and walking all the way across town at 1 am. I look at my watch, 12 pm. Its noon! Already? I wake up my mates and we funnel out of our tower that is a hostel. Stepping onto the street you cannot help but feel a little crowded. The cramped staircase makes you forget where you are.
“Whacha wanna do today guys? Rembrandt -Rijks Museum?”
We start for the Rijk’s museum after breakfast. The city seems angrier today. People move past us in a blur. We fight through the crowds for a good long struggle.
Eventually finding our way at the foot of a huge building. We enter with only a few hours left till closing. While my friends stay behind looking at smaller paintings I scurry towards the Dutch masters. I finally run into a room and 20160903_164611see, REMBRANDT in gold letters above me. As I make eye contact with his work I’m transported. I feel the city: its people, accents, energy, all of it weigh on my shoulders. Here in this moment I see the painted scene before me unraveling. Each work I look at connects with me this way, a war between two naval armadas, I see the before and after of the painted moment. Likewise with military portraits, all the men clamoring to get in place and look manly as the artist aggressively attacks the canvas wanting to get this over with. I find my way to Van Gogh’s self-portrait. I see him looking through me, not at me. He looks at the mirror as he paints himself. Always in good view to himself, understanding who he is and where he comes from. Amsterdam much like that moment gave me more than just a good weekend, it gave me a new layer that has for a while been hidden.

A Neat Little Place Up North

Posted by Harry

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Well, my first weekend at Georgia Tech Lorraine came and passed, and I’ve already hit the ground running with my travels. Instead of hitting up Paris like most of the GTL students (disclaimer: no negative feelings towards those who went), some buddies of mine and I went up north to the quaint little town of Étretat in the Normandy region. How did we find this place? To be honest, I have no idea. It was somehow on my bucket list of places to see and I decided to take advantage it.

Words can’t really describe how pretty these cliffs are. From the bottom, you just look up and see an endless wall of rock stretching in both directions. If you take a closer look, you can pick out the layers of chalk and limestone that have built up these cliffs over thousands of years. The view is even better from the top: you can see for a couple of kilometers and watch the transformation from countryside, to town, to beach, and finally to the vast openness of the English Channel from 70 meters (230 feet) high. As an aside, don’t let my beach picture fool you into thinking it’s sand, because it is definitely not! It is actually a rock beach (which France has a lot of) and quite an interesting change from the sand that many us are used to.

I had a lot of travel jitters heading into the first weekend with the whole riding-multiple-trains-and-hopping-on-some-busses deal, but this place sure got rid of those.

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

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!

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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

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.


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