Truly Unique

We all had those teachers that made an impact on us growing up; they shape the way we think and make learning fun! James has found another such in Mme Serafin. Read what he has to say about learning French with such a great professor.

Throughout my 19 years of life and about 15 years of schooling, I’ve had many teachers. Teachers or professors come in all walks of life. Each leave us with something to take forward in life, all have an impact on our life in some way. My most memorable teachers all had a distinguishing feature about them – something that I remember about them even to this day. Mrs. Stanson always talked with confidence, and she was the first teacher who instilled passion and dreams into me. Mr. Sturgill, or just Sturgill to me, was the first relatable teacher I ever had: always down to earth and truly authentic in every way imaginable, a great friend. Finally, Mr. Corcoran was by far my favorite teacher; always teaching even when we weren’t reading from the Russian, Greek, and American classics.

Coming to GTL I didn’t expect my list of all-time greats to be in contention. I am glad to say it indeed is, due to the great work and personality of Sonia Serafin.
Madame Serafin is my French 1001 professor this semester and really one of the soniabest professors I’ve had in quite some time. All the above mentioned “professeurs” are on the list due to one distinguishing factor; however for Madame Serafin, it is quite hard to pin point what makes her such a good teacher. From day one she made it clear that she will try to really teach us and help us learn French. To her, the grades don’t matter as much as her job. Accomplishing the task – teaching her students French – is what drives her motives.

Oh, and her motives. I chuckle just remembering them, when we started learning the more complicated speech of French such as liasons, and accent aigues,  she started pantomiming. Making gestures, and dances, whistling, the list goes on. Each one stood for a mistake. During in class exercises when we practiced speaking French she would do these. In case I forgot a liason, she would whistle and draw the motion of the liason with her finger. The most amazing one is related to her jokes about the Spanish language, saying “leave for Spanish at the door.” Meaning approach French differently in pronunciation, even thought it might be spelled similarly.
Perhaps the most notable of Madame Serafin’s characteristics is her love for subject. I remember one class during which she had assigned a huge amount of in class work and just before we were about to begin, a fellow classmate asked her a question.

“How many languages do you speak?”

The response took the rest of class and boiled down the story of her childhood. Born Italian to parents who spoke multiple languages including French, She went on to live in England, the Netherlands, and America learning each new language as it came. She explained the beauty behind language as the “real life application” of what we were doing in class. Language is a state of mind, and really only in the advanced stages of a language can you understand this. When I finally passed the threshold in my mother’s tongue of Hungarian I, too, understood this. You no longer think in terms of direct translation to English. You think and behave in that language, forming thoughts and ideas.

In the end, the simple answer boiled down to 7; seven ways to speak, think, and act. She looked at her watch and gave us a sly smile, joking that we wasted all class. Yet, she understood we truly cared and dismissed us for the day knowing she had impacted all of us.

A VIP Experience of German Engineering

Here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, you can do things you only dreamed of – and recently, another dream came true in Metz! Well, in Munich. Click the link to check out what happened in this update.

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!”


We Are Family: Academic Assistant Corinne Guyot

Meet Corinne Guyot, GTL’s Academic Assistant and resident hiking adviser. She helps out with a bunch of different facets of student life and embodies the “family-like” environment at GTL. Read more in Harry’s blog post.

Posted by Harry

harry-w10-p2-p1Name: Corinne Guyot

Position: Academic Assistant

Years at GTL: 4 years

Interests/Hobbies: Hiking

One line to describe GTL: “A school with familial relationships.”

Piece of advice for students: “To make the most of our time in France because it is a beautiful country”.

Meet Corinne Guyot, our resident Academic Assistant here at Georgia Tech Lorraine. When she described GTL (see quote above), she said it was very “family-like” with how close the students and faculty interact. Even without her telling me this, I could definitely see that she feels this way about the community here by how sweet she was and the way she interacted with me and other administration members. It’s also a common theme I’ve heard around the office, as many of the other staff members I’ve interviewed has noted about how closely knit the people at GTL are.

