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Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Some Fun-don in London

In mid-October, we decided to go across the pond and spend the weekend in lovely London! (I’m not sure if “across the pond” can be used for going across any large body of water, but I like the phrase so just bear with me.)

Our trip began with us taking the Eurostar train LITERALLY UNDER THE OCEAN! I still can’t get over how marvelous modern engineering is that somehow, we as a species managed to run a high-speed train under the sea. The Chunnel links France and England under the Strait of Dover, sitting at 250 ft below the sea bed at its lowest point, and with its undersea portion stretching a total of 23.5 miles (37.9 km), the longest of any tunnel in the world. Actually going through the tunnel was pretty underwhelming because, you know, it’s just darkness like any other train tunnel, but thinking about the sheer amount of water that was sitting above us made it more exciting.

The fish and chips to go was a nice idea in theory—in practice it was messy and difficult, but still delicious!

Upon disembarking at St. Pancras station, we were quite hungry, so we decided to walk to a restaurant serving a quintessentially British food: fish & chips. We got our orders to go, but fish & chips proved very difficult to eat without forks and while walking, so we sat down on a deserted curb to have our delicious feast, then took the Tube to our AirBNB.

On Saturday, we had a leisurely morning and ate lunch at the ubiquitous Pret a Manger. (I found it ironic that the classic London fast food chain has a French name.) Then, we went to go see the British Museum. Even without the incredible exhibits it houses, the sheer size of the building was impressive—the center of the museum is a huge open expanse of white marble, with sunlight streaming in through the roof and a massive stone pillar of rooms rising out from the center of the cavernous space. Highlights of our visit included the Rosetta Stone, giant Egyptian statues, and an interactive exhibit about a man mummified thousands of years ago.

Soren showed us the Royal Courts of Justice building in London. The pointed arches and circular window are reminiscent of Gothic cathedrals, which we’ve been studying extensively in HTS 2084 at Georgia Tech Lorraine!

At the museum, we met up with one of my best friends from high school, Soren, who’s currently studying abroad at the London School of Economics! After we were done wandering around the exhibits, he showed us around his campus. We saw his dorms, a couple of lecture halls, and the giant LSE library, among other places. He’s studying there for a year, but he’s only been there for three weeks so far, so it’s a very different feeling for him than for us, who already have two months at GTL under our belt. Seeing how he’s just starting his study abroad experience really made it hit home that we were already halfway done with ours.

Lastly, we decided to go to the famous Brick Lane for dinner to get Indian food! The whole street was filled with different Indian restaurants, with people outside each one trying to entice customers to choose theirs. We chose one based off of reviews we had read beforehand and chose several dishes to share between us, including butter chicken, chana masala, vegetable biryani, and naan, of course.

Hannah and Sarah with our delicious Brick Lane meal!

Overall, we had a marvelous time in London with good friends and good food, and I would love to visit again someday to see more of the bustling but beautiful city!

Never Settle: Meet Michelle George

Michelle George is taking advantage of all Georgia Tech has to offer! As a graduate student at Georgia Tech Lorraine pursuing her Masters in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in systems and controls, also completed her Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. Originally from Massachusetts, when Michelle went to Georgia Tech for her undergraduate degree, it was her first time ever being in the south – and therefore the state of Georgia.

Even though her time at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and being abroad while pursuing her Masters has been fun, she hopes to live in the northeast when she begins working full-time in automation controls. With this being Michelle’s first semester at GTL, it was nice to hear her comparison of going to Georgia Tech in Atlanta and in Metz, France, since she has been exposed to both as an undergraduate and graduate student. She says, “At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the community is huge in comparison to that of GTL. Here there are much fewer students, and even fewer graduate students so I have been able to get tight with a lot of them. It’s also a really different atmosphere than the campus in Atlanta because it’s more personable, and I get to know all the administrators and teachers more personally. It’s really nice.” She emphasized how much more comfortable she is going to office hours to speak with professors. We both shared how before at the campus in Atlanta, how we would usually not go to office hours, while at GTL it feels much more comfortable to do so. We both agreed that since GTL really has a strong community aspect, class feels less impersonal and we feel more connected with our peers as students.

