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Category: Why GTL? (Page 1 of 3)

Vlog 5: Adventures Around Metz

BMW: Driving the Future

Written by guest bloggers Alex Rahban & Nicolette Slusser.
 

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“The Ultimate Driving Machine.” A motto held by one of the most well-known auto-manufacturers of the world, BMW – a company forged from aircraft engines and redefined through luxury automobiles. BMW’s history is filled with a rich racing past. Enthusiasts remain true to the brand for its buttery smooth inline 6’s and long throw manual transmissions, but today, the students of Georgia Tech Lorraine experienced a different side of BMW.

Far from the well-known four-cylinder building, we were given private access to BMW’s autonomous vehicle development location. Beyond the unpaved walkways, wet concrete, and yellow caution tape lay the secrets to BMW’s future in mastering level 4 autonomous driving.

Although BMW had previously trod lightly on the topic of self-driving cars, commenting that they wanted to be certain not to dilute their renowned automotive brand, they shared the structure behind how such a system would work. Students were made aware of the difficulties of developing the technology to make self-driving vehicles fully functional on the road. They require advanced software that must be able to process the frames of an image, classify the different objects in the Image, and determine how to interact with them safely. Just one hour of driving produced several terabytes of data which the vehicle had to process in order to function properly. The test vehicles at BMW required a full trunk of hardware to perform this task (weighing in at over 500lbs); however, they indicated when released, the hardware for their vehicles would only require as much space as a shoe box.

From the visit, it is clear that BMW is making a full effort to produce this technology, yet at this moment, they are several years from completion. We had the privilege of being the first group to ever tour the facility; unfortunately though, photographs were not permitted. Although BMW has chosen to be quite secretive with the public about their participation in autonomous vehicles, we can expect BMW to produce truly revolutionary vehicles exceeding both the highest automotive and technological standards.

 
 

Time to Van Gogh!

As I look out my single window tonight and stare at the beautiful full moon, I am made to reflect on what else in life is full, or what makes life full? Is it good food and good company? Is it inner peace and joy? This may just be sleep-deprived me overthinking a giant, glowing space rock, but these things are nice to contemplate every once in a while. What do I really want from life? Well, I want to experience all of what life has to offer! I want to sail into uncharted waters, both literally and metaphorically, to explore and discover countless new places and states of being. I was a bit wary about traveling to one city more than once while I was studying abroad at GTL, but I fell too much in love the first time, that I couldn’t just do a ‘one and done’!

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Sam I am!

A couple weeks ago, I visited Amsterdam and got to see a maritime museum and a cat cafe, but that trip didn’t even scrape anything off what this beautiful city had to offer me, so I decided to go back this past weekend and see more of it with a couple of my friends!

On Saturday, I went to the Van Gogh museum, which was definitely the highlight of the trip. All of the exhibits were laid out in a way that, when they walk through, people are taken on  a journey through Vincent Van Gogh’s life as an artist, which I thought was really cool. One of the really great things about the museum, is that there is a special interactive tour that people can take which lets them experience some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings through physical touch, smell, and song. This tour, fittingly named ‘Feeling Van Gogh’, was designed especially for the blind and visually impaired to enjoy Van Gogh’s works with their family and friends. Although I didn’t take the tour, I thought that this was a really interesting and cool way of experiencing visual art, and I think its very neat of the museum to do this kind of thing to accommodate to all kinds of people with disabilities that might otherwise keep them from visiting an art museum!

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Almond Blossom (1890) by Vincent Van Gogh, courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

That cool feature aside, as I walked through the museum, I got to see a lot of beautiful paintings and prints that I had only seen in my high school literature books, including The Bedroom (1888), Sunflowers (1889), and Self-Portrait As A Painter (1887-1888). Still, I discovered a piece that I had not yet seen before, Almond Blossom (1890), which I’ve got to say is my favorite Van Gogh piece to date. I got chills a couple times as I stared at all of these paintings, and maybe it was just the intense air conditioning, but there is something about studying Van Gogh’s life while in his own homeland of tulips and clogs that feels so surreal.

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Sunflower maze outside of the Van Gogh Museum (2016), courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Definitely feeling blessed and highly favored after this last trip to Amsterdam, I’ve decided that traveling and art are two things that make me feel complete, and that make my life feel full. Looking at the full moon tonight makes me want to explore so many places and do so many things with my life, and I have realized that just because I’ve already seen one place, doesn’t mean that I have actually experienced it. With all that said, I hope that if you ever get the chance to travel to Amsterdam, you’ll pay a visit to the Van Gogh museum, a truly magical place. I wish I had spent longer in the Netherlands, but alas, classes and studying were calling me back, and those are two calls that one cannot miss! Thank you for tuning in this week, and until next blog post, au revoir!

