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Over 25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Month: April 2019

No “Go, Go, Go” Mindset

Hello –

So you must be thinking: you travel a lot! We get the abroad part, but are you actually studying? What goes on during the week?

That in all honesty is a fair question. While I’m usually out of town Thursday night through Sunday, I do actually spend some time in downtown Metz and stay on top of my school work. Since everyone here is in this “go, go, go” mindset of seeing everything Europe has to offer, I think that the teachers have eased up a bit here in comparison to studying in the States. I also believe that part of the lack of stress on the school front here is because aside from classes, I don’t really have the same commitments I did back in school. In Boulder I was working several jobs, a part of multiple extracurriculars, and tried to balance a way heavier class load which my classes here don’t really compare to. Don’t get me wrong, my classes are still intellectually challenging, and I have coursework and projects to complete, but I am a lot less stressed than I am when I am back home. Another nice part is that each class is only twice a week, which gives me time to do all of the other things I’ve described in past blogs.

This past week I decided it was probably in my best interest to travel less. I’ve been pretty exhausted – and so is my bank account, especially after planning and reserving everything for the month of April. Also this past week I had a fairly large portion of my CS project due, and so I spent most of Friday and Saturday working on my code. Saturday morning I was planning on taking a Flixbus to Paris but when I woke up at 6am and saw that there was a train later at night for cheap, I canceled my bus and spent the rest of the day doing homework. It was really nice because my friend Taylor stayed back in Metz most of the weekend too, so we got dinner downtown before my train left. We ate at this burrito place which was actually pretty good… nothing compared to burritos back in the States, but a good temporary replacement. The reason I went to Paris that evening was because my boyfriend Danny is on his spring break, and I was going to meet him Sunday afternoon, so I thought I’d make a little day trip out of it. I stayed in a hostel that was fairly nice, but I have never in my life experienced that much noise from other people at night. The man underneath me was snoring so loudly I thought he might die, and the girl in the bed that was connected to mine kept moving so intensely that all the beds collectively shook. It was quite challenging to stay asleep. Especially when the entire 8 person room all woke at the same time at approximately 4am and started packing up their stuff, “quietly” whispering to each other, and stomping out. I tried to sleep in since check out was at 12pm, but woke up to the cleaning ladies stripping the beds at 9am. It was a truly bizarre experience, but I hopped out of bed and made my way to a breakfast place.

After my açai bowl experience in Lisbon last week I kind of had to relive it. But the açai bowl I had in Paris was nowhere near the fresh taste or cheap price that I had had in Lisbon. Regardless, it was pretty yummy, and I headed to a nice park where I finished my book I’ve been reading and then bought some new jeans at a mall nearby. I promised myself I would finish the book before buying a new one so after some lunch (I had a burger of course, at Steak-n-shake, which I found out they have in Paris) I headed to Shakespeare and Company to buy another book. I ended up getting the book Boomerang by Michael Lewis, which is the same author as the book I had read before (Flash Boys, would recommend). Once I bought the book I grabbed some boba next door and headed to the train station where I met Danny, and we trained back home to Metz.

It was finally nice to have a laid back weekend, especially because the month of April will be very travel-heavy for me.

Love, Noa

A Day in Metz

Metz is honestly a great place to be. Everyday I go downtown I discover another nook or little cafe that makes me wish I had a little bit more time here.

While I wish I had known more in the past, I think it is important that I share with you all what I do know in case you find yourselves in Metz.

The first place I would recommend to go in Metz, and somewhere I visit quite often, is a coffee shop called Fox. It’s situated about a 5 minute walk from the train station, with little lights hung around the door and hip decor throughout the entire two rooms that it takes up. When I walk in, I usually first find a chair to sit (by an outlet if I know I’ll be doing work for a while) and then maneuver my way to order a drink. The coffee shop is usually busy at almost all times of the day, which makes me wonder sometimes how the French have time for this. I usually order a Black Chai Latte Glace, which is an iced chai with a shot of espresso, and then sometimes I treat myself to one of the infinite pastries they have to offer. The best thing I ever had to eat there was a bagel with brie, spinach, and balsamic which looked and sounded not necessarily incredible, but it was so delicious. They’ve only had it one time even though I go there so often and I’m hoping they have it again before I leave. After spending an hour or so at Fox, whether you are chatting with a friend or doing some work, you can walk to the main area of downtown, or where I sometimes take the bus (to the République bus stop).

Once you’re downtown you’ll find yourself on a main stretch of shops, with every store you can think of. If you’re trying to fit in to France and find yourself wearing more dresses than usual, then Calzedonia is a chain store where you can find all of the tights and leggings you may need to accompany your newly found outfit. After continuing on that street you’ll eventually arrive to Place St Jacques, where you can see a lot of restaurants, bars, or coffee shops to visit. You’ll also see the Klub, which is the local movie theater of Metz. I’ve yet to see a movie there, but it was recently remodeled and seems to be a great place to catch a movie.

