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Category: Tips & Tricks (Page 1 of 3)

All By Myself

Courtesy of powerofthemusic.com

I flew into France within the first couple days of the New Year, and that was the first time that I truly traveled solo. Landing in Paris was pretty scary for me: I was lumbering around with a huge suitcase and no idea where to go next. Without luck, I was walking around the airport, looking for the meeting point for the shuttle that was supposed to take me and some other students over to GTL. On top of an already stressful situation, I was made fully aware that I was in a country in which English was not the primary or even secondary language spoken. This not only made me feel extremely uncomfortable and out of place, but it just made my primary objective that much harder to complete. Finally, after the supposed last call for the shuttle to leave, I found them all and made it in the van just in time. That was one of the most nerve-wracking situations I’ve ever been in. I thought that I was going to be stranded at the airport, all by myself, without being able to communicate to others that I was definitely not supposed to be both at the airport or alone. I would have really been fine with just taking one of those two options.

That was back in January, and I just recently made another solo trip, but this time it was about three days long, and in the Czech Republic (where their official language is literally not spoken anywhere else). Now, I feel a lot more comfortable with being in new and unfamiliar situations. I’m able to ask questions to locals without the thought that they are going to see me as dumb looming over my head. I can now confidently say that living in another country really matured me in aspects of my life I never even considered as problematic. Even talking to my friends and others in English, I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more confident in myself, and it’s a nice feeling to have!

In the past, I would too often get caught up in what others thought of me, and would always try to please them, even if it was at my expense. Many times, this would result in me missing out on activities or events I wanted to attend. This is what I’ve learned from living here: if you ever get a chance to do something, but no one will go with you, go by yourself! There is nothing wrong with it, and you will most likely regret not going at all more than going solo. You’ll also probably meet some interesting characters and have new material for stories to tell at dinner parties!

Although traveling solo can seem daunting, you’ll be amazed at how adaptable we, as humans, are. With time, you’ll be riding the metro and ordering your meals like a pro. Whenever I’m speaking to locals, I try to start off the conversation in French, and then if I can’t get my point across, I switch to English and hope they can understand me. Weirdly enough, even if neither of us can understand what the other is saying, I can usually decipher what they’re telling me using hand gestures and context. And while I highly recommend learning at least a little bit of French before coming to GTL, this way isn’t too bad!

5 Tips for Train Travel

From using the Eurail pass, I have learned a lot about traveling on trains. Especially when one doesn’t speak the language, going on trains can be a bit daunting. Trust me, I have taken my fair share of wrong trains, slept in a few very cold train stations, and been to many an information desk. This post is a ‘learn from my mistakes’ type deal so I hope everyone is ready!

1. Make sure you are in the right car.
I know, I know, this sounds like a no-brainer. However, a lot of the newer trains have the capability for cars to split off from one another and go to different places. Make sure that the car you get into is going to your destination, because there is no way to switch once you are en route.

2. Secure your valuables with your companions so you can all sleep.
It’s always a good idea to keep your personal items close to you. I keep my passport, Eurail pass, and money in a money belt, and put it under my clothes. However, sometimes I worry about my backpack. I want to sleep, but I don’t want to have to worry about my bag being stolen if everyone in my group falls asleep. So, I came up with a plan. Whenever we are planning on napping, my crew and I all buckle and tie our backpacks together. That way no one can grab our backpacks and quickly make off with one, but will have to struggle through the tangle of backpacks and thus become discovered. It makes me feel a lot safer.

3. Bring a scarf or neck pillow for sleeping.
One thing I learned about taking trains is that you will never know when or where you will be stranded. It is always a good idea to bring extra warm clothes in case you are stranded in a train station, because most of them are not heated. Also, most train stations don’t have places to lie down for sleeping, so having a pillow to rest your head on can come in really handy.

4. Leave enough time for transfers
Even though trains are usually on time, small delays or train strikes can lead to some close calls and missed trains. When planning your route, make sure that you can always get to the next platform for your transfer. I think 20 minutes is a safe bet. Every train station is different, and you need time to figure out where the train is and how to get there. Leave stress out of the equation and plan for decent transfer time.