Meet Your RA: Elaine

Elaine sat in her chair, blonde braid slung casually over one shoulder, working on some circuits homework when I approached her. Even though I had disturbed her studious work, she was very enthusiastic to talk to me. It was easy to tell right away that she would be an amazing RA; she was personable, welcoming and friendly. Elaine, a second year Materials Science Engineering (MSE) major, is a really very wonderful person. Here is her story.


Why did you come to GTL?
“I absolutely love travelling. In highschool, I lived in Germany for a year, and I really wanted to come back and have the opportunity to explore on my own. Plus, the in-state tuition is an awesome added bonus.”


Why did you become an RA?
“Being an RA is an awesome way to interact with people because they have to talk to you! But all joking aside, it is a really great way to meet people and establish a connection. I love talking to my residents because everyone is so friendly. I have definitely made a lot of new friends since coming here.”


What is your favorite memory of GTL so far?
“I absolutely loved Venice. What a cultural experience! We were there during Carnivale, and we bought the elaborate masks. There was a costume contest being held, and seeing all of the amazing Carnival costumes was a great experience. Buying a mask and really immersing myself in Venetian culture was truly amazing.”


How would you describe your personality?
“I am more of a free spirit than ‘Type A.’ I love talking to people and making connections, and I am an expert at going with the flow.”



At this point, Elaine had to rush off to an RA staff meeting. But it was really great to get to know her a little better.

What Can I Say?

17 free weekends, 4 Planes, 40 trains, 17 Buses, 18 Metros/Trams, 2 Car rentals, 12 countries, and 6,450 miles. These are my statistics from this semester, the numbers I have racked up traveling across Europe. Yet, one run-on sentence can’t describe what this semester has been – not even close. An incredible gift! This is the best way I can think of summarizing this semester. Not everyone is given an opportunity like this in life. While many will just see this as studying in another country, this was much greater than that. By being based in the “Gateway to Europe,” each student that attended GTL was allowed to experience more than just the great country that is France. If we played our cards right, and many of us did, we could get a real glimpse of what the whole continent of Europe had to offer.
 
Early on, before I had even stepped foot on that first transatlantic plane back in August,  I had a mission to experience the most that I could in these short four and half months, and that’s something I proudly think I achieved. Many firsts were had on this adventure. Many great friends made along the way, the kind of friends you don’t just forget or lose touch with. Bonding over new drinks, shisha, football, international travel, both good and bad creates a much stronger friendship. Friendships much stronger than I could’ve asked for.
 
Starting with that first application I wrote, I expressed my ideas regarding photos; how the experiences and moments we share with our friends and loved ones are the greatest triumphs one can achieve during travel. It is these experiences that you will remember for years and years. The photo may trigger them, but it should never be the proof of where you went, the stories you tell may well be all the proof you need.
 
So, as the days counted down, the finals taken each day, a somber mood descended over our Metz family. We all felt the bittersweet moment approaching. Friday morning we would all be flying out, going home, and with a few exceptions, the semester would be over for all. Yet for me it was still grindin’ time, as I still had two finals left. So early Tuesday morning I stumbled into GTL half asleep. “Bonjour,” I said to the security guard, feeling a small ping in my chest as I did so, knowing it would be one of the last times.
 
The afternoon saw one of my longest finals, followed by my last game of ping pong against Giuseppe, I didn’t know it, but we wouldn’t play another that week. A late night saw an early morning, as Wednesday seemed a dreaded repeat of Tuesday. In the lounge by 7am, leaving only to take my final. But it was different; it was my last final. Statics, and all other classes were done, I was a free man.  Downtown we went that night, not to get drunk, or go crazy, but to just spend time with each other. Nothing would ever be like those moments again.
 
We may come back later, but not as students, not as fresh-faced youngsters with burning desires, but rather as old friends. So to ‘La Suite’ we went for some cards and great tea. The usual crew, who I am sad to say I feel I joined too late in the semester: Jahin, Yousef, Rafa, Alexander, and me. A few games of President and the laughs were evenly spread around. It’s something that thinking of now still leaves me feeling sad.
 
The next day would consist of much the same, interspersed with peoples’ bizarre cleaning patterns. As I traversed from room to room, the walls of Lafayette were lined with trash bags and luggage – yet another sign of ending semester. By nighttime, the mood began to change. In true celebratory fashion almost everyone agreed to pull all-nighters for early morning shuttles. From the cleanest rooms in Lafayette, we emerged and filled its halls with song and laughter for one last time.
 