While at GTL, Michelle has had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places, knocking Cologne, Colmar, Brussels, Zurich, and London off of her travel bucket list! Since traveling around France and Europe, she says that it has helped build more confidence in herself and she has become more comfortable with traveling to different places. Before traveling around France, she would be worried about doing something wrong, not knowing the language, or unintentionally disrespecting others cultures. As she has traveled more, she has overcome those fears and now believes that as long as you try your best and get out of your comfort zone, that’s what truly matters. Michelle has become much more confident than when she first came here – even taking a couple solo trips – and remains determined to travel as much as possible.

Michelle enjoying all that London has to offer!

Something really cool that I learned about Michelle is her interest and appreciation of theatre and the arts. When Michelle is in Atlanta, she usually would volunteer her time at theatres in Atlanta. Since Europe is such a rich place to experience and learn about the arts, Michelle has really tried to take advantage of seeing what it has to offer in Europe and in Metz! When she was in Brussels, she went saw the Belgium National Orchestra. “It was incredible,” she sais. “They had this one soloist that’s insanely good, and he played my favorite piece I never heard before live, and it blew my mind!” It was nice to hear that even though she is studying engineering, which isn’t strongly associated with the arts, she tries to enjoy the theatre and arts when she can.

Michelle George is a fun, hard working young woman that truly goes for it, and doesn’t try to take the easy way out of things. She is passionate about what she likes and what she wants, and will not let anyone stop her. When she isn’t practicing her French, watching operas, traveling, or studying, she is working on staying true to what she wants for her future and not settling.

The Unspoken Challenges of Studying Abroad

The glamorous side of studying abroad that most people see.

Let’s get real for a minute. Studying abroad is amazing, and the glamorous pictures shared with family and friends and on social media may make it seem like a breeze. However, there is a side of studying abroad that many people do not talk about much, and others don’t know about. The cramming in the days before the test after a weekend of travel, grinding out homeworks quickly or even not turning it in on time, and stress of planning trips and staying focused in school all at the same time. The balance is what makes studying abroad challenging at times.

I’m definitely a coffee drinker so sometimes the caffeine helps with the long study days!

Since being at Georgia Tech Lorraine, I have had my fair share of highs and lows when it comes to my school work. However, I was able to quickly learn from my mistakes, and understand what I was personally capable of being able to handle when it came to traveling and school. The purpose of studying abroad is to enjoy being abroad and make the most out of those opportunities – and to be successful in your studies. One of the biggest challenges about studying abroad is being equally committed to both throughout the semester. By being organized, keeping a schedule, working hard, and remembering to do the best I can throughout my studies I have been able to decently handle this challenge, and would like to share some things I did to do so.

A good example of what a typical Thursday night before travels looks like for me: Netflix, dinner, and homework!

When I did have some low points in semester, I realized it was because I was straying away from what works best for me when it came to studying, and was not focusing on understanding the material. During the beginning of the semester I had the mentality that as long as I finished my homeworks each week, I would be perfectly fine. However, after the first round of tests I saw where I could improve: focusing on understanding the material throughout the week, and then letting my homeworks be a way to practice. Something I would highly recommended to save you stress while cramming for a test is to understand the material as much as you can while it is being taught.

Day trips with friends means being able to study more during the weekend.

Some other things that helped me stay on track with my studies was sticking to my old study methods; I tried changing them and regretted it. Personally what works for me is writing on whiteboards my notes and problems, but I know that doesn’t help everyone. Always make sure to do things that work for you! That is key. When other people may go back to the dorms to study, eat, and nap, you may need to be in a more structured environment to study or vice versa, and know that’s perfectly okay. Some other things I recommend doing is eating healthy and decent meals, keeping a checklist or weekly plan of all the things you need to get done, and getting all homeworks and important studying completed before leaving for weekend travels.

