A Hike to Switzerland, Part 2

Some places are so beautiful that you have to go back – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a boring trip. Karsten hiked with friends in Interlaken again, but there were different surprises this time around!

Sunday, October 6, 2019 | Written by Karsten

A week ago, I had no plans to travel anywhere this weekend. On Monday, Alek mentioned that a group was going to hike near Interlaken, Switzerland. Though I had already done a hike in Interlaken, I said that I’d be down to go again if they had space. Sure enough, on Friday morning, we left for Switzerland. The weather app all week had predicted rain and highs of about sixty every day.

The plan was to make it to Interlaken at about 1:00 PM, go from Interlaken to Grindewald, and immediately hike up to First and then on to Faulhorn. While I packed some warm clothes, I didn’t expect to need them, especially not on the way up. I started the hike with only a long-sleeve t-shirt and shorts. I decided not to make this hike in my slip-on Vans after how many times I slipped last time. Luckily, the rain held off for most of the way up. Because I played soccer the night before, knew I probably wouldn’t be able to fill up my water bottle, and sweated a decent amount on the way up, I was quite a bit dehydrated once we neared First. As we were climbing the last few stairs on the way to the First Cliff Walk, I had the worst cramp of my life (I don’t think I’ve had a cramp I’ve had since high school football) and both of my legs essentially locked up and I couldn’t move them. Needless to say, after this, I was much slower and actually drank some of my water.

On the Cliff Walk, we waited our turn for pictures and the wind gusts were shaking the overlook a little. Luckily, there was a rail to hold on to. Once we hit this point, I swear the temperature dropped like twenty degrees, so I put my rain jacket and hoodie back on. We continued up from First to Faulhorn. This is where we realized the second surprise of the weekend—the Berghotel Faulhorn, where we were staying, was on a snow-capped peak. Being near the lakes in the valley and seeing the peaks was absolutely crazy. After a couple of pictures, we headed up, and it got extremely cold with the wind gusts. With a surprisingly limited number of slips on the way up, we made it at about 6:15 PM (the hike should’ve taken about 6 hours, and we took like 45 minutes worth of breaks on the way up). I got some crazy looks when I walked in with our group in shorts. We changed and had a soup and macaroni dinner, played some cards, and turned in early (read: before 10:00 PM). 

The third surprise of the weekend came when we woke up—it snowed about five inches overnight. We were advised to go back down in a very similar way that we came up, as the cliffs we had intended to hike by were snow-covered with low visibility. While hiking down with snow-covered paths (the only visible path markers were posts) seems pretty dangerous, the fresh-fallen snow had a much larger amount of grip and it was cold enough that any snow that stuck to you didn’t melt and the wind blew it off, so we managed to stay pretty dry. We made it back to the lake, which had much whiter surroundings from the new snow. From there, we went a different route as we had successfully made it down from the line where the snow fell. We took the long path to Bussalp, then Berglauenen, then took the train back to Interlaken. We found our Airbnb, had dinner (where I had fondue for the second time this semester), and explored the city a little. We again turned in pretty early—I think I managed 9 hours of sleep in back-to-back nights.

This morning, we went to Bern, Switzerland. There, we saw the Rose Garden overlooking the city, went to see some bears, and then had lunch. It was a very cool city, and I’m glad we made the stop there on the way back home. I’m writing this as we’re heading back to Metz. We have about a half of a mile of walking left today, which adds to the forty miles I’ve walked so far this weekend. I never would’ve expected that the first time I saw snow was in the first week of October, and I would’ve thought you were crazy if you told me I would’ve seen it and hiked through it, but it was an all around great experience and I’m happy that I was spontaneous enough to decide to tag along on this unique weekend.

Soccer. . . Er, Futbol

Many Georgia Tech-Lorraine students have a passion for soccer – or futbol, as they call it in Europe – and end up both playing pickup and going to see professional games!