Some of Mrs. Guyot’s duties are to arrange housing for both undergraduates and graduate students, communicate with partner French schools, and help graduate students out with application files. If we’re still talking family, we might even stretch a bit and call her “Mom” for all the things she helps us students with!

Outside of GTL, she really enjoys hiking. Her favorite places include the Alps, Vosges, and Sierck Les Bains. Her kindness struck once again when I asked her about some good hikes around/close to Metz. She didn’t just list of some locations, but instead pulled out a map of France and pointed out all the areas of interest.

Don’t be afraid to swing by Mrs. Guyot’s office in the administration building, it will definitely be worth your time!

So Close

James has been dreaming about traveling again, and he’s getting along quite well with the beautiful city of Metz. What’s he up to? Read about a day in the life and travels of James in his latest blog post!

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.

Being a Resident at the Residence Lafayette (We’re Certainly Not in a Dorm Anymore)

The everyday living situation isn’t exactly like a GT, or even Duke or Vanderbilt, so check out Harry’s blog to learn a little more about your new home while at GTL – Residence Lafayette!

Posted by Harry


Welcome to Residence Lafayette, where the current members of the Fall 2016 Georgia Tech Lorraine all live. It’s definitely been a bit of an adjustment, and some of that has to do with the lifestyle change of living in our own little studio vs. the dorms we have back at GT/Duke/Vanderbilt. Here’s a quick rundown of the similarities and differences:

1) Obtaining and Eating Food

This is probably the biggest adjustment that most of had to make. In our studio rooms, we all get our own kitchens, stocked with supplies of the previous resident. It has a mini-fridge, two hot plates, microwave, and sink for all our cooking needs. There are some local places (Paul, CROUS, La Boite a Pizza) that one can get food at, but I’d say most of us have gotten into the habit and routine of cooking for ourselves with a few visits to CORA.

2) Sleeping

All the rooms here are singles, so hooray! No roommate! The lights go off when you want them to and you can now peacefully wake up at 10am for your 11am class instead of 7am because your roommate had an 8am. Or you’re the one with an 8am and you don’t have to feel guilty about waking up your roommate so early.

3) Going to the Bathroom / Showering

All the rooms also include their own bathroom and shower (fist pump). However, that does mean we have to keep the bathroom tidy ourselves. It’s not a bad trade off!

4) Neighbors

Some of the other residents in Lafayette are other students while some are not. It’s important to understand that they live there too so we must respect the quiet hours. To throw in a side note, they’re very friendly, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

5) Laundry + Sheets

Laundry is pretty much the same here, although the washing machines do have detergent built in so you do not need to bring any. The sheets here are cleaned by management (clutch!) and the exchange is every two weeks.

It’s definitely a bit of a change then what we’re used to, a little bit more independent I’d say. Either way, it’s a nice little change of pace from what we’re used to and another experience that makes this study abroad program unique.

Tips for Traveling Europe

Being a technology school, there’s got to be something to help a traveler get around, right? Check out James’ tips and tricks on inter-city and intra-city travel.

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.

Photo Courtesy of

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.

Photo courtesy of

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!


A High Place

Sometimes there are significant, but subtle recurring themes to a trip – and it seems like Harry found one this weekend! Where in the world was he? Read his blog to find out.

This past weekend, I traveled to Switzerland. Specifically, Interlaken. When I’m talking about how “high” this place is, I’m not just talking about the tall Swiss Alp mountains that you can climb or that you can take a cable car to Jungfrau (which is often called “The Top of Europe”), I’m talking about EVERYTHING: high altitude, high prices for food/watches/anything, high quality of chocolate, etc.