I believe balancing school and travel while being abroad is important to have a conversation about. The challenge is a real one, and I feel often isn’t discussed among our peers either out of embarrassment or self regret. It is also important to stay in close contact with family and friends while studying abroad, not only so can discuss your travels, but also to maintain your support system. Regardless of the distance, the people you are closest to will always be there to encourage you and may even help pinpoint ways to help you do better. I know it can be easy to get sucked into the whirlwind while studying abroad, however, I realized that’s where I find my greatest comfort and motivation at times. Also, remember that others studying abroad are going through similar things; you are not alone. While you are studying and grinding out those homeworks, don’t forget to check up on your fellow classmates as well because at the end of the day that’s all we have while abroad –  each other.

A Very French Lunch

At the very last minute, I was able to join the group from GTL going to the Very French Lunch. I was excited to join as I wanted to try some top-notch, classic French dishes. The purpose of the lunch was to give students at a waitress and culinary school the opportunity to get evaluated for their class. As our herd of GTL students walked into the university banquet area, we were greeted by the waitressing students and their directors. Walking past them, you could see the excitement and nerves as this would be a big moment for them: getting their waitressing certification.

Once everyone sat down at the tables, bread, still water, and sparkling water was served. At my table, we all looked around as if the water and bread was untouchable; we weren’t sure if we could eat start eating or not. Being the hungry college students that we are, we decided the latter and began eating; the bread was gone within a span of 5 minutes. One of the waitressing students was going back and forth through the kitchen so much, that they began to run out of bread and told us to slow down on the bread eating as we wouldn’t have enough for our meals.

The first dish with the perfect egg.

The first dish that came out was a perfect egg with a pea purée, mashed potatoes, bread, and a small slice of bacon. The dish looked lovely; however, not being a fan of unscrambled or unfried eggs, I gave my egg away to another student. Next on the list for the course was the main (entrée in France means the appetizer!): grilled chicken with risotto, vegetables, and a corn fritter. I think this was my favorite part of the meal as the chicken was cooked to perfection, and the risotto was very savory.

After our entrée, many of us were feeling very satisfied with the food, and then suddenly we were given a warning that the next dish we should not touch with our fingers. We all exchanged curious looks as we were all given varieties of cheeses with strong odors.

Being carried by the students sauntered in the last dish, dessert! Beautifully drizzled with a fruit sauce on top was a sweet, crunchy nougat glacé. The very French lunch was very good and very French. After lunch, the GTL students and I went back to our classes with grinning faces and full stomachs.

Nougat glacé

Before coming abroad, I always took a great interest in others cultures. However, since being abroad, I have gained a new level of respect for people’s cultures and lifestyles. In France, waitressing is not seen as a lower level occupation like often times in the United States, and I think that is awesome. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what someone chooses to do with their career, as long as they are happy and enjoying life. In conclusion, it was really nice to share with the French waitressing students a monumental moment in their career goals , seeing the relief on their faces at the end of the lunch, and getting to eat a very yummy lunch!

This Is What “Peak” Performance Looks Like

This was the trip that is undoubtedly the high point (literally) of my European travels: Interlaken, Switzerland. Not only was it one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, but I climbed my first mountain there, something that I’ve always dreamed of accomplishing!

I could barely take my eyes off of the beautiful, grassy hills and the spectacular mountains, which was somewhat problematic for my stubbed toes.

Interlaken is a lovely town situated between two lakes (hence the name), which looked stunning with a beautiful mountain backdrop as we rode the train into the city. Walking down the main boulevard, we saw many quintessentially Swiss things, from watch stores to chocolatiers to a fondue restaurant, all the while marveling at the soaring mountains that framed the sky. One of the most exciting parts of this walk was seeing hang gliders and paragliders soaring and swooping through the sky! They floated down from the mountains and we sat and watched, fascinated, as they all landed on a huge green lawn in the center of the city.

We stopped to take scenic pictures and have a nutritious lunch of brioche, Nutella, bananas, nuts, and other snacks.

The next day, we were ready to hike! The woman at the tourism office recommended that we walk through the valley of waterfalls, as it was very beautiful and suitable for beginners. We decided not to follow her advice, however—we wanted to see the sights from high up, so we decided to attempt a hike to the summit of the Schilthorn from a little mountain town called Mürren.