Travel buddies stood side by side telling old stories to new listeners and vice-versa, making sure everyone was on the final page for GTL. As we gathered down in the Lafayette lobby to say our goodbyes to the 2am shuttle people, more than a few shed a tear. As bear hugs went around, I felt bittersweet again. “This feels like senior year of high school,” I said to Jahin and Sara. “It kinda does,” they said. As we waved goodbye to John, Austin, Rob, and more, it was official; the semester had ended.
 
In the end, these are just words, only those who were there with me can share those memories and experiences. What words must I use to convince you that this semester was a life changing experience, that I now look at life differently, and view everything else differently, what more can I say?  This is my story, and I hope you remember it, retell it, and one day add your own chapter!
 

Bon Appétit: GTL’s Dinner Exchange

What has become one of Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s signature events is its French family dinner. And it isn’t just the food that sets this apart, but the company! Sure, GTL students aren’t just eating another sandwich from local bakery Paul, but they’re also spending the evening in the homes of Metz residents who have opened their doors and set their tables for a fun, friendly evening of cultural learning.

The 6th edition of this exciting tradition was a raving success, with thanks to the Metz-Nancy Academy and all of their support. Because of the partnership of the state of Georgia with the Nancy-Metz Academy (Board of Education), the two groups have been working very closely on this project with GTL. (In fact, Atlanta has many close ties to France, with projects including GTL, the France-Atlanta conference, the Atlanta-Toulouse Sister Cities Project and Startup Exchange, Georgia Tech’s close relationship with many top-tier French universities and research groups, and more!) But due to all of the effort and care of so many people, local host families volunteered to take in a total of 33 GTL students for dinner in their house for the evening on Tuesday, November 8th.

As always, this venture was a great experience for all involved. GTL students has the opportunity to meet a French family and see how they are living while speaking a bit of French, and it is always a pleasure for host families to welcome a foreign student and to speak English for the evening.
It was a real opportunity to organize this event again this semester, and everyone enjoyed it. Don’t believe me? Read the testimonials (and see the smiles) below!


From GTL students:

Jessica and I really enjoyed it! We highly recommend.” – J. Peasant

“I had so much fun at the dinner! I loved talking and learning so much about the family’s culture and the food was amazing!! We were not able to communicate with the parents, but their daughter was really good at English so she translated for us. They were so friendly and welcoming. Thank you.” – D. Dawes

“It was a wonderful experience, and it was a great taste of local culture. It was interesting to be able to see in the inside of someone’s house, and to see the way they lived. At dinner, I had homemade pate because the family knew someone with a farm. After the main courses, I had four different types of cheeses, and they were all delicious. Although the food itself was a highlight, even better was being able to talk to the family themselves. I felt that they were really interested in our views (I went with a friend), and I learned a bit about the way they live their lives in Metz. I was very satisfied with the experience. At the end, instead of shaking my hand, they did the goodbye with kisses on the cheek which was very new to me. I woulddefinitely recommend this French dinner to anyone, and I would love to do it again.” – Mae (Duke undergraduate student)
“It was a fantastic evening. Thank you for letting me be part of it.” – Giuseppe (Masters student)


From host families:

“C’est avec grand plaisir que je vous transmets quelques photos de la soirée de mardi. Cet échange était très enrichissant, nous avons justement beaucoup échangé et la bonne humeur était au rendez-vous !
Daniel et Jeffrey étaient vraiment sympathiques, agréable et d’une grande courtoisie, le fait qu’ils viennent à deux c est plus facile. De plus, ils ont fait grand honneur à la cuisine française !
Nous réitérons cette expérience avec grand plaisir dès que l’occasion se présentera vous pourrez compter sur nous »

// “It is with great pleasure that I send you these phots of Tuesday evening. This exchange was very enriching, and we just talked about so much and the mood was great! Daniel and Jeffrey ere really nice, agreeable, and polite, and it was easier that they came together. Also, they have loved and experienced the French cuisine. Truly, this experience was a great pleasure, and you can count on us to participate in the future.” – Mme Brandenburger

 

« Nous avons passé une excellente soirée en la compagnie d’Hugh, c’est un garçon très charmant et très intéressant, et vous remercions de nous avoir permis de le rencontrer. »

// “We spent an excellent evening in the company of Hugh, who is a charming and very interesting young man, et thank you for arranging for us to meet him.” – Mme Duval

 

« Bravo pour votre initiative, nous avons passé un bon moment. »

// “Bravo for this initiative, because we had a great time.” – Mme Ruiz

 

« Excellente soirée avec Camille et Alexander. Vraiment sympathiques. Nous avons proposé de garder un lien pour réitérer. »

// “Wonderful evening with Camille and Alexander. Very nice. We exchanged information to keep in contact.” – Mme Royer

 

« Nous avons en effet passé une très bonne soiree; riche de partages. Remerciements »

// “We spent a very nice evening, rich with sharing. Thank you again.” – Mme Turck


Thank you again for all who were involved; your work and care means so much to these students and families and has greatly impacted their experiences here at GTL.