5. Bring snacks!
Although many trains have dining cars, bringing snacks along for the ride is always an awesome idea. Train travel makes you sleepy, and a quick granola bar, apple, or other snack can be a great pick-me-up. Trust me, you will love yourself later.

Happy travels everyone!

The Travel Bug

I think that I’ve been sick more times in the past three months that I’ve been here than in the last three years of my life. When coming into this European adventure, I expected to get sick a couple times. At least once. Maybe twice. Definitely not more than that.

Boy was I wrong.

I’ve been sick almost every other week, barely recovering from the past illness before I was struck down with yet another virus. Now I know that I’m not the best candidate for World’s Healthiest Traveler, but come on man, I should not be getting sick this many times. Once I exchanged health horror stories with some of my more seasoned traveler friends, and after reading up on other travel blogs, my physical restoration and mental sanity seem to be on a good, solid path upwards!

With all of this new knowledge, I have come up with a list of five things that you can do to prevent illness (and keep mental blissfulness) while traveling, or at least control it to the best of your ability.

Courtesy of shswstatic.com

1. PRE-TRAVEL CHECKLIST: When making a journey anywhere, I strongly advise creating an essentials kit. This should include, but is not limited to, hand sanitizer, hand/face lotion, a light sweater or small blanket, a travel pillow for those cramped, long distance trains or flights, one or two reusable water bottles, some nasal spray, and of course my personal favorite, a pack of gum. Also, make sure that if your eyesight requires some kind of support, like mine, wear glasses instead of contact lenses. While contacts may seem like the nicer, more comfortable option, they quickly dry your eyes (especially on airplanes), which makes your them more vulnerable to bad microbes!

Courtesy of mrdoorsign.com

 

2. SANITIZE: While this may seem a bit over the top, you should sanitize your hands after touching germ centrals. This can include anything from the seemingly harmless ATMs, ticket kiosks, and airport security-line bins, to the germ-y cesspools that are public restrooms. And speaking of public bathrooms, try not to touch any surfaces! It is a little difficult, but trust me, you’ll be regretting that one time you laid your hand on the counter when you’re sick in bed WAY MORE than a weird stare from a local stranger when you do a miniature Tai Chi/Olympic gymnast move to keep your coat off the floor.

Courtesy of coresites-cdn.factorymedia.com.

 

3. HYDRATE: Because of the dry air that comes with plane rides or long distance trains, your body will start to (gonna sound a bit gross, but stick with me) produce less mucus. And while none of us particularly enjoy mucus, it helps our bodies fight off infections and disease! Dehydration can also cause tiredness, headaches, and chapped skin (hello, hand/face lotion), which none of us want. Usually, people should be drinking around six to eight (eight ounce cups) of water per day. However, when you’re traveling, you should be drinking at least one eight ounce cup of water every hour, totaling to about ten to twelve cups throughout your day, and even up to fifteen or eighteen on longer days. One way to get a head start on your daily hydration is to drink two cups of room temperature water right when you wake up. Not only does this knock sixteen ounces off your daily intake, but it also refreshes you and makes you more active, boosting your energy so that you can take on the long day ahead of you!

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Courtesy of vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net.

 

4. FRESH AIR: Whether you’re sitting in an airplane cabin or the backseat of a taxi, try to get as much air flow as possible. This can be using the little air vents above you or opening the window to breathe in some well needed fresh air. Constant air flow reduces your chances of becoming ill, and as a beautiful plus, it flushes out any questionable smells that you may have acquired during your trip!

Courtesy of lifecdn.dailyburn.com.