After stocking up on food and taking two trains and a gondola from Interlaken to reach Mürren, we were ready to begin. It was 11 am when we started, so our goal was to get as far as we could by 3 pm and then turn around to allow us enough time to catch the trains back to Interlaken. The beginning of the hike took us through rolling hills and many pastures, punctuated by the constant clinking of cowbells and the occasional moo. Sadly, the cows did not really want to be pet.

I found a nice branch early on the hike that I used for a walking stick the rest of the way up. It proved very helpful, especially in the slippery snow!

As the hours passed and we continued to ascend, the trail turned from sharp, steep switchbacks up grassy hills to a flatter, rocky path towards the final summit, and then to no path at all as we approached the most difficult part of the journey. At this point we had truly transitioned from hiking to climbing: we carefully pulled ourselves up rocky ledges, following spray painted arrows through the otherwise confusing landscape, and we gingerly made our way up steep, snowy inclines, testing our weight with every step and hoping that the powder wouldn’t give way

On the way down, I was often prone to sprinting down the mountainside, both because it was fun but also because the steep slope made it hard to stop, so you can see my traveling buddies in the distance behind me along with the foggy mountain peak.

beneath our feet. Near the top, thankfully, there were ropes to pull ourselves up the more treacherous inclines, and railings to hold as we crossed narrow rock bridges towards our goal.

With our tired lungs and aching legs, we finally reached the peak of the mountain—at precisely 3:00 pm! I can’t describe the feeling I had when I reached the top; after 4 hours and after scaling 4,366 feet of vertical elevation, I was so exhilarated, so full of endorphins from the strenuous hike up, and so proud of our achievement that all I could think was “When can I do this again?” I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain at some point in my life, and after actually doing it that desire has only gotten stronger. This amazing trip really opened my eyes to the wonders of hiking and climbing, and I can’t wait until my next opportunity to test my limits and scale taller summits!

On the way down the mountainside, after the rain had stopped, we were treated with an absolutely gorgeous double rainbow!!

The Tale of Two Countries: Waffles, Fries, Bikes, and History

 

Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp

This past weekend, I visited not one, but two countries near France! The first stop of my weekend trip began in Antwerp, Belgium! In Antwerp, I was able to eat some of the most amazing waffles I ever had in my entire life, munch on crispy Belgian fries, go shopping, and embrace the different architectural styles of each city. Something that fascinated me about Antwerp was it had the bustle a big city while still maintaining an old town vibe. Even though there were many tourists visiting all the restaurants, museums, and shopping, it seemed as if the locals were enjoying big tourist spots just as much as well. Another thing I really appreciated about Belgium is their craft for making the best waffles in the world, as I not only had one waffle, but two during my stay!

Architecture in Antwerp

 

After checking Antwerp of the list of places to visit, next on the list was Amsterdam, Netherlands. Walking out of the Amsterdam Central Station the next day, I was immediately hit with The Fault in Our Stars vibes and was surrounded by tourists

Me in front of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

early in the morning. The first item on the list of places to see that day was Bloemenmarkt, the famous flower market in Amsterdam. Walking to see the market made me more aware of my safety and the safety of the massive amount of bicyclists in Amsterdam! Bikes where everywhere: cruising down the street, chained all along the canal, and on the sidewalks. As I made it to the street of the market, I saw tulip buds for purchase everywhere, cute cafés on the other side, and a Christmas shop. While the flower market was beautiful and the scents from the flowers wafted through the air, the Christmas shop stole my attention with the “66 days until Christmas sign”! After buying an Amsterdam themed Christmas ornament, my stomach was growling and I knew it was time for lunch. At lunch, I ate a savory chicken curry sandwich from Toastable, a very cute and non-touristy café. After lunch, I saw The Anne Frank House, where Anne Frank lived when she was in hiding with her family during World War II.