If you walk a little bit past that you will run into the most beautiful cathedral that takes my breath away every time I walk up to it. Recently I actually went inside and visited the crypt and the treasury. It’s only two euros for students and is really fascinating actually. They have information to read about the history of the cathedral and about all the different stories of all the cathedrals in France. I didn’t realize how many replicas of different cathedrals there were in France, and we even had a nice guide explain to us the influences behind certain statues and show us the impact that Germans had on the church as well, since Metz was occupied by Germany for quite some time.

You could honestly spend a long time in the cathedral, but when you’re ready to leave, there is a great indoor market right next  door that while it smells strongly of fish it is still fun to see all the different fresh food vendors in Metz. Nearby you can walk alongside a beautiful river, and even catch a ballet at the Opera. I was able to see an opera/ballet through GTL, and while it wasn’t my favorite, it was definitely a good experience.

If you want a more modern side of Metz, you can definitely visit the mall Muse, which has a lot more dining options, but overall I really like the older, downtown side of Metz. While I spend so much time out of town, I also do enjoy my time spent in town, and I would definitely recommend someone to come visit Metz because I  have grown to love it.

Meet Thomas: Making the Most of Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s Master’s Program

In the midst of a very busy time for many graduate students who are preparing for exams and working on projects, I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas, a French graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering. I met with Thomas in the student lounge, found him working with Sommy, another graduate student I’ve met, and stole him away for a few minutes to hear about his experience at GTL!

Thomas comes from a small city south of Paris, and before GTL he studied Mechanical Engineering at a French engineering school called UT in Troyes. This school partners with GTL so that he can do the dual-degree program similar to many other grad students I have met. Thomas explained that while this is his first semester at GTL, he will do an internship in the summer/fall and move to Atlanta in the Spring of 2020, where he plans to graduate.

After college he isn’t quite sure what field he wants to work in, but he did say he has worked in the automotive industry in past internships. This internship was done with French automotive company Renault, and while he said it was very interesting, he said that the field he works in all depends on where he ends up initially after he graduates. Thomas has been to California when he was young, but he said he would be willing to try to find work in the States or another country if it works out. Later on though, he does see himself coming back to France.

Currently he is taking linear elasticity, acoustics, a mathematics class, as well as another mechanical engineering class at GTL. His favorite is linear elasticity, because “it’s used with many things that I’ve worked in at my years at UTT.” The other thing that Thomas mentioned he really likes about being at GTL is that it’s nice to have to be in an environment where everyone speaks English. While I asked him if it’s challenging, he said it’s not too bad – that it’s just the right amount of difficulty. I am honestly always so impressed by the French graduate students because taking a technical class in a completely different language sounds so challenging but they do it without no complaints.

For fun, Thomas likes to spend time with the rest of the graduate friends and tries to organize things to do with them. Last weekend, they went to Strasbourg, which was really nice, and he has gone to Paris with some other friends. He mentioned that “for me, it’s new to have the weekend start on a Thursday, so it’s nice to organize many things to do on the weekends with the other graduate students.” It’s definitely great to see that graduate students are also able to partake in the similar experiences that us undergraduates have, such as travelling and being a part of GTL-sanctioned events.

Meeting Thomas was really nice, and I hope I get to meet a few more graduate students before this semester ends. Their experiences really makes me consider graduate school myself and inspires me a ton!

Spunky, Sassy, and Portuguese

It’s time to set the mood. Set your record player to play So Danco Samba by Antônio Carlos Jobim on a low volume, crank up the heat in your room to about 70 degrees, spray the Febreeze scent “ocean”, and let a cool breeze make its way through the window. Welcome to Lisbon, Portugal.

If you haven’t been to Portugal… go. I decided I was going to go quite a while ago when I saw round trip flights from Luxembourg for about 35 euros, and when checking the weather map of Europe, it was the warmest destination. Quickly after buying the flight I found a decently priced hotel and reserved it, knowing it wouldn’t be too difficult to find someone to go with me. The first person I called, was one of my best friends, Elle from CU Boulder. She’s studying Mechanical Engineering abroad in Ireland this semester, and we had talked a lot about how we need to see each other at least once (and I actually will be visiting her in April in Ireland as well!). It wasn’t hard to convince Elle, and it was lovely when I landed late at night in Portugal and made my way to the hotel that she greeted me with a big hug and a Big Mac in hand.

That night, we didn’t mean to, but ended up staying up until about 4am, catching up on everything and convincing ourselves that we would eventually go to sleep. We woke up pretty late the next morning so we took an Uber to the breakfast place that I had seen during my intense food research of Portugal. Most places don’t have Uber at all, and usually I prefer to walk, but I was pretty hangry, needed to get there FAST, and it was also unusually cheap. Normally I don’t do much research, if any, about a place (if you haven’t noticed) but this was my number one trip destination so I wanted to make sure we were well fed. And boy, were we well fed. The first brunch place we went to was called Nicolau and was right in the middle of downtown. I ordered Eggs Benedict with a Matcha tea latte, and Elle got a burger with a red bun. Not only was it the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had (I came back my last day and got it again), but it was so well-priced. That’s when we realized that Portugal is in fact one of the cheapest countries of western Europe. It wasn’t even that it was absurdly cheap, it was that it was just very very reasonable.