A Strong Sense of Community

In previous blogs, I mentioned a great sense of community encompassed here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine by our great Resident Advisers (RAs). Yesterday, on a good friend’s birthday I witnessed this community firsthand in our residents.

We soccer lovers go downtown to play soccer at a local field. Each Tuesday at 6pm you can find us talking to the locals, passing, running, kicking on this tiny little field. Yesterday was no exception, and as we finished up, we all decided we have to help Luke celebrate his birthday the right way.

We started the walk back and fell into great conversations with each other, covering really every topic conceivable. We started with sports, since we had just played some, then TV shows, movies, childhoods, dream jobs, on and on. As we neared the Lafayette dorm, it was time to shower and eat and celebrate with Luke. The scene was very odd; as I approached Luke’s room in the “D” wing of the complex, I said “hi,” left and right to all these close friends I’ve been getting to know over these months. As I opened his door, I saw a roomful of people. The “hello’s” began again, and we started celebrating.

As the night wore on and we fought about the correct ways to get downtown, the mood was completely different than what I was used to. Everyone here knew each other and liked each other. You can go anywhere anytime. However, here at GTL, each moment is unique. Everyone wakes up the next morning with a story, a great tale of the day’s escapades and glories. In my opinion the best part of these get-togethers of ours, is that you get to know other people, other ways of thinking. You really start to open up and experience new things. And you always have something to talk about, like places to visit next weekend, or for fall break.

Thinking back now, this in fact is not the first time I have experienced or witnessed this here at GTL. A few weeks ago we had a local game night in the GTL Lounge hosted by our student run BDE organization. We had the works, poker, board games, and more. Yet the night hinged on the famous ping pong tournament. Everyone was wondering if the great Ola would be beaten – could it be done? In fact it was done (not by me unfortunately). I lost to Ola 25-27, but by the end of the night, it wasn’t about that. People really bonded with each other through the ping pong, poker, whatever medium that was used to initiate socialization. Now, as I walk the halls of Lafayette and GTL it is quite clear these friends here will be some of the best I have, likewise for others.

This blog is more a thank you to our great RAs and faculty here who strive to make this study abroad experience different and unique. Initially I wasn’t sure how it could be done, but now I see, and sincerely thank you.

A VIP Experience of German Engineering

Hey, there, everyone! Our bloggers, Harry and James, are enjoying a much-needed fall break this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t cool things going on at GTL!

These GTL students got treated to an extra special tour of BMW.

This particular adventure has been in the works since spring 2014. As you may know, GTL has pioneered some fantastic, excursion-supplemented courses over its 25 years in France, including INTA 2221: Politics in the EU: Metz as a Gateway for understanding France and Europe Today (taught by Dr. Birchfield and Professor Serafin), and HTS: Technology and Society (taught by Dr. Stoneman).  These tie in the studies of the area with field trips to sites specifically related to topics discussed in class.

Visiting BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany.

Visiting BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany.

Well, on Friday, October 14th, 2016 – two years after the incipience of the idea – a small group of GTL students in this fall’s HTS 2100 course, which aims to demonstrate how the relationship between technology and culture has changed in the modern age, ventured to the BMW headquarters in Munich. Mr. Frank Woellecke and his team at BMW put together a “BMW Exploration Day” for the students, which included professional seminars, a VIP plant tour, an HR talk on internships and employment opportunities, and a closing workshop, as well as lunch and refreshments. The students were (understandably) impressed – one even describing it as the highlight of her time in Europe.

All smiles after that awesome experience!

And so, even with all of the amazing opportunities just by being in Europe, we can definitely add this to the list of experiences classified under “only at GTL!”

 

So Close

As the semester heats up and the money dries out, the recurrence of weekends in Metz increases. This weekend was no exception, and while everyone went to Barcelona I spent perhaps the best-weathered weekend in Metz chilling with my friends  planning fall break. Thursday night we headed downtown to grab more of the local food and see more of our host city for the semester.
Strolling these ancient cobblestone streets, I see the glistening sidewalks and stones darkened by the recent rains. Interestingly enough, France was not as cold as I expected. This far north and still no snow, and I am truly surprised. Back home in Detroit by Thanksgiving it’s snowing already, and you can bet its cold. After some small talk being made, we finally decide to eat at a place we’ve circled three times.