Thursday, October 3, 2019 | Written by Karsten

Europe’s most popular sport is futbol, or what we call soccer. I have never played soccer in my life—unless of course, you count Upward soccer when I was five as real soccer. I began enjoying soccer around 2013 by playing FIFA 14 on the Xbox. Through this, I learned the rules of a sport that I now love. I’ve played countless hours on every FIFA video game released since then (except this year’s release, FIFA 20, as I do not have a way to play it). After I began playing FIFA, I could also watch soccer and appreciate it. Not long after, my dad also began watching it and so on Saturday mornings, that’s what we would do if we weren’t busy—watch the Premier League and eat breakfast.

My freshmen year at Georgia Tech, I actually played soccer for the first time. Though intramurals are not organized, this was my first taste of eleven versus eleven soccer. Cru made a team—called the Crushers—and we were pretty successful. It was a co-rec team, meaning there had to be even numbers of guys and girls in the field, excluding the goalkeeper. We managed to make it to the school championship that year, which we lost on a cold, rainy night. Last year, we made another team and made it to the playoffs but subsequently lost in penalties. However, playing real soccer made me realize how much fun it is to play.

There are tons of people that are in the GTL program that have played soccer. Within a week, there was a group message in GroupMe solely for watching and playing soccer. A couple times each week, we’ve gone out to the high school that’s very close to the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and played on their turf field. If we couldn’t play there, there are lots of other possible options. It’s always a great time to go play pickup, and I’ve been able to make quite a few friends that way.

Coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, I knew I wanted to go see a few professional games. Being in France, PSG is the easiest choice of teams to go see, with Paris being only a couple of hours away. In the first week of being in France, I was able to go see them, so that’s one checked off. Since FC Metz got promoted last year into Ligue 1, I would like to see them, but I’m not sure I’ll be in Metz on a weekend that they play at home. I would also love to see a Premier League game, but it’s not looking too likely. Lastly, being a Real Madrid fan, I have to see a game at Santiago Bernabeu. I believe that I’ll be able to see them over fall break, and I’m very much looking forward to it.



A Voyage to Monaco

Sometimes the best trips are the ones that come together at the last minute! Georgia Tech-Lorraine students are masters of flexibility and taking advantage of the opportunities before them, and Karsten is no different. Check out his latest blog post about their trip to Nice and Monaco!

Sunday, September 29, 2019 | Written by Karsten

I must be honest. We were not planning on coming to Monaco this weekend. I knew I wanted to go to Monaco, but wasn’t sure when I’d be able to make it. Originally, we had planned on going to Monaco last weekend and then London this weekend, but since tickets had sold out, we made the last minute decision to go to Copenhagen. On the way back from Copenhagen, while stopped in the Paris Gare de l’Est, we looked at train tickets to London. Surprise, surprise, they were sold out. Once we got back to Metz from Copenhagen, we decided to look at Monaco again and there were still tickets available, so we tried to book them. It would’ve been more than $1000 to stay in Monaco for both Friday and Saturday night, so we chose to stay in Nice on Friday. Three days later, we all had our tickets to Nice and Monaco, and then back to Metz.

 The night before we left, we had the great idea of playing cards until 1:30am, knowing that we were going to need to be awake at 4:30am. In addition to that, I hadn’t packed yet. After we won, I packed my bag, got my two hours of sleep, and we went on our way to the train station. During the eight hours of trains to Nice, I only made up an hour of sleep. Thankfully, I had some coffee, or the rest of the day would’ve been rough. Once in Nice, we dropped our bags at the Airbnb and went to the beach. Though I had been to a Mediterranean coast before, I had never stepped foot in the water, so I did that. After watching the sunset, we had dinner, gelato, played more cards, and then went to sleep.

On Saturday morning, we took one of the early trains to Monaco. Once we got off, we realized a potential tragedy—none of us had any signal or available data. Luckily, it turned out to be just where we were. From the train station we went to the Prince of Monaco’s car museum, Top Car Monaco. Seeing some of the cars that were there was absolutely crazy. He had everything, from late 1800s wagons to modern Formula One cars. From the museum, we went to the Jardin Exotique. It was a hike there. I think we climbed 30 flights of stairs. They had tons of cacti and many varieties of other plants, and it also had a very cool outlook over the city. It was 75 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy, which was actually the hottest day we’ve had in a couple weeks. Walking around with our bags proved to be a bit much, as we were all wishing it was cooler.