 

Amsterdam

Amsterdam had great sights to see, things to do, and museums to visit, however, I was slowly running out of time to do many of the great things the city has to offer. As a compromise, I decided to learn more about the history of Amsterdam and see sights at the same time! That day, I took a free classical tour of Amsterdam that covered many gems of the city, social classes during different times, changes in the industry, and architecture of the city. During the tour, it was interesting to learn more about the history, such as squatting and the Dutch East Indian Company. After my tour, my time in Amsterdam came to a close as the train back to Antwerp would be leaving soon. Once I made it back to Antwerp, I did the one thing I knew I had to do: eat another Belgian waffle! 

Delicious Belgian Waffle

The next morning began a bit frantically at the train station once I looked to see which platform my first connection train would be on and it saw “afgeschaft” under the train time. Do you know what that means in Dutch? It means abolished! My first train of the day was canceled, however, thankfully there was a train leaving in 10 minutes that went to the same connection station. Besides that little mishap, making it back to Metz was a breeze. I truly did enjoy my trip to Amsterdam and Antwerp because it was relaxing, fun, and involved quick thinking when it came to changes in travel plans. I also greatly appreciated the amount of knowledge I was able to gain from learning more about the history of Amsterdam. Amsterdam and Antwerp truly were great places to eat delicious food and have some good times.

Madeleyne Vaca Is Constantly Rising

Madeleyne at the fruit picking excursion at the farm with GTL

When I first met Madeleyne Vaca, it was when I was shouting in a room full of GTL students for her to come meet her host for the French family dinner. I sat down to interview Madeleyne the next day, and then I learned that she is not a fan of the nickname Maddie, was born in Columbia, and moved to the United States with her family to Georgia when she was younger. Before coming to GTL, she completed her undergraduate studies at Georgia Tech in Atlanta; at Tech she doubled majored in electrical engineering and computer science and minored in Mandarin. Currently, Madeleyne is completing her Masters at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in electrical engineering.

Before coming to GTL, she studied abroad in China and interned with Microsoft four times before completing her undergraduate degree. Currently, she has a job lined up with Microsoft as a Software Developer and will become a Firmware Developer next year. Next year, she is excited to start her new job role because she will be able to use all of her degrees and knowledge of electrical engineering and computer science. Since being at GTL, Madeleyne travels every weekend to different places and has made an impressive list of countries she has visited including Amsterdam, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Switzerland. While traveling, she also tries to step out of her comfort zone and be adventurous by doing extreme sports.

Madeleyne went canyoning in Slovenia, and this is her jumping off a 10m waterfall!

Since I began interviewing graduate students, it has been interesting to hear their different stories and favorite part about GTL. I was interested in hearing from Madeleyne was her comparison of all the places she has lived considering how vastly different they all are in culture. Being from Columbia, she often misses being closer to her extended family, and the warmth and community focus of the culture. When I asked Madeleyne what her favorite part about Georgia Tech Lorraine has been so far, she said, “The way French people greet each other reminds me a little bit of home. They have the double kiss [on the cheek], and in Columbia, we have the single kiss [on the cheek]. I always stop halfway and then remember it’s two here! It’s nice being somewhere that reminds me a little bit of home.” She also says that it is exciting to travel and see how people in France know many languages and understand other cultures well. Madeleyne also says that it is nice meeting people who speak different languages, as she is trilingual herself!

Taking a picture near the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium

Madeleyne is one of the coolest people I have ever met – and not only because has she been successful with getting a full-time offer with Microsoft. She also listens to Ariana Grande on repeat, has traveled to many places, played handball throughout her college, and yet she is still pushing towards the goal of achieving her Masters. It goes to show how regardless of how physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging life is at times, that she will continue to push through adversity and rise above the challenge. As she rises to the goal of getting her Masters, traveling the world, and salsa dancing and jamming to Ariana Grande along the way, Madeleyne continues to go with the flow of life and keep a positive attitude through it all.

Dinner with a French Family (of Students)

Every semester at Georgia Tech Lorraine, the French Family Dinner is organized! Local families in Metz host GTL students in their homes for the evening, giving students a chance to experience French food and culture, to meet a French family and even to speak a little bit of French. Two friends and I took part in the French family dinner together last Tuesday. When we met our family at GTL, we discovered that they weren’t a family at all, but instead a group of friends, students our age who were also studying engineering in Metz!