 

5. VITAMIN UP: Citrus fruits are such wonderful things. Not only do they taste heavenly, but they also give your body nothing but health and energy! But the really great thing about citrus fruits, is that they are so versatile! You can eat them straight off a tree, you can eat them dried, you can eat them candied, you can drizzle their juice in drinks or over your meals, you can straight up drink the juice, or for a more subtle flavor, you can put a couple slices in a bottle of water and drink that instead! You should always be consuming fruits and vegetables, but juicy fruits or vegetables will make you especially full of energy boosting and immune strengthening goodness! My point here is, you can consume fruits and vegetables (my favorite being oranges) in nearly any way possible, and there’s pretty much no excuse. Just eat more fruit!

Alrighty campers, now that you’re prepared to fight infection and drowsiness, go out and travel around the world! Conquer viruses and show bacteria who’s in charge! And as for me, I will make a shopping list full of good, healthy, things and try to recover from the bug I caught this past weekend!

The European Dry

I don’t remember where exactly I heard this but I distinctly remember someone mentioning that in Europe, dryers don’t actually dry your clothes. They just make them less wet. This seems a little odd for me considering the name of the actual machines but unfortunately it seems to be true, at least in the Lafayette dormitory complex.

For whatever reason, I seem to always put off doing laundry until I literally am wearing my last few scraps of clean clothings as I haul my entire wardrobe down the stairs to the laundry room and completely fill up two washing machines. Due to Lafayette charging a small fortune for doing laundry I have to cough up almost 10 euros every 3 or so weeks I clean my clothes. So, due to the machines only taking coins, I have been hoarding those suckers like an old miser.

The very first time I did laundry here in France, I had no idea

My coins ft. cereal.

what I was doing. Since I didn’t know that the machine only took coins (in hindsight that seems obvious) and I really needed to do laundry before leaving on a weekend trip, I ended up having to walk to a gas station and buy a bottle of water in order to get enough change. Now, not wanting a repeat performance of that, I have taken to paying for everything with cash and saving all the coins I get from those transactions so I’ll always have more than enough for my laundry and maybe even get something from the vending machine every now and then.

Now, back to what I think was a faculty member called the “European Dry.” Apparently most European households use a clothesline to dry their clothes and only need the dryers to get the fabric to a damp state. I don’t have a clothesline, and I don’t really plan on getting one, so I have to make do. This is the process that I have been utilizing to actually get dry clothes.

  1. Run your clothes through the washing machine
  2. Do one cycle in one of the dryers
  3. Take out dress shirts/sweater or other things that you hang up
  4. (Key Step) Switch dryers and do another cycle
  5. Fold your now dry clothing

The first time I did laundry I think I must have done 3 cycles through the dryer with the same result of very damp clothing every time until I decided that the dryer was broken and switched to another one, resulting in them finally being dried. I later realized that that machine wasn’t broken, it just had so much water vapor inside from the clothes that it was like a steam room in there. Of course this only works if you basically have the laundry room to yourself, but switching your clothes over to another dryer that hasn’t been used in the last few hours will do the trick almost every time.

You know it’s been a slow week when you decide to write a blog including a step-by-step process for doing laundry, but it’s just the calm before the storm here, waiting for the next round of tests to ruin everyone’s life. In the meantime I hope everyone enjoys themselves, and I hope you enjoyed another of my strange little insights into the life of a GTL student.

Dorm Room Cooking Hacks

I live in Aloes, which is great in its proximity to Cora and GTL, as well as its reasonable price. The only drawback is the fact that you have to use the communal kitchens for cooking. They are often a bit too crowded, and let’s face it, I am a bit too lazy to carry all my pots, pans and cooking supplies down to the kitchen. So, as a resourceful young student, I have learned to make a few hot meals using a microwave, toaster oven, and tea kettle.
Ok, so Aloes rooms don’t come with toaster ovens and kettles, but you can buy both at Cora for under 30 euros. Definitely worth it!
Having a toaster oven effectively means that you have an oven. My favorite thing to make in my toaster oven is loaded potatoes. It’s quick, easy, and really good.
Loaded Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • New potatoes (that are small enough to cook in the toaster oven)
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese (I find that Cora’s 3 cheese blend is nice)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned corn
  • Chives
  • Optional: Add some crumbled up cold cuts! I had some leftover chicken that I sprinkled on top
Recipe
  1. Stab the potatoes with a fork and brush with olive oil
  2. Wrap in foil, and let bake in the toaster oven for 45 minutes, or until soft
  3. Take out the potatoes and cut a slit down the middle. Place cheese, tomato sauce, corn and meat inside.
  4. Put the loaded potatoes back in the toaster oven and bake for another 5 minutes
  5. Enjoy!