As we sit down and overlook our Italian choices each of us start talking about fall break and the future. Italy is the big buzz with the rest of our classmates. However, my friends and I seem to be the only ones thinking of going north. I guess we’ve accepted winter is here better than our colleagues. After quite an amazing lasagna we head back to ‘Republique’ the bus station and head home. A very calm weekend ensues. Hanging out with friends, homework, hours of FIFA, some pickup soccer, and more.
As Monday hits, and the local GTL lounge gradually fills, there is a noticeable difference in people. Everyone is abuzz, as the weekend seems to be rushing at us. Man United’s game vs. Liverpool interrupts my studying for statics and thermofluids. People flock to my room to watch the rather boring encounter of two great teams. To the soft lines of thermofluids notes I fall asleep that night. “twilililing twilililing…… twilililing.” The song I once loved rudely awakes my 6 hours of sleep. Bright and early I must rise, with more studying to do. “It’s just for today, come on man,” I tell myself. Eating a bowl of cereal I turn on my computer and wake myself up with the laughter of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Finally conscious and able to comprehend, I begin the day’s work; statics, then thermo, and 20161019_165558back to statics. The day goes on. Before I know it, it’s test time, and off to GTL I rush, listening to my newly acquired French songs. “On va le faire, va le faire….”! Translating to ‘we will do it’ in English, a perfect motivator for the day ahead. After the first test it’s all a blur. Tuesday is gone in a flash. All that remains of the day is the evening. A night to remember. Our great leaders of BDE, Jack and Abbie organized an indoor skiing trip for us at super low cost. As people board the bus I can really feel the weekend now, less than 24 hours and fall break is on. Tearing through the hearts of European cities our GTL crew will go, leaving behind no regrets, no sights, no sounds, no experiences unturned.

The Italian Man…: Graduate Student Giuseppe Mariconda

Posted by Harry

Name: Giuseppe Mariconda

Major/Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering

Year in Grad School: 2nd year

Undergraduate Institution: Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan)

Interests/Hobbies: Outdoorsy and sporty. Loves basketball and soccer.

One piece of advice for graduate students: “Not having regrets” ⇐ YOLO?!

Baguette or Croissant? “Baguette. Salty food over sweets any day.”

Disclaimer: The full title of this blog post (which was much too long and why I put “The Italian Man” and then an ellipsis) is: The Italian Man that I Didn’t Think was Italian at First since He had No Accent and It was Really Surprised Me that He was Italian. And that’s why the ellipsis was there. This “skill” is something that he practiced and something he can turn on and off at will, because when asking him to speak with an Italian accent he easily could as well.

When we’re talking about Georgia Tech Lorraine as a “worldwide institution,” I really began to see it with Giuseppe. The first week, I was able to interview graduate student Taha, who was Tunisian. Giuseppe is full Italian, and midway through this interview, he introduced me to his friend, Claire, who was Australian. Pair that up with the French graduate students around, and you’ve got yourself a pretty diverse set of people. Being an undergrad here, which is made up of three American institutions doesn’t really give us that global perspective that GTL actually is.

So, a little bit more on Giuseppe. He’s currently studying Mechanical Engineering, with a focus in acoustics and materials science. He’s full Italian, and is actually here on a sort of “2 year triple-school” program that I found really interesting. He spends a year at an Italian university, the Sapienza Università di Roma, 6 months at GTL, and then 6 months at the Georgia Tech-Atlanta campus. He’s into the latter half of the degree is looking forward to spending time in America! That’s something that all the graduate students I’ve talked to are the most excited about in their respective programs. I can definitely see where it comes from, as I was extremely excited to come to GTL from the other side!

The coolest thing about Giuseppe is his attitude on life. As you can see from his life advice, he’s not afraid of taking risks and making the most of any situation that he’s in. After he graduated from college, he moved to Rome, having no idea what he was going to do. He didn’t know if he was going to work, keep doing school, or anything in between before he just stumbled upon this program. He took a shot in the dark and applied, and soon enough, he was on the train to go to GTL! It’s a very fresh outlook that we can all take away, as sometimes, we should just take leaps of faith and have a positive attitude that it’ll all work out. This attitude carries over as after he completes his degree program he still has no clue what he’s going to do, but he figures that he’ll be alright no matter where he is.

Good luck Giuseppe! I’m sure you’ll be doing great things!

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