Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | Written by Karsten

Overview

Forty-eight hours have passed since I arrived in France, which means that seventy-two hours ago, I was asleep in my bed at home. Since Sunday morning, I have packed, flown solo for the first time, forgotten every bit of French I thought I knew, eaten six croissants and five pain au chocolat in a very short time frame, slept for a total of fifteen hours, and have frequented the Cora hypermarket more times than I care to admit.

Travel

Travelling without family or friends for the first time is definitely stressful, especially when going overseas. Even though I have traveled several times in my life, I second guessed myself and my flying experience. Thankfully, I flew out of Augusta Regional Airport, which only has six gates, and is therefore never crowded and would take a talented individual to get lost in. Once I connected in Charlotte, however, it was a different story. I needed to go from Terminal E to Terminal B, so I traveled all the way across the Charlotte Douglas International Airport only to find that the flight had been delayed and moved minutes before boarding should have started. Terminal D, all the way back by E, was my new destination. Once we boarded, the flight was uneventful and we landed on schedule. This was where I met up with other students going to Georgia Tech-Lorraine for the first time. There were ten people from GTL on my flight, so we went through customs and found our bags as a group. We somehow managed to find our meeting location for the shuttle without anyone speaking a word of French.

Arrival at Lafayette

The shuttle to Lafayette, where we are housed, took roughly three hours. When I stepped off of the shuttle, I was met with gorgeous weather. A dramatic drop in humidity and the shift from Atlanta’s ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit to Metz’s seventy-five was a welcome surprise. Long sleeves and hoodies are quite comfortable to wear outside. That night (Monday August 19, 2019), there was a pizza party encouraging us to meet new people. Everyone I talked to seemed excited to be here, despite the exhaustion from jet lag and general travel fatigue.

Orientation

Tuesday morning, everyone went to the building neighboring Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and had coffee, juice, croissants, and pain au chocolat, which I had more than my fair share of. We then went into the auditorium and heard multiple presentations, covering the topics of safety, school, research projects, and more. It was a miracle that no one fell asleep. After, some faculty took us on tours, though it seemed unnecessary, besides which class rooms were where. After all of the introductions and orientation, we had one minute to collect what we wanted from a donation pile that previous students had left. This was the most nerve-racking thing that has happened so far, as we were supposed to grab stuff that we didn’t have but that we needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what exactly I needed until after this event took place.

Thoughts

I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to study abroad and to get to see so many of the places and events that I could have only dreamed of seeing before, but I’m also sad that I won’t see my family and friends from Georgia Tech and from home for so long. However, thanks to modern conveniences such as FaceTime, calls, and texts, I’m only really a call (and spotty service) away. I’m looking forward to being immersed in French culture and being able to call France home for a semester, as well as making friends with people whom I probably would not have otherwise met.