    Reheating one of my baked potatoes I made earlier this week.

Having a kettle is a great way to boil water without a pan and stove. I like to make hard boiled eggs, pasta and rice. If you are making pasta or rice, use a thermal bag (sold at Cora), to make sure that the pasta and rice on the heating element don’t burn up.

I drink tea every time I get back from school. I love my kettle. Her name is Roberta.

 
The other food that turns out really well in the toaster oven is quesadillas! Below is my favorite recipe, although you can make all kinds of variations of quesadillas.
Quesadillas
Ingredients:
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Mexican cheese blend
  • Onions
  • Green Peppers
  • Tomato
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Chorizo (pre cooked, sold at Cora)
  • Rice
Recipe
  1. Preheat toaster oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice onions, green peppers, and the tomato.
  3. Place a tortilla out flat, and on half of it, put a layer of cheese, peppers, onions and tomato. Sprinkle chorizo inside.
  4. Fold tortilla in half and place it in the toaster oven for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  5. Enjoy with rice (as pictured below), cooked in a tea kettle!

For especially lazy days, Cora microwavable meals come in clutch.

 
Doesn’t that sound appetizing? I know right? My mouth is just watering writing this blog. Ok, ok, this recipe is absolutely mouth watering. I love popcorn, especially the caramel variety. It’s really impossible to find it in France though. This recipe is the perfect cure for homesickness.

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

 

Recipe
  1. Pop ½ cup uncooked popcorn and place in a large brown paper bag (sold at Cora).
  2. To make the caramel, throw the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and kosher salt in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. After one minute, take it out and stir it and then microwave it again for 1 minute or until boiling. Be careful not to burn it!
  3. Add baking soda and vanilla to caramel and mix it up.
  4. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir it up in the brown bag.
  5. Roll down the top of the brown paper bag and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, keeping the bag closed, and shake it vigorously. The microwave for another minute, and shake it up again.
  6. Pour some salt in the bag to taste and shake it up.
  7. Enjoy!

Taking Advice from Professors

A List of Advice from my Professors, and what all of it means:
This semester at GTL, I am taking four classes with three wonderful professors and two rockin’ TAs. At the beginning of class, usually somewhere between the professor’s introduction of him or herself and the reading of the syllabus, each of my professors have offered a bit of advice to traveling students. Here is a list of some of the sage wisdom of my professors, and how it might help us students balance the chaotic blend of study and travel.
1. It’s a study abroad program, not a travel abroad program.
I am pretty sure every single one of my professors and TA’s reminded us of this fact. Yes, we are here to travel and enjoy our stay, explore Europe and become global citizens. However, most of us chose this program because the engineering classes are comparable to the ones at Georgia Tech. That means that yep, you guessed it, they are going to be a lot of work. Probably more than we are imagining. In the wise words of Professor Patoor, my Deformable Bodies professor, “Leave a little time for studies too, eh!”

 

Students get ready for class

2. Planning trips takes time.
In addition to taking Georgia Tech caliber classes, finding our way around a brand new continent, completing our homework, eating and (hopefully) practicing good hygiene, GTL students must learn to become excellent logistics coordinators. Planning a week or so in advance, we have to find hostels or Airbnb’s, plan our train route, find time to see all of the tourist attractions everyone our group is interested in, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. This is no small feat. According to my wise differential equations professor, Dr. Li, it took past students up to 10 hours per week to adequately plan each weekend trip. Keep that in mind, folks!
3. Do your work in advance!
There is nothing worse than not being able to enjoy a weekend of travel due to unfinished homework. It is a good idea to plan ahead, and get as much work done as possible before the weekend rolls around and the delightful chaos of traveling ensues. Especially when homework is published to sites like Coursera, says my Circuits TA Brandon Carroll, it is a good idea to work ahead when you have more time, rather than procrastinating and having school cut into your travel time due to your lack of prep. Sorry procrastinators! Time to buckle down and get some work done.