After the garden, we dropped our bags off and then went back down by the water. From there, we did what I was most excited for—walking the Formula One circuit. I have watched this race for as long as I can remember and know it by heart, though it looks much different from the street and without the guardrails. We passed by the Casino Monte Carlo, took some pictures of the cars parked out front, and made it most of the way around the track. Unfortunately, however, we were unable to complete the track because the Monaco Yacht Show was happening at the same time, and they had some parts by the water closed off. Still, seeing so much of such a famous track was a very cool experience. We had a very chill rest of the day and just walked around, went down to the beach again, and played even more cards.

Monaco is known for its glitz and glamour, and it definitely did not disappoint. Every fifth car it seemed was a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. I was so excited to be there, by the water, the Formula One track, and the ridiculous amount of money on display in the forms of boats and cars. Unsurprisingly to me, this tops Copenhagen as my favorite spontaneous trip yet.

Managing Time with Travel (Part 2)

Balancing school with travel can be difficult, but Karsten has hit his learning curve! Check out his latest blog for his insights and tips.

Friday, September 27, 2019 | Written by Karsten

Last Wednesday, I had my first true exam of the semester. Next Wednesday, I have my second. In between, I’ve had thermodynamics evaluations which are like miniature exams and need to be prepared for in a similar manner. Even so, I’ve been traveling (as evidenced by my travel-related posts). Here’s how I’ve managed to travel and try my best to keep up with school and the blog.



My first class of the week is French. This is the class that has its first exam next Wednesday. I’m not prepared for it yet, but thankfully one of the people I’m traveling with this weekend is also in French, so we can practice on the way back. Madame Sonia Serafin gives a very fair amount of homework during the Monday class so that she doesn’t have to give us any (except practice) on the Wednesday class and subsequently the weekend. I feel like I’ve learned a pretty good amount from class, but then when I’m out and about in French-speaking places, I understand absolutely nothing that’s being said.

Probability and Statistics

Probability and Statistics is immediately after French. This class’s first exam was last Wednesday, and though I didn’t do amazing, I did well enough. I think I learned how to be better prepared for the next one, which is an important takeaway from any class’s first exam. For this class, the best way to stay caught up is to pay attention, and therefore go to all of the classes and doing the homework. I’m good with the latter, but I definitely need to work on the prior.



My only Tuesday/Thursday class is Thermodynamics. We’ve already had three evaluation periods and five available points, of which I think I’ve gotten three. That doesn’t sound great, but since we get to make attempts each week, I’m pretty close to on track (and I’d be in good shape if I hadn’t made a dumb mistake during the evaluation period yesterday). To stay caught up with this class, it is necessary to watch all of the video lectures that are posted as well as to practice with problems that’ll be attempted during the next evaluation period.


Science, Technology, and the Modern World

To prepare for this class on Tuesdays, I usually read the readings that are posted while I’m traveling. In fact, I’m going to read this week’s readings after I finish writing this. The other part of the reading is posting thoughts on it and replying to other’s thoughts which are posted on Canvas. Doing this helps us be ready for the discussion that occurs in class, which makes it my most interactive class.


Instrum and Electronics Lab

To prepare for lab on Wednesday, my lab partner, Jake, and I print out and read the lab for the week we’re on as well as glancing at the prior week’s lab. Looking through both labs allows us to be ready for the lab quiz, which happens every week. Other than the lab quiz, we must complete the labs, but so far we’ve been able to get those done in lab and haven’t had to go in outside of our class time and hopefully it stays that way.