After brunch we adventured around and every building was noticeably more beautiful than the next. Each wall was lined with unique tile in the most vibrant colors that contrasted so well with everything else whether it was the flowers on the trees or the ocean in the distance. Elle and I repeatedly mentioned how happy we felt just walking and talking in this dream of a city. We visited Castelo de São Jorge which gave us an amazing view of Lisbon from the top of the hill and got to see a lot of peacocks parading about. After walking more throughout downtown we grabbed a cappuccino and an egg tart (a classic Portuguese treat) and then headed to get dinner at another place I had read about called Frangasqueira Nacional. This place is a hole-in-the-wall chicken joint, run by a spunky, sassy Portuguese woman who doesn’t have a care in the world. We met this man who has traveled and lived all over who gave us some reassurance that waiting for 35 minutes for our chicken was just what was going to have to happen, and it was worth it. I’m fairly certain that our chicken was ready after 5 minutes but the woman placed it on the side, helped 5 other customers before us, and kept making sarcastic jokes that were confusing but we laughed since she was what stood between us and our chicken. Either way it was probably the best chicken with garlic rice I have ever had. We ended up taking it back to the hotel and even though we ordered an enormous amount of food we ate it all immediately and it was only 11$ for an entire chicken and a large side of rice. So that was something else.

The next morning we woke up a bit earlier and walked to another brunch place called Fauna & Flora where we split an açai bowl, and I got an iced coffee with avocado toast and poached egg. The Portuguese win at brunch, I just will put it like that. The restaurant was near the beach, so for about 2 hours afterwards we laid in the sun and listened to a band play jazz music (bossa nova specifically). If you know me well, you know that this is genuinely one of my favorite and most listened to genres of music, so Elle got to see me feel so much joy that I knew every song they would play and could sing along.

Post-beach, we walked more around downtown and eventually had dinner at an indoor food market (similar to the one I went to in Amsterdam) where I had a burger (she’s back!!) and met some other girls studying abroad in Spain. Afterwards we sat at a nice bar and listened to more jazz music and then went home.

Elle left early the next morning back home, and while I was quite sad that she wasn’t with me anymore, I got my butt out of bed and headed towards a flea market. It was amazing! There were so many cool antiques and artists that were selling their work. I bought a scarf since my other one disappeared on my ‘night hike’ in Austria and wished that my mom was with me the whole time because it was right up her alley. Afterwards I headed back to Nicolau nearby to grab some breakfast and an açai smoothie before making my way back to the airport.

My whole trip to Portugal felt meant to be. Every single person was kind, the weather was absolutely perfect, the food unbelievable, and I got to experience it all with my best friend.

Excited to keep you all updated on everything! Time is going by so quickly and I am appreciative of every minute and every person who reads my blog.

Ciao,

Noa

Meet Zaineb: At the Crossroads of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Another graduate student I met, this time not in my CS class, was Zaineb, who I got introduced to through Sommy, a previous grad student I interviewed! Zaineb is a mechanical engineering student with an aeronautical background. I first asked her why she chose Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and she mentioned that she initially had a chance to study in Mississippi and pursue an aerospace masters, but decided it was not interesting for her since she already has a bachelor’s in that. Georgia Tech-Lorraine, on the other hand, offers both a mechanical engineering degree with an emphasis on aerospace, so it was much better suited for her. Also, GTL allows for an international experience where she is able to meet people of all cultures, unlike in America where, well, there are definitely more Americans. The last reason she chose coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine is because Metz is so close to so many other countries like Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, which gives her so many opportunities to travel around.

Originally, Zaineb is from Morocco, where she did her undergrad in an international university that partnered with Georgia Tech-Lorraine, which is how she found out about her program here. She is on her third semester and had an internship in Paris prior to this semester doing research and development with an oil and gas company! It allowed her to develop her software and teamwork skills and get to know a diverse set of people while working on different models and simulations. Their goal was to optimize a control loop, and she would definitely be interested in going back into that field. She just wants to be in a field that she can develop her knowledge and not “stay stagnant.” Her primary goal is to not do something that is redundant and wants to be constantly doing something important.

Unlike the other graduate students I met, Zaineb will not be studying in Atlanta, since she would rather just visit there and is going to stay at Georgia Tech-Lorraine for the course of her degree. At GTL, she is taking a few mechanical engineering classes, as well as a special topics class in acoustics. After graduating from school, she would love to move to Germany, because she really wants to work on her German and thinks that they are very strong in the mechanical engineering field, and so it would be an excellent place to work. The job hunt is definitely going on right now, and she’s excited to see where she might end up!

For fun, Zaineb has been lucky to travel to Luxembourg, 5 different cities in Germany, Belgium, as well as Spain and Portugal. Her favorite has been Iceland though, because she got to see the Northern Lights almost every day and it was absolutely beautiful.

I had a really nice time chatting with Zaineb. She was so positive about her experiences at GTL and it was inspiring to see someone with so much interest and passion in her field! I hope to see her around more and am thankful again to get to meet so many graduate students at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

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