ECE 3710 TA Brandon Carroll poses in front of the circuit diagrams he has been teaching.

 
4. Don’t let the checklist mentality get to you
A lot of students, myself included, seem to be stuck in a checklist mentality, meaning we have a long list of places we want to visit and will travel to every place just to say we have been there. My history professor, Dr. Stoneman, advises to pick a place, and really spend time there and get to know the culture and locale. This experience can be more valuable, because it’s much more immersive than the fly-by-tourism that we could thrust ourselves into. This is not to say don’t go to all of the places you want to. Just remember, it’s okay to slow down, or revisit your favorite place. You will come back! And remember, in the words of Dr. Stoneman, “Metz is in Europe too!”

GTL is such a wonderful program, because you can really tell that the staff cares about both your studies and your experiences. And as a brand-spanking-new, fully autonomous, pretty much kid, I must say that the syllabus week advice I received from my professors is very valuable to me and my fellow students.

Planning With The Parents

Photo courtesy of Travel Trazee.

As a tangent to a blog post I had a couple weeks ago about doing fall break with my parents, I’ve decided to give an overview of coordination and planning to help assist those who might want to do trips with their parents while at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the future!

 

Pre-Departure

Well first off, you and your parents have to pick a time to do the trip. Popular choices are usually before the semester starts, fall break (since it’s a week long), and after the semester ends. Some parents decide to just drop by for a weekend, and that’s not usually too tough to plan since it’s a couple of days.

Next, is the “where” of the trip. I’d say this is pretty important since this is a picking a place that both you and your parents want to go and visit. It’s also very important because from here, train or flight schedules need to be made to match. I offered to buy tickets for my whole family but my parents opted to buy them online. We simply decided around a certain time to leave cities and I let my parents book first. After they got their tickets, I cross referenced them with my Eurail app and proceeded to buy the matching ones. It was quite interesting, as some of the trains they bought weren’t on Eurail plan (ex. Italo in Italy is not part of the Eurail network) so I had to improvise and buy train tickets that were close to the same arrival and departure times.

Once that was settled, we needed places to stay for the night. I let my parents take the reins on this one, as they booked hotels for all three of us.

 

Arrival

“All roads lead to Rome” – and that is where we decided to meet. I took my overnight train from Munich to Rome, and they took a shuttle from the airport. I arrived two hours earlier than they did so I did some exploring before meeting up with them. We decided that in case the train station Wi-Fi wasn’t working, there would still be a rendezvous place. Notably, this was going to be the McDonald’s in the Roma Termini station. Luckily the Wi-Fi did work, but we still met at the McDonald’s since it was convenient.

 

During the Trip

Plan out some things that you would want to see and see what your parents want to do as well! Things should run pretty smoothly from here, since we’re basically all pros at traveling at this point and can point our parents in the right direction. Gotta keep in mind that they aren’t college kids and won’t do the typical “college” things that we’ve come to expect when traveling.

 

After

I don’t think there’s anything left to do but to give them goodbye hugs and wishes until you see each other again! Or if you’re traveling with them back to the United States, enjoy the trip back to the homeland.

Tips for Traveling Europe

Posted by James

For the last month I’ve been traveling all over Europe, as evidenced by my many blog posts on soccer games. As each week has progressed I’ve learned more skills when it comes to planning the perfect weekend. The public transportation systems here are amazing and something that should be taken full advantage of if you wish to lessen your burdens when traveling. For any future travelers I recommend two great apps, Transit and DB Bahn.

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Photo Courtesy of Netted.net.