Keeping up with the blog hasn’t been as easy as I would’ve expected, though I’m still glad I’m doing it. Having ideas for what to write about has proved to be moderately difficult and staying on top of editing the pictures I take has always been a struggle of mine. However, working on the blog while traveling is another productive way to spend my train and plane rides.


I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this semester is how important it is to pay attention in class, as that saves so much time outside of class. Being at home on the weekend means I can catch up on what I missed during that week, but I don’t want to be trying to catch up on school while I’m traveling on the weekends, as I might miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to see places I’ve never seen before and may never see again.

The Journey to Copenhagen

As Karsten attests in his latest blog, sometimes half of the battle is getting there. Follow along on his trip to Copenhagen!

Sunday, September 22, 2019 | Written by Karsten

This weekend, D.J. Akers, Jake Tjards, Julia Kerns, and I decided to make the journey to Copenhagen. Jake and I went by train, and Julia and D.J. went by plane, since they were having Eurail issues. The original route had Jake and I leaving at 8:30pm on Thursday night and making it to Copenhagen at 2:40pm on Friday afternoon. We booked the couple of train reservations necessary, booked our Airbnb, and were off.

Jake and I left Lafayette, our residence hall, at 7:30pm and all went according to plan—that is, until our very first train was delayed upon arrival to the station. Needless to say, with tight layovers, we missed our third train and first reservation, thus messing up the rest of the planned trains. We had to stay in the Mannheim Station for an extra two hours until the next train left, putting us on a train from 2am until 10am. When we got on, everyone was sleeping and there were next to no available seats, but towards the middle of the trip, it became rather empty. However, at about 6am, it filled back up—this time with drinking Germans instead of sleepers. The train went from dead silent to full of noise, and I was not a fan, as I had only gotten an hour of sleep by laying across the two seats. However, and much to my surprise, since the noise was constantly loud, I managed to get a couple more hours of sleep. Everyone on that train got off at Hamburg, so that was a bit of a struggle.

Jake and I searched for food around the train station, but there were so many options that it was difficult to decide. The primary goal was to get coffee, as we packed food for the entirety of the train rides, so we decided on Dunkin Donuts. A couple of girls from America in front of me were very excited for and ordered Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Their excitement rubbed off on me apparently, because I felt inclined to order one as well. I had it on the next train, and it was as good as the last one I had, so I’m glad I ordered it. On the next train, I ate the rest of the food I had packed, and we crossed the border from Germany into Denmark. The rest of the train ride was very uneventful and we made it to Copenhagen at 4:15pm in the afternoon, almost twenty-one hours after leaving our rooms. We met Julia and DJ, went to our Airbnb, and then set out for our adventures in the city.

After a rather rough start, Jake and I ended up being a little downcast and even slightly considered going to other cities from Mannheim, but I am so glad we didn’t change our minds. Copenhagen has been my favorite trip so far (excluding the trip to Belgium with my dad). The city is beautiful, a pretty decent amount of English is spoken, and we didn’t have a set plan. We just did what we wanted to when we wanted to, including taking the train into Sweden (which puts me at eight countries for the semester so far, but who’s counting?) and playing cards in the King’s Garden. Perhaps it was the city that I enjoyed so greatly, perhaps it was the spontaneity, but I’m just glad I got to have this experience.

Moselle Open

Thanks to the Bureau des Etudiants, students at Georgia Tech-Lorraine this semester were able to attend the Moselle Open, which served up some fun and impressive sport.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | Written by Karsten

A couple of weeks ago, Adam Bradshaw mentioned to me that the Moselle Open, a tennis tournament, was happening soon and that he wanted to go. He said that it was a large tournament but because the U.S. Open was happening a week prior, the faces of the sport wouldn’t be coming, which is pretty unfortunate. Fast forward roughly a week and he created a GroupMe to gauge the interest of people coming with him and thirty people joined it, so he did his research on tickets.