Let’s first talk about the views. They’re absolutely stunning. 99.9999% of our lives, the clouds are above us. The other 0.0001% is when we’re in Switzerland and we’re on top of a mountain.

harry-w10-p1-p1 harry-w10-p1-p2

The picture on the left is when my crew and I climbed the Schlithorn, which was roughly 3000m (10000 ft) above sea level. When we were hiking up to the top of the mountain, we were basically trapped in a cloud and couldn’t see past 20 feet in front of us. Luckily when we got to the top, some of it cleared up and we got a great view of the other beautiful peaks the Alps has to offer.

The picture on the right is on top of Schynige-Platte, which is mountain range right over Interlaken and you can get a great view of the two lakes and the town in between (haha get it? Interlaken literally means between two lakes!)

Other things that were pretty high were the cost of food. I’ll definitely be writing a blog on some survival tips later on in the future, and it will include kebabs. Kebabs are basically your best friends when backpacking around Europe, but the cost of a kebab in Switzerland is about double the price of kebabs you’ll find elsewhere. Finally, the quality of chocolate here is superb. Find a picture below.
Couldn’t find it? Oh, I’m sorry! I ate the whole bar that I bought before being able to take a picture of it. If that doesn’t tell you how good it is, I don’t know.

Visit Switzerland y’all!! You definitely will not regret it!

The “Real” Behind Artificial Intelligence: Graduate Student Shane Griffith

Technology is taking over the world! That is, students of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Meet Shane, a graduate student who is pursuing his passions of artificial intelligence at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

Posted by Harry

harry-w9-p3-p1Name: Shane Griffith

Major/Field of Study: Computer Science

Year in Grad School: 8th year

Undergraduate Institution: Iowa State

Interests/Hobbies: Weightlifting

One piece of advice for students: “Find something you’re passionate about, and stick with it.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant

Are you a fan of the movie The Matrix or iRobot? Have you ever thought about how artificial intelligence could possibly take over the world? Go no further because we have a current graduate resident at Georgia Tech-Lorraine who studies up on that next-level science fiction stuff! His name is Shane Griffith.
Out of all the graduate students I’ve interviewed so far, Shane has by far been in school the longest. After graduating with a BS in Computer Engineering from Iowa State in 2008, he went to grad school there for three and a half years before enrolling in the Georgia Tech/GTL dual degree program. He was in Atlanta for two years, and has been at GTL ever since 2013. The research he does, which is looking at algorithms to help integrate robotics and artificial intelligence, is beyond your typical run-of-the-mill computer science. In fact, Shane makes it an interdisciplinary study by looking at these AI problems using not only CS, but psychology and biology as well. Looking at these problems using knowledge from different fields has brought success to Shane, as he recently had a paper that was published and orally presented at a conference.
Outside of class, you can find Shane lifting at Fitness Park in Metz or just doing more research because as his advice says, we should all look for something we’re passionate about and stick with it. Best of luck to you Shane as you wrap up your graduate studies and move us towards an artificially intelligent future!

A Chill Weekend in Metz

Sometimes the best weekends are those spent at home! This may sound strange, as Harry is a student who is currently studying abroad at GTL, but he’s in on the secret that you can make your own adventures – and get some homework done in between.

Posted by Harry

This past weekend, I didn’t travel at all. I guess some contributing factors were some of my friend’ s parents were in town so they were gone, but also the gloomy fact that I had 3 exams the following week. Here’s a breakdown of what happened:

Thursday, September 29th

Spent the afternoon volunteering at Fort Queuleu! It was nice to meet some locals and put in some work for a local historical landmark. The fort was used by Germans as a detention center for members of the French Resistance during World War II. We just cleaned up some of local overgrowth in the area. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity, it’s available every Sunday at 9am and every Thursday at 2pm.

Harry and a friend volunteering at Metz’s Fort Queuleu.

Friday, September 30th

Made the most of the empty GTL building and pretty much studied all day. This day put the “study” in study abroad. Spent some of the night shopping at CORA and had the time to make myself a nice dinner, and then a movie night.