Transit, pictured above, is for local transportation. This app uses GPS to find all buses, trams, subways, ubers, etc., that run near you. It works offline only using Wi-Fi to update the already consistent time schedules. I’ve used this many times when dropping into a new country for a few days. It’s great to locate the local shuttle or train to get you to downtown.

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Photo courtesy of itunes.apple.com.

The second app, pictured to the left, DB-Bahn is for your international travel. If buying a Eurail pass, this makes going from one country as easy as walking into a train station and sitting on the correct train. The app is a database of all the timetables for every train in Europe. So when you enter your departure and arrival locations it does some magic and finds you the perfect path. The app can also work offline if you save the trip in your favorites. It gives you real-time scheduling updates as you reach stations along your main path. Other apps such as the Eurail planner simply can’t compare. I began with Eurail planner early in the semester and quickly switched to this magnificently German-engineered marvel. So take my advice and you’ll be breezing across Europe in no time.
Apart from using these great travel apps, another piece of advice I would offer is the Eurail pass. My advice may seem biased considering the circumstances for my own Eurail Pass; writing this and other blogs is in fact got me my Eurail Pass. However, prior to winning the GTL Eurail blog contest, I was planning to buy the pass on my own. Having this pass is, in short, amazing. Anytime you wish to travel, you merely need to find a train station. It’s that simple.

There are usually no reservations or tickets needed to be purchased. While special, more crowded trains may require them, the process of obtaining the reservation is very simple. A quick trip downtown to the Metz-Ville Gare (train station) and talking to a few people is all it takes. Using both the DB Bahn app and the Eurail Pass is an unstoppable combination.

The beauty of the DB app guarantees an accurate route and reliable route. Pairing this with a travel ticket (Eurail!) that is  accepted almost everywhere in Europe, allows you to breeze your way from point A to B. In my personal opinion, it is more convenient than flying. No boarding passes or special security is required. Changing plans can also cause problems for a tightly packed weekend schedule, but not with the Eurail or DB app. Just a month and some into the semester and I’ve already used the DB app to plan a different return trip the day of! In short, if you have either of these travel apps or a Eurail you will be ready to plan your heart away, especially with all three!

 

Getting a Haircut in France: A Guide

Recently, I got my first haircut here. It was a good experience. I’d just like to share it and some helpful information too.

Where:

harry-w8-p1-p1 harry-w8-p1p-2

Luckily for us, there’s two places conveniently located in CORA (another reason why CORA is probably my favorite place in Metz) so you can knock out two birds with one stone. There’s Saint James, which I went to on GTL Deputy Dean of Students Karen Pierce’s recommendation; and Diagonal, which is like a Great Clips, also according to Karen. Haircut places are called “coiffeurs.”

What To Do:

So I walked in, and the nice ladies in the front directed me to this comfortable seat as I waited my turn. By the way, they don’t speak English at Saint James (or Diagonal) so I was pretty much winging it all on basic French and non-verbal communication. When my turn came up, they shampooed it before-hand. After reading up on it, I think it’s a necessary thing in France to do because of hygienic reasons. Following the shampoo, I got into the barber’s seat and I told the barber two things: 1) “dégradé” (fade) and pointed to the sides and back of my head and 2) “mi-longs” (medium) and pointed to the top of my head. She looked a little confused. Luckily, she pulled out a book with a bunch of different hairstyles and I was able to point out a fade on one the pictures and we were good to go from there. My hair up top got cut a little shorter than I wanted it to, but it’ll grow back. It was a solid, refreshing haircut which was much needed at the top. I said my “Merci beaucoup” after leaving, didn’t get an after shampoo and just biked back to the dorm and shampooed there.

