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!
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!