We had a wonderful time eating, laughing, and playing games with our French family of students! 🙂

Clara and Alexandre drove us to a lovely apartment near the center of Metz, complete with colorful decorations on the walls, a long line of sweet Polaroid pictures on the mantle, and a little dry erase board to write fun notes on. Once there, we met their two other friends, Elodie and Alexia. As they prepared dinner, we talked to them about their time in Metz and what they were studying. Right now, they’re studying for big entrance exams for engineering schools that they’ll take in the spring.

For dinner, we had raclette, which is melted cheese over potatoes and charcuterie meats. You put a piece of cheese (the raclette) in a little tray and then on a special heater so it melts, then you scrape the cheese from the tray onto your food. We also had snails, or escargot, which was on my list of things I needed to try while in France! Apparently, there are special sticks you can use to get the snail out of its shell, but we improvised with forks. The taste was good, as it was cooked in garlic and butter, but the squishy texture was too much for me to handle and I was satisfied with just trying one.

 After dinner we decided to play a game. If you’ve played the game Heads Up on a phone, this was a bit similar to that. We each wrote down something on a piece of paper (writing it in English and in French for everyone’s ease), such as an object or an animal, then taped what we wrote on someone else’s head so that we all had a word on our foreheads that everyone could see except for the person who had it. Then, we had to ask yes or no questions to try to figure out what word was on our forehead.

As someone taking French 1001, I was by far the least bilingual person in the room—one of my two friends there is in the highest French class available at GTL, and the other is too advanced for even that. The French students spoke great English in my opinion, but they frequently apologized for their bad English and sometimes switched between English and French to clarify things to my friends. It was not only fun but educational for me to play this word game because it helped me to learn by listening to them, and I also learned to say some fun new French sentences, such as: “Am I bigger than a table?”

Playing the game and hanging out with the French students was tons of fun, and I’m so glad that we got to have dinner with them through this GTL event! I feel like I got a glimpse into student lives in Metz, and luckily, I made new friends at the same time!

Driven By Passion & Appreciation – Meet Yacoub

Everyone has a story to tell, and the students at GTL surely do have great ones to share. I met Yacoub the first week at GTL, and the first two things I learned about him were that he is getting his Master’s in mechanical engineering and that he is from Morocco! After that first week, I was able to get to know Yacoub’s story more and more over time. He studied aerospace engineering in his undergraduate career at the Université Internationale de Rabat. Driven by his passion for research, appreciation for his parents, and goal to work in the aerospace industry, Yacoub has worked hard since his undergraduate years to be successful at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. 

During the interview, it was interesting to find out about Yacoub is that he is an only child, and is very close with his parents. When I asked him about his life goal, we discussed how we would like to become an aeronautical engineer, and that he would like to work hard and give back to his parents and make them proud. It was also interesting to learn that for him to come to Georgia Tech-Lorraine and be considered for admission, he had to stay in the top of his class at his undergraduate university. During his undergraduate career for four years, he worked hard to be where he is today. With his dedication and hard work for the past couple of years, he can proudly say that he has made it to where he has always wanted to be. I am grateful to listen to graduate student stories like Yacoub’s because being an undergraduate it is inspiring to hear how hard-working, motivated, and all the different journeys they have taken to get to where they are today. It also reminds me that even though it may get tough during the undergraduate years, it will only make you stronger.

When I asked him about what he sees for himself in the next 5 years, he said that he plans on finishing his Master’s at Georgia Tech, doing research, and working full-time in Europe doing work in the aerospace industry. His dream is to someday be an aeronautical engineer at Airbus. During his time at GTL, he also hopes to get more involved in research and get some internship experience with a company in the aerospace industry. In his spare time, he enjoys sightseeing and trying different spicy foods from new restaurants in the city. Since being in Metz, he has interacted with French students in the city playing an escape game at a university-wide event in Metz.