My hair isn’t too hard to do so I only had two requests but if you’re looking for something fancy, you can always show a picture or here’s a list of basic French haircut vocab if you need it! (from expatica.com)

Basic hairdressing services in French: Prestations de base proposees
Haircut: une coupe de cheveux
Shampoo: le shampooing
Colouring and highlights: les couleurs et mèches
Set or styling: la mise en pli
Perm: la permanente
Haircare and treatments: les soins et traitements
A blow-dry or straightening: le brushing
Top salon: un coiffeur haut de gamme
Local salon: coiffeur de quartier
Basic French hair terms
Your hair: vos cheveux (always masculine, plural)
Fine: fins
Thick: épais
Oily: gras
Dry: secs
Mixed: mixtes
Normal: normaux
Curly: bouclés
Frizzy: frisés
Smooth: lisses
Damaged: abîmés
Dyed: colorés
Permed: permanentés
Dandruff: pellicules
Cowlick: un épi
A lock of hair: une mèche
French terms for getting a haircut
Short or long: la coupe courte ou longue
Layered: en dégradé
Blunt cut: au carré
Clean cut/well-defined: bien dégagée
Asymmetrical: asymétrique
Square tapered: style carré effilé
Layered on top: dégradé sur le dessus
Short, layered look: une coupe courte tout en dégradé
Short ‘windblown’ layered look: dégradé déstructuré
‘Just out of bed’ look: indiscipliné
Highlights or streaks: les mèches
Hair weaving or foiling: balayage
Bangs: une frange
Hair part: une raie
Hair ends: les pointes

If you want to see more haircut vocab, check out Expatica.com (where the above is from) and FrenchLearner.com.

Sometimes You Plan

Posted by James

In a 4 month study abroad program, there are bound to be some instances of trouble and failed plans. And this weekend bore witness to the first of mine.
4:50 am Saturday, September 17th
Knock, knock….knock, knock……KNOCK!
I roll out of bed and go to the door. My friend Cannon is there backpack on, fully dressed, ready to go.

“Did I wake you?”

“No, I woke up an hour ago. I’ve just been trying to get some sleep.”

I start getting dressed and collecting my vital items: Eurail pass, passport, and Borussia Dortmund tickets. By 5:30am the two of us are in downtown Metz, at the Metz-Ville Gare (train station) waiting for our first of three trains for the day. The plan for this weekend was as follows: Borussia Dortmund Soccer game followed by Oktoberfest in Munich. We were looking forward to being in Munich for the start of the festival and to experience some truly unique European culture. Alas, things didn’t go our way.
12:30 pm Saturday, September 17th
The first sign of things taking a toll for the worse came when we entered Dortmund. Cannon had booked our hostel just days before. Originally we were planning to spend Saturday evening in Munich and sleep there. However, all hostels and hotels were booked across the board for the festival. Yet once in the train station we looked up where our hostel was in Dortmund. It was far outside the city center and quick a trek to get there. One tram and a 2 kilometer hike later, we found our quaint Airbnb on a German hillside. Our host, Thomas was very polite; however it was he who opened our eyes to the failed planning.

As we were telling him our plans, he asked “When are you going to Munich tomorrow?”

“Our train leaves at 4am” I answered.

“Oh no, you’re not going to make that, you have to get to the city from here and the earliest train is 8am!” My eyes met Cannon’s, and we both had a moment of silence. Still, we couldn’t think about that now, we had a game to get to.

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15:30pm Saturday, September 17th at Signal Iduna Park (Dortmund)
As the teams kicked off a local match, the famed “best soccer atmosphere in Europe” was not disappointing. We were lucky enough to get tickets in the infamous “Yellow Wall,” the Dortmund Home fans section. And as thousands of supporters piled in screaming, chanting, waving flags, and stumbling off beers the atmosphere was truly remarkable. We didn’t have to wait long for the first goal: 7 minutes in and Dortmund took the lead. While that may have been the only goal for that half, Dortmund came out strong in the second and scored 5 more! Cannon and I each caught a goal on camera. Enjoy below:


And now, as I sit on the train ride back from Dortmund I find myself in a position to give advice. While the GTL schedule may seem easier GT-Atlanta’s, the contrary may be true. Strapped with AE homework, Cannon and I planned late and consequently missed out on one of the best festivals in Europe. The 3-day weekends can be both a blessing and a curse. For current and future GTL students, maintain a steady consistent work week and always plan well in advance.

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