Saturday, October 1st

Whoa! It’s October! Where did all the time go? I went on a bike ride all around town, making whatever random turns and twists the road took me. Riding around, you could really see fall settling in. The leaves were beginning to turn colors and the air was turning a bit chilly. At night, I went to the FC Metz vs. AS Monaco soccer game. My first soccer game in Europe, and it was really enjoyable! The stands were packed…but not for long. FC Metz lost 7-0, welp…

Photo courtesy of

Sunday 10/2

Another pretty relaxing day. Got some more studying and cooking done.

As we can all see, a weekend in Metz is much needed some time to catch up on sleep, work, or general relaxation purposes. It makes for a nice break between all the heavy travel weekends we’ve been doing.

Finally Some Exploring

What did you do last weekend? James had a (cannon) ball during his trip to Marseilles. His post goes to show that sometimes the best memories are the ones that aren’t planned…Click to read the story!


In a weekend that initially seemed doomed came the best and most exhilarating experiences. Sunday morning of last week I woke up in the Lafayette residence dorm and began booking my plans for the next weekend.
Sunday, September 25th
“There, we’re all set for the weekend: 4 beds, 3 nights, in Marseille!” As I finished booking my housing for the weekend. As the school week began I started tracking down my travel buddies, Clyde, Luke, Cannon. However, after each conversation I had no one willing to join me for a trip to Marseille. Luke was the only one willing to join me. At this point I hadn’t known him that long – sure, we played soccer together on Tuesdays, but traveling together is a whole other story.
Friday, October, 7th
As I woke up in my hostel and reached for my phone, I felt different. Arriving last night, I noticed a distinct change in weather and air quality. The air felt salty, there was always a slight breeze, and everything seemed more natural. The hostel was no different. And as i checked for any messages regarding Luke’s arrival, I felt truly rested for the first time in a long time.


He got in around 10am, and we started for the mountains. My plan for the day was to hike in one of Marseille’s national parks, go swimming and the likes. After a short delay we found the correct buses and made our way toward Mont Puget. As the climb progressed, we started talking and getting to know each other. Within 20 minutes we were laughing and having a great time, the awkward tension I feared from it just being the two of us was nonexistent.

An hour or so later, we noticed that our paths we taking us around the mountain 20161007_162007and not up to the top. We both agreed the view would be legendary from the top, so we decided to shear face the side of the rocks. My legs burned from the ascent and scratches of thorny bushes as we grabbed edges and corners of massive boulders and made our way upwards. Both the pace and path were almost always set by Luke, getting lucky at every turn and decision. Luke raced up the hill, and as I finally caught up to him I was able to look up for one of the first times and really see the city of Marseille, the Olympic de Marseille (soccer stadium), the city center, the shore line, island in between the bay, and more. The view was truly breathtaking and won’t be one I forget anytime soon.

As we descended and made our way towards the shore, we both understood that the water would be cold, but the view and experience would be well worth it. By 4:30 pm we had made our way down to the cove and noticed we were the only ones about to swim. A good group of people were already in towels shivering and telling us it was too cold to swim, but that was to no avail for Luke as he cannon-balled in and convinced me to follow.


The locals were right; as I jumped in, a cold shiver ran through my spine, and salt water rushed up my nose and mouth. Gasping for air, I rose to the surface and tried to remember what warmth felt like. I looked over my shoulder to see Luke climbing a small island boulder. As per usual I followed – and so began our cliff diving experience. After a few jumps I couldn’t take the heat, or lack thereof. Luke kept on, jump after jump, varying his style and approach. Finally we took off for home, shivering and planning tomorrow’s excursions.

The rest of the weekend consisted of traveling all along the bay, catching local experiences, food, activities, Bochy ball, wind surfing, paddle boarding, and so on. And by mid Sunday as we boarded the metro for the train, we both agreed, someday we’ll come back, and maybe someday we’ll live in Marseille.