Since I have started interviewing graduate students, it has also been interesting to hear what their favorite part about GTL is. I asked Yacoub what his favorite part about GTL is, and he said, “The friends that I have made all come from different countries, different cultures, and have different ways of thinking which is very exciting because you get to discover a new culture everyday. The opportunity to travel is great as well; since we are in the center of Europe it is very easy to catch a bus or take a train ride somewhere.”  He says that his thoughts and perceptions about different nationalities and cultures have changed from the time spent meeting and getting to know people and has positively affected the way he now thinks about other nations and cultures. Even though homework and projects have been a lot to handle at times from Yacoub’s perspective, he says that he plans on traveling a lot more in the near future while at GT-Lorraine. Currently, he has already visited Trier, Germany, and is looking forward to traveling to the Chocolate Festival in Paris and Switzerland.

How to Enjoy A Travel-Free Weekend in Metz

Centre Pompidou-Metz

This weekend, I decided to stay in Metz and take a break from traveling. While traveling at GTL is great and thus far has been the highlight of my experience, I realized I needed to hit pause and take a break to refocus on school and finances. While studying abroad at GTL, I would highly recommend taking a couple of weekends to relax in Metz, and explore the city even more. While doing so, I was more productive with my schoolwork and has new experiences.

While taking my first break from traveling in a month, I decided to explore more that Metz has to offer. This weekend I went to the Centre Pompidou and saw the amazing, vibrant artwork that decorated the museum. To my surprise, the museum was a lot more than seeing artwork on walls; it was an interactive experience as well. Throughout the museum, they had interactive exhibits such as walking in a dark room with blinking lights, a room called “Little Cafe” where you could write and draw on the walls of the exhibit in chalk, and a purple hued room playing piano tunes.

Little Cafe in the Museum (an interactive chalk artwork display)

As I entered the purple room exhibit, all of my senses were intrigued as my eyes were seeing dimly lit purple lights and walls, my feet walking on a plush purple-hued carpet, and my ears hearing erratic, yet strangely calming piano sounds. As I sat in the room, I was overcome with a sense of peace. After I experienced a bit of what the room had to offer, I made my way to my favorite part of my visit. At the entrance of the Centre Pompidou, there was a giant metallic ball in which I walked in and was surrounded by a layout of the constellations. I enjoyed the museum as I was able to not only see artwork, but also interact with it and be a part of creating it.

My favorite part about visiting the Pompidou Centre was that I was able to standing inside of this giant metallic globe and see a portrayal of the constellations.

After visiting the Centre Pompidou, I walked to the nearby mall, the Muse, and went shopping until my hunger and account balance put me to an end. So much for me looking out for my finances this weekend! The mall was stunning and filled with high-end brands and department stores alike. My favorite part of my shopping experience was going to Primark; I was in shopping heaven as I was able to catch their fall sale of the year. After shopping and making my bank account just a little more depressing to look at, I ate lunch at a local Chinese restaurant near the mall. The best part about staying in Metz for the weekend was experiencing different things, and being able to go back to my room and study and complete my homework for the week without the guilt of attempting to do homework in a new country or city.

As my weekend in Metz came to a close, I decided to go on a hunt for the chicest and most comfortable café to get some more studying done. While staying in Metz for the weekend is fun, it can get boring stay in the dorms doing work or watching Netflix. The best decision I made was to get out and about and change the scenery in which I would study for the day. When entering Fox Café, I was greeted with the vintage chic, coffeehouse vibes I dearly love. The café was great, and the food and desserts were tasty as I decided to get lunch there! I would highly recommend checking out this little café if you ever need a change of scenery because they have wifi, is close to the train station, and the best part, for my non-French speaking peers like myself, is they speak English!  

Lunch and studying at Fox Cafe

Overall, I had a satisfying weekend staying in Metz, and catching up on some things and work. The benefits of traveling are incomparable, however, make sure to recognize when you may feel stressed or need a break from travels to regroup. It is difficult at times to keep a balance of studies and trying to reap all the opportunities of being abroad at the same time; always make sure to maintain a good mental health and grades through it all. While staying in Metz this weekend, I was able to visit a museum, go shopping, finish my homework for the week, study in advance for a quiz, do laundry without competing for a washer and dryer, and find my new favorite study spot. You never know what you can discover if you just take a minute to press pause.

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