Last Friday, we had our election for the Bureau des Etudiants (BDE), which is similar to a student government. One of the roles available was the sports coordinator, who is supposed to create events that everyone would want to do related to sports. Georgia Tech-Lorraine can subsidize or entirely cover ticket prices that we have to pay. This is exactly what happened, as we received an email within twenty-four hours about the ability to get free tickets to the Moselle Open. There was a draw for it, but I believe that everyone that responded to the poll within a couple of days got free tickets as well as free transportation to the arena.

Today, we received our tickets and then were able to head over whenever convenient. Adam and I decided to get there around five because we’d be able to see some of the bigger names of the tournament—namely Frenchman Richard Gasquet who’s ranked in the top fifty tennis players in the world. We caught the end of his match versus Spaniard Marcel Granollers and then the entire next match between Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Spaniard Pablo Andujar. Seeing professional tennis in person is mind boggling, especially when able to move around the arena and sit where you want. When we were seated on the side, it was difficult to keep up with the speed that the players were moving and hitting the ball at.

In the early rounds of this tournament, matches are best of three sets, whereas in the biggest tournaments it is best of five. Richard Gasquet won in three sets and Tsonga also won. (I guess the luck was with the French today.) I definitely expected the more agile-looking Andujar to win the latter match. I saw multiple serves at speeds greater than two hundred kilometers per hour, including a max of 211 kph. That’s well over one hundred twenty miles per hour.

Knowing how bad I am at tennis, these matches were crazy to watch. The speed at which the ball moves and the anticipation required to play and win is next level. I would have considered going to the tournament even if I had to pay, but I’m so glad that I was able to experience it for certain through the Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

Coffee in Metz

Coffee is a staple for Georgia Tech students, and whether instant or gourmet, students find a way to get their coffee in Metz and across Europe! Check our Karsten’s feature on coffee.

Saturday, September 14, 2019 | Written by Karsten

I am a big fan of coffee. No, I don’t drink it black, and no, I’m not a coffee connoisseur, but I do very much enjoy a nice, sweetened cup of coffee. I also generally have multiple of these sweetened cups of coffee every day. I was a little worried as to how I was going to get my daily caffeine over here, but very early on, my friend Jake showed me the world of instant coffee and cappuccinos. These are what I’ve had each and every day that I’ve started in Metz. Jake got an electric kettle during the item swap, so that’s been extremely convenient. I just fill it with water, put a spoonful of instant coffee and a spoonful of instant cappuccino in a mug, pour the hot water in, and mix it up (and then add a little milk because I’m weak). Though I drink quite a bit of coffee, I do drink it because I enjoy the taste, and not because I need the caffeine entirely (though I definitely need some of it). Perhaps I should drink more decaf just to be safe. 

Anyway, when I’ve travelled, I’ve also had quite a bit of coffee. In Paris, I had an iced coffee with milk with my caramel crepes. The Airbnb we booked there also had a Nespresso machine, which makes espresso. Espresso alone is extremely strong for me, but I had a couple anyway—one each day. In Belgium, with my dad, the hotel breakfast that was included had an awesome cappuccino and coffee machine. Accidentally, about half of the cups I had were decaf, as I didn’t put together how similar “deca” and “decaf” are. In Interlaken, the hostel also had a breakfast with a nice coffee and cappuccino machine, and I had many cups over two days, as sleep was not a priority. 

I had a couple of friends in Cru study abroad here in the spring, and I got some coffee shop recommendations from them. I hadn’t had any coffee from a café in Metz until today. I really wanted to try out some of the places they recommended, and since I was staying in Metz this weekend, I decided today was a good day to start on that list. A couple of people were leaving for a day trip to Luxembourg, so I asked if they wanted to tag along since the first place, Fox, was right by the train station. They did, so we walked the two miles to the coffee shop. I ordered a vanilla latte and a yogurt with granola and fruit. The two who recommended it, Rose and Brendon, were absolutely right to—it was amazing. The latte was sweet (no complaints here) and the yogurt bowl was refreshing. Everyone else also enjoyed their breakfasts and then they went on their way to Luxembourg and I came back to my room to write this. I can’t wait to continue to try all the places